how to make hot pepper sauce with jalapenos | Family Cuisine

This is a quick and easy recipe for hot pepper sauce that you can make in just minutes. You will need jalapenos, salt, garlic, sugar, vinegar, and water to make this sauce.
how to make hot pepper sauce with jalapenos | Family Cuisine

Easy Homemade Hot Pepper Sauce is a traditional Southern pepper sauce and a vinegar based hot pepper sauce recipe. This homemade pepper sauce recipe shows you how to make pepper sauce from scratch and the best hot peppers to use.

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hot pepper sauce in a large mason jar on a table with bread, salad, salt and pepper.

How to Make Southern Pepper Sauce

This recipe for good old Southern Pepper Sauce is a favorite condiment and could not be easier to make. Basically if you want to learn how to make pepper sauce, all you need to do is put fresh hot peppers and vinegar in a jar.

But don’t be fooled by how simple this homemade pepper sauce recipe is. This vinegar pepper sauce can elevate a bland bowl of Old Fashioned Cabbage Kielbasa and Bacon into something truly special.

I’m going to show you how to make hot pepper sauce from fresh hot peppers, including jalapenos for jalapeno vinegar sauce, right in your own home.

In the Southern states you will find this hot pepper sauce on every table. Both in restaurants and homes.

At my house, you can always find a jar of this wonderfully spicy hot pepper sauce on the dinner table or in the pantry.

It’s perfect to serve with so many different recipes! This vinegar based hot pepper sauce recipe will come in so handy. Just you wait and see!

Make Your Own Pepper Sauce

Every year we gather as many hot peppers as we can. Then we cut them up and put them in jars, seeds and all!

This easy pepper sauce recipe is shelf stable and refillable when needed. Yes, you read that correctly.

When your jar or bottle is almost empty, even half way, just add more vinegar. No need to heat it. Fill it right back up to the top.

While your hot peppers will lose their potency in time, I’ll let you know I’ve been working with a bottle of homemade pepper sauce for almost six months and have yet to replace any peppers.

Just be aware that after several vinegar changes over the course of a year, your peppers will lose most of their heat or fire. They will need to be eaten or replaced.

How to Make Clear Hot Sauce

At some point my son will just eat all of the peppers in the jar of pepper sauce. He puts them in sandwiches, on hamburgers or hot dogs and eats them.

Whenever he needs a few hot peppers for whatever he is eating he just takes a few hot peppers out of the jar of vinegar pepper sauce. He loves spicy food.

Luckily, this is a simple Southern homemade pepper sauce recipe. As a matter of fact, this vinegar based hot pepper sauce recipe is as easy as recipes come!

Every year I replace the peppers inside the jar and add some hot, but not boiling, vinegar so I can continue with my homemade pepper sauce jar.

Tip: Write down the date on the jar! My memory is terrible so I always add a sticker or something so I know the date I made it originally. Trust me, you will be glad you did this.

I’m pretty sure that after trying this easy homemade hot pepper sauce recipe you will also keep some of this hot pepper sauce in your home for the rest of your life too!

Easy Hot Sauce Recipe

I need for you to understand that this homemade pepper sauce recipe is very similar to Tabasco sauce, unblended.

For those of you that haven’t heard of Tabasco sauce, it is a popular brand and type of hot pepper sauce that uses tabasco peppers.

Interestingly, the Tabasco sauce brand does add other varieties in addition to tabasco peppers including habanero and sriracha.

You shove as many tabasco peppers that you can find into a jar, cover them with salt, hot vinegar and blend.

And just like that, your vinegar pepper sauce is basically Tabasco sauce.

Where Does Tabasco Get Their Peppers?

Did you know the tabasco peppers in Tabasco sauce were originally grown on Avery Island in southern Louisiana? It’s true and this is where the company got its start. Nowadays though, tabasco peppers are mostly grown in South America.

What is Pepper Sauce Made Of?

Tabasco peppers can be difficult to find but are definitely worth searching for. Making your own version of homemade Tabasco hot sauce is so worth it, and so simple.

This homemade pepper sauce recipe is essentially peppers, vinegar and salt.

The only difference between this vinegar pepper sauce and real Tabasco sauce is the slow fermentation process.

This process elevates Tabasco sauce to a slightly higher level. Slow fermentation makes Tabasco sauce more smooth and concentrated.

Did you know Tabasco doesn’t even guard their hot sauce recipe?

It’s right here:

  • Tabasco peppers
  • 2 ½ percent salt
  • distilled vinegar
  • lots and lots of time. Think wine

The Tabasco chiles are chopped up, mixed with salt and poured into old oak barrels to ferment in a barn for up to five years. This is when the fermenting process takes place.

Then they mix the fermented peppers with distilled vinegar, it used to be white wine vinegar for the record although some people now make malt vinegar hot sauce, and allow it to pickle for a month.

Lastly, they strain out the pulp and seeds. Now the sauce is ready to bottle.

If you can’t find tabasco peppers when making pepper sauce, use your favorites, or a mixture of hot peppers. Any type of peppers will work in this easy hot sauce recipe. Some are just hotter than others.

Much, much hotter.

Homemade Hot Pepper Sauce Recipe

I keep getting asked the question about whether the peppers in this easy hot sauce recipe are fermented so I am going to answer it here.

There are no fermented peppers in this Southern homemade hot pepper sauce recipe.

Peppers will not ferment in vinegar, as vinegar inhibits or prevents fermentation.

Instead, the vinegar pickles the hot peppers and the hot peppers infuse the vinegar with their flavor and heat.

The key difference with tabasco sauce and this homemade hot pepper sauce recipe is the way Tabasco ferments their tabasco peppers. They ferment in barrels for up to five years, similar to making wine or alcohol.

Hopefully that explains it!

Vinegar Based Hot Pepper Sauce Recipe

The possibilities are endless when making a vinegar based hot pepper sauce recipe at home!

Super easy and perfect for so many things.

Adding a teaspoon of olive oil will make your homemade hot pepper sauce hotter. Shake your jar well and allow it to sit for a couple of weeks.

But use caution! Adding more than a teaspoon of olive oil will make your vinegar based hot pepper sauce recipe too hot, in our opinion!

It might have to do with chemical properties of capsaicin, a chemical in hot peppers, and how it binds to the fats in olive oil. I am not totally sure.

All we really need to know is to be careful when adding it.

Even though a teaspoon doesn’t sound like much, I urge you to start there and wait a couple of weeks. Give your southern pepper sauce a taste and if you can handle more heat or fire, add another teaspoon.

Wait a couple more weeks and once you find the right level of heat, you will know how many teaspoons to add next time you make this easy Southern hot sauce recipe.

How is Heat Level Calculated in Peppers?

With hundreds of varieties of peppers available, it can be confusing to know which are best suited for your personal tastes.

The Scoville scale, originally invented in 1912 by Wilbur Scoville, is the most common measurement of heat in hot peppers.

The hotter the pepper is, the higher the SHU “score” is.

For example, sweet bell peppers score 0 on the SHU in terms of their heat and Carolina Reapers score between 1.5 million and 2.2 million SHU, the hottest pepper according to the Guinness World Book of Records.

Capsaicin is the compound that gives chilies their heat, which the SHU measures. Up to 80% of a chile pepper’s capsaicin is located in the seeds and the membranes, so if you are more sensitive to heat, trim these parts off.

Picture of inside a mason jar with a close up of the sliced hot peppers.

Best Peppers for Hot Sauce

So many options. So little time. Use any one or a combination in this vinegar based hot pepper sauce recipe. I have listed some of the more popular hot peppers below out of the hundreds that exist.

Also, it is helpful to remember that as a general rule of thumb, the larger in size a chile pepper is, the milder the heat will be.

Jalapeño Chili Peppers

Jalapeños are one of the most common chili peppers and a definite favorite around here for jalapeno vinegar sauce. They are the peppers I used in the video and the pictures on this page.

While green is the most common color, red jalapenos are also an option if they’re permitted to ripen.

Jalapeno peppers are between four and six inches long, usually.

Their “heat score” or SHU is between 2,500 and 8,000. From mild to hot. This is the most common chili pepper and is recommended in many Mexican dishes.

Chipotle chili peppers

A chipotle chili pepper is a smoked, ripe, jalapeño chili pepper.

They have a somewhat smoky flavor that tastes great in salsas and have a SHU of 2,500 to 8,000.

Serrano Peppers

Serrano peppers are spicier than jalapeños and are often used as substitutes for jalapeños when more heat is your goal.

The most common color is dark green, but they can also be red, brown, orange, or yellow.

Their SHU is between 5,000 and 25,000.

They are smaller than jalapeños, around 1 to 3 inches long and about half an inch wide.

They are most commonly used with Mexican dishes such as salsa or guacamole.

Habanero Chili Peppers

Habanero peppers sort of look like mini bell peppers but are extremely hot with a SHU of 100,000 to 350,000.

They are usually yellow to orange or red but can also be white, brown, or pink, depending on when the peppers are harvested.

They are 1 to 3 inches long and 1 to 2 inches in diameter.

The most common uses are salsa, guacamole, hot sauces and various Mexican dishes.

Scotch Bonnet Peppers

This pepper is most commonly found in the Caribbean and Central America and had a heat score of 100,000 to 400,000 SHU.

This pepper is super hot.

These peppers are green to yellow to orange to bright red, depending upon when they are harvested.

Their approximate size is 1 to 2 ½ inches long and 1 to 2 inches diameter.

The most common uses for this pepper is hot sauce, Caribbean dishes like red beans and rice and jerk everything!

Tabasco peppers

This pepper is pureed and used in Tabasco sauce and has a SHU of 30 +84334390000

They are under 2 inches long and are yellow to red in color.

Original Tabasco sauce only requires 3 ingredients: tabasco peppers, salt, and distilled vinegar.

The tabasco peppers are fermented. Hot pepper sauce is vinegar that is bottled with hot peppers in it.

Cayenne Peppers

These peppers have a SHU of 30 000 to 50 000 and are a really thin chili pepper used in Frank’s hot sauce. They range in color from green to red and are between 2 and 3 inches long. This is the pepper that is dried up and ground that most of us have in their spice cupboard.

Poblano Chili Peppers

This pepper has a heat score of 1 000 to 2000 on the SHU scale. These peppers are about 4 inches long and are dark green, ripening to a dark red or brown color. These peppers are great for stuffing with so many things!

Ancho chili Peppers

These peppers are the dried version of the poblano chili pepper and are between 1,000 to 2,000 SHU.

Ghost Peppers

The ghost pepper, otherwise known as Bhut Jolokia. This is the bad boy of the chili world, weighing in from 855,000 Scoville heat units to an eye-popping 1,041,427 SHU!

It’s one of the hottest peppers in the world and a one-time Guinness Book of World Records champ.

Many people feel the jalapeño is rather hot, but in the world of the Scoville scale, it’s a relatively mild to medium chili pepper. Now multiply that heat by up to 400.

That’s the potential of ghost pepper.

Or compare it to the intense heat of a habanero or scotch bonnet. It’s 4 to 8 times spicier than those hot chilies.

It’s so spicy that the Indian army has made it into military-grade smoke bombs and local residents smear the ghost pepper on fences and walls to keep wild elephants from entering certain areas.

How to Safely Handle Ghost Peppers

Ghost peppers are so spicy that special precautions should be taken in their handling.

Wear gloves, at minimum to keep significant chili burn at bay. But if you’re sensitive to capsaicin (the compound that gives chilies their heat), then we recommend wearing eye goggles and even a face mask when handling the Bhut Jolokia.

The Bhut Jolokia has become something of a legend in chili pepper eating dares. Many popular YouTube videos have been shot of people downing a raw Bhut Jolokia in a few quick bites.

Then the body’s responses begin. The heat of this pepper will bring out hiccups, intense burning, numbness, eye-watering, and general sweating.

The name ghost pepper simply comes from the chili’s official Indian name, the Bhut Jolokia. Bhut in Indian means “ghost”. There are many variations on this name: ghost chili, Bhoot Jolokia, Naga Bhut Jolokia, Red Naga chili and more.

The fruits are pod-like, growing two to three inches in length.

The typical ghost pepper ages from green to red, like most hot peppers.

The pods themselves taper to a point and like other super-hots the skin tends takes on a wrinkled, pock-marked texture.

There is a flavor beyond the extreme spiciness, believe it or not.

Ghost peppers have a slow-building heat, so you experience the flavor (for at least a few seconds) before the hammer drops.

They have a sweet, fruity flavor typical of many super-hot peppers, but underneath it is a light smokiness as well.

Of course, that all disappears once the heat builds (and lasts). At the end, the predominant take-away of ghost pepper flavor will be very painful spiciness that can last for 15 minutes or more.

Carolina Reaper

These peppers are so hot and have a score of 1.5 million to 2.2 million SHU. Originally created in Rock Hill, South Carolina by “Smokin” Ed Currie, the Carolina Reaper was certified as the world’s hottest chili pepper by Guinness World Records since August 7, 2013.

They are red with a sort of pointy tail and bumpy skin. They are between 1 to 2 inches in diameter and 2 to 3 inches long.

Carolina Reaper can be easily twice as hot (and the Reaper at its hottest verges on three times hotter than the mildest ghost pepper)

For a complete list, apparently, of all of the hot peppers that exist, check out this link. There is a PDF file I even printed for myself!

Peppers in Vinegar

Knowing how to make pepper sauce with vinegar is something everyone should know how to do! As I mentioned making homemade hot sauce is easy and only takes three ingredients, peppers, vinegar and salt!

Not only will you know how to make pepper sauce from scratch and how to make hot pepper sauce from fresh hot peppers, you’ll be able to make jalapeño vinegar sauce with apple cider vinegar or whichever vinegar you choose!

There are a lot of vinegars to choose from! Below, I have included a list for you just in case you’re feeling adventurous!

If you are so inclined, include more than one kind of vinegar. Experiment. I know you’ll be glad you did.

My son LOVES making jalapeño hot sauce with apple cider vinegar and uses this homemade pepper sauce recipe to do it! He loves the subtle sweetness the apple cider vinegar adds to his homemade hot sauce.

Now you can do it too!

What Kind of Vinegar Should I Use in Homemade Hot Pepper Sauce?

Distilled White Vinegar

This sharp, strong vinegar is made by fermenting distilled alcohol. It’s cheap to produce, which makes it popular for use in salad dressings and most condiments. It is your best choice to make hot sauce but really is used to do everything from cleaning to making a cake!

Apple Cider Vinegar

This vinegar is made from pressed apples that are fermented into alcohol before becoming vinegar. It has a mild, sweet tangy flavor with a tar aftertaste. It can be used to make hot sauce, usually in combination with regular, white vinegar.

White Wine Vinegar

This vinegar is made from fermented white wine. A milder flavor than red wine vinegar, it is used for salad dressings, pickling and hot pepper sauce when combined with regular white vinegar.

Red Wine Vinegar

This vinegar is made from fermented red wine. Overall, you’ll find it has a sharp flavor and a ton of tang, making it perfect for salad dressings, marinades and pickling.

Balsamic Vinegar

This dark, sometimes syrupy, Italian vinegar is made from pressed grape juice and is aged in oak barrels, which eventually thickens the vinegar. As the vinegar thickens, the flavor becomes more concentrated and the cost increases!

This vinegar is most commonly used with fresh fruits, in a salad dressing with olive oil or in main dishes.

Champagne Vinegar

This light vinegar is made by fermenting champagne. It is best used for making salad dressings and doesn’t heat well.

Sherry Vinegar

This Spanish vinegar is made by fermenting a fortified wine and is aged in oak barrels for more than at least six months. Definitely flavorful and wonderful to add to soups, main dishes and sauces.

Rice Vinegar

This vinegar is made by fermenting rice wine, usually from China or Japan. It’s less acidic than the other types of vinegar so it’s less harsh and has a sweeter taste.

This vinegar makes great pickles and is perfect for Asian type stir fries and sauces. It will work for hot sauce apparently, but I have never tried it myself.

Malt Vinegar

This popular fish and chips vinegar is made from barley, which is brewed into beer before being fermented into vinegar. It’s aged briefly, giving it a mellow flavor.

Most commonly used in the United Kingdom, honestly malt vinegar hot sauce isn’t the best choice but you’re certainly welcome to try it.

A close up side view of sliced peppers floating in sauce.

Ingredients for Vinegar Based Hot Pepper Sauce Recipe

  • distilled, white vinegar
  • hot peppers
  • salt
  • glass container or jar


  • peppercorns
  • sugar
  • onion
  • garlic
  • olive oil
  • apple cider vinegar
  • white wine vinegar

How Do You Make Easy Hot Sauce?

Grab seven or eight hot peppers and slice them up.

Pick your favorite variety or use a mixture.

You can also just slice them in half or slice the ends off.

As long as they can fit in your container and fill at least ¾ of the way up, you are good to go!

No need to seed the peppers or remove the membrane. They will add lots of heat and flavor if that is what you are looking for!

Heat your vinegar up until just starting to boil.

Toss hot peppers in salt.

Cram as many hot peppers as you can into your jar or bottle.

Using a funnel if necessary, slowly and carefully pour your hot vinegar into your container until the peppers are covered.

Cover with lid.

I give them about two weeks and then start tasting the peppers and/or the sauce to see when it is to your liking.

Mason jar full of homemade hot sauce on table with glass of water, cutlery, sliced bread and salad.

Tips for Making Homemade Hot Pepper Sauce

These tips will show you how to make hot pepper sauce from fresh hot peppers. We have used jalapenos in this picture but feel free to add a mixture of peppers and use your favorites.

Allow the Hot Pepper Sauce to sit for at least 24 hours, if not longer, before using. This hot sauce will continue to become more flavorful with age after the ingredients have had time to fuse together.

No need to refrigerate this vinegar based hot pepper sauce recipe. Because of its acidic nature, it is shelf stable. Store in a dark, cool cupboard or pantry for up to about a year, if not longer.

Remember to wear gloves or wash your hands thoroughly when handling these spicy chili peppers! The last thing on earth you want to do is touch your eye with unwashed hands!


Also, be sure to clean the cutting board and knife really well after use.

How to Make Pepper Sauce from Scratch

You can easily purchase hot sauce from the store, but by making your own you can control the ingredients, including how much salt is in your pepper sauce recipe.

This gives you less salt without sacrificing any flavor.

Also, you can totally control the heat.

A truly personalized recipe for your desired heat level as well.

Use about one to two tablespoons at a time for most recipes. Hot pepper sauce can make a bland bowl of fried cabbage into something truly special. I can’t eat fried cabbage without it.

If this sounds good, check out our Old Fashioned Cabbage Kielbasa and Bacon recipe. I think you will be glad you did!

When your bottle of homemade pepper sauce is almost empty, just top it off with some more vinegar. No need to heat the vinegar.

Like I mentioned earlier, the peppers will lose their potency over time. However, I’ve been working with my current bottle of hot pepper sauce for almost a year and have yet to replace the peppers inside.

If you notice a vinegar tang, you can always add a teaspoon of sugar to reduce the tanginess in this vinegar based hot pepper sauce recipe.

Another option is you can puree your hot sauce, as long as your blender can handle hot liquid. If you aren’t sure you can always wait until the sauce has cooled and blend it then!

Also, some hot sauces will tint your blender orange from the hot red peppers. The color fades over time but I still wanted to warn you!

Now you can create your own homemade pepper sauce recipe for years to come!

An extreme close up of the this finished recipe

Hot Pepper Sauce Video

A side photograph of this recipe on a table with flowers and a salad.

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