I love eating hot sauce and I seem to start every blog post with the same statement. I have spent a lot of time in my kitchen and have some experience working professionally in a restaurant. However, I have never tried to make hot sauce until recently.
What is hot sauce made of?
Hot sauce is made from hot peppers, vinegar, water and spices. There are almost always additional spices such as garlic and many manufacturers will use water as one of the main ingredients as well.
What gives hot sauce its flavor?
Hot sauces will get most of their flavoring from the type of peppers used. There are also methods of enhancing the flavor of the peppers to give sauce its unique flavor. Garlic, Lemon or Lime juice and other spices are often used in many sauce recipes.
There are over 100 varieties of peppers and about half of them can be used to make hot sauce. The most common ones are habanero, jalapeno, cayenne, tabasco and for extreme heat the ghost pepper and carolina reaper top the list.
Hot peppers can be purchased from you local grocery store of public market. Growing jalapeno peppers is very easy to do in a home garden but there are also many stores online to purchase them as well. Did you know you can purchase fresh peppers from Amazon? Of course you can!
I love the flavor of a hot sauce and not so much the heat that is why I use a jalapeno in many of my recipes. Read How to Reduce the Heat of a Hot Sauce or Hot Pepper if you are using a Ghost Pepper or Carolina Reaper and don’ want a numb tongue.
There are hundreds and hundreds of combinations between pepper varieties, types of vinegar and additional spices. Some hot sauces use vinegar to help preserve it and also gives it a bright flavor against the heat of the pepper. Vinegar can also be used to reduce the pH level.
Vinegar is a staple of almost every condiment as it also enhances the flavoring of whatever it is mixed with. For a hot sauce the vinegar keeps the sauce from oxidizing and will help preserve it longer. If you really want to get authentic with your sauce producing your own vinegar will give unique results. There is one hot sauce brand that uses tequila instead of vinegar.
Also top on the list and one of my personal favorite spices is garlic. I would have to say there are probably a variety of garlic spices you can purchase if you intend to make your own hot sauce. Many homemade hot sauce recipe will use whole garlic cloves but garlic powder is an inexpensive product and is available in almost any grocery store.
Not much to be said about water. You can obviously obtain it from a lot of different sources, but it may not do much to the flavor of the sauce. Water is often used to liquefy a thicker sauce, make a larger quantity or reduce the heat of hot sauce.
Lime juice is another great ingredient to combine with peppers. Lemon and limes are a favorite of mine as the citruses compliment the flavoring of most foods and especially hot peppers. The acids in citrus fruit can help neutralize the capsaicin oil and reduce the heat as well.
Try this: read the labels of some of your favorite hot sauces and write down some of the main ingredients. You will find a repeat, obviously, of hot peppers and vinegar as well as a few others we mentioned. This is by no means the recipe to Franks RedHot but can give a guideline for your own recipe. I am assuming you are reading this post as preparation for making your own hot sauce.
There are so many variations of each of these products and so many combinations that it has prompted the average connoisseur to create their own version. This post is not meant as an in depth of a killer hot sauce recipe but a quick guide to use your creativity.
What else do I need to make hot sauce?
These are the essential ingredients and tools that you need to make your own hot sauce. I always like to take on the challenges of completing a project with the most minimal availability of tools, but most kitchens probably have all these items listed, with exception of hot peppers.
- Hot Peppers
- Cutting Board
- Sharp Paring Knife
- Jar or bottle
How long does it take to make hot sauce?
It does not take very long at all to make hot sauce, in fact, I made my first batch ever in well under an hour. If you want to take more time to research your recipe or to add different ingredients, tasting it as you go along, then that’s your preference. Some other hot sauces such as a meat-based hot sauce could take upwards of four hours to make due to a slow cooking process, but your standard bottled hot sauce can be cooked in under an hour no problem.
What kind of cooking experience do you need to make hot sauce?
Making hot sauce takes very little kitchen experience. You’re doing very little cooking and the recipes are some of the easiest recipes I’ve ever seen in the kitchen. I’ve been cooking dinner for my family for over 20 years and making hot sauce is some of the easiest I have ever accomplished. Make sure you know how to use a knife properly and that it is sharp. I like my set from Homegeek.
Taste your sauce
Always taste your sauce as you’re going along you never know it may need a dash of salt or a little bit of sugar or some additional spices you were using throughout the recipe to give it that extra kick or to make it a little more milder as well. My kids love hot sauce, but it does have to be a little milder for them to consume it.
What is a good hot sauce recipe?
There are a ton of recipes and a ton of different hot sauces on the market. I have included a simple recipe for a cayenne hot pepper sauce similar to a Franks RedHot (but not really). If you are like me, you will scroll through some of the key ingredients and make your own recipe. Please read through the recipe in its entirety, make the sauce and then come up with your own. This recipe should make about 10 to 12 ounces and here is what you need:
Easy Hot Sauce Recipe!
10 cayenne peppers
¾ cup of white vinegar
2 dashes of salt
2 teaspoons of minced garlic
Step 1 – Wash your peppers. I always wash all the produce I purchase with just a little bit of Dawn dish detergent and my bare hands. I have gotten in the habit of washing off the produce from our garden ever since I saw the dog peeing in there. Gloves should be used when slicing into a pepper, but you will probably be OK without them at this point.
Step 2 – Put on your gloves. Using a paring knife cut off the stem and cut the peppers in half the long way. Some recipes leave the seeds in, but we are going to remove them for this recipe. The seeds and the white part inside the pepper called the rib or pith is what give a pepper its heat. I like to remove the seeds because no matter how meticulous I am there are always just a few that make it through and don’t get blended. So be careful when you are removing the seeds to leave the pith.
Notice in these pictures I am not wearing gloves. Shame on me. At the time we had a shortage of gloves but also notice that I am only using the knife to remove the seeds. I am also not handling or touching any of the inside of the pepper walls, seeds or pith with my bare hands. This is where most of the heat is!
Step 3 – Cook contents. Pour the vinegar, peppers and garlic in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil until peppers are soft. I usually poke them with a fork while they are in the pot, but you could remove one and cut it open as well. If you are unsure 10 minutes should be sufficient.
You can cook them with or without the vinegar but make sure you are working in a well ventilated area. The steam from cooking the peppers will irritate your throat and lungs and may cause you to cough.
Step 4 – Let it cool. Put into a blender until it turns to liquid. I love my Magic Bullet. Its very powerful for such a small kitchen tool and also very easy to store. Here is the affiliate link to Amazon. (Magic Bullet)
If this sauce is not all used in a recipe it should last you at least a couple of months, similar to other condiments in your refrigerator. Pour it into any type of container you have in your kitchen but I prefer using glass. Enjoy!