How To Invent Your Own Hot Sauce Recipe

I consistently see over and over again web sites that list hot sauce recipes mimicking or following name brand sauces. I want to make a sauce that is original and uses my own recipe. I know some of the common ingredients in a hot sauce but I want mine to stand out among the many new sauces being introduced into the market everyday.

How can I invent my own hot sauce recipe?

Inventing your own hot sauce recipe is a easy as selecting the hot peppers and other ingredients to go along with them. Also, choose a mix of ingredients such as fruits and vegetables that will compliment the flavor of the peppers but won’t reduce much of the heat.


Choose the hot peppers

The peppers you choose to use for making your sauce will be the first step in making your sauce original. There are many varieties to choose from and chances are there is probably another sauce that uses the same peppers but don’t let that keep you from what you want to use.

The color of the pepper can make a difference in how the end product will look. Presentation is important for any food related products especially if you plan on producing yours for sale. This is important but I would not use anything artificial to change the natural color of the peppers. Mixing different combinations of peppers will also alter the appearance and taste of the sauce.

Choose your favorite hot pepper and not something that is popular or available

I have used jalapeno in a lot of my sauces and recently mixed a recipe with bell peppers to keep the natural green color and reduce the heat. According to my taste buds these two types of peppers just did not mix well together, and I found another way to reduce the heat anyway. Reduce the heat of a jalapeno? C ‘mon?

Use peppers that are readily available

Fresh hot peppers are grown globally, and most varieties can be obtained easily through local markets or shipped to you directly. Some exotic varieties may be more difficult to obtain so keep that in mind with your selection. If you see the availability fluctuating this could have long term effects on your ability to produce a sauce consistent in flavor.

If you grow your own peppers than the source may not effect you as much but you will need the right climate to grow them. This is a great option to reduce the cost of your sauce and does not take much effort. Read Grow Your Own Hot Peppers.

Choose other ingredients and add your favorite spices

I use simple ingredients that I love and stand out by themselves. I tend to avoid anything bland or is being added only to thicken the sauce. Certain fruits and vegetables can mix well with peppers and can complement the flavor of the peppers you choose.

Choosing the right spices can guide the direction of flavor you are looking for. I would be careful with using bold spices like mint or ginger because peppers can already have bold flavoring. I stick with garlic and a little table salt because I love these flavors and know how to cook with them.

Use ingredients that mix well with hot peppers

You may really love bananas, but I don’t know if they would mix well with a cayenne pepper. Determine this yourself by how well these foods taste together. Make a list of some common foods that you have eaten with hot peppers that you have found that you really enjoy.

Habanero peppers mix well with fruits like pineapple, mango and papaya due to the fruity notes in the peppers themselves. This process can be endless with the many combinations of peppers, fruits and spices but keep in mind you will want to taste each of these so know your tolerance level.

Choose a liquefying substance

Simply blending hot peppers with other ingredients can come up with some tasty combinations but that can limit the level of flavor and quantity of your sauce. Many hot sauce recipes add vinegar as one of the main ingredients as many condiments also do.

I use two different types of vinegar; white or apple cider, but there are many varieties of this ingredient available as well. Vinegar is the perfect start to inventing a simple hot sauce recipe and is a great base used in many sauces but make sure you have a good ratio (see below).

Water is typically used to increase the quantity or produce a sauce like consistency without altering the flavor too much. I tend to stay away from using any water, but it can be a good replacement for vinegar if you are trying to increase the alkaline level.

What will be the consistency?

Most fruits and vegetables will blend down to the consistency of a sauce but others such as pineapple and citrus fruits will leave a pulp. Others such as bananas will blend well but may change color as are processed.

I sometimes strain some of my sauces and they become very liquidized to the consistency of Tabasco® sauce but I also make a jalapeno relish with chunks of peppers. Pickles and other ingredients. Some ingredients may lend themselves better to either type of sauce.

What food will it be used on?

I usually start with an ethnic background of foods that are typically hot and spicy and stay away from trying to be original like inventing a hot sauce for cold cereal. I also love hot sauce on eggs and I recently found that hot sauce on a bagel with cream cheese is delicious!

The staple foods I use as a testing agent for my new hot sauce recipes are white rice due to the blandness, flour tortillas and fried eggs. I know the list of what someone may eat with their hot sauce is much longer, but I can gauge the flavor best with these simple foods.

How do I make my recipe original?

Cayenne peppers, garlic and vinegar are common ingredients that have been used in many different top selling name brand hot sauces. If you plan on entering the hot sauce business making this type of sauce may not make yours stand out. But there is a lot you can do with the process that will make a sauce unique.


Start with a base

If you are following any of the recommendations and processes above than you have the ingredients that you want to use in your sauce determined and maybe you have made some small batches of sauce. Now you will need to refine the process you will use to make the sauce.

The end results of your sauce will not be much different just by cutting the peppers differently but choosing to cook them, using fresh peppers or ferment the pepper as a mash before you make sauce can. Don’t worry about these processes having a drastic difference in the way your base sauce taste, it won’t. It will make it unique enough to distinguish it from other sauces.

Measure and weigh everything

Measure, weighing or use some calculation means of determine the ratio of ingredients you are using in your sauce. I like to weigh the ingredients verses measuring because this will give you a ratio that you can use when you increase the quantity.

Always perform the step of documenting what you are including in your hot sauce recipe especially if you are experimenting with different flavors. The last thing you want to do is come up with a delicious sauce and forget what was in it.

Get this scale here! from Amazon!

I use the ratio method. For example, 8 ounces of fresh hot peppers, 4 ounces of vinegar and 1 ounce of garlic may equal a 10 once woozy bottle of hot sauce, approximately. If you want to mass produce this recipe you can simply multiply each item times ten, twenty etc. to get a larger quantity.

**Your recipe will create a different ratio**

What if you plan on making a case of 24 – 10-ounce bottles of sauce? Than you will want your recipe to total 240 ounces. That is difficult to do per cup measurement and will require a different conversion.

Here is an example of the ratio rule using 8 : 4 : 1

8 Ounces of peppers 4 Ounces of vinegar1 Ounces of garlic
X 24 – 10 oz bottles =
240 oz96 oz24 oz
÷ 16 oz =16 oz =16 oz =
12 lbs6 lbs1.5 lbs

A “cup” of peppers can be hard to measure if they are whole. Some recipes only include a quantity of peppers, but the size of each individual pepper can vary greatly especially if they are coming from different sources. I don’t like my recipes using this quantitative measurement. Using either method is fine but just make sure that you are using the correct, simple math to calculate an increased recipe quantity.

If you want to increase your 1 bottle recipe to fill an entire case using the ratio method you would need 12 pounds of hot peppers, 6 pounds of vinegar and 1.5 pounds of garlic. Don’t round up the garlic as this will result in a different recipe!

Use fresh peppers

Using fresh peppers verse cooked or fermented will alter the flavor of the sauce. This will also eliminate a step in your recipe process. Sriracha brand hot sauce uses fresh peppers instead of cooking them and use a fermenting process to “age” the peppers as they ferment in a brine solution.

I think fresh peppers have a brighter taste to them and some fresh peppers will be hotter than their cooked counter parts. Removing the seeds or keeping them in will make a difference in the level of heat (leaving seeds in makes sauce hotter) but I have not noticed a difference in the flavor.

Ferment peppers or mash

Many well known brands of hot sauce such as Tabasco® and Sriracha use a fermenting process to give their sauces unique aged flavors much like a fine wine. How long the peppers are fermented, what type of containers are they stored in and under what climate conditions are all part of the “secret” process that these particular sauces are known for. Read more below on Trademark Secrets.

You can ferment peppers whole or as a mash. A mash is a partially blended product of peppers and other ingredient in your recipe mixed with a salt water brine. Depending on this mixture of salt and water ratio your peppers may not ferment properly.

Cook peppers with spices

Cooking the peppers may reduce the heat of a hot pepper but can also change the flavor of what it may be cooked in. Cooking peppers along with the spices can change the overall flavor of the sauce but still contain the original ingredient.

If you are cooking the peppers in a substance that may leave a residue in the sauce than this will have to be included as one of the ingredients.

Smoke peppers

There are a lot of different flavors that can be obtained from smoking peppers depending on the type of wood used, how long they are smoked or the cooking temperature. Your recipe may list smoked peppers, but the subtle differences can bring originality to your sauce.

How do I keep my recipe a secret?

Unfortunately, you cannot copyright a hot sauce recipe. In fact, if you plan on selling your sauce on a mass scale FDA regulations require the ingredients to be listed on the label. However, it does not require that the process in which the sauce was made be identified. This is how your sauce becomes original!

It is the process that can give a difference in the end product that you produce. Experiment with your processes but always precisely document what you are doing. The amount of product you are using is extremely important but so is time, especially if you are cooking or fermenting any part of your recipe.

How important is a trade secret?

This is the most important thing to remember if you want to protect an original recipe. Be very “scientific” about righting down, video taping or documenting the process you use to make the sauce and don’t publicize it if you want an original recipe.

Have anyone helping you process the sauce sign a form stating their secrecy to the process and keep this along with the documented process under lock and key. This is typical of protecting your original hot sauce recipe.

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