Having the right high-quality kitchen utensils and appliances is essential in your long-term efforts to make a great-tasting hot sauce. Spending money upfront on durable and lasting equipment can save money over time.
Making hot sauce in a kitchen will require a blender, sharp knives, a cutting board, and measuring cups. Hot sauce-making processes such as fermenting will need a crock and other roasting, toasting, or drying methods will require an oven or outdoor grill.
Don’t spend $100,000 on kitchen equipment for your hot sauce start-up business if you don’t know what you need, do but spend some money on the tools you need the most. This article explores what to look for in kitchen gear and how to select the highest quality kitchen utensils, appliances, and equipment to produce a decadent hot sauce.
The type of tools or equipment that you need depends on the process you use to make hot sauce. Drying, smoking, fermenting, and cooking will all use very different equipment, and some processing will require expensive and elaborate outdoor equipment.
A simple classic or traditional hot sauce only requires a blender and some great-tasting sauces can be made with average mid-grade equipment. A standard off-the-shelf blender will have enough speed to blend to a smooth consistency…but a blender is just the bare minimum of the tools you may need to make some gourmet hot sauces.
Bare minimum of equipment needed to make hot sauce
The bare minimum of what you need to make hot sauce consists of two things: hot peppers and a blender. Hot peppers are delicious and are best if mixed with other ingredients but they can be blended smooth consistency on their own with just a blender.
As a general distinction regarding consumer products a higher priced item is perceived as being a higher quality product. This is true but it also means that the product may have more features or what I like to call “bells and whistles” that you may not need to make hot sauce.
Higher costs = higher quality?
Generally speaking, a higher costing product is made with higher quality materials and sturdier construction. The cost of the materials and the cost of manufacturing become greater, therefore the cost of the product becomes higher.
Name brand is synonymous with quality
Name brand is another indication or can be synonymous with high (or low) quality products. However, just because you may have never heard of a product name does NOT mean it is low quality. Many up-and-coming brands of hot sauce are delicious but you may reach for Franks or Tabasco because they are well-known brands (and you already know they taste great).
You can use the same logic when selecting kitchen equipment to make hot sauce, especially on the higher costing equipment like blenders, ovens. Brands like Hamilton Beach and Vitamix, both available from Amazon, are all synonymous with being a high-quality products.
Making a great hot sauce can be done with just a few simple tools but the select the wrong one and you will be working harder than you have to. Think ahead and purchase the next best piece of equipment or buy a blender a little larger in capacity.
Buying a great blender will make work easier
A blender should be on the top of the list of equipment you need to make hot sauce. There are many different sizes and selections so take some time with the right choice especially when you intend to spend hundreds of dollars.
How to select a high-quality blender
If you will be making hot sauce every day as part of your business then you will need a mind-to-high-quality blender between $300 and $500. However, you can certainly find a functioning blender for around $100.
Choose a blender with 2 to 5 speeds
The amount of speed settings does not indicate the quality of a blender. I have made plenty of experimental sauce recipes with a simple one-speed Ninja. Purchase a blender with at least 2 – 5 speed settings. I prefer a dial instead of buttons like the Vitamix E310 available through Amazon.
Glass or steel container?
The container should be glass. Some coarse products will scratch any plastic parts of a blender. Glass lasts longer than plastic and can withstand the higher temperatures of some sterilization methods. It also adds a lot more weight to hold the container in place for blending at high speeds.
The speed, horsepower and size of a blender make a difference
The speed at which a blender mixes can determine the consistency of your hot sauce. Purchase a blender with a speed of at least 900 RPM (rotations per minute) and half a horsepower. Consider size if you plan on producing hot sauce on a large scale.
You will also want a blender that is capable of making a large quantity of sauce, to increase production. Most countertop blenders are about 1 quart or 32 oz but you can also find them relatively inexpensive half gallon to 1-gallon blender.
For the sauces that I make there is very little prep time that involves a knife. A knife will be used for cutting the stems off the peppers, slicing them in two, and removing the seeds, if that is what your recipe calls for. Buy a high-quality knife that will last and keep it sharp to make production easier.
How to determine the quality of a knife
Tang (pronounced tan) runs the full length of the knife through the handle. This can usually (and should be) seen in the handle, especially if the handle is wrapped in wood. I like a tang that extends the width of the handle and is not just a rod through the handle, called a hidden tang. A knife with a full tang has a much more solid feel to it.
Wooden knife handle versus plastic
Either wood or plastic can be molded or shaped to fit your hand but wood tends to be heavier, weighting the knife properly. Both sanitize as equally well but a plastic handle is usually a good indication the tang has been compromised or hidden in the handle. This is because the manufacturer uses less of the expensive material…the metal.
A clean and sanitized cutting board is essential for any type of cutting, chopping, or other types of food prep. I prefer plastic over wood and I like a smaller size with a handle. Either will be fine but don’t chop directly on a counter top. Steel, granite, or other types of counter tops can dull or damage a knife.
I like the 14″ from Dexas because big enough for chopping but also super easy to clean and store. Get one from Amazon through this link.
Wood vs. plastic
Woodcutting boards are more difficult to sanitize. HDPE plastic is what to look for in a cutting board. Most thin, even very thin, cutting boards still offer enough protection on a countertop but purchase one at least 1/2″ in thickness or more. Anything thinner will warp and curl at the edges. The sturdiness helps with chopping.
Cleaning a cutting board
Clean a cutting board with hot water and antibacterial soap after every use. About once a week use a solution of 1 teaspoon bleach to 1 quart of water. I find you are needing to sanitize more than once a week it is time to replace your cutting board.
How often should you replace a cutting board?
You need to replace a cutting board every 6 months to a year depending on how much cutting or chopping you do. If you find a cutting board you really like, purchase two or three of them and stash them away until you are ready to replace them.
Buy multiple cutting boards
Purchase multiple cutting boards especially if you perform a lot of prep work. It is much easier to grab an additional cutting board than it is to continually re-wash one. They’re fairly inexpensive and come in multiple colors so you can reference quickly what has been washed or not.
Extras come in handy
Purchase several size funnels with both narrow and wide necks. Some hot sauces will be thicker than others and will get stuck in the neck. Remember this when you transfer it to a woozy bottle too. You won’t need funnels if you have a bottle filling machine.
Measuring cups and spoons
I prefer steel utensils and measuring cups over plastic. The markings on a plastic set will fade away if they are just stamped on. The engraved or etched markings on a stainless steel set will never fade or scratch off. Purchase a set of ten so you can measure in many increments. Don’t guess with eating utensils…measure precisely.
Strainers of every size are useful for many reasons. Large strainers are used for washing hot peppers or other fruits and vegetables used in a hot sauce. Fine strainers may be used if you strain the hot peppers to extract a liquid.
Spoons, spatulas, forks, and tongs. I use each of these regularly in the kitchen and I prefer stainless steel for these types of utensils as well. Steel utensils will conduct heat up to the handle if it is left in a pot of boiling water.
Advanced tools for complex processes
Ovens and ranges
An oven is a great piece of equipment to have for making hot sauce and it does not need to be an extravagant piece of equipment. Roasting, toasting, drying, and stovetop cooking can all be done with an inexpensive oven.
This is a must-have piece of equipment in a kitchen especially if you plan on expanding your sauce line. Invest in extra racks so you have multiple availabilities to roast the most peppers at any given time. A functional oven or range can be purchased for under $300. A lot of the same functions can be achieved on a large countertop toaster oven.
I use cooking sheets, also called cookie sheets, for roasting and toasting hot peppers for a mild and delicious hot sauce. Don’t use a tray-type pan for roasting because the idea is that the heat surrounds as much of the peppers as possible. A cooking sheet allows much more of the pepper to be exposed to the heat source.
A scale is extremely important for weighing ingredients. Some ingredients of a hot sauce like peppers, fruits, or vegetables will not fit right in a measuring cup. This will force the measurement to be slightly off each time you make the sauce.
A scale will give a precise measurement of an ingredient every time. Digital scales will give the most accurate reading but will require a power source. I prefer a digital scale that will measure in increments as low grams.
Pots and pans
I generally like to have three different size pans available when making hot sauce. Smaller two-quart saucepans are easier to handle are work well for small experimental batches of sauce. A larger 4 quart is needed for…you guessed it…larger batches of sauce.
A pH meter is great for home canning or testing a new hot sauce creation. Making them the same hot sauce should almost guarantee the pH will be the same but you should test each batch regularly during and after production. Read more on The Best pH Meters here!
Specialized equipment for specialized sauce
Fermenting can be done in a variety of containers. A fermenting crock is very standard but will usually limit the amount that you can ferment at any one time. Larger manufacturers like Huy Fong which makes Sriracha uses plastic drums. Others like Tabasco use oak barrels. It’s no secret…it’s written right on the packaging.
Drying out a large crop of hot peppers can be done in an oven, in a dehydrator, or just by hanging them up without any equipment. Perfect a recipe and have a good source of fresh peppers available before you invest too much money in a dehydrator.
Smoking can only be done in a smoker but there are many different versions available. This is a long and delicate process to be performed to make a hot sauce. This process may be something you would do in conjunction with smoking other meats,
Keep it simple
Just like a great hot sauce can be made with simple ingredients, it only takes a few kitchen utensils to make a great sauce. Focus on a good high-quality blender and much of the other work will be easier. The blender speed, horsepower, and size are the most important aspect of the purchasing decision.
Spend money on the important tools
Purchase the tools that are specific to your hot sauce operation. You probably don’t need a set of 10 funnels (although they are some of the less expensive items) if your sauce gets distributed into one size wide mouth woozy bottle. A great blender and a sharp knife will get a lot of work accomplished.
Buy equipment as you need it
Don’t buy thousands of dollars in equipment because you want to make every variety of hot sauce and have a full kitchen at your disposal. Purchase the equipment that you need to make your favorite recipe that you feel will sell. Concentrate on a good hot sauce recipe and expand when the time is right.
Cleaning and sterilizing equipment
Keeping equipment clean is one of the most important parts of working in a kitchen. Hot sauce is known for its extended shelf life but contaminating equipment because it is unclean could compromise the sauce. Wash with hot soapy water often.