Scotch Bonnet Hot Sauce – What You Need To Know!

There are hundreds of varieties of hot peppers, and many are used to make hot sauces. Some are more common than others for their unique flavor and heat level. Scotch Bonnet peppers are not as widely known as other popular peppers but are used often to make hot sauce with a Caribbean flair.

A Scotch Bonnet hot sauce has a bright yellow color from the peppers that it is made from and the peppers themselves can have a SHU between 150,000 and 200,000. They are often used to influence and enhance the flavors of Caribbean-style meals and will include a variety of fruits. A Scotch Bonnet hot sauce will range from 9,000 to 36,000 SHU.

What is a Scotch bonnet pepper?

A Scotch Bonnet-based hot sauce will use the Scotch Bonnet pepper. The Scotch Bonnet pepper received its name because it resembles the Tam O’ Shanter hat also called a Scotch Bonnet. Many hot sauces concentrate on one pepper variety to highlight its flavor but this can be lost within the sauce. However, it isn’t as easy to dilute the heat of a Scotch Bonnet pepper within a hot sauce.

The heat

A Scotch Bonnet hot pepper is over 250, 000 SHU (Scoville Heat Units) at its peak ripeness. Scotch Bonnets are often compared to a more commonly used hot pepper like the habanero which has slightly less heat at about 200,000 SHU. As a reference, one of the more commonly used hot peppers, a jalapeno, is about 3,000 SHU.

The Scotch Bonnet pepper will have its heat slightly reduced if it goes through any processing or some type of cooking before it becomes a hot sauce. The heat from the peppers will also be diluted when other ingredients are added, especially if the peppers are not one of the first ingredients.

The sauce

A Scotch Bonnet hot sauce also called a Jamaican Pepper Sauce or Scotch Bonnet Hot Pepper Sauce is the typical thin sauce-like consistency of many hot sauces available. Because of other ingredients used in a sauce, a hot pepper flavor can easily be covered up. Many manufacturers of a Scotch Bonnet hot sauce such as Spur Tree Jamaican Pepper Sauce, Grace Jamaican Scotch Bonnet Pepper Sauce, and Eaton’s Jamaican Scotch Bonnet Pepper Sauce keep the ingredients to a minimum to highlight the flavor of the peppers within the sauce. Others such as Smilin’ Island Foods, Queen Majesty, and Melinda’s use ingredients like carrots, scallions, ginger, and fruits to enhance the flavor of a Scotch Bonnet to create a decadent or Caribbean influenced sauce.

The flavor

Many consumers of hot sauce may not fully understand the individual flavor that each hot pepper has to offer. A Scotch Bonnet pepper will have a slightly sweet and fruity taste to it along with the heat. Because the taste receptors on the tongue will taste the sweetness first and the heat second, these two flavors within the same pepper work well together.

Like many hot peppers used to make hot sauce, they will highly influence the flavor profile, how they are used and what foods they are paired with. A Louisiana sauce will typically use red cayenne peppers that give it brilliant red color a medium pungency.

The color

The color of the Scotch Bonnet can range between shades of orange and red but are typically a bright yellow. This will directly influence the color of the hot sauce that they are used to make and give the sauce its signature yellow color.

Other ingredients used in Scotch Bonnet hot sauce

Because a Scotch Bonnet pepper will have a fruity flavor aside from the sharp spiciness, this flavor combines well with fruits and their juices for a combination of “sweet and heat”. Fruits such as peaches, pineapples, and papayas all combine well with the fruity flavors of Scotch Bonnet combined to make hot sauce reminiscent of Jamaica and the Caribbean region. Adding Fruit Makes An Amazing Hot Sauce. Fruits, in general, have become a common ingredient in many gourmet hot sauces but other ingredients such as carrots are specific to a Jamaican-style pepper sauce.


Carrots can make a great base for a hot sauce without influencing the flavor negatively. They are used more commonly in a Jamaican-style hot sauce along with other fruits and sugars. Carrots can be used without altering the bright yellow color that a Scotch Bonnet hot sauce is known for. Read here to find out Why Carrots Are Used In A Hot Sauce.


Lime is another strong Caribbean-style flavoring that blends well with Scotch Bonnet colors and flavors. Lime and other citrus flavors have a sharp pungency that can present itself through the sweet and heat flavors of a Jamaican-style pepper sauce. The citrus juices can lower the pH enough to eliminate the need for vinegar preservatives but they can highly influence the flavor of a hot sauce.


Sugar is common in a Caribbean-style hot sauce especially if there is fruit used. Fruit has natural sugar and adding sweeteners will enhance the fruit used as well as the overall flavoring of the sauce. Sugar comes in many forms but a simple granulated sugar can provide sweetness without interfering with the flavor profile of the sauce. Read more on what sugar does to a hot sauce.


Mustard is a common ingredient in a Jamaican Scotch Bonnet hot sauce. This is typically in the form of yellow table mustard and not spicy mustard, ground mustard, or mustard powders. Read This Before Using Mustard In A Hot Sauce.

Foods that go well with Scotch Bonnet pepper sauce

Fried Plantains

Fried plantains are a staple Jamaican food that tastes great by themselves but comes alive with the addition of a Scotch Bonnet hot sauce. The sauce will complement the sweetness of the plantain but they need to be overripe to taste the sweetness.

Jamaican Callaloo

These large edible leaves are just begging to be enjoyed with a Scotch Bonnet hot sauce. This all-vegetable dish is typically prepared with Scotch Bonnet peppers but a sauce will give added flavor or any sugars that it is made with.

Caribbean Shrimp

Caribbean shrimp will have a strong lime flavoring and soy sauce mixture that are both “stand-alone” flavors. The Scotch Bonnet, in the form of a hot sauce, is a great dipping sauce that allows you to control the heat by the amount of sauce you eat with it.

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