Homemade Hot Sauce: 5 Easy Steps

Using an abundant chili pepper harvest in homemade hot sauce never entered my mind until this year. Normally, the ones from my garden all go into salsa canning. But thanks to the cold, wet summer the tomato harvest was lacking in abundance and quality. So, I hunted for a copycat recipe for my favorite fajita hot sauce. And I found one for hiding in an old pepper lovers forum thread.

Despite only one person ever trying out that homemade hot sauce recipe, I was game. It’s only one for green habaneros online. And it’s getting hard to find that green hot sauce, and I didn’t want my harvest to go to waste. Naturally, I was lacking a few ingredients, but only one was elusive. So, what? On with the experiment.


You will need some less common items to pull off making a homemade hot sauce. One of them is achiote powder (a.k.a. ground annatto seed). I ended up buying it from Amazon, though anyone living in densely populated areas will find it in stores that cater to Latino shoppers. Another is xanthan gum for thickening. It’s in everything these days, and popular with those who have gluten intolerance. You’ll find it with the specialty flours.

Finally, the missing ingredient… wheatgrass juice. If you grow your own, you’re in luck. Unfortunately, in my case, securing a cup of it meant driving 2 hours each way.  Juice bars aren’t common in rural areas. Neither are items like unsweetened kiwi juice or anything else that is green and tastes “green” without taking over. Substitution: plain water. The almost empty hot sauce bottle in the fridge lists no juices in the ingredients. I will, however, make a point of securing wheat grass and kiwi juice ahead of time next year.

So, here you go, my adaptation of the original homemade hot sauce recipe.

Clean, core, deseed, and coarsely chop 1 cup of habaneros. (About 15 good-sized ones.)

Put the peppers, garlic, lime juice, and spices in a small saucepan with 1 cup of water (use wheatgrass/fresh fruit juice here if you’ve got it). Bring to a quick boil on high and reduce to medium heat, cooking for 18 minutes. Pull it off the burner, and let it sit to cool down.

Put the now cooled, cooked hot sauce base in your blender with 1/2 cup of water. Puree well, reducing all chunks to the tiniest particles possible. Add the vinegar and blend.

Pour it into a big bowl to work your thickener in. Working with xanthan gum is interesting. It mixes best with warm liquids. So, scoop 1/2 cup of your hot sauce into a cereal bowl and warm it up in the microwave (30-40 seconds). Now, much like mixing flour in while making gravy, slowly sprinkle the gum powder into the warm hot sauce while whisking. Once thoroughly blended, slowly add the thick stuff to the big bowl contents, whisking continually.

Pour your finished hot sauce into shaker bottles and keep it in the refrigerator. The mixture contains enough vinegar that it should keep for a long time. You can also put it in 1/2 pint canning jars and hot bath process it as you would salsa or pickles for 10 minutes. The canning bath will cook it more, but sealed jars make it pantry-safe.

Play around with the kinds of peppers used in your homemade hot sauce. Recipes are adaptable to what you’ve got on hand. Use something hotter, or milder, or concoct your own special mix. Every hot pepper has its individually unique green and ripe flavors. However, the tough-skinned varieties, like a fresno, mole, or poblano type, will leave larger pieces in your hot sauce than you expect… no matter how long you puree the cooked mixture. They work, but not ideally so.

What will I do with 2.5 quarts of hot sauce? Eat more chile peppers than in the past, which is good. Did you know that cultures with cuisine that features lots of chiles have far fewer heart diseases and strokes? Chiles also have antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and pain relief properties. Research has discovered these vitamin-rich fruits regulate blood sugar levels, prevent blood clots, and lower your blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels. And… fight cancer by triggering apoptosis, a body process that makes cancer cells commit suicide.

Homemade Hot Sauce Ingredients

  • 1 cup chopped chillis
  • 1 cup water/wheat grass juice/ unsweetened, unsalted fruit or veggie juice
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon each: achiote powder, onion powder, salt
  • 4 heavy splashes lime juice
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 3/16 teaspoon xanthan gum

How Many Peppers per Cup?

  • Habaneros: 14-15 (full-sized)
  • Jalapenos & Fresnos: 4-6 (size dependent)

By the way, you can buy a dozen reusable hot sauce bottles with shaker top inserts on Amazon for $12 bucks. It’s probably not a container you’ve been saving for repurposing.

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Tammy Clayton

Contributing Writer at Garden Culture Magazine

Tammy has been immersed in the world of plants and growing since her first job as an assistant weeder at the tender age of 8. Heavily influenced by a former life as a landscape designer and nursery owner, she swears good looking plants follow her home.