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Fresh-Chile Hot Sauce

Fresh-Chile Hot Sauce

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For the most vibrant, striking hue, stick with one type of pepper.


  • ½ pound red chiles (such as Fresno, Holland, or jalapeño)
  • ¼ cup distilled white vinegar

Recipe Preparation

  • Pulse chiles, garlic, and salt in a food processor to a fine paste. Transfer to a glass jar; cover with cheesecloth and secure with a rubber band. Let sit at room temperature 5–7 days to ferment (the longer it sits, the more pronounced the flavor will be).

  • Transfer chile mixture to a blender; add vinegar, lime juice, and sugar and purée until smooth. Transfer to a clean jar, cover with cheesecloth, and secure with rubber band. Let sit at room temperature at least 2 days and up to 5 days to ferment more.

  • Transfer hot sauce to blender and blend again, then strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean jar. Cover and chill.

  • Do Ahead: Hot sauce can be made 6 months ahead. Keep chilled.

Nutritional Content

Per 1 Tbsp.: Calories (kcal) 10 Fat (g) 0 Saturated Fat (g) 0 Cholesterol (mg) 0 Carbohydrates (g) 2 Dietary Fiber (g) 0 Total Sugars (g) 1 Protein (g) 0 Sodium (mg) 360Reviews Section

Hot Headed: DIY Sriracha-inspired fresh chile garlic sauce

Could these be the elusive red jalapeños I’d been searching so long for? They looked almost like jalapeño peppers, but more cone-like in shape with thinner flesh than the green jalapeños I knew. Hmmm.

Turns out that I had red fresno chiles, which are similar in size and heat to jalapeños. They tasted bright and fresh, with a nice heat… close to what I imagined, but no cigar. The fresnos just didn’t have quite the depth and texture I was after. I wanted fat red chile flavor and I had a feeling red jalapeños were it.

I wondered if perhaps red jalapeños were simply not sold to the public. Red jalapeños are just green jalapenos that are fully vine-ripened and mature. Did Huy Fong Foods have some exclusive deal diverting every last one of the red guys to their plant in Rosemead, CA? I mean, if they can supply the entire world with their beloved sriracha sauce made from red jalapeños, why couldn’t I find even a measly handful here in the bay area? If anyone would know, it would be our local farmers.

On my next visit to the Evergreen farmers market, I stopped at each stall displaying chiles of any kind, and asked if they had red jalapeños. I was so excited and encouraged to hear that the answer was “not yet“. My peppers were still sitting green on the vines! The chiles on the farms were just beginning to turn red, and at one of the stands I was told the farmers often keep the red ones for themselves because most customers are looking for green. I was assured that in about 2-3 weeks the red jalapeños would be showing up at the market. Man, did that put a bounce in my step!

Just one week later, at the San Pedro farmers market, I stopped in my tracks. Years of searching, and suddenly, there they were. Nestled amongst the colorful spread of vegetables at the Veggielution Community Farm stand were the first precious few red jalapeño chile peppers! Feeling an odd fear that some wayward bandit could rush in at any moment and snatch them, I wasted no time asking the friendly staff about the chiles. They were interested in what I planned to use them for and genuinely wanted to help. Pulling out a box of jalapeños that were not on display, one of the staff picked out the few more red ones for me. I bought everything they had. I also bought some green jalapeños to see how they would fare. Since red jalapeños were proving hard to come by, it would be useful to know if green jalapeños made a good substitute. The guys wished me well on my hot sauce quest, and off I went.

I consulted several recipes for sriracha as well as hot sauce. Typical ingredients include fresh chiles, vinegar, and salt. Ratios of the various ingredient amounts relative to chiles vary quite a bit, and recipes for sriracha call for notably higher amounts of garlic and sugar. Taking a page from the sriracha recipe developed by Randy Clemens, I pulsed chilies, fresh garlic, salt, and white sugar to a coarse puree in the food processor. The eye-popping crimson color and the smell of fresh chiles and garlic made me giddy. It looked good enough to eat right then and there.

The mixture was transferred to a glass jar. As it sat in a dark corner on my kitchen counter, it was just about torture to see that delicious bright red sauce begging to be devoured.

It was supposed to stay out for several days to ferment, but, grabbing a big spoon, I reasoned that a good stir would be beneficial. When I removed the lid, a sweet, savory, spicy aroma leapt out of the jar. I gave the mixture a few turns, then succumbed. Scooping a couple of tablespoons out, I marveled at the sight of crushed chiles and bits of garlic napped in the glassy red-tinged liquor. Juicy bits of red flesh popped in my mouth. The flavor was earthy, savory, and fresh, with a slight sweetness. But it begged for one thing — acid. When I added vinegar, the flavors erupted into song. This crushed chile and garlic sauce was so tantalizing that I couldn’t bear to process it further. I am certainly a lover of the funky flavors from fermentation, but this was truly something special.

Finishing the rest of the crushed chile mixture with vinegar, it stood proudly in its coarse-textured raw glory.

The freshness of the juicy chile flavor and slight bite of garlic is unlike any store-bought chile garlic sauce I’ve tasted. What is most striking about this sauce, though, is the remarkable balance of flavors (sriracha-inspired) that allow it to stand on its own — my fresh chile garlic sauce can be slurped up literally by the spoonful (provided you can stand the heat!).

Go to the recipe for Sriracha-inspired Fresh Chile Garlic Sauce

I’ve come up with seemingly endless ways to use this sauce to jazz up all kinds of foods. Check out my recipes for Creamy Chile Garlic Sauce and Chile Garlic Grilled Cheese Sandwiches.

For this recipe, you will need thin rubber gloves, a sharp paring knife, a food processor, a rubber spatula, a clean pint-size glass jar with a lid, a blender, a fine-mesh strainer, and a small nonreactive saucepan.

Turn the chiles into a colander (fig. 1.1) and wash them well. Draw on a pair of thin rubber gloves. Using a sharp paring knife, trim off and discard the tops from the chiles. Slice off the tips and reserve. Cut each chile in half lengthwise and cut out the ribs and seeds (fig. 1.2). A few remaining seeds are fine, but too many will substantially increase the heat quotient of your final sauce. Cut the chiles into reasonably even ¼-inch dice. Coarsely chop the garlic and onion.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the chiles, garlic, onion, and salt and pulse until the pieces are fine but not ground up, 10 to 15 quick bursts (fig. 2.1). Pour the vinegar into the food processor and, with a rubber spatula, slosh the chiles around to get them unstuck from the sides of the processor. Transfer the mixture into a clean pint-size glass jar with a lid, cover tightly, and let macerate at room temperature for at least 24 hours or for up to 2 days (fig. 2.2).

Pour the entire contents of the jar into a blender and process on high until well puréed, about 10 seconds. Wash and dry the jar. Set a fine-mesh strainer over a small nonreactive saucepan, pour the purée into the strainer, and use the rubber spatula to push as much of the pulp as possible through the strainer (fig. 3.1). Set the pan over medium-low heat and warm the sauce as briefly as possible to set the color and flavor—no more than a minute. Pour the sauce back in the jar (fig. 3.2). Seal tightly and refrigerate. The sauce will keep for up to 3 weeks at optimum flavor.

Recipe Summary

  • One 4-pound dry-aged sirloin roast
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 pound red fresno or red jalapeño chiles&mdashstemmed, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1/2 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 up water
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup very thinly sliced garlic cloves (sliced on a mandoline)
  • Canola oil, for frying
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 cups baby arugula
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzle
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • Freshly ground pepper

Set the roast on a baking sheet and rub it all over with the salt and pepper. Refrigerate, uncovered, for 1 day.

Preheat the oven to 400°. Heat a large cast-iron skillet. Cook the roast, fat side down, over moderately high heat until well browned, about 3 minutes. Continue cooking, turning, until the meat is browned all over, about 5 minutes. Turn the meat fat side up and roast for 40 to 45 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center registers 125° for medium rare. Transfer the roast to a cutting board and let rest for 15 minutes.

In a blender, combine all of the ingredients and puree until smooth. Strain into a medium bowl.

In a small saucepan, bring the milk and garlic just to a boil. Drain the garlic and pat the slices dry on paper towels. In a small saucepan, heat 1/2 inch of canola oil to 275°. Working in 2 batches, fry the garlic, stirring, until light golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the garlic to paper towels to drain. Season with salt and let cool.

Spread the arugula on a platter. Thinly slice the roast and arrange on the arugula. Drizzle a little hot sauce and olive oil over the meat and garnish with the garlic chips and scallions. Season with salt and pepper and serve the remaining hot sauce at the table.

Storing Peppers by Dehydrating

Storage: 1+ year | Difficulty: Medium

Another excellent method for preserving chillies at home is by dehydrating them and creating dried pepper flakes or powder. If stored properly, they can last a long time, and make for a great seasoning for adding spice to meals. This method is pretty simple and can keep your chillies for 1 year or longer.

How to Dehydrate Peppers

Ideally , you should use a dehydrator to dry out your peppers. This can be an investment depending on the quality of the dehydrator. However, if you grow a lot of produce, it can be well worth it to get your own dehydrator.

We love 4 tray our Excalibur dehydrator, but it is slightly pricier than the cheapest models. There are many affordable options on Amazon with customizable temperature settings and plenty of tray space.

A dehydrator holds a consistent, warm temperature while also circulating dry air within a chamber. Your peppers are spread out on racks to allow the warm air to dry out the peppers evenly over a number of hours.

One alternate method for dehydrating chillies is to bake them at a very low temperature in an oven. This is not ideal because the peppers tend to cook slightly, taking away some of their original color and flavor.

The ideal temperature for dehydrating peppers is around 115°F (46°C), which is below what most ovens can maintain. Also, only some conventional ovens have air circulation (convection), which is essential for timely dehydration.

To learn more about drying peppers, read our article about dehydrating habanero peppers here.

How to Store Dehydrated Peppers

Once your peppers are dried out (peppers are leathery and shrunken in size), you should store them properly. In order to do so, simply place them into and air-tight container and store in a cool, dark place.

Ideally, you should also place a food safe desiccant packet with the dried peppers to remove any excess moisture. A pantry or cabinet will work well, or in the refrigerator. This will allow the peppers to stay good for up to 12 months.

Handling Chile Peppers

Capsaicin is the compound in chiles that gives them their heat. Chile peppers are rated on the Scoville scale from mildest to hottest, based on the amount of capsaicin in them. Mild peppers, such as Anaheim, are near the bottom while more incendiary varieties, such as Habanero, are closer to the top of the list. Hot on the tongue, the oils in chile peppers can also be irritating to the hands and eyes. Here are a few tips for working with hot chiles, particularly those that pack more heat.

  • If you are unfamiliar with the chile variety, look it up on the Scoville scale so you can adjust your recipe accordingly. Mix milder chiles with hotter to moderate the heat level to your taste preference.
  • Remove the pepper’s white pith and seeds to reduce the heat. Compost the pith, seeds and pepper top to reduce food waste.
  • If you are working with a large quantity of peppers, wear latex gloves (maybe even two pairs!) and change them periodically through your work. You may not feel the impact of contact until hours later, so don’t judge the need for gloves by the way your hands feel while you are cooking. An ounce of prevention will prevent a pound of pain later. Be sure to keep an eye out for any tears or holes that might let stinging pepper juice seep in!
  • Consider snipping chiles with kitchen shears or running them through the food processor instead of chopping them on a board to limit potential skin contact and to keep from spreading the chiles’ heat onto multiple surfaces.
  • Always clean any knives, cutting boards, utensils or machinery thoroughly with dish soap and hot water after using with chile peppers. Oil or alcohol can be used to remove stubborn residue from wooden cutting boards (and your hands if need be).

George’s Gourmet Pepper Sauce

"When we had our class reunion this past weekend. I called my buddy George Batten in advance. He brought me two bottles of the mild pepper sauce! Tried It! It was GREAT! It was thick, full of flavor and not too hot! George, it was Great! Thanks again and I highly recommend it!"Robbie S., Garner, NC

George’s Gourmet Pepper Sauce is our finest product. Based on an old family recipe, it is not your typical hot sauce. It is, in fact, a gourmet product, containing only all-natural ingredients. But how to describe this flavorful sauce in words?

It contains a variety of flavors. In addition to the flavors contributed by the chile peppers, it has a smoky, sweet, spicy flavor which produces a product that is delicious. Words cannot describe this product adequately, but we suggest that the taste is a bit of a hybrid between a steak sauce and a barbecue sauce.

We make this pepper sauce from fresh chile peppers (primarily cayenne, but with a few jalapeños), gently cooked with our special blend of sugar and spices. We cook the sauce until the flavor is just right, and then simmer it to create a thick, delicious seasoning.

This is our mildest sauce, but don’t be fooled. It still has plenty of kick: our special blend of cayenne and jalapeño peppers ensures that this product is spicy, but smooth to the palate.

Try it with the finest sides of beef. We suggest using George’s Gourmet Pepper Sauce with Filet Mignon, Rib Eye, New York Strip, T-Bone, and baby-back ribs.

This recipe is rather easy to make the salsa lasts at least 2 weeks in the fridge and goes well with grilled meats, roasted chicken, fried fish, and –my favorite– hot dogs. Yes, I said hot dogs. The first time I tried this salsa was at a hot dog street stand in Chetumal, Quintana Roo. With just one bite of that hot dog, I have completely blown away, the Habanero salsa really changes the whole concept of the popular American street food. The way to prepare this salsa is very similar to an aioli, but without the eggs, and using Habanero Peppers (by the way, you can also substitute any other pepper, dried or fresh). I also like the árbol pepper version of this salsa.

Habanero Peppers are commonly eaten in the Yucatan Peninsula and are usually sold fresh to make salsas. They were not readily available all over Mexico until a couple of decades ago, when they started growing in popularity and started to appear even in the northern states of Mexico. Today, I can easily buy them even here in the US. The Habanero Pepper is considered an exceptionally hot pepper by the Scoville Scale. If you are trying this pepper for the first time, and are not used to hot peppers, be sure to have a glass of milk nearby to mitigate the burning sensation after tasting it. I don’t like to add any additional herbs or spices to this sauce, in order to enjoy the aroma and flavor of the Habanero peppers.


Kimchi (made with fresh chile pepper)

A spicy and relatively short ferment, kimchi offers a unlimited canvas on which to paint different flavor variations. Many kimchi recipes use pepper powders/mixes to slather every last morsel of the veggies. This recipe uses only fresh peppers with some fish sauce, so it may look different than a traditional preparation. But you can’t argue with the taste– ginger, garlic, fish sauce, and just the right amount of heat from the chile peppers. What’s not to love?

  1. Brine the Veg: Add salt into water in a one-gallon (or larger) glass or ceramic container. Stir until salt dissolves.
  2. Remove the leafiest 2 or 3 outer leaves from cabbage (Reserve for another use.) Chop the cabbage into chunks (from ½" to 1" or larger!)
  3. Peel and cut stems off radish and carrots. Cut into thin slices using a mandoline, V-slicer, or knife.
  4. Add cabbage, carrots, and radish to the brine. Cover with a plastic lid or plate and weigh down so that the contents stay under the brine. Leave for 4-6 hours (overnight in refrigerator is okay).
  5. Drain the veggies through a colander, reserving about a cup of the brine.
  6. Prepare spice mixture: Chop the scallions into thin slices. Add to a small glass or metal mixing bowl or the mixing bowl of a food processor.
  7. Remove stem, seeds, and the white membrane (which contains the most capsaicin, the ingredient that makes peppers hot!) from the peppers. Dice the flesh as fine as you can. Add to bowl. Handling peppers: plastic or latex gloves are highly recommended! Habañeros and serranos are very hot and can burn your skin!
  8. Peel and grate ginger, and mince the garlic. Add to bowl or the bowl of a food processor.
  9. (Optional) Add fish sauce to bowl.
  10. Stir and mash contents (or pulse with food processor) together, getting as close to a paste as you can.
  11. One third at a time, add veggies and paste to the container. Mix thoroughly with your (gloved) hand until the veggies are coated nicely with the paste. Repeat until it is uniformly coated.
  1. Cover with a plastic lid or plate, and weigh down so that the contents stay under the brine. Some brine will continue to form once the veggies are pressed down.
  2. Cover with a cloth and rubber band to keep flies out.
  3. If after one day, the contents are not completely submerged, top it off with some of the reserved brine.
  4. Store in a dark cool spot for at least 7 days. When you like the texture and taste, it's ready!
  5. Transfer contents to mason jars and store in fridge (or swap with your local club members!)

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10 thoughts on &ldquo Kimchi (made with fresh chile pepper) &rdquo

this looks so good! I tried making my first kimchi earlier this fall mostly following the recipe in Nourishing Traditions and it isn’t nearly spicy enough for me. This one sounds like it is much spicier! So the peppers, scallions, ginger, garlic and fish sauce are all mushed together? and the only whole pieces of veg are the carrots, cabbage and radish?

Hi Lee,
Yes I just diced the garlic and peppers as fine as I could, added the grated ginger and scallions, and used the fish sauce to make it paste-like, but using fresh stuff won’t ever get you to the exact texture as with using powder. The larger sliced veggies are carrots, radish and cabbage, but you could use turnips, or any other kind of watery veg!
Good luck! Let us know how it turns out.

What are the thoughts on the fish sauce? I am a vegetarian so I won’t include it, but is there a substitute that I should consider?

Hi Russ,
In addition to adding flavor, we used fish sauce to help create the paste. You can certainly omit it maybe try soy sauce instead? There are also lots of recipes if you google “vegetarian fish sauce”. Good luck and let us know how it turns out!

I have been making my own kimchi for years, with varied results, but mainly yummy! I have always used sambal olek for the chili part and it worked well, but I love the idea of using fresh chillis and I can’t wait to try your recipe. It looks awesome.

Thanks! I’ll look at sambal olek. Does that have any preservatives (if so that can affect the fermentation). I know there are also many kinds of premixed dried chili powders– we want to try those too!

Austin, thanks for posting this! I am so excited for people to get into making kimchi, a must at every meal in many Korean homes. The peppers, ginger, garlic have such health benefits! We’ve been making kimchi, more along the traditional flavor, but minus the fish sauce. What fish sauce do you use?—I just didn’t want to use without getting one I felt sure of, or eventually making it myself. Good job on the recipe.

Hi Jen,
Thank you we’re excited too! I used “Cock” Brand fish sauce that’s actually been in my cupboard for years! The only ingredients are “anchovy, sugar, and salt”. Be sure to avoid any that have preservatives, as this can prevent fermentation!

Heat the vegetable oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Once hot, add the garlic and the onion. Saute in the oil for about 3 minutes, until the onion is translucent. Then whisk in the flour. Let the flour cook for 2 minutes, whisking it frequently.

In a large bowl, whisk the red chile powder and the water together. While whisking the flour mixture, slowly add the red chile and water mixture. Whisk until smooth and bring to a steady simmer and let the sauce thicken over medium-low heat for 5 minutes. Stir frequently.

Once the sauce has thickened, add the salt, cumin, and oregano. Let the sauce simmer on low for another 3 minutes. I like to bottle the sauce up in mason jars. I think the sauce tastes best after it has been sitting in the fridge overnight.

This recipe yields 3 3/4 cups of red chile sauce. Charles and I ate it all in 5 days.


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