Fermented Hot Sauce Recipe

Fermented Hot Sauce in a jar

The Spruce Eats / Cara Cormack

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Ferment Time: 240 hrs
Total: 240 hrs 20 mins
Servings: 72 servings
Yield: 1 1/2 cups
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
2 Calories
0g Fat
1g Carbs
0g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 72
Amount per serving
Calories 2
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 54mg 2%
Total Carbohydrate 1g 0%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 7mg 34%
Calcium 1mg 0%
Iron 0mg 0%
Potassium 18mg 0%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Fermented hot sauce is easy to make and so versatile you'll want to put it on everything. The sauce takes just minutes to prepare—cut the peppers, garlic, and carrots, pack them into a jar, then add a simple salt and water brine. That's all you'll have to do to prepare the peppers. After about 10 days, you'll blend the peppers with brine and vinegar and then funnel the strained sauce into bottles.

You can easily put your own spin on this hot sauce recipe. Add a few slices of onion to the pepper or add spices such as a dash of cumin seeds, peppercorns, or coriander. Fresh cilantro is another excellent option, and a dash of sugar or honey can add a touch of sweetness. If you prefer a relatively mild hot sauce, add a sliced sweet red bell pepper to temper the heat. You can reduce the heat by halving the peppers lengthwise and removing the seeds and ribs.

This recipe makes 1 quart jar or 2 (1-pint) jars, yielding about 1 1/2 cups of sauce. Double the amounts for a 2-quart jar.

Safe Fermenting

  • Use clean hands, jars, lids, and work surfaces. There's no need to sterilize the jars—put them in the dishwasher or wash them by hand with hot soapy water and rinse them well.
  • Oxygen is the enemy. Always make sure the ingredients are submerged in the brine as they ferment. You can use a specially made weight to hold the food under the brine, or you can try an alternative weight, such as a small plastic bag filled with extra brine.
  • Carbon dioxide is produced by the ferment, forcing oxygen out. The lid must have a way to let air escape without allowing any back into the jar. You can achieve this with an airlock-style lid. If you don't have an airlock lid, you'll need to loosen the lid daily to let the air escape.
  • Once you have bottled the sauce, refrigerate it. If the capped bottle stays at room temperature it will continue to ferment and could explode.

“I’ll never buy hot sauce again! Leave all the seeds in for lots of heat or scale them back so the sauce is a bit softer. The carrots add a nice hint of sweetness. Careful when processing as the peppers release a puff of capsicum that might make you choke.” —Diana Andrews

Fermented Hot Sauce Recipe/Tester Image
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 3/4 pound Fresno chili peppers, stem ends removed, coarsely chopped

  • 1 small unpeeled carrot, scrubbed, thinly sliced

  • 1 large garlic clove, halved

  • 2 1/2 cups room temperature filtered water

  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt, more to taste

  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar, more to taste, optional

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Fermented Hot Sauce ingredients in bowls

    The Spruce Eats / Cara Cormack

  2. Pack the peppers, carrot, and garlic into a 1-quart jar or 2 (1-pint) jars.

    Peppers, carrot, and garlic in a jar

    The Spruce Eats / Cara Cormack

  3. Combine the water and 1 tablespoon salt in a large measuring cup. Stir until the salt dissolves.

    Water with salt, in a bowl with a spoon

    The Spruce Eats / Cara Cormack

  4. Pour over the pepper mixture in the jar. Place a weight on top of the peppers to keep them submerged.

    Water and salt mixture added the jar with the peppers

    The Spruce Eats / Cara Cormack

  5. Seal the jar with a lid. Put the jar on a plate to catch any overflow and place it in a cool, dark place. Check on it periodically. If you are using a regular lid with no airlock, loosen it daily to let air escape. After about 7 to 10 days, the peppers should be ready.

    Peppers in a jar, on a tray

    The Spruce Eats / Cara Cormack

  6. Strain the brine into a bowl.

    Pepper brine strained into a bowl

    The Spruce Eats / Cara Cormack

  7. Place the peppers in a blender. Add about 3/4 to 1 cup of the brine, and 1 tablespoon of vinegar, if using.

    Peppers in a blender

    The Spruce Eats / Cara Cormack

  8. Blend on high speed until the mixture is smooth. If the sauce seems too thick, add more brine as needed.

    Blended peppers in a blender

    The Spruce Eats / Cara Cormack

  9. Strain the sauce through a fine-mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth over a large measuring cup. Gather together the ends of the cheesecloth and gently continue to squeeze the liquid from the mixture. Discard the cheesecloth and its contents.

    Blended pepper mixture strained through a cheesecloth

    The Spruce Eats / Cara Cormack

  10. Taste the sauce. Adjust the seasoning with more vinegar and salt to taste. Pour the sauce into a bottle or container. Store the hot sauce in the refrigerator for up to 3 months. Shake before using.

    Fermented Hot Sauce in a jar, served with fried chicken

    The Spruce Eats / Cara Cormack

How to Use Hot Sauce

A little hot sauce can add a zesty flavor and a touch of heat to many everyday dishes. Here are a few creative ways to use hot sauce.

Is fermented hot sauce shelf stable?

You must store the bottled fermented hot sauce in the refrigerator. If it is capped and stored at room temperature, it will continue to ferment, and the bottle could explode.

Can cheesecloth be used as a lid?

Many people use cheesecloth or cloth with good results. Use a rubber band to secure the cheesecloth to the jar and ensure the ingredients stay submerged. Once the fermenting process is done, use a tight-fitting lid to seal the jar and store in the refrigerator.