Green or red hot sauce in Mexico is often used on botanas or snacks such as chicharrones (fried pork rinds) and potato chips. It is also sprinkled on fresh fruit, either plain (cut into chunks or slices) or prepared as a fruit salad, and adds extra zing to fried or scrambled eggs, fish tacos, and even soups.
Bottled hot sauce brings a lot to the table in American cuisine, too. It can breathe new life into your favorite meatloaf or pot roast, or prove that a grilled cheese sandwich really is a close cousin to the quesadilla. Be careful, though—once you’ve sprinkled homemade hot sauce on your breakfast burrito or pizza, you’ll never want to eat those foods plain again.
Why make a homemade bottled sauce when there are dozens of brands at the supermarket? You’ll know exactly what’s in the sauce, moderate its piquancy -spiciness- to your liking, and can put those beautiful peppers from your garden (or the local farmer’s market) to great use.
Take our advice and make a big batch of this sauce, because you’ll want to have extra bottles to give away as gifts.
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 10 fresh green or red jalapeño peppers (about 2 cups slices)
- 2 cloves of fresh garlic (finely chopped)
- 1/4 cup diced onion
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup white vinegar
Important: Make this recipe in a well-ventilated area. If the chiles you are using are especially hot, or if you have sensitive skin, wear rubber gloves when handling them. While chiles are sauteeing and boiling, keep your face well away from the pan, and never touch your face or eyes while cooking or working with hot peppers.
Heat vegetable oil over medium heat in a non-stick saucepan. Add sliced jalapeños, garlic, and onion; sauté, stirring frequently, for 5 to 10 minutes, until the onion is transparent but not yet turning brown.
Add the water. When mixture comes to a boil, turn temperature down a bit and put the lid on the pan. Boil gently for about 15 minutes.
Remove pan from heat, take the lid off, and allow everything to sit until cooled to room temperature.
Place the cooked jalapeño mixture in a blender and add the salt. Blend at medium speed for 1 minute. While blender is still working, slowly pour in the vinegar.
Strain your hot sauce, then use a funnel to pour sauce into a sterilized bottle with a tight lid. Refrigerate.
This sauce can be used immediately, but flavors will continue to develop over the next several days. Shake before using, as sauce may separate slightly.
This sauce keeps well, covered and refrigerated, at least a couple of months—but you will almost surely use it all up way before then!
Variations on Homemade Hot Sauce
Start with one or more of the following ideas to turn this basic recipe into your very own signature hot sauce:
You can use any variety of fresh chile peppers for this sauce. Make it with serrano peppers or habaneros if you like more heat than jalapeños typically have. Try poblano peppers to add a little more flavor complexity. Asian or Peruvian peppers are also a great choice. Mix and match them as you desire, but keep in mind that this will affect not only the flavor but also the color of the final product.
Like a more rustic-looking sauce? Don’t strain it before pouring it into the bottle. Want it looser? Add a little more vinegar and water
White vinegar is called for in the recipe above, but don’t hestiate to use what you have on hand—apple cider vinegar, wine vinegar, etc. If you get really ambitious, try replacing part of the vinegar with some other acidic ingredient, such as lime juice or tequila.
Experiment with your dried favorite herbs for additional flavor. Add a quarter teaspoon of dried cumin, oregano, or epazote, for example, to the mixture together with the salt.