Spicy Pepper Vinegar

Spicy vinegar
Paul Poplis / Getty Images
Prep: 30 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Total: 30 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
33 Calories
0g Fat
5g Carbs
1g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 33
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 6mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 5g 2%
Dietary Fiber 1g 3%
Total Sugars 3g
Protein 1g
Vitamin C 81mg 407%
Calcium 12mg 1%
Iron 1mg 3%
Potassium 184mg 4%
*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.)

Spicy pepper vinegar is a must-have condiment for adding a kick to Southern cooked greens. Traditionally, bottles full of vinegar spiked with Tabasco peppers are found on the tables in soul food restaurants, which diners will shake onto everything from fried chicken to sautéed okra. You can use store-bought, but putting together your own spicy vinegar means you can control the ingredients—and control the heat. 

If you have trouble finding fresh Tabasco chiles, you can use a blend of chiles that you enjoy—from jalapeños to habaneros to cayenne. Just be careful while cutting them in half as the seeds and juice ​are very potent. If possible, use gloves and don’t touch your face without washing your hands first. Also, be sure to clean the cutting board and knife very well after use.


Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Sterilize a glass jar or container and lid.

  3. Add the chiles to the jar or glass container.

  4. In a small pot, add the vinegar and bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, remove from the heat.

  5. Using a funnel, carefully pour the vinegar over the chile halves in the glass container until all the chiles are covered with the liquid.

  6. Place the lid on the jar and let the mixture infuse for a day or so.

  7. Enjoy.

Choosing Peppers

With so many varieties of peppers available, it can be confusing which are mouth-burning spicy and which just have a nice kick. A pepper's heat is rated by the Scoville scale which measures the units of heat in each type of chile. Bell peppers, for example, are a 0 on the Scoville scale while habanero is one of the spiciest, reaching between 100,000 and 350,000 spice units. If you are looking for something more in the middle, jalapeño, serrano, or cayenne (listed in ascending order) will provide heat without causing any tears.

How to Use

You can put a sprinkle of this hot vinegar on almost anything, but Southern dishes are ideal. Collard greens cooked with ham hocks, garlic, and a little sugar benefit from a bit of liquid spice, as does hoppin' John, a traditional dish of black-eyed peas, rice, and ham. Add a few drops to your fried chicken batter or drizzle a bit on top of shrimp and grits.

How to Store

  • Store the spicy pepper vinegar in the pantry. Once opened, place the jar in the refrigerator.
  • The pepper vinegar will last about three months in the pantry, and six to eight months in the refrigerator.
  • The vinegar prevents any bacteria growth, so you do not need to pressure can or use a water bath to preserve the spicy pepper vinegar. Just make sure the jars and lids are sterilized.