Homemade Hot Sauce


Some like it hot.  And our family is no exception…when it comes to hot sauce we love it hot and use it on everything!  I’ve always loved hot, spicy foods.  My dad and I would have competitions to see who would break a sweat first and my favorite snack since college is a slice of cheese smothered in Tabasco sauce.

Over the years, my husband has toughened up his taste buds and now enjoys a little heat along with me.  While pregnant with my first son, I couldn’t get food hot enough!  I would drench my food in the hottest sauce possible and it still wasn’t hot enough.  Low and behold, now thirteen years later my son loves spicy food.  Our other two sons are easing their way into the world of spiciness.  This summer at the fair, my seven year old proudly stepped up to the nacho booth and asked for, “Chips, cheese and ONE jalapeno, please!”  The ladies behind the counter laughed and he explained, “I’m working on getting used to hot peppers!”

So what is a family who loves their heat to do when hot sauce can be a fairly pricey item on their grocery bill?  Well, a couple of things.  Last year I hit a sale at the grocery store which had Tabasco sauce for $1 each.  Not bad!  But I had coupons for 50 cents off Tabasco, so I bought 10 small bottles at 50 cents each!  Even better!

We have almost depleted that cache of spicy, liquid gold.  So, late this summer I began watching for sales and coupons.  Nothing has really come about so I got an idea. We had an awesome pepper year in our gardens.  We had pounds and pounds of hot peppers so I researched different methods of making my own sauce.

The first attempt was okay but it had me adding some funky spices and the hot sauce ended up tasting like hot pickles.  Not a bad thing, but not like our beloved Tabasco sauce or the XXX sauce we brought home from Mexico!  Finally, I found a method that really sounded like the real deal so I processed a bunch of peppers and tried it out.

Here is how I did it:

You will need:

  • 15-20 Chili’s (more or less depending on how much you would like to make)
  • 2 tbsp. sea salt
  • 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  1. Put your chili peppers, the vinegar and sea salt in a blender till the juice from the peppers start to release and your salt is mixed finely with the peppers and vinegar. (Be careful to not breathe in the fumes…it could damage your respiratory tract!)  The consistency should be about the same as tomato sauce (thick but still pour-able).
  2. Then put this all into a small saucepan and boil for a minute or two then put on a low simmer.
  3. Add this to a glass container and cap. Leave it for about two weeks to a month and check the flavor every now and again.
  4. It can be used within the month or you can leave it to ferment for much longer (up to 3 years like the real Tabasco!).
  5. Once you’ve fermented your vinegar, salt and pepper mixture, you are ready to bottle it up, use it or give it as gifts!  (I just re-used old Tabasco bottles!)

I’m so impressed with the sauce!  The cool thing…?  It just keeps getting better as time goes on!  It’s an easy method that anyone can do.  But just a word to the wise…when you blend the peppers in the blender, wait about 10 minutes to let the fumes mellow out.  You don’t want to fumigate your house with freshly ground hot peppers.  It’s a painful experience!

You can use any hot peppers.  I happened to have an abundance of Super Hot Chili peppers which were like an Asian hot pepper.  Next year, I’m going to try to grow actual Tabasco peppers and see if the taste of the homemade sauce is even closer to the commercial brand.

I’m really excited about adding this technique to my list of “do-it-yourself” recipes.  It’s a great way to use up the garden produce and it will save our spicy-lovin’ family some money!


Erin’s got tons of tips for saving money, couponing, and sticking to a budget in her blog archive. And be sure to check out the Missoula Save it Club.


Erin Eisenman-Turner is proud to be a native Missoulian. Along with her husband and three sons, they raise chickens, pigs, rabbits, and vegetables at Turner Family Farms in the Orchard Homes area. When the farm chores are done, the coupons clipped, and the blog written, you can find Erin exploring Montana, collecting antiques, and trying to maintain a well-run, happy, and organized home for her family.

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