Homemade Hot Sauce


This homemade hot sauce makes good use of the bountiful tomatoes, onions and peppers in your garden or farmers' market. Adjust the heat to your preference: in our tests, two habaneros yielded a pleasantly spicy sauce without excessive heat--take it up a notch for spicy-food fans by adding extra hot peppers.

Active Time:
30 mins
Additional Time:
1 hr 30 mins
Total Time:
2 hrs
about 2 2/3 cups

How To Make Hot Sauce

Sure, you can buy hot sauce at the store, but it's easy to make at home and you can easily control the flavor and the heat level to suit your taste. Our hot sauce starts with cooking onions, peppers and garlic in olive oil. This brings out the flavor of the veggies and adds sweetness to the sauce from the onions as they cook. Tomatoes are added for additional sweetness, body and to balance the heat from the peppers. Vinegar is added here to give the hot sauce its signature tanginess. Salt and sugar are added to give the hot sauce a nice balance between salty and sweet. If you like hot sauce on the sweeter side, you can add more sugar. After the mixture cooks together and the flavors meld (about 5 minutes), the hot sauce is pureed and then poured through a strainer to make it extra smooth before it cools down and is ready to use.

Ways to Control The Heat

Which peppers you choose will dictate how hot your hot sauce will be. In our recipe, we pair milder chiles (poblano, New Mexico or Anaheim) with hotter chiles (small chiles like habanero, Scotch Bonnet or Thai chiles) to make a well-balanced, crowd-pleasing sauce. To make it hotter, use more small, hot chiles. To make it milder, use fewer small chiles or skip them entirely. The membranes that hold the seeds are the spiciest part of chile peppers (that's where the capsaicin is). The seeds pick up some spiciness by association. You can customize the heat of salsa or hot sauce by using some or all of the seeds along with the flesh of the pepper and tasting as you go. Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly after chopping hot peppers or wear rubber gloves.

How Long Can I Store Homemade Hot Sauce?

You can store the hot sauce in small or large jars (or another air-tight container) in the refrigerator for up to one month or freeze it for up to 6 months.

Additional reporting by Hilary Meyer


  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 cup diced onion

  • 2 medium chile peppers, such as poblano, New Mexico or Anaheim, diced

  • 2-4 habanero peppers, or other small hot chile peppers, stemmed, halved and seeded (see Tip)

  • 4 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 pound tomatoes, diced (about 3 cups)

  • 1 cup distilled white vinegar

  • 2 teaspoons salt

  • 1-3 teaspoons sugar


  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion, chile peppers, habaneros to taste and garlic and cook, stirring, until the onion is soft and beginning to brown, 3 to 4 minutes.

  2. Reduce heat to medium. Add tomatoes, vinegar, salt and sugar to taste. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes begin to break down, about 5 minutes.

  3. Carefully transfer the tomato mixture to a food processor or blender. Puree until smooth. (Use caution when pureeing hot ingredients.) Set a fine-mesh sieve over a medium bowl; pour the pureed mixture through the sieve, pushing on the solids with a wooden spoon to extract all the liquid. (Discard solids.) Let the sauce cool to room temperature, about 1 1/2 hours.

    hot sauce

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

12 Calories
1g Fat
1g Carbs
0g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 43
Serving Size 1 tablespoon (recipe makes about 2 2/3 cups total)
Calories 12
% Daily Value *
Total Carbohydrate 1g 0%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Total Sugars 1g
Protein 0g 0%
Total Fat 1g 1%
Saturated Fat 0g 1%
Vitamin A 127IU 3%
Vitamin C 10mg 11%
Folate 3mcg 1%
Sodium 110mg 5%
Calcium 3mg 0%
Iron 0mg 1%
Magnesium 2mg 0%
Potassium 37mg 1%

Nutrition information is calculated by a registered dietitian using an ingredient database but should be considered an estimate.

* Daily Values (DVs) are the recommended amounts of nutrients to consume each day. Percent Daily Value (%DV) found on nutrition labels tells you how much a serving of a particular food or recipe contributes to each of those total recommended amounts. Per the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the daily value is based on a standard 2,000 calorie diet. Depending on your calorie needs or if you have a health condition, you may need more or less of particular nutrients. (For example, it’s recommended that people following a heart-healthy diet eat less sodium on a daily basis compared to those following a standard diet.)

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a special diet for medical reasons, be sure to consult with your primary care provider or a registered dietitian to better understand your personal nutrition needs.

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