Hot Pepper Vinegar or Pepper Sauce

This is more of a method than a recipe. I have made hot pepper vinegar, or pepper sauce, so many ways and with so many types of hot peppers. We always had this growing up. We made at least a dozen jars in the summer, and if we happened to run out before the next summer’s pepper crop, we would just add more hot vinegar to an old bottle of peppers to reuse them. The recipe couldn’t be simpler, it’s just hot peppers and white vinegar. Really, it’s too easy. I recently started adding garlic and/or peppercorns for extra flavor. In this jar pictured, I just used the 3 free jalapenos my local meat market gave me with my collard green purchase and a couple cloves of garlic. When I was a kid, we had a very large garden and always tried a few new varieties of peppers every year. We combined different colors and shapes of peppers to create pretty bottled creations that were packed with heat and flavor. We poured the yummy hot pepper sauce on peas, southern peas of course, and any kind of greens.

I still can’t eat greens without hot vinegar. It is a pantry staple in our home I can’t go without it. In the photo, I used one of my old jars I got at a yard sale. I have a few of those, but most of my pepper sauce is in old Patron bottles. Their bottles are beautifully hand blown and already have rustic wood corks I reuse.

Another variation I have had of this is the pickled carrots and jalapenos at Mexican restaurants. When doing this, you have to add a little pickling salt though. It is very, very good, although I haven’t done it at home yet.

recipe photo

Hot Pepper Vinegar or Pepper Sauce

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Hot peppers, any variety, I used chopped Jalapenos in the photo
Garlic (optional)
White Vinegar
a few peppercorns (optional)


Clean the jars you are going to be using in the dishwasher or boiling water. Bring vinegar to a boil. Wash peppers and either chop then to fit in your jar like I have done, or put a little slit in them so that the vinegar penetrates them. Trim top stems too.

Add peppers, garlic and peppercorns to a decorative bottle or jar. Pour boiling vinegar over peppers. Make sure peppers are completely covered with vinegar.

Leave a little head-space, airspace in between the peppers and vinegar and the lid, and close the lid. Let it sit for a few weeks and enjoy. I always store them in the pantry, if it make you feel better, store in the fridge.

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*Nutritional Information is not guaranteed for 100% accuracy.

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  33 Responses to “Hot Pepper Vinegar or Pepper Sauce”

  1. Monet — July 22, 2010 @ 6:59 pm

    Crazy, I know, but I’ve never tried this before. I love vinegar and spicy things, so I’m sure that this would become a household favorite. And the thought of dribbling this over some steamed veggies is making me drool. Thank you for sharing such a simple staple recipe.

  2. Kim — July 23, 2010 @ 6:11 am

    I can’t eat any of our summer peas without hot pepper vinegar, either! I am a huge fan of ‘the method’ but I’ve never tried garlic- or peppercorns to think of. Next batch of jalapenos and hot banana peppers and I’ll try both. You always have such good ideas.

  3. grace — July 23, 2010 @ 6:45 am

    why would anyone eat greens without hot pepper vinegar? that would be the one and only draw for me. 🙂

  4. Foodierama — July 24, 2010 @ 9:29 am

    Hot Pepper Vinegar or Pepper Sauce #foodie

  5. I8LA — July 24, 2010 @ 9:43 am Pepper Vinegar or Pepper Sauce #foodie

  6. Angelia McGowan — July 24, 2010 @ 4:42 pm

    Hot Pepper Vinegar or Pepper Sauce | Eclectic Recipes

  7. dmanburger — July 24, 2010 @ 4:47 pm

    RT @EclecticRecipes: Hot Pepper Vinegar or Pepper Sauce | Eclectic Recipes

  8. Rose-Bartlett — August 6, 2010 @ 9:45 pm

    [email protected] Hot Pepper Vinegar or Pepper Sauce

  9. Charles — October 2, 2010 @ 3:47 pm

    I came across this looking for a commercial pepper/vinegar sauce we enjoyed when I was a child. I’m sure it’s just like your recipe. When the hot vinegar was gone, we would just fill it up with more a couple of times. the bottle was always on our table and of course, we doused our greens with it. Beautiful blog you’ve created, congratulations.

  10. Bobbie — August 30, 2011 @ 11:01 pm

    I grew up using pepper sauce also. Try it on Salmon Patties sometime. Awesome. Of course mine are the southern cornmeal recipe. This is the first year I will be making my own. Always had some from the family. My husband uses it on White Beans(Northerns). Also we put it in homemade Tomato Vegtable Beef Soup which is served with Cornbread. That makes it a very southern meal. Thank You for the new ways to eat it. I have never put it on peas. I will try it. We always put chile sauce (something like a salsa), created by my Grandmother, on ours. I have used salsa since her passing, since we did not get her recipe for it. I checked your site out just to see if I was missing anything. Enjoyed your site very much. Very nice indeed. Now I need to go check out your recipes.

  11. DAVID R WILSON — September 4, 2011 @ 12:08 pm

    Pepper Sauce & Onion Biscuit Sandwiches

    One of my favorite snacks is to split a cold leftover Breakfast Biscuit. Lay it open faced on the counter and saturate each half with pepper sauce. Add a round slice of raw sweet onion. Salt and black pepper to taste. Replace the top half on to the bottom half and enjoy. The reason I make a sandwich is to prevent the pepper sauce from touching my lips because it will set your lips on fire. I have been eating this since I was about six years old.

  12. Sandra — January 23, 2012 @ 1:36 pm

    I’ve been wanting to make some of this for a while, every time I cook greens I regret not having any. I found your recipe after I went to the grocery store, relying on memory based on how my grandmother made her pepper sauce. I used cider vinegar and serrano peppers. My grandmother always used a small red pepper, like the ones used in Tobasco sauce I think. Next time I’ll try your recipe.

  13. westin — May 7, 2012 @ 3:59 pm

    Wont the garlic turn rancid if left in vinegar at room temp for an extended period of time?

  14. Trish — July 12, 2012 @ 8:50 pm

    Bobbie, Here is the recipe that our family used for peas & stuffed cabbage.
    I think it came from a Southern Living magazine back in the ’60s but was used by my Northern Lebanese family.

  15. Ruth — July 28, 2012 @ 10:12 pm

    Try it on purple hull or black-eyed peas with some chow-chow and a big ol’ slice of fresh, hot, chive cornbread. Sliced, garden-fresh tomatoes, still warm from the sun, and cool, light, refrigerator pickles. Now THAT’s a good southern supper !!

  16. Maria — August 12, 2012 @ 10:44 am

    @westin, the garlic will not turn rancid. there can be an issue with garlic being stored in olive oil, potential botulism due to an anaerobic environment, but not vinegar. garlic doesn’t get rancid, but will either mold or dry out if not preserved properly.

  17. JT — August 28, 2012 @ 9:28 pm

    I was so happy to find this receipe, all of the new receipies require that you cook the peppers first to remove the skin. I remember making peppers some twenty years ago and nevers cooked or removed the skins. Thanks

  18. Brandie — October 8, 2012 @ 10:17 am

    So, you don’r have to put it in a hot water bath?

  19. BETH NORRED — January 6, 2013 @ 5:44 pm

    Brandie, NO you do not have to seal with a hot water bath. this is how we have always made our pepper sauce to use with our Greens and ect.. Great Recipe

  20. Sebrena — February 5, 2013 @ 12:18 pm

    I have some sitting on my counter that I made probably 6-7 years ago! I don’t think I poured hot vinegar just room temp. Do you think it is still good? I tried some on my finger and it tastes good!

  21. Larry — June 25, 2013 @ 10:38 am

    I have been researching why most pepper sauces have barley malt vinegar and modified maize starch in them. This is how I came across your site. I have been making my own pepper sauce for a while now. I would like them to last longer , say six weeks or more in the fridge.
    My pepper is made by frying blended ingredients including hot scotch bonnets,onions and garlic in sunflower oil. Similar sauces available in commercially have barley malt vinegar and modified maize starch in them. I am wondering what effect these have on the sauce? Any answers welcome.

    Thank you

    Larry in London,UK

  22. Denise Turner — July 7, 2013 @ 3:40 pm

    When making hot pepper sauce with peppers and vinegar can you mix different types of hot peppers together in one bottle?

    • Angie McGowan — July 8, 2013 @ 6:53 am

      Of course!

  23. Cindy York — July 18, 2013 @ 3:40 pm

    Your recipe is exactly how I’ve made my pepper sauce for years. Just been wondering lately if I need to take the “process” further, as in the canning step of boiling the jars after they’re sealed? I’ve yet to make anyone sick doing it the same way you have and will probably continue to do it that way. Just wanted your thoughts on it.

    • Angie McGowan — July 23, 2013 @ 8:12 am

      I don’t usually do the extra step of boiling the jars either, honestly, but I have to add the step in the recipe – don’t want to be liable for any food poisoning.

  24. Anonymous — August 5, 2013 @ 2:59 pm

    Pepper sauce is good on sliced tomatoes. Eat with purple hull peas or pinto beans & corn bread.

  25. Andy — August 22, 2013 @ 3:48 pm

    This is almost the recipe I’ve used for nearly 50 years. I do add about 1/2 teaspoon of salt per quart of vinegar though.

  26. GrannyB — August 28, 2013 @ 4:04 pm

    This is the recipe I have hunted for a couple of hours. I was always taken to hot sauces with cooked peppers and other ingredients. Thankfully, I arrived at your site. I have lots of Serrano, Habanaro, and Jalapeno peppers. We always bought the commercial kind at the store and kept adding vinegar when we used up all the liquid. We have had really good luck growing different varieties of hot peppers and I usually used them in salsa. I am so glad I found this recipe.

  27. John — September 22, 2013 @ 12:27 pm

    I also had this growing up. My favorite is southern cornbread smothered with black eye peas, then cover with sauce. I’ve never made it myself. I’m going to today with your recipe sounds delicious.

  28. Brenda — September 30, 2013 @ 9:07 am

    Hi, I made this for the first time 2 weeks ago…my husband just tried them and LOVED them!!
    so I’m making a bunch more today.
    thank you for sharing such a great recipe!

  29. John — December 28, 2013 @ 9:42 am

    Try rice vinegar instead of white vinegar. I like it even better.

  30. Anonymous — April 10, 2014 @ 11:05 pm

    Hi there. I will be trying this recipes tomorrow, I like the simplicity of it, should really get the flavors together. I would like to know if there is a type of Vinegar that you recommend, I understand distilled but there are different acidity levels. What would happen with Apple Cider Vinegar instead. Just trying to get some general info. Great page, can’t wait to try it.

  31. Mary Shirley — July 14, 2016 @ 10:53 am

    I can’t wait to try this! This sounds exactly like what my mother-in-law makes. Thank you for sharing this.

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