Some Like it Hot

Sauce, that is. If you have read this blog for any length of time, you may have gathered that I have a love for intensely spicy foods. My all time favorite hot sauce is the sauce at Bueno y Sano in Amherst, MA, but a very close second is one I can get closer to home, Goya’s Habanero Salsita. I could live on a diet of hot sauce and tortilla chips alone, and the other day started to wonder why I didn’t try to make my own hot sauce. After being disappointed in the spice level of everything at Lolita the other night, I decided that if I wanted spice, I needed to take matters into my own hands.

And so, I did.

I did a little internet research first. Though I had a pretty good idea from reading the labels of countless bottles of hot sauce, I wanted to make sure I got it right. It turns out the ingredients need to be cooked first which is something I didn’t realize.

I started with nine ripe habanero peppers. There are only eight in the photo for the sake of symmetry. . .

habanero hot sauce

Before I did anything, I had a nice little habanero photo shoot because I have some time on my hands these days. . . Winking smile

habanero peppers habanero pepper

Aren’t they pretty?

Other ingredients in my sauce included white vinegar, the Shaw’s brand. I feel like I am getting away with something when I spend 40 cents less on the store brand than the national brand. It is truly the little things.

white vinegar

I also used the juice of one lime.


And a couple of spoonfuls of tomato paste, one of my all time favorite ingredients.

tomato paste

I sautéed a piece of white onion, three cloves of garlic, and all of the habanero peppers in some oil until they all started to brown, then let them cool a bit and popped them into the Cuisinart with the tomato paste, 1/2 cup of vinegar, the lime juice, and 1/2 cup cold water.

habanero peppers


Round and round everything went until it was a smooth puree, looking not all that different than the bottled stuff I love.

homemade hot sauce

I was a little afraid to taste it. I like heat, but there were a lot of habaneros in this hot sauce; I hoped it lived up to my expectations without killing me. . .

It was good! The lime juice gave it a nice citrus kick, and I used enough water and vinegar to thin it all out. I have included the recipe I used as my base below. You will see I changed it quite a bit, but it all worked! And while I enjoyed quite a bit of the sauce with tortilla chips, I also put it on top of some steamed spinach and used it as a dipping sauce for chicken. It works well to add flavor without fat to a lot of dishes! Yum.

Have you ever tried to make a favorite store-bought item?

Recipe Inspiration for My Habanero Sauce:

  • 1 small onion — chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic — chopped
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 cup carrots — chopped
  • 2 cups water
  • 3 Habanero chilies (3 or 4) — minced
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Saute onion in oil until soft. Add carrots and water.Bring to boil,reduce heat,and simmer until the carrots are soft. Remove from heat . Add chilies,lime juice and salt to the carrot mixture. Place in processor and puree until smooth.Pour into sterilized jars and seal.

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Tags: Food, habanero pepper, habanero sauce, habaneros, hot sauce, recipe

  1. Michelle’s avatar

    I giggled at your habanero photo shoot. This hot sauce looks seriously spicy. Maybe you could bottle some and give it to your lovely food-blogging pal? ;-) And Bueno y Sano….you have me craving it this morning…


  2. Evan Thomas’s avatar

    Great recipe! I like things hot, too, so I imagine I’d like this on anything and everything.


  3. Julie’s avatar

    Great photo shoot!! They are pretty. =)


  4. Katie’s avatar

    I LOVE spicy food as well and good to know about Bueno y Sano. Haven’t been there but I have roots in W. Mass so will have to give that a try. This sauce looks awesome. Love how there’s carrots in there. That must have provided a nice (slight) balance of sweetness.


  5. Bianca @ Confessions of a Chocoholic’s avatar

    Nice! I never made my own hot sauce, maybe one day I’ll attempt to when I’m not too lazy :p Those habaneros are so pretty!


  6. Belinda @zomppa’s avatar

    OOOOOO love this homemade hot sauce…gotta keep the heat. =)


  7. Judy’s avatar

    I love a good, hot habanero sauce. The more you eat, the better it gets. Reminds me that I haven’t made any lately…


  8. Daisy’s avatar

    the habaneros do look beautiful! who doesn’t love a photo shoot with gorgeous looking peppers?!

    I do know what you mean about Lolita though! While I’ve come to enjoy hot foods, i don’t need it incredibly spicy so I didn’t mind, but I totally understand the disappointment. you almost think the spice level would match the atmosphere….


    1. traveleatlove’s avatar

      I feel bad for hating on Lolita! We really did like the food, I just have an odd desire for things that burn my face off! :)


    2. Jolene (’s avatar

      Mmmmmm, I like it HOT!!!!!!!

      I have made some store-bought faves, such as hummus!


    3. MelissaNibbles’s avatar

      I don’t like it hot, but I would try a little just to be a good friend :)


    4. alicia’s avatar

      I like spicy, but habaneros still scare me a bit!

      I LOVE the photo shoot – so pretty!


    5. MarathonVal’s avatar

      I have a hard time eating spicy food, but those peppers are so adorable! I’m trying to branch out and to eat more spicy food, maybe I should give them a try!


    6. The Financialite’s avatar

      Thank you so much for your recipe! My roommate loves spicy foods and I cannot wait to make this for him!


    7. Katie@Cozydelicious’s avatar

      Oooh, I have always wanted to make my own hot sauce. Yours looks awesome (and yes, those peppers are adorable!) Making your own typically store-bought stuff is certainly fun… I’ve done peanut butter, a dozen different types of salsa, BBQ sauce, mayo. I guess hot sauce is next on the list!


    8. Kim’s avatar

      Last few weeks I’ve been in more of spicy kind of mood (literally and figuratively) so it’s been a lot of chili powder, cayenne powder, salsas, and anything else that can be made spicy.

      Granted I am a bit of a wuss (and for being half-Hispanic you’d think I’d go nuts over super spicy food) and have my limits but even still, the one you made here looks spectacular…even with 9 habaneros! Sometimes, homemade salsa is just a heck of a lot better than store bought.


    9. Amanda L.’s avatar

      Oh man! I love spicy foods as well, but I’ve never made my own hot sauce. I’ll have to give this one a try!


    10. Courtney (Pancakes & Postcards)’s avatar

      so cool!! it’s crazy, i love to cook and experiment in the kitchen, and I am FIERCELY addicted to hot sauce, yet I’ve never thought of making my own! This is motivating! :)


    11. Emily’s avatar

      Woo! My husband would consume the entire batch of this spicy sauce. He is a nut like that. This looks awesome!


      1. traveleatlove’s avatar

        It’s addictive! Even though my mouth hurt, I kept eating it!


      2. Nikki’s avatar

        This is great! You could use it on so many dishes, too. Even veggie burgers. YUM!


      3. Jason Phelps’s avatar

        This is definitely a great remake. I made some habanero infused vodka in 2010. A little goes a REALLY long way for heat. The peppers were from a neighbors garden and were great several other ways too.



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