Hot sauce is one of those condiments that seems to just be TAKING OVER OUR LIVES. That’s not me complaining either. That’s me being absolutely giddy about it! We always had some stocked in the house – and you know the kind, because we all have it in the house. A couple of weeks ago though Bo and I were out on a date night, ordered some calamari, and it came with a hot sauce to dip. First off, BRILLIANT – how had I not thought of this before. Bo made a comment a few bites in about how good the sauce was, how it was just a little more vinegar-y than the pantry staple, and it gave me an idea.
Time to make Bo his own hot sauce for Fathers day.
I’m guessing most of you remember growing up with a parent or grandparent with a cupboard full of canned goods. Need some jam? Check the cold cellar. Pickles? Cold cellar. Beets? Cold cellar. Something seems to have happened though in the last twenty years. The grocery store shelves popped up with everything under the sun. It became all about convenience and speed, and we started losing our quality, flavour, and history. Don’t get me wrong – I get the benefit of convenience. I have three kids 8 and under, in sports 5 nights a week.I HEAR YOU.
But every once in a while, when you can, it’s great to be able to set aside an afternoon to make something you can be known for. It’s also an awesome time to get together with some of your friends, and make a few giant batches to spread around. This hot sauce – I’m going to be known for this!
I’m going to start off this soon to be long (like, looooooong) post, with a step-by-step on how I made and canned this cayenne pepper hot sauce. If you’re already a canning wizard, feel free to skip on down to the bottom of this post. If not though, get ready to be shocked at just how easy it is to make and bottle your own hot sauce to last all year in your pantry!
First up you’re going to need a few basic canning supplies. Walmart or Canadian Tire here in Canada are your best bet to stock up on Bernardin products. They have a canning starter kit that comes with everything you need to get going (that’s it in the picture up above). They’ve also been in the canning game for a long time, and their website is an awesome place to grab recipes, or just learn more about the canning process. Now, I made a triple batch of my hot sauce this time, and used 500ml jars. Like I said, we put hot sauce on EVERYTHING.
Cayenne Pepper Hot Sauce
The first thing you need to do is give your jars a good soapy wash, then sterilize them in some hot water. You’ll also have your lids (the flat part, not the threaded rings) simmering in water. They can sit in that simmering water while you make the sauce, or you can make the sauce first, then get the bottles ready.
Hot sauce is really easy. Basically, everybody into the pot to simmer for 20 minutes. Cayenne pepper hot sauce is a pretty basic one, and a great starter hot sauce. You’re using vinegar, peppers (stems cut off), garlic, lime juice, paprika, salt, oil (canola or vegetable), and onion. A note on spiciness: I ended up splitting the peppers and taking most of the seeds out. Our kids like hot sauce too, just not too hot. If you want it really hot, leave all the seeds in. Normally I would just roll the pepper under my palm on the counter to loosen the seeds, cut the stem off, and shake out a few of the seeds into the garbage, leaving some still inside.
Once everything has softened up, you put it into your blender. Well, you put all the solids into the blender, with just enough of the vinegar to blend it. Let it go for a little bit, you want it as smooth as possible.
Now you put the blended pepper mix back into your pot, along with enough of the remaining vinegar to get the consistency you like. Make sure you strain the vinegar through a fine mesh strainer when you add it back into the pot with the blended pepper mixture. You don’t want to get any solid bits into your nice smooth sauce.
Give your sauce a good whisk, then taste it. In the notes of the recipe I’ll give you some tips for tweaking the taste at this point if you need to.
Now it’s time to fill up our sterilized jars. For hot sauce, you need to leave 1/2″ of headroom at the top of your jars. This handy little tool makes it super easy to check.
Now, use the magnetic wand to pull your lids out of the simmering water, and place them on top of the jars. After that, put on the canning rings, just finger tight. You don’t act like you’re the hulk or anything screwing them on.
All the jars go back into the canning pot to boil for 15 minutes to seal.
Take them out and put them upright on your counter for 24 hours. Come on, look at how pretty those Bernardin jars are filled up! You’ll hear “POP” happen once for each of the jars. It could happen a minute after taking it out of the boiling water, or a few hours after. That’s the lid “popping” down and sealing. As long as this happens within 24 hours you’re good to go. The top of your lid will bubble down, just like the jars you buy from the store. They’ll keep in your pantry for a LONG time because it’s such an acidic recipe. Every canning recipe will have a different shelf life depending on its acidity. These babies will easily last you a year when stored in a cool, dark place! Once you open a jar, keep it refrigerated though.
Father’s Day Hot Sauce
Now it’s time to put your amazing hot sauce to work! What could be better for a Father’s Day dinner then chicken wings with Dad’s own brand of hot sauce!
You can’t give Dad his own hot sauce, without some fancy labels on them though. At least not in this house, lol! I used Avery Labels 22814 so that’s what the templates below will work with.
Free Printable Hot Sauce Label Templates
There’s Dad Fuel. Click here to open the PDF label in a new window. You can save it from there too.
How about Dad’s 100% Awesome Sauce. Click here to open the PDF label in a new window. You can save it from there too.
Or my personal favourite, Dad’s Hot Stuff. Click here to open the PDF label in a new window. You can save it from there too.
Or, if you’re like me, you do a variety of the three. Click here to open the PDF label in a new window. You can save it from there too.
Cayenne Pepper Hot Sauce Recipe
Alright, I think I’ve covered everything, so let’s jump into the actual recipe. Check out the notes section for some tips on adjusting the taste of your sauce at the end.
This is also a great basic starting point. Feel free to change up the types of peppers and see what you come up with. You can mix some super spicy peppers (hello scotch bonnets) with sweet bell peppers to even it out. Our grocery store often even has pre-mixed hot pepper packs in the produce section that are fun to play with. Once summer gets in full swing I’m going to start experimenting with some in-season fruity hot sauces too, so keep your eyes on the blog for them!
- 18 fresh cayenne peppers (roughly 10 oz in weight if you want to experiment with other peppers)
- 5 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1/2 medium sweet onion
- 2 cups white vinegar
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon canola oil (or vegetable oil)
- Wash your jars and lids. Place the jars into simmering water (180ºF) in a large canning pot. Set your screw bands aside, and heat your snap lids in a small pot of simmering water (180ºF), NOT BOILING.
- Cut the stems off of your cayenne peppers. For a very spicy sauce, leave all the seeds in. For a moderately spicy sauce, roll the pepper under your palm on the counter a few times, and shake some of the seeds out into the garbage. For a more mild sauce, cut a seam down one side of the pepper and remove most or all of the seeds.
- Put all of the ingredients in a medium, non-reactive pot (stainless steel or ceramic). Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes, until the peppers have softened.
- Remove from the heat, and spoon all of the solids (peppers, onion, garlic) into your blender. Add just enough of the vinegar to blend. Blend very well, so that the mixture is as smooth as possible. Strain the remaining vinegar into a large pyrex measuring cup.
- Put the pureed pepper mixture back into your pot, and slowly add back the strained vinegar until you get the consistency you like. This is all personal preference, depending on how thick you want your sauce to be. Whisk together well, then taste and adjust accordingly. See notes for how to adjust the taste at this point.
- Once you are happy with the taste, it's time to fill your jars. Remove the jars from the simmering water one at a time (do not dry with a towel or anything). Pour the sauce into the jar, leaving 1/2" headspace at the top. Place a snap lid on top, and then apply the screw band until finger tight.
- Carefully put the jars back into your canner, making sure there is 1" of water above the jars. Cover, and bring the water up to a boil. Leave the jars in the boiling water for 15 minutes.
- Remove the jars, without tilting, and cool them upright for 24 hours. Don't be alarmed when you hear a "POP' for each of the jars - it's the lid sealing. After 24 hours all of the lids should be sealed, and the hot sauce is ready to be stored in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year.
- After opening, keep the jars refrigerated.
The single recipe will fill roughly one 500ml jar, and one 250ml jar, depending on how much vinegar you use, and how thick or thin your sauce is. I tripled the recipe and filled exactly four 500ml jars.
Wear food safe rubber gloves when handling hot peppers and be sure not to touch your face.
When you have mixed your vinegar back into the blended pepper mixture and taste your sauce, it might not be exactly where you want it.
Add a bit more salt if you think it needs it.
Bitter tasting? This could be because your peppers were picked too early, or were over ripe and close to turning (it can be hard to tell). Try adding pure maple syrup, 1/2 tablespoon at a time. Your sauce will not taste like maple, it just helps to cut the bitterness. You could also use honey, white sugar, or brown sugar. If using a sugar, simmer the sauce for a few minutes again to make sure the sugar melts so your sauce isn't gritty.
If you run into any other issues, leave me a comment or send me a message and I'll do my best to help!
BONUS: To make a buffalo sauce to toss with wings, bring 1/2 cup wing sauce and 1/4 cup butter to a boil in a small pot. If this is how you are usually going to be using the sauce, make it a little bit on the thick side when canning.
Disclosure: I have partnered with YMC and Bernardin and have received compensation for this post. All opinions are my own.