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This pepper sauce recipe is a Southern family favorite. Perfect to serve with cornbread, greens or black eyed peas, this pepper sauce recipe is one you’ll turn to again and again.

Pepper Sauce Recipe | ©addapinch.com

Good ole Southern Pepper Sauce is a favorite condiment to serve with any number of dishes in the South – from black eyed peas to pinto beans, collard or turnip greens and some even like a little bit of it with their BBQ. A jar of this spicy sauce could just about always be found on the supper table, making it a staple item to make each year.

Actually, at the end of each summer, Daddy would gather a bunch of peppers from his garden to make a good number of jars to use, keep in the pantry and to share with friends.

Here’s how he made his pepper sauce. This recipe is for one pint jar.

4.69 from 19 votes

Southern Pepper Sauce Recipe

Canning 20 mins

Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Course Sauce
Cuisine American
Author Robyn Stone
This pepper sauce recipe is a Southern family favorite. Perfect to serve with cornbread, greens or peas, this pepper sauce recipe is one you’ll turn to again and again.

Ingredients  

  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher or pickling salt
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil optional for extra hot pepper sauce
  • about 30 small peppers

Instructions 

  • Clean jar, lid, and band and rinse well. Keep warm.
  • Mix together sugar, salt, vinegar, and optional olive oil in a stainless steel saucepan.
  • Cook over medium heat until it begins to boil.
  • Fill jar with peppers and pour hot vinegar mixture over the peppers. Leave about 1 inch of headspace from the top of the jar
  • Remove air bubbles in the jar by tilting jar slightly to allow bubbles to escape as press peppers against opposite side of the jar.
  • Wipe jar rim to clean. Place lid on top of jar and tighten ring.
  • Allow jars to seal by setting on countertop to cool with about 1 inch in between each.
  • Test seal after about 12 hours by pressing finger to the center of the lid. If sealed, it will not pop back. If not sealed, refrigerate and use.
  • Store in dark, cool cabinet or pantry for up to a year.

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Robyn xo

Sauces Recipes

Robyn Stone

..where I share sweet, savory and southern recipes, as well as home and garden tips and tidbits of travel.

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Recipe Review




Comments

  1. Robyn – The pictures of your pepper sauce are some of the most gorgeous, delicious-looking things I have seen!!!!!!! I just wish I liked peppers!!!! I guess I could make them just for their looks!!!!!

    1. Actually, you don’t have to like peppers to like this..I grew up on Pepper Sauce and I don’t particularly care of peppers at all, but it’s the flavor of the sauce that is incredible!

    1. I’ve not tried doing it that way. I think it would be really, really hot with the seeds still in the peppers, so you may want to deseed them first. Let me know how it turns out. I’d love to know.

  2. My mother and grandmother always made pepper sauce using old condiment bottles — usually ketchup or Tabasco. You can’t properly enjoy turnip greens without some pepper sauce. Love your blog.
    -Lisa

  3. Have you ever used sweet bannanna peppers to make this sauce? If so how did it turn out and would you recommend using these peppers for it. I have some great sweet bananna pepper plants and dont know what to do with all of them.

    1. Hi Jamie,
      It won’t have the same amount of heat, but it should still be great.

  4. My love for peppers began when I was a young boy in Texas. I now live in South Carolina after a career in the military. I grow peppers of many varieties, use my own seeds and add a few new varieties every year as I find them. I germinate the seeds indoors around February and transplant them into large pots moving them outdoors after last frost about April. I bring them back indoors the end of October. So I have fresh peppers growing most of the year. I eat and cook with all I can and pickle the excess peppers for the winter months. I find some varieties too hot to eat painlessly, but they do make a good pepper sause for seasoning or they can be used in small quanity to spice up a meal. Every pepper does have its distinct flavor and heat. I love my chile and cowboy beans a little hotter than most so I spice up my portion with a tad more heat. I mix the different sauses and peppers to create individual jars flavored to the personal taste and heat of my family members members. Peppers make a great hobby and are fun to grow and eat.

  5. 5 stars
    This is my first year for canning peppers.
    I chopped them with various varieties;

    What is your opinion of chopping vs. whole canning?

    1. It is a matter of personal preference. Daddy always made his pepper sauce with the whole pepper and would then eat a pepper on occasion with pintos and cornbread or something like that. My aunt would make hers with the peppers sliced and it was still delicious!

  6. I am looking forward to trying out this recipe but have never done any type of canning. After filling the jars, do you not have to put them back into a water bath?

    1. Pet southern pepper sauce receipe. I want to try this receipe what type of peppers should I use

  7. Just discovered your website. Excellent, and so is the recipe for the peppered vinegar sauce.

    With the exception of the “super hots” (Fatalii, ghost pepper, Thai), my chile garden is starting to wind down and will use a variety of the last of the pods (cayenne, serrano, habanero) to make this vinegar.

    1. I would use A LOT less than 30 peppers… Reapers clock in at 1.4 million Scoville units, whereas jalapenos barely push 10,000.

    1. Hi, so this pepper recipe does not have to be water processed to be shelf stable? I do it with pickles, just haven’t with peppers

    2. Arleen, this pepper sauce is really a hot pepper vinegar and does not have to be water processed.

    1. Hi Scott,
      We just pour the juice from the pepper sauce over peas and such, but we also eat the peppers! So delicious! I hope you enjoy them if you get a chance to try them.

    2. Thanks Robyn, there tobasco peppers, we’ll crack open the jar on Thanksgiving. And a happy Thanksgiving to you!

    3. Hey Robyn, you know anything about ginger root? Esay way yo get the skin off without losing the whole veg? Beside the spoon? My son wants to make ginger tea. Help!

  8. Hi Robyn,I plan to use your recipe to make a “pepper suce” with small chile peppers. Your recipe also sounds good for larger peppers to eat, like jalapeno. Do you recommend putting small slits in the larger peppers? thanks

  9. 5 stars
    I can attest that this is what I was looking for. I made a quart with Serrano peppers and this is literally the hottest thing I have ever tasted or close to it. I added the olive oil. A teaspoon will make a bowl of soup spicy. I made the mistake and put a tablespoon in some the first time and was unbearable. I have had pepper sauces before and at relatives and have made it with cold vinegar, but none of those compared to this.

    1. Hi Sam!
      I’m glad to hear this is what you were looking for in a pepper sauce recipe! I’m sure it is quite spicy with the Serrano peppers…but I bet it tastes good when you use a little at a time. Try it with different kinds of hot peppers – that’s what we like to do each year with our peppers from our garden. Oh so good over freshly cooked peas and so much more!
      I hope you continue to enjoy the recipe! Thanks so much!

  10. 5 stars
    I’ve used this recipe for years, and it is undoubtedly the best I’ve had, including ANY store bought. Very simple.
    Thanks.

  11. 4 stars
    One thing I’ve always wondered, can you use apple cider vinegar, or red wine vinegar in this recipe? I’m actually in the grocery store parking lot, because I’m out of white vinegar, getting ready to go in and buy some… Seriously.

    1. I’ve always used distilled white vinegar, Joe. I’ve not tried the other vinegars, so I’m not sure how they taste.
      Thanks so much!

    2. I use white wine vinegar…its super! The color changes the product..but if you find the vinBegar tasty I think you will enjoy the pepper sauce as well. Try a small jar first as a tester!

    3. Someone gave my husband a jar of pepper sauce which also had chunks of green tomatoes in it. I’m wondering do I have to can that differently?

    4. I’m not sure about that one, Candy. I’ve never added tomatoes to my pepper sauce.

  12. 5 stars
    I’m planning to make your pepper sauce and the answer maybe listed in your older comments but what does the teaspoon of olive oil do that makes it hotter?

    1. Hi Michael,
      It definitely does make it hotter – I was always told that – so I’ve passed it along. 😉
      I’m not sure if it is because it changes the makeup of the liquid and makes the peppers release more of their heat…or what happens…I am not positive of the exact reason it does it.
      Sorry I can’t give you the technical answer, but from experience I know it sure does!
      Thanks so much!

    2. Capsaicin molecules, the ‘heat’ in the peppers, are hydrophobic, meaning they will not bond with the water molecules in your mixture (like oil and water). Adding the olive oil, I’m guessing, allows the added oil to bind, and ‘extract’ more of the capsaicin from the peppers.

    3. I am 70 years old and have always made pepper sauce like this. The only thing olive oil does is keep the vinegar from rusting your lid. Remember jar lids are tin

  13. Hi Robyn, I just made these and can’t wait to e
    Eat them. I use to make pepper sauce in ornamental jars that don’t need to seal and we would add vinegar to it when it would run low. Since this is sealed does it have to be refrigerated after it is opened? Thank you!

    1. Hi Kay,
      I can’t wait to hear how you like it! It’s a favorite in my family.
      Enjoy! Thanks!

  14. 5 stars
    I’ve read that after you bottle the pepper sauce, you should chill it for three weeks to let the heat intensify, whicH I assume means setting it in the freezer. Have you done this? Do you recommend it?

    1. It does make sense that the longer the pepper sauce rests the more the liquid with have the pepper flavor. I’ve not heard of chilling it like that, however.

    2. 3 stars
      u can use it within 24 hours of making it the longer it sits the hotter it will get. but why would u want to freeze it? that makes no sense at all lol u can always refrigerate it. but if u freeze it then it will not be able to get infused with flavors until u thaw it out

  15. Second question – what’s the purpose of the sugar? Does it act as a preservative, or is it there for flavor or some other reason? Specifically, could I either leave out the sugar, or replace it with stevia powder?

    1. I’ve not used stevia in this recipe and am not able to answer from personal experience how it works.

    2. Well, the question was why do you use the sugar in the first place? Do you use it to add sweetness, or as a preservative, or what?

    3. Hi Jan,
      Happy Thanksgiving! We use the sugar in the pepper sauce as a preservative. I hope you enjoy it.

  16. A recipe from my daddy that was handed down from his grandmother (late 1800s era) was to use cayenne peppers and apple cider vinegar. Good stuff. We made it every year when I was growing up and I still do. We used it on turnip greens, pintos and other beans.

  17. Yes I did make this now the wait maybe a week looks and sounds great will let you know!!!

  18. 5 stars
    barney bolten
    I have opened the peppers and like them very much made one quart one third is gone will make another quart today. Can I ad more vinegar as it gets low or are the peppers one time use the two quarts will not last till next garden Thank You

  19. 5 stars
    I used this recipe 2 years ago and put the peppers and sauce in secretive jars with a narrow neck (for pouring). The jars came with corks so I corked them and put them on a shelf. The other day I went to get one of them and they all had built pressure and pushed some liquid out and about 3″of the peppers were exposed to air. My question is, are the jars that did that still safe to consume the juice?

  20. The ingredient measurements in the recipe were very accurate. The recipe is for 1 pint jar. I made 7 with the Olive Oil because that is supposed to be hotter. Then I also made 6 more jars without Olive Oil, so those would not be quite as hot.

    So if you make this recipe for more than 1 pint, then just multiply your ingredients accordingly.

    I had never sliced jalapeños, but decided to slice them for this recipe.

    WARNING: Jalapeño peppers cause Jalapeño Hands! It burns your hands pretty bad.

    I washed my hands with soap and water. Still the burn was there. Tried pouring milk over my hands, was still burning. Tried soaking hands in ice water, that helped. Then poured Lemon Juice over my hands, still burning. Will just have to let it wear off!

    So you may consider using gloves when handling hot peppers. I have learned my lesson!!!

    1. Ha! Bonnie, I learned this lesson the hard way too! My hands burned for 3 days stright after making a very large batch of jalapeno poppers for a super bowl party. Sweet Lord , ill never try that again .

    2. Omg yes use gloves. I sliced 3 jars of red and green peppers…the next day was horrible because I work over a 400 degree f flat grill..

  21. 5 stars
    Can you re-use peppers & just add more of the liquid? My brother lives in Maui & sent me a couple bottles of their chili pepper water. Then made my own. Drinking shot glass of it every morning for the health benefits, plus have cast iron stomach. Now jars are empty…

  22. I love this. I only make one jar at a time cause usually I can get the peppers. This recipe has terrific flavor and I use the olive oil for ‘hotness’.

  23. I have also made this for years. Teaching my daughter now how to.
    I sometimes add a clove of garlic. Yummy!

  24. I made this for the first time and my pepper sauce is cloudy. What did I do wrong? Is it still safe to eat? Thanks

    1. Hi Linda,
      There are several reasons the liquid could turn cloudy. Regular table salt has an anti-caking agent that can cause cloudiness. Use either kosher salt or pickling salt. A pan that has aluminum in it can cause a reaction with the vinegar and cause cloudiness and hard water can turn the liquid cloudy. The pepper sauce is safe to eat if these are the causes. However, bacteria can also cause the liquid to turn cloudy. The peppers might be mushy or slimy or have an off-odor if that is the case. These would not be safe to eat. Hope this helps!

  25. I made it with cayenne peppers and a couple of jalapeños! It looks perfect and will be making more!!!

    1. Hi Deborah,
      You must use a non-reactive pan like stainless steel or enamelware because of the acidity of the vinegar. If you use an aluminum, iron, or other metal pan, the metal can react with the acid and leach into your pepper sauce. You shouldn’t use a reactive pan when cooking any acidic food for this reason. Hope you like the pepper sauce!

  26. Nice very easy recipe, I’ve never really canned peppers before, but I like pepper sauce, albeit the store bought variety. This year I had a big crop of “Dragon Peppers”, the name is deceiving, they are really no hotter than a jalapeno, but a different sorta flavor. I found some small square Italian flip top canning bottles (condiment bottles) on Amazon, they worked great and kind of decorative. This is a super easy recipe, I’m an engineer, not much of a cook, but 30 or so peppers in the bottle and filled with the mix you describe above, seal it up and after about 2 weeks of marinating, that’s some awesome pepper sauce, better than the store variety, thanks Robyn.

    1. Thanks so much, Anthony. I agree, it does taste so much better than the bottled ones you get at the store.

    1. I have not used sea salt in this recipe but other people have said they do. Just make sure it is pure sea salt with no additives. You can’t use table salt; it can cause the liquid to be cloudy. Hope this helps.

    2. My dad planted all kinds of peppers and mixed them all. It was the best pepper sauce and I do it too. this year I have some habaneros and I’m really anxious to try it with them

  27. Can olive oil be added at a later date
    Best way to store pepper sauce and best way to store after jar has been open

    1. Do you cut into slices ..chop or purée? Ive done everything you suggested now ready to indulge! Thank you!

    2. Greg, you can cut the peppers however you want to eat them or just pour the sauce over your vegetables. Hope you enjoy!

  28. I’m from the south and u are so right it is so good on some beans and cornbread I’m glad I found ur recipe. Thank you so much !

    1. Vickey, you can use the peppers immediately if you wish. The flavor and heat may be more intense in about a week.

  29. How do you prepare the peppers? I’m new to pepper sauce and want to make sure I don’t miss an important step.

    1. You will just wash the peppers and place them in the jars whole. Then, follow the directions in the recipe. Hope you enjoy, JC.

  30. How long does this have to sit before it can be used? I know pickles take a week or two to be fully ready.

    1. Paul, you can use the peppers immediately if you wish. The flavor and heat may be more intense in about a week.

  31. 5 stars
    I’m from as far south as you can get in Louisiana. We always had a container of this sauce on the table. Anytime, we had a dish with rice from gumbo to jambalaya we used it. This recipe is the same my family used for as long as our family has gone back to our start in this country. My great grand-parents and grand parents grew their own papers and made their sauce. I have moved from LA but am growing and picking my ownpeppers. Thank you for sharing this awesome recipe.

    1. Virgie, thank you for letting me know your family has used this same recipe for generations, too. My family has always had this as far back as my mother can remember. xo

    2. I put all the peppers I have, little hot bells, jalapenos, Cayenne, sweet Cayenne, and banana? Guess I will see😁

    1. You will use small peppers, Katie. You can pack 30 small peppers in a pint jar. Hope you enjoy!

    2. First time making pepper sauce and it turned out perfect! My husband and I are putting it on everything from cornbread and greens to tater tot casserole lol. I can’t wait to try it on our beans from the garden! Thanks for this recipe! My peppers were kinda of big so I used about 20 per jar and sliced a few up. I am going to be making more soon. This would make an excellent Christmas or birthday gift

    3. Katie, I’m so glad you and your husband are loving the pepper sauce. We use it on everything, too. Thank you.

  32. use this vinegar whenever you want to spice up your chicken or pork or anything. I was raised on this stuff!

  33. Once i transfer the sauce from the jar to a hot sauce bottle, how long will it stay good for? Will it need refrigerated?

  34. Curious, Im from the north and I’ve never used this or seen it before. Do you use the vinegar or just the peppers on your cornbread and such? Looks awesome and I have a lot of peppers right now.

    1. I haven’t used apple cider vinegar, Vivian. According to Ball, you can use cider vinegar but it may darken the peppers or any other vegetables you can.

  35. Has anyone ever had a problem with peppers floating to the top? I used whole Cheyenne peppers with stems cut off and all they wanted to do was escape after pouring the vinegar in. This is my first time trying anything like this. 😁

  36. Have you ever used frozen peppers to make pepper sauce? I have an abundance of peppers and I have already made myself and everyone I know plenty of pepper sauce and jellies. But, I hate to waste my peppers. So, I was wondering about freezing my peppers and making pepper sauce at a later date.

  37. This recipe is perfect! My family loves it! I always helped my mom can foods when I was growing up. I have been married and living 2 hours away from her for the last 42 years, so I wasn’t around to keep all that canning knowledge fresh at hand. Now my mom has alzheimers and she doesn’t even remember me. Thank you so much for being kind enough to share this and helping to keep canning alive!

  38. 5 stars
    Thank you for an authentic recipe! If the peppers float in the jar, you can poke a little hole in each with a darning needle. It may take longer to get rid of the bubbles, and you might have to use a little more vinegar. Warning – the vinegar will be hotter in the end! It comes in contact with the seeds and membranes of the peppers when the skin is breeched. Apple cider vinegar does work, the color is “off,” but the flavor is just fine. Fish peppers, a striped African heirloom type with variegated, cream-spotted leaves, work Great for this. They’re under-used in the garden, really – so ornamental, lovely for containers and even accents in borders, producing a pretty fruit with heat similar to a jalapeño.

  39. I am a GA girl and been living in W Central GA for over 50 years. I only use white vinegar, no oil, only non-iodized salt (equal to canning salt or sea salt with no additives) and no sugar. I slice up hot banana peppers, chilies and hot cow horn peppers and can in 1/2 pint jars, as our family is smaller now ad we don’t go through it as fast. I let it sit a full 2weeks before using to let the vinegar absorb a bunch of hot pepper magic before using. Peppers can be eaten out of the jar on any kind of peas or greens or even on pizza. I never de-seed my peppers to allow them to make a hotter sauce, which is their mission.

    1. Thanks, Mary. Don’t you love how great this is with your vegetables? I haven’t tried it on pizza but what a great idea!

    1. Any hot pepper will work. And I agree with MaryB we don’t add sugar or oil to our pepper sauce. Grew up in a house that everything was saving. Didn’t put sugar in cornbread or biscuits either. My grandmother would have had a hissy fit.

    2. Barbara, this is the way my grandmother and mother made this pepper sauce all the time. Strange how different people in the South had little changes to their recipes.

  40. I read somewhere to make a small slit in the peppers as you put them in the jar. This allows liquid to enter pepper and increases how hot liquid becomes. Wear plastic gloves if you do this. This procedure would also keep pepper from floating upward in jar. I intend to try this. SOME LIKE IT HOT!

  41. My dad made vinegar pepper sauce with long thin peppers. I don’t know what kind and he’s gone. Can you tell me what kind those were? Mild hot but not too hot. The closest brand store-bought Trappey’s but they come in such small bottles? Can you tell me what other kind I can use? Thanks for the recipe.

    1. Martha, the peppers used were jalapeño and Serrano in this photo but you can use other peppers.

    2. He may have used cayanne peppers. Im just about to make some in small skinny jars. Not sure haw to preserve these. I wonder if i have to refridgerate afterward?

    3. Kathy, the instructions for storing the pepper sauce is in the recipe. Look at instruction numbers 7, 8, and 9. I the jars have not sealed within 12 hours, place them in the refrigerator. Hope you enjoy them.

    4. Martha it sounds like what we in the south call Cow Horn peppers..they are long slender and green…

  42. Thank you Robyn for sharing. I made five quarts with cowhorn and sweet banana with the olive oil.
    I packed the Quart jars full and it took about six cups of this mixture to fill two quart jars.

    1. I haven’t tried adding whiskey to this pepper sauce, James, but maybe if someone else has they can tell you how it turned out.

    1. Shannon, the peppers used were jalapeño and Serrano in this photo but you can use other peppers.

  43. Did you slice the ends off the peppers or just remove the stems? Looks great, I will be trying it very soon.

    1. Donna, I just removed the stems from the peppers and did not cut ends off. I hope you enjoy the pepper sauce.

    1. 5 stars
      The recipe looks similar to what my mom and grandmother used back in the mid to late ’50s. I don’t recall her using sugar, but then I was only 12 to 16 or so and didn’t watch too carefully. They left the stems on and canned many pint jars at a time. I remember my grandmother removing the peppers from the jar, removing the seeds from the peppers, and eating them with her collards or turnips. We had about an acre under cultivation and grew our own peppers, collards, turnips, pole beans, watermelon, pumpkins, and strawberries. I really learned to hate weeding the garden.

  44. what if I blend up the pepper mix I have, then pulse up the vinegar solution into the pepper mix so I have more of a sauce style pepper sauce? I think this is just the vinegar solution sauce?

    1. The red and yellow peppers should be fine in the pepper sauce, Daniel. If these are bell peppers, you may want to add some hot peppers, too. Hope you enjoy!

    1. No, Loretta, I don’t make this pepper sauce to sell. You can make your own with this recipe, though.

  45. Good morning 🌞
    Your recipe looks delicious and what I would call “pickled peppers.” I’m thinking the difference in how I would title it must be a regional thing? I recently saw a video where another southern gal made hers like you do and also called it ‘sauce.’ When using it do you chop up the peppers along with the liquid? Or use just the liquid as your sauce? How long do you let it sit in the jar with the solution before it takes on the pepper flavor? Thank you so much for your time and clarifying for me!!!

    1. Gayle, I guess it is a regional thing. It has always been called pepper sauce in my area. I don’t chop the peppers. I use small whole peppers to make this but you can slice them if you prefer. You can use the sauce immediately but I prefer to wait about 24 hours.

  46. What’s the type of peppers that you use to make this sauce I’m really interested in wanting to make this sauce because I love pepper sauce just not sure what kind of peppers to use please let me know as soon as possible so I can go get the seeds and start growing the peppers in my garden this year thanks a bunch in advance!!! Ps Ryan Smith

    1. The peppers used were jalapeño and Serrano in this photo, Ryan. Good luck with your garden.