Making Homemade Tabasco Sauce

by Daisy

OR—How To Pepper-Gas Your Entire House


I got ready for a normal post–here are the ingredients, here it is cooking, here’s the finished product, etc.

I took the ingredient photo:


Put the ingredients on to simmer for a few minutes.

And went outside for a second.

Which turned into several minutes.

When I walked back in the door after, oh, half an hour, I pepper-gassed myself.

I gasped, coughed, and fled, choking, windpipe searing.

Then, I took a big breath and had to go back inside, remove the burning peppers from the stove . . .


. . . and evacuate my family, sleeping in on a lazy Saturday morning.

We were coughing, sneezing and choking by the time we got the windows open and the fans turned on, standing in the yard, stranded. Even the dog was coughing.

So, with one small caveat, here’s the recipe. Do as I say, not as I did.

Homemade Tabasco Sauce

1/3 cup tabasco peppers

1 cup vinegar, your choice, white, cider, wine

2 garlic cloves

1 tsp. salt

Simmer the peppers in the vinegar and salt, BRIEFLY, watching carefully, in a well-ventilated area.

Do not go out and start to leaf blow the driveway.

Remove from heat, cover and cool.

Add crushed garlic and puree in a blender or food processor until smooth. Don’t stick your nose right in there and breathe deeply. Please, for the love of your mucous membranes.

Store in the refrigerator.


Disclaimer: This post may contain a link to an affiliate.

{ 49 comments… read them below or add one }

Emily September 4, 2009 at 6:48 am

Oh dear…you Oleoresin Capsicum-ed yourself. They use cayennes to make pepper spray, but I bet tobascos are pretty similar.

Now you know what to do to clear everyone up when the family gets a bad cold!

Maria September 4, 2009 at 7:21 am

Been there…done that!!! I am surprised the smoke alarms didn’t wake up the whole family…that is what usually happens to me!!! Don’t feel too bad!

Rebecca September 4, 2009 at 7:58 am

Do you think you could do this for any hot pepper? Jalepenos? Purira? Sorry about the pepper gassing. Funny story, though.

Moey September 4, 2009 at 8:14 am

Ha ha ha! When I had two small children, my hubby decided (against all warnings) to make jalapeno poppers with jalapenos fresh from the garden, nice and full of juice. He stuffed them with cream cheese and battered them, and put the oil on to heat.

To a boil. He thought the oil should be boiling.

Then he dropped in the peppers. Instant peppergas explosion. House filled with black, peppergas smoke. We had to sleep at the in-laws’. Took the entire next day to clean up and get the black oily smoke off the kitchen walls.

I didn’t even need to say “I told you so.”

Carla September 4, 2009 at 10:45 am

Oh my. LOL.

I’ve NEVER done anything like that. Never. (Fingers crossed behind back.)

Tanya Walton September 4, 2009 at 11:28 am

lol…this was very funny…than I laughed again at your method….lololol

Reminds me of when I set my kitchen on fire whilst grilling burgers…whoops!!!

Sorry I guess it isn’t nice to laugh at peoples downfalls…but it makes me feel not quite so stupid!

pumpkinsx3 September 4, 2009 at 12:10 pm

Along the same line… great care must be taken when making your own ground red pepper in a food processor. The cloud of dust that rises is VERY potent. Perhaps its best done outside with a good breeze blowing.

Frugal Kiwi September 4, 2009 at 3:50 pm

Oh, too funny. Reminds me of my “bread as a deadly weapon” disaster earlier this week.

Staci A September 4, 2009 at 7:05 pm

Yikes! (But also exactly why I’m not brave enough to try the recipe!) I know I’d end up with similar results.

Nelie September 4, 2009 at 7:52 pm

You know, it seems to me that there should be some sort of blogger insurance for this sort of thing. After all, you were taking the picture for the blog, right? So shouldn’t there be some sort of workman’s (sorry, workwoman’s) comp deal for this?

I’m thinking a few days of rehab at the Peabody Hotel would be entirely justified if you felt it was necessary to your continued livelihood. Don’t you agree? And since you work from home, that would include all of the people at your “office.”

Jen M. September 4, 2009 at 8:27 pm

Hahaha! I’m laughing with you, not at you. I learned that lesson, too, a few years back. My then-BF thought it would be a good idea to make hot sauce, and well…you know how the rest goes.

I’m actually amazed we didn’t lose any of the cats! It was bad.

Louise September 4, 2009 at 9:24 pm

I did the very same thing.. when I made homemade salsa. I killed every single house plant in the house.. Had to run in to rescue my birds.. IT WAS AWFUL.
Now I buy salsa at the grocery store!

Carmen September 4, 2009 at 9:41 pm

Very funny! (maybe not at the time). I know homemade is great, but I think I’d rather go buy a jar of pre-made tabasco for a couple of dollars – especially since one tiny jar seems to last us for years!

Tomato Lady September 5, 2009 at 12:50 am

Emily-LOL! I like that, bit of a mouthful, but I like it!
Maria–Never went off! I should check them–but actually there was very little smoke, just a colorless evil.
Rebecca–I’m sure you could use other peppers. They say, the smaller the hotter, as a general rule.
Carla–Mmmhmm. I see those fingers. ‘Fess up.
Tanya Walton–I understand. I make people look genius by comparison sometimes. It’s a gift.
pumpkinsx3–You are making me want to sneeze just describing it!
Carmen–You have a good point there!
Frugalkiwi–You should have just told people it was pumpernickel. Very dark pumpernickel!
Staci A–I did try again, with great care, and survived. But, I’m not going into the hot pepper business anytime soon!
Louise–Wow! I had no idea it would do that to plants.
Moey–Oh no! That was a nightmare. I’m feeling lucky now that no oil/black smoke was involved. Awful!
Nelie–That has never occurred to me but it makes perfect sense. I like your way of thinking.
Jen M–I thought I was the only one who did this sort of thing, but I see now that I’m in good company. Glad the cats made it!

Linda Perkins September 5, 2009 at 7:53 am

I am sorry for laughing but I couldn’t help myself on this one. I’m glad everyone was okay. I have to give you credit for trying new things. I really enjoy your newsletters and your sense of humor. Thanks, Linda

Melissa September 5, 2009 at 6:16 pm

you just crack me up. I am sorry though. My hubby and son just love hot stuff. I still think I have courage to try this on them. The recipe not the pepper um spray/smoke. LOL


Heather September 5, 2009 at 6:46 pm

Okay I SO FEEL YOUR PAIN! OKay not the pain from peppers, per se, but the other night I stayed up all night bottling peaches and raspberry jam and I put the last batch of jam on, looked at the clock (did not want to wake kids up…) and I sat down. Next thing I know, I smell something awful, realize I had fallen asleep and then my smoke detector went off (kids did not wake, so I guess timer would have saved us all some trauma) and my pan is charred, but I think it will recover. Oh crazy. Guess 3 am is not a good time for canning…

Tomato Lady September 6, 2009 at 9:17 am

Heather–Oh, NO! Not the raspberry! Tell me it wasn’t the raspberry!
Melissa–I’m sure it will go without incident. I really checked out on this one.
Linda Perkins–Thank you for your kind words. And of course that’s the best thing about screw-ups, the stories and the laughs later!

Corinne September 6, 2009 at 9:43 am

this is exactly why i check this blog!
for informative green recipes and LAUGHS!
not at your expense, but in the way that I don’t feel so alone when I do things like this to myself…..
so the Moral of the Story is, when you’ve got a burglar, put on a pot of peppers!

brightlight08 September 6, 2009 at 1:15 pm

LOL, do I really want to try the recipe after reading all of these laughs? =)
Yeah, really- who needs a gun if you’ve got peppers? LOL
Great stuff! Always!
I look forward to all of your posts. =)

Handful September 16, 2009 at 10:38 am

So… I’m looking for a recipe for homemade hot wing sauce. I mean HOMEMADE, not even using bottled hot sauce. Then I come across this blog and I almost peed my pants! I signed up for your site BTW, everyone needs a good laugh and to know they aren’t the only ones going into a “Brave New World in the kitchen! I love experimenting! And I never follow the recipe either…I feel recipes are a guideline and are meant to be broken.

I am still gonna try it…and good point about the gun…LMAO!

I’ll make this and then my hot wing sauce to can – over abundance of peppers this year. If my man AND my dawgs make it through, well… I will consider it a great success!
Really enjoyed the bread story as well…been there-done that. I feel ya!

Tomato Lady September 16, 2009 at 12:48 pm

Handful–I just lurv you.

Kinda interested in that hot wings sauce recipe.

Handful September 25, 2009 at 3:26 pm

Hey Tomato Lady!

Turned out really well! No humans or animals were harmed in the making 😀 !

Although I have to admit I ALMOST took out the compost which is (naturally) beside the garden which is where all those tomatoes and peppers need picked so you see where I am going with this…a potential leafblower incident!

Thank goodness I followed THAT part of the recipe!

I let it “meld” for a few days in the fridge, used my immersion blender and then strained out the solids (seeds and skins). Did you do this? Awsome sauce!

Not too thrilled with my wing sauce though. Turned out WAY too vinegary. I just added a bit more lemon juice so will taste again in a few minutes.

However, after so many taste tests I am not even sure anymore…I think I may have burnt off the top layer of my tongue!

The basics were along this line… modifed from a few different recipes…of course 🙂

2 c. (50 grams) dry cayenne peppers
1/2 c. vinegar
1 t. coarse sea salt
1/2 c. pepper water (reserved)
1/2 c.-ish onion chopped
2-3 cloves minced garlic
1 to 1 1/2 c. tomato sauce
1 stick butter
1 c. Tomato Lady hot sauce
2 T. lemonjuice
1 t. honey
1/4 c.ish ketchup
1 box of Kleenex (you may substitute a roll of your favorite brand of toilet paper)

Roast peppers over med. high heat a few minutes. Add enough water to cover and bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 min. and drain reserving 1/2 c. water. Blend (I used my immersion blender…handy little gadget and so much easier than the whole blender process – dig it out, set it up, pour it in and blend then back to pan, scrape it out, wash it… well you get the point) ummmm… where was I?

Oh yeah…

At this point STEP AWAY FROM THE PAN AS FAR AS YOUR ARMS WILL ALLOW!!!! You may want to start up the exhaust fan as well. Blend peppers, pepper water, salt and vinegar and allow to percolate. (I ran thru a sieve to remove seeds and skin.)

You may need to begin using the tissues at this point.

Melt butter. Add onion, garlic, tomato sauce and T.L. hot sauce and cook for a few minutes. Then the immersion blender thing again…

Stir in the pepper sauce mix, lemon juice, honey and ketchup and simmer for a bit more.

Oh yeah, fry up some chicken wings too.

Note: The main “base” of this recipe called for an additional CUP of vinegar – WAY to much pucker for me. I still think it is too much, will use maybe 1/8 c.ish next time to start – you can always add more! It also called for 1 bottle Lousiana hot sauce (apparently he had never heard of Tomato Lady hot sauce) so maybe that is why mine was too puckery since I thinned your recipe with a bit more vinegar.

I will try again with fresh peppers…not sure why he used dried? I guess out of season that would be fine – I do have about 8 chili ristras hanging around my house right now!

Let me know if you try this and what your modifications were.

I just picked another basket of mixed hot peppers and am getting ready to make more Tomato Lady hot sauce. My sister’s family LOVES hot. Hope to can some for Christmas gifts. Gonna try to make my own cayenne pepper too.

Anymore tomato ideas? Still overflowing. I have made gallons of V-8 (in varying degrees of hottness), gallons of Mom’s homemade tomato soup (the BEST ever TY), canned juice, canned both whole and crushed ‘maters. Canned pasta sauce, plain sauce and paste too. Still have salsa from last year so that is out. Have made tomato leather. I have dried cherry tomatoes – YUMMY like sweet little raisons – have more on tonight.

Really enjoy your posts and Frugal Man sounds like a hoot!

Handful September 27, 2009 at 9:08 pm

Oops – Frugal Man belongs to somebody else – my bad!

Tomato Lady September 28, 2009 at 7:52 pm

Handful–I think the term applies to both of them, in their own ways.

Tomato Lady September 28, 2009 at 8:00 pm

Handful–Hey, girlfriend! You must have a TON of hot peppers!
I probably should have strained the sauce, but I sort of had this idea that I would just leave them in and let it get hotter and hotter. They sink to the bottom and lurk there, infusing the brew with hellfire. Most people would probably prefer a more controlled, strained version, so that’s a very good idea.
I would love tomato leather. Wow. I think you’ve covered the spectrum of tomato products. For the green tomatoes, I have today’s pickle recipe.
Thanks so much for the wings sauce recipe! I bet it beats store bought hands down.

c5 August 18, 2010 at 6:56 pm

I’ve never simmered my hot chilis. Never blended either (I don’t have one). Before cooking, I cut them about 1mm each cut (I use kitchen scissors) so together with minced garlic I deep fry with palm/coconut oil. Either put it in a container with some oil or put on table napkin to sift the oil out. If cooked with palm oil, no need to worry about cholesterol, especially with much garlic in there. Cooking can burn your mucus membranes so inhaling as less as possible is a must. This type of chili topping is what I love. Good for toppings!

Viki August 19, 2010 at 12:17 pm

Make it easy on yourselves and just stuff the peppers in a sterilized glass bottles- syrup, vinegar, salad etc, add the garlic and salt. Heat up your vinegar to boiling, fill jars and top with bottles tops. Works well and makes for the prettiest counter decorations and gifts when tied with raffia. Added benefit no pepper gas and messy pans to clean. Works for any hot peppers, just cut up the larger peppers so they fit through the bottle opening-caution wear latex or rubber gloves. Mix red, green and yellow peppers for a nice look.

Oat Bucket Farm August 26, 2010 at 12:59 pm

Thanks so much for both the recipe and the kitchen humor. So good to know that I’m not alone in my ability to create a kitchen disaster.

jamie September 7, 2010 at 11:27 am

yes.. oh dear! I don’t know how many times I’ve put something on the stove and forgotten about it. I burned up a plastic spatula once, that was stinky. And sad. I liked that spatula.

Becky October 28, 2010 at 10:09 am

My husband loves to dehidrate things. He learned real quick that when one is dealing with peppers wear two pairs of gloves and do not touch yourself for hours!

gary December 13, 2010 at 2:47 pm

people people the easy way is to save your pickle jiuce and mix in your choice of ground red pepper ,wow the best, better then tabasco

Lissa Rinta July 14, 2011 at 8:05 am

OMG! I thought we were the only one to gas the whole house! Last year at my hubbys request i grew red caribian peppers (twice as hot as habanerro peppers) and at the end of the season i was blessed with thousands of the things so i told my hubby (Cause i was to scared of them to even pick them for him) to go get them and make the hot sauce he had been talking about all summer! Well he put them on to cook and then we steped out side to the grill and started talking! Several min went by and we came back in but the house was no longer habitable. The dog was sneezing and weesing and coughing and snotting and my throat felt like it was closing up and burning 2 rooms away! It wasnt burt it was mearly at a light simmer and almost ready to be tried but i didnt need to try it to name it Dumb A$$ Sauce. It was canned and never seen from again after my hubby (with one drop) burnt out his taste buds for a couple days. Im still wanting to make some tabasco sauce for him tho How bad can it be? ( my moms famous last words )

Tomato Lady July 14, 2011 at 10:16 am

Wow. With respect to Paris Hilton, now THAT’S hot.

rbesseling February 15, 2012 at 5:54 am

Thanks for the recipe and advice. Will have a go at it tonight.

HOTMESS March 21, 2012 at 10:46 am


Wendy.B March 28, 2012 at 3:16 am

*shamed faced* I laughed .. a lot but in my defence I have been down the *choke – gag – wheeze – snort – cough till you pee road* while my husband watched laughing.. why? you ask because this dunce unscrewed the lid of a large bottle of ammonia in the hardware store while waiting for my man, and took a good long sniff.. felt like someone skied up my nose… say no more 🙂
Glad you go your sauce made and the fumes cleared without the help of a HAZMAT vehicle.. not sure I am going to try the recipe though. *cluck cluck*

Wendy Stevens July 30, 2012 at 1:34 pm

Of course everybody everywhere has heard of Tabasco hot sauce but there are thousands of sauces from this area. If you’re from New Orleans you know everybody and their granma makes at least one hot sauce, most make several kinds. In the world of New Orleans pre-Katrina there was a huge factory that made Crystal Preserves…..and hot sauce,right along the interstate in the middle of the city not too far from the Superdome. If you can imagine how strongly that smelled when the hot sauce was brewing or the strawberry preserves for that matter. I lived several miles from it and we could still identify what they were cooking. There was a cute sign on top of the factory. It was a cut out of a chef stirring the pot with actual steam coming from the days cooking. I always wondered how the families that lived across the street from the plant survived. Now it’s gone, like so many things since Katrina but its something I think of whenever I go to visit my parents or especially when I’m driving along that part of the interstate.. Thanks for the laugh ladies and gents. As I’m learning to do so many of the simple things my grangmothers generation knew by heart it’s nice to know that I’m not the only one fumbling along the way….in fact it encourages me to keep going.

NWFLDeaconsWife August 8, 2012 at 12:58 pm

I have two words for home-made hot sauce.



Gentle, controlled, and no bombs.

1 Lightly oil bottom and sides with olive or palm oil.
2 Lightly Pack with the peppers that have been de-stemmed…just destemmed. Usually I can put in 1/2 gallon of peppers and it fills mine 1/2 way full.

Two whole small garlic bulbs ‘buried’ in the center..if you have an oval one, one in each ‘end’ works well. Or you can ‘sprinkle’ the seperated, peeled cloves on top if you want to do that much work.

Heat for 1 hour on low (this gives you the ‘roasted’ part)

Add 1 cup vinegar, a teaspoon of salt, and enough water to just barely cover. Heat on low for another hour. Carefully lift the lid and stir. Once the garlic is soft, let cool.

With rubber gloves slit the peppers long-wise in half and scoop out seeds with a spoon (if desired). Separate garlic cloves. Toss peppers and garlic in food processor (might have to do it in two batches depending on how big your processor is.)

Pour this into a jelly-straining bag over a glass bowl. Let stand until you have strained as much of the liquid out of the pulp as possible.

Pour the liquid into 1/2 pint jelly jars leaving 1/2″ headroom. Place domes and rings and seal using hot water bath method. When jars cool be sure to label them well.

Add the pulp to 8 cups of tomato puree (I make mine from scratch) and blend well with 1/8 cup of citric acid. Pour into quart canning jars. Place domes and rings and seal using hot water bath method. Label as chilli sauce.

Clean ALL EQUIPMENT thoroughly and rinse with vinegar water (1:2 vin to water)or else your next dish will be ‘seasoned’ and might not have been intentionally with hot peppers.

BamBam August 23, 2012 at 8:42 pm

So how is Tabasco made.
Not by scorching the peppers. Nor by chemical warfare against its makers.
They just grind the peppers to a pulp that’s called ‘mash’. Then they add salt. This salted mash goes into oak barrels. The naturally present microorganisms then convert the sugars present in the peppers into lactic acid.


Fermentation really creates the complex flavor of Tabasco. The mash stays fermenting in the oak barrels for 3 years. When its done, they filter the mash. Only THEN do they add vinegar for shelf life. Some do like the vinegar taste. Me included.
And yes, you can try this at home. Easily. Just google “ferment lacto pepper”.


k-bird September 14, 2012 at 3:45 pm

i took mine and cut into them and added vinegar in a soy sauce bottle, and left them in the fridge for a while, great on fish or really anything

joe October 2, 2012 at 7:43 pm

Dear Author,
We might be related. Except that I would leave the peppers cooking while I go to Home Depot to buy a gallon a paint but purchase another chain saw because it’s red and on sale.

Daisy October 2, 2012 at 10:22 pm

joe–I’m right with you, cuz.

Flip Flop Farmers October 10, 2012 at 4:56 pm

We really enjoyed the humor and warnings about the little peppers. We have 6 humongeous tabasco pepper plants we got two plus pickings off them two we let turn red and are hanging upside down in basement. We would like to make a hot sauce and some dry seasoning with them. How do we proceed? Please help!!!! We do like the pickle thing. and we like the crock pot method. but what do we do with the other thousand peppers? Tim & April

Daisy October 10, 2012 at 5:22 pm

Flip Flop Farmers–As far as dry seasoning, I’d say just once they are completely dry, crush them (wear a mask and gloves) and store them in an airtight container like you do herbs. You can ask around your friends, too, to see if they want some–always some hot pepper enthusiasts ready to take on your surplus!

Mark Rodrigue July 31, 2013 at 2:53 pm

yes, that’s right she knows what to do to clear everyone up when the family gets a bad cold!

Kathryn January 10, 2014 at 10:12 pm

I love this recipe it never fails- I have also made with green peppers just as delicious.
Tabasco is really expensive in Australia so I was delighted to find a recipe that works!
Thank you.

Jon October 18, 2015 at 1:56 pm

I did something similar to this (without the burning part…). I had a bumper crop of cayeynne peppers one year and decided to dry them. Then I got the bright idea to make my own ground red pepper. Took the stems off, popped them in the food processor, and voila! (warning-wait a while before removing the lid-and have on a particle mask when you start packaging.) (Unless of course you want to end up in the corner in a fetal position crying like a baby.)

Daisy October 18, 2015 at 3:40 pm


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