How to Make Habanero Hot Sauce

By A.J. Andrews

Start to Finish: 30 minutes

Servings: Yields 1 cup

Difficulty: Beginner

You should always have a bottle of habanero sauce on hand -- it's a universal condiment. A drop or two of habanero sauce brings out a dish's subtle flavors without assaulting you with heat, while a liberal slathering gives you the spicy fix you're craving -- it's all about how much you use. Habanero peppers are listed high on the Scoville scale -- a ranking of peppers according to their spiciness -- so test the sauce during cooking and adjust the taste as needed.


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 small Spanish onion, roughly chopped
  • 6 orange habanero peppers, roughly chopped (stems and seeds removed)
  • 2 medium carrots, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1/2 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of salt


Heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan on the stove over low heat. Add the garlic, onion and habaneros.

Cook the garlic, onion and peppers until softened and slightly caramelized, about 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the carrots, vinegar, lime juice, sugar and salt to the saucepan. Add just enough water to cover the ingredients.

Cover the saucepan and set the heat to medium-low. Cook until the carrots soften, about 10 minutes.

Transfer the sauce ingredients to a blender or food processor. Blend the sauce until smooth and return it to the saucepan.

Cook the habanero sauce over low heat for 5 minutes and taste it. Adjust the seasoning as needed with salt and sugar; sugar tempers the spiciness and acidity. Store the sauce in a sealed food container or jar for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator.

Cooking Notes

  • Use 8 habanero chilies for an ultra-spicy sauce.
  • This technique produces a textured habanero sauce. For a smooth, refined sauce, pour the habanero sauce through a fine-mesh sieve lined with a couple of layers of cheesecloth.
  • If you prefer the sauce a bit thinner, add water in 1/2-tablespoon increments until it reaches the desired consistency. If you prefer a thick sauce, cook it over medium heat until it reaches the desired thickness.