Sriracha… rooster sauce… you know it and most likely love it. On the off chance that you’re not familiar with sriracha, it’s a chili sauce frequently used as a condiment for Thai or Vietnamese dishes. Personally, I think its flavor is much more complex than most hot sauces, which is one of many reasons why I love it.

Believe it or not, the decision to try my hand at making sriracha was made several months back. It was during the peak of COVID in Philadelphia, and I had embarked on my first non-essential outing since the initial outbreak. Naturally, that outing was made so that I could buy starter plants for my annual summer vegetable garden. “Sriracha peppers” immediately caught my eye, and into my cart they went. As it turns out, “sriracha peppers” are actually chili peppers – a clever marketing ploy, I must admit.

I keep joking that one of the few good things to come out of 2020 is my thriving vegetable garden, and fellow gardeners tend to agree with that sentiment. Has the weather been ideal, or are we simply home more and therefore able to give our gardens the TLC they deserve? I suppose we’ll never know. Either way, I’ll happily embrace this small win.

Anyway, as my chiles and jalapeños began to ripen, I started looking into how I should go about making sriracha. I mulled over various recipes and ultimately came up with my own version. If there is one component that I believe is key to making tasty sriracha, it’s using peppers of varying ripeness. This makes for complex and balanced flavor that is inherent to the store-bought sriracha we know and love.

A quick aside before we dive into the recipe: I had no idea that, generally speaking, hot sauces are fermented. No wonder they’re so tangy and delicious! How I, the gal who pickles damn near everything and has been brewing kombucha for years, did not know this is beyond me. Regardless, I think it’s safe to say that hot sauce will now be added to the laundry list of items that I prefer to make from scratch.

Hot tip (literally): Wear gloves while handling the peppers!

What you’ll need:

  • 1/2 lb. a mixture of red and green jalapeño peppers, de-stemmed
  • 1/2 lb. a mixture of red and green chili peppers, de-stemmed
  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp. sea salt
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1/3 cup white vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp. xantham gum

What you’ll do:

  • First, add the peppers, sugar, salt, and garlic to a food processor; pulse until finely chopped
  • Then, add the pepper mixture to a mason jar, lid loosely secured, and store in a dry, dark location for approximately one week
  • Every couple days, give the mixture a good stir and appreciate the fermentation process occurring before your very eyes!
  • Once about one week has elapsed, add the mixture and vinegar to a food processor, and blend on low until smooth
  • Next, using a spoon, strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve until all that remains are seeds and larger pieces of pepper
  • Add the remaining mixture to a food processor, sprinkling the xantham gum on top; pulse until incorporated and thickened
  • Lastly, add to a squeeze bottle, and enjoy!