How to Make Fermented Hot Sauce

If you’re looking for something unique to compliment your homebrewed beer, why not try homebrewing some food? There are a ton of different fermented foods to choose from, but the most versatile has to be fermented hot sauce. If you haven’t tried it, I highly recommend looking into our friends at Freaky Ferments, who make and sell the best fermented hot sauce I have ever had. You’ll be hooked the minute you try it. Luckily for us all, our friends at Freaky Ferments are here to teach us how to make fermented hot sauce at home! 

This article was produced in partnership with our friends at Freaky Ferments Brewing Company. Check them out at to follow their journey towards opening a craft brewery in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and to get a bottle of the best damned hot sauce you’ll ever taste!

Why Make Fermented Hot Sauce?

Fermenting the peppers creates far more complex flavors than just blending peppers and vinegar. The tart, sour flavor of lactic acid produced during the lacto-fermentation process creates a unique flavor that compliments the heat of the peppers perfectly. Fermented hot sauce, like other fermented foods, is packed with healthy probiotics that improve gut health, aid digestion, and support the immune system

How Hot Sauce Ferments

No yeast or bacteria is actively added during the process of making fermented hot sauce. The peppers, like all fruits and vegetables, are covered in naturally occurring lactic acid bacteria. Lactic acid bacteria thrives in low-oxygen environments like a salt brine solution. Luckily this environment is harsh to harmful bacteria, so it is completely safe to consume fermented hot sauce as long as it is produced properly. 

Cayenne Pepper Fermented Hot Sauce Recipe

Making Recipe Adjustments:

This is a simple recipe meant to bring out the wonderful flavor of cayenne peppers. Think of this recipe as being the hot sauce version of a SMaSH beer recipe. It’s simple and singular, but provides a base recipe from which you can develop your own recipes to your taste. To create a more complex sauce, experiment with throwing in varying proportions of different peppers and ingredient combinations. We have seen things like carrots, beets, and other vegetables added to impart flavor and color. Generally, the more different ingredients used, the more complex the flavor gets. That said, there is nothing wrong with starting simple, and we recommend this cayenne pepper fermented hot sauce recipe as a first step.

It’s important to remember to mind the color of any ingredients you decide to add! Everyone likes a beautiful sauce, so choosing ingredients with complementary colors is just as important as choosing ones with complementary flavors. For example, if you’re using red cayenne peppers, make sure that any additional ingredients you add are red or white so that your sauce comes out looking bright, red, and beautiful! 

Too spicy for your palate? If you want to create a milder version of this sauce, substitute a portion of the cayennes for red bell peppers. Bell peppers add no heat to the sauce impart a lot of nice pepper flavor and some subtle sweetness to any fermented hot sauce.

You Will Need:

The process for making homebrewed fermented hot sauce is similar to making beer in that the work involved in making the sauce occurs in two distinct steps: pre-fermentation and post-fermentation. 

Directions: Pre-Fermentation

  1. Remove the stems from the cayennes, cut them in half lengthwise, and add them into your jar until it is approximately ⅔ full. We recommend wearing disposable gloves for this! There is nothing worse than forgetting you were touching ghost peppers and then touching your face or eyes.
  2. Dice up the onion and add it to the jar.
  3. Peel the garlic cloves and shallot and add to the jar.
  4. Heat up a volume of water equal to the volume of your jar to a lukewarm temperature. The lukewarm water helps the salt dissolve.
  5. Add 1 tsp of salt to each cup of water and stir to dissolve completely.
    • While the amounts of most of the ingredients in this recipe can be adjusted to taste, it is extremely important to have the correct ratio of salt to water. If you don’t have enough salt, unhealthy bacteria can grow and ruin your hot sauce.If you add too much salt, you will kill all of the bacteria which will prevent the chiles from fermenting. If scaling the recipe, be sure to keep the correct salt to water ratio.
  6. Let the water cool down to slightly warm before adding it to the jar. Temperatures of over 120 degrees will kill off lactobacillus and fermentation will not take place. 
  7. Pour the cooled water into the jar to the point where it just covers the ingredients.
  8. Make sure some headspace exists between the top of the ingredients and water and the top of the jar. About ⅛ of the height of the jar for headspace should be plenty.
  9. Add your fermentation weight to keep the ingredients submerged under the surface of the water. Keeping everything under the surface of the salt brine ensures safe fermentation and eliminates the chances of bad bacteria and yeasts growing.
  10. Cover the jar with the fermentation lid and airlock
  11. Place your jar in a warm, dark, and dry place and ferment.

After a few days, when fermentation has begun, you will notice a change in the color of your ingredients from bright to dull and you will start to smell the fermentation.

Fermentation time can be as little as two weeks, but we recommend a minimum of one month to reach ideal flavors. The longer you allow the sauce to ferment, the more the flavors will develop. 

Directions: Post-Fermentation

  1. After a month or more of fermentation, the hot sauce is ready to be prepared for consumption.
  2. Separate the solids from the brine, saving the brine for later use.
  3. Add the solid ingredients to the blender with a little bit of your saved brine and blend well.
  4. Continue to add the brine until your desired consistency is reached. We have found that adding about ⅔ of the brine back will provide the best consistency, but this varies with the type of ingredients used and desired consistency. Just add it slowly until you’re happy with it.
  5. Add at least 1 tablespoon of vinegar per quart of final sauce volume.
    • This is an important step to crash down the pH of your sauce and stop the fermentation from proceeding. This means you can package it into sealed containers without taking the risk of creating hot sauce bottle bombs (which sounds much worse than beer bottle bombs).
  6. After adding vinegar, be sure to taste your sauce as this will be the final product. You can add more vinegar or any other flavor enhancers before bottling.
  7. Bottle the hot sauce in a clean jar or hot sauce bottle, and keep it refrigerated.  

That’s it! Have a victory beer and enjoy your new fermented hot sauce! If you’re looking for some ideas of what you can use your fermented hot sauce for, check out the Freaky Ferments Blog for recipes!

Freaky Ferments has made this exact recipe themselves and fell in love with it. It is simple and the fermentation really enhances the flavor of the cayenne peppers. I would not be surprised to see a Freaky Ferments Cayenne sauce in their store soon!

Thanks for Stopping By!

Huge thank you to our friends at Freaky Ferments for partnering with us on this article and for sharing this recipe! Be sure to check them out at or on Instagram!

Do you make your own fermented hot sauce and have any tips to share? Do you have other questions about fermenting hot sauce for the BrewTogether Community? Leave a comment below or post in the forums!

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  1. This sounds so good! My wife is on a health kick and has gotten really into lacto fermented foods. I love spicy stuff, so this would be a fun thing for us to make together. Thanks for sharing!