Southern Pepper Sauce

I feel like it’s been ages since I’ve blogged… I guess it has been a few days!  I hope everyone had a fantastic Labor Day Weekend.  As I’m sure you could tell by my Instagram, we had a fantastic time in Charleston.  I’m ready to go back again!  If you were following along, I’ll be popping back in later in the week to share a how-to on the special/hilarious/ridiculous cake I baked for the bride’s bachelorette party. ;)

But alas, it’s back to the grind today.  So to spice up all of our first days back to work, I’m sharing a hot pepper sauce recipe.

Pepper sauce is as ubiquitous in the South as sweet tea, and I challenge you to find a Southern cook who serves collards without it.

Southern HOT Pepper Sauce  | Oysters & Pearls

I have saved up bourbon and whiskey bottles all year in preparation for pepper sauce making.  The time finally came, and I only had three saved up.  There’s only two of us here, and we only drink whiskey/bourbon in the fall and winter (usually), so cut me some slack.  On that note, we should probably stock up for football season…

Anyway, I had a ton of tabasco peppers thanks to my coworker, Donna.  She asked me a couple weeks ago if I wanted some peppers.  Her mother grows them and had a whole lot of extra.  I obviously said I’d love to have some.  She came to work a week later with 3 grocery bags full!  Two bags were chock full of tabasco peppers. The other bag was full of another type, but that’s another story and another recipe for another day.  :)

Tabasco Peppers | Oysters & Pearls

I spent a whole day with these peppers two weekends ago.  First I washed them, and while I had them in the sink and in the colander I de-stemmed them.  I didn’t wear gloves for this but you might want to, just in case.  Just hold the pepper in one hand, and quickly twist off the stem with your other hand.  They should pop right off.

Stemmed Tabasco Peppers | Oysters & Pearls

Once you’ve got them all clean and stemless, you’re ready to stuff bottles.  Fill a clean bottle (of any kind) about half-way or 3/4 of the way full of peppers.  Meanwhile, bring a pot of white or apple cider vinegar (your choice – I used apple cider vinegar, 5% acidity) to a boil.  Once you have your bottles stuffed and the vinegar is boiling, pour the vinegar into the bottles over the peppers.  Fill to the top, and add a drop or two of olive oil.  That’s it!

Whiskey Bottle Full of Tabasco Peppers for Southern Pepper Sauce | Oysters & Pearls

These are shelf stable, and can even be “refilled” once or twice with more boiling vinegar and a couple more drops of olive oil.

How to Make Southern Pepper Sauce | Oysters & Pearls

I use a flask funnel to make filling the jars a little easier, but it would be much easier with a bigger funnel.  They sell them all over the place.  I’m just too cheap to buy another one to make my life easier.

Blanton's Whiskey Bottle of Pepper Sauce  Oysters & Pearls

You can use any kind of peppers for pepper sauce, and you can mix up different types of peppers.  I will warn you: pepper sauce made with tabasco peppers is HOT.  Like, really hot.  So use it sparingly.

Speaking of using it, I use it on all the usual suspects: collards, mustards, turnips, and peas, but it’s especially delicious on South in a Bowl! {click here for recipe}

Pepper sauce is found on tables from home kitchens to the finest of dining establishments around the South, and no true Southern meal is really complete without it.  At least, in my  book.

Southern Hot Pepper Sauce | Oysters & Pearls

What’s your favorite pepper to use in pepper sauce?  Do you use it in any unusual ways?


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29 thoughts on “Southern Pepper Sauce

  1. Jim McClellan

    My father would have agreed wholeheartedly with everything you wrote above. We always had several bottles in the cabinet at home. (Of course, the bottles were Evan Williams and Jack Daniel’s rather than Blanton’s.)

  2. Wayne Boyd

    Thanks for the info O&P. I grow peppers in my garden every year and have on occasion put them in jars for use on my greens and vegetables. I’ve never added olive oil nor boiled the vinegar. I will this year! Thx!

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  4. Kristi

    Finding this on Pinterest was serendipitous! We just happened to have an almost empty bottle of Blanton’s and a garden full of peppers. I hated the thought of throwing out such a beautiful bottle! It didn’t take much convincing to get my husband to finish off the bottle so he could make some pepper sauce with his tabascos and jalapeños. We plan on doing this with some Makers Mark bottles and giving them to friends. Great idea!

  5. Mrs Slingie

    I have an empty bottle of Blanton’s up with the hub’s collection of American whiskys. He loves the bottle too much to toss and now this is perfect! We are both so excited to do this – especially with our 12 varieties of peppers freshly planted in the garden! He is a California Yankee and I am a South Carolina girl…this is perfect!!! Bravo to you and cheers!!! He spied your Bulleit and Woodford Reserve in the pic – good taste! :) We’re having Willett tonight!!!

    1. oystersandpearls Post author

      The Blanton’s bottle is WAY too pretty to toss! But I think it looks great filled with pepper sauce, too. :) 12 varieties? I’m jealous! Sounds like you’ll be set!

    1. oystersandpearls Post author

      I haven’t added garlic, and never seen any traditional pepper sauce with garlic in it, but I’m sure it can’t hurt! The olive oil (just a couple drops, mind you) brings out the heat!

  6. Lana

    This looks beautiful!!!! So, can you use any peppers???? Jalapenos?? That’s what I have in my garden this year.

  7. Gayle

    i am going to make pepper sauce with my Tabasco peppers, but the ones I am using are no longer green, they have all turned red. I think this is when they are the hottest but not sure. My husband tasted one by just putting it to his tongue and it set his mouth on fire for an hour or more. So my question is, should I use only a half of jar of the peppers and no olive oil? Also, how long does this need to sit before the flavor is at the peak and ready to be used?

    1. oystersandpearls Post author

      I always add a drop of olive oil, but you can definitely leave it out! And you can always add fewer peppers to the jar to make it less hot, of course. There’s no exact science to it. Maybe try a few smaller jars with different amounts, with and without olive oil, and see which one ends up suiting y’all best? Then you’ll know better for next year how you like your pepper sauce. I hope you enjoy it!

    2. oystersandpearls Post author

      Oh, and as for peak flavor – you can use it immediately. I’m not sure when “peak flavor would be – that could depend on the taster I suppose. I would guess after a couple of weeks maybe? I’ve never tasted it daily and recorded observations. Again, definitely not an exact science. Have fun!

  8. Patchouli1971

    I am so glad I came across this recipe. My daddy used to use pepper sauce on just about everything. Unfortunately, he passed away in April 2013. I miss him so much and now I can continue the tradition of spicing up my food.

  9. Noelene Iris

    Really looks jolly good. We love peppers in any shape or form. But, how do I remove a pepper from a whiskey bottle????

    1. oystersandpearls Post author

      With gloves on! Not that I’m speaking from experience or anything… ;) But really. No real good way to get them out, and if you do, be sure to wear gloves or your hands will be burning for quite some time!

    1. oystersandpearls Post author

      You could, Kristi! But no, I generally don’t. Normally once they’re in the bottle they don’t come out – you just want the flavored vinegar for your meals. :)

  10. Pamela

    What is the purpose of the olive oil? Nobody I know
    uses it and I’m about as Southern as it gets.

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  12. Janice

    I make pepper sauce every year. We like white vinegar and using 5% acidity is very important when pickling. Like another reader, I add a whole clove of peeled garlic, and also a few whole peppercorns. Both add a nice flavor range. Also I like to cut a slight slice in the side of each pepper, allowing the vinegar to get inside the peppers and draw out the max flavor. Sometimes adding more vinegar later is necessary due to the delay in the pepper cavity filling with vinegar. I have never added the olive oil and will try that next year, good tip. Just found your site and I’m enjoying working my way through the posts.


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