Chilli sauce recipe

Making my own chilli sauce - a  new pleasure

Chilli header

I've always liked chilli sauce but had never made my own before, so after coming across some enthusiastic writing about the joys of making your own, I found some chilli sauce recipes and decided to give it a go.

The first batch was a smooth Tabasco-type sauce and I only made one jar so it didn't last long at all. For the second attempt, Karl said he'd like a sauce with the bits still in it, more like a sambal and as I am fond of him, I agreed to do one like that.

Before writing this recipe out, it was necessary to do some measuring. I do weigh things sometimes but generally only when baking. For general cooking, I measure by spoons and a set of battered old tin cups that I found in a cupboard in our flat in Taiwan, in around 1994. In 15 years of using them, I've never bothered to find out how much they actually hold, so today is a day of discovery.


It seems that a cup is not a cup. There are metric, Imperial, US, and modern Japanese and traditional Japanese cups, all holding different amounts - from the 180ml traditional Japanese cup, used for measuring saki and rice, to the 284ml Imperial cup. My cup doesn't match any of them and it holds 225ml or approximately 8 fluid ounces. It has a 'Made in Hong Kong' stamp on the bottom, so maybe it's a Chinese cup.


Not that it matters, as long as you always use the same cups and spoons to measure with, but just so you know that when I say 'cup' it means 225ml. The other conversions are approximate.

These are the ingredients I used:


7oz (200g) of large, whole dried chillies, soaked over night

1oz (30g) of chilli flakes

2 cups cider vinegar

1 cup white wine vinegar

4 heads garlic, peeled and chopped

4tbsp sugar

4tsp salt


I had intended to use all cider vinegar, but ran out so topped the amount up with the wine vinegar instead.

Soaked chillies

Soaked chillies

The chillies were put to soak in water over night and then whizzed until they were chopped up but not liquidised. The garlic was whizzed too and then everything went in to a big pan, with the soaking water, and the mix was simmered for about three hours until it was thick and had reduced by about two thirds. About half way through the cooking time I added the chilli flakes because I didn't think the sauce was hot enough.


After it looked like it had cooked enough, I poured it into hot jars and sealed them immediately. The jars are old pickle jars of varying sizes and we ended up with nine of them.

Pan of chilli sauce

Pan of chilli sauce

The interesting thing about this sauce is that it has such a different flavour to the first one. There is a distinct, rich smokiness to it and I have no idea where it came from. Maybe it was the way the chillies were dried, or maybe that's the flavour of the variety, what ever that is. It was just one of those big bags of dried chillies that you get in oriental shops with 'Produce of more than one country' on it, so I suppose they could have been a mixture.


The main thing is that it's delicious. We tried some the first evening I made it and had some more two weeks later. During that time, the flavour has developed and it has a smoky, mild heat. It goes well with meat and sausages and I think it would also be good in cheese sandwiches or with grilled Haloumi or tomatoes.

  Copyright Miranda Hodgson 2009