Dill Pickle Hot Sauce

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Move over ketchup, there’s a new condiment in town and it packs a punch!

This lacto-fermented dill pickle hot sauce is ridiculously delicious. Enjoy it over tacos, eggs, on chicken wings, or mix it into your next Bloody Mary. It’s sure to add a unique flavor that you won’t find anywhere else.

Plus, it’s really easy to make so you can have homemade hot sauce anytime you want.

This dill pickle hot sauce recipe is dedicated to packing a punch!

Dill pickle hot sauce in a woozy bottle.
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Tips + Tricks

No. 1 –> Treat this recipe like a guide. The end result of this spicy pickle hot sauce is 100% up to your tastes. Don’t be afraid to add more pickles to cut the heat, more vinegar to get that tang, or brine to increase the salt level. Make it perfect for you – and take notes so you can do it again next time!

No. 2 –> When I talk about burping your ferment, what I mean is to open the lid and allow the carbon dioxide to escape, reducing pressure inside the jar. During the process, the microbes in the ferment consume the peppers and other ingredients and excrete carbon dioxide which creates pressure on the jar. If left too long, the jar can burst due to pressure.

No. 3–> Fermentation is a really accessible food preservation method, anyone can do it, with nearly any supplies. I have a section below detailing supplies required and easy substitutions that you’ll likely have around home!

No. 4–>  It is very important to ensure that ALL ingredients in the sauce remain below the brine at all times during the fermentation time – this is the best way to keep baddies at bay and prevent batch-ruining molds or other unwanted visitors to your homemade hot sauce.

What Is Lacto-Fermenting?

Lacto-fermentation is a centuries-old process of pickling vegetables in brine (water and salt) that uses lactobacillus bacteria to create lactic acid. Lactic acid gives fermented foods their characteristic sour taste and acts as a preservative, extending the shelf life of your vegetables. The bacteria also produce other compounds that contribute to the flavor, nutrient content, and digestibility of these foods.

Lacto-fermentation is a natural process that does not require the addition of heat, chemicals, or other artificial ingredients. The lactobacillus or beneficial bacteria are found naturally on the surface of plants, so when vegetables are submerged in brine, the bacteria begin to grow and multiply. As they do so, they release lactic acid into the mixture, which lowers the pH and creates an environment inhospitable to other harmful microbes.

Lactic acid also has several health benefits; it is thought to help improve digestion, boost the immune system, and reduce inflammation. Fermented foods are also a good source of probiotics, which are beneficial bacteria that live in the gut and aid in digestion.

Bottled hot sauce with ingredients.

Why Make Fermented Hot Sauce?

Fermented hot sauce offers a unique twist to traditional recipes. As the peppers ferment over time, their natural flavors are amplified and blended together for an intense yet well-rounded taste experience – one that cannot be achieved with other sauce-making techniques.

Once the fermented hot sauce is blended and refrigerated, its flavor continues to mature – not at the same pace as when left on the countertop perhaps, but still slowly progressing. The beneficial bacteria continue their work from behind-the-scenes; so even if you don’t see it happening with your eyes, over time subtle nuances in taste will manifest for a more savory condiment experience.

For those who enjoy spicy food, fermentation can be a great way to mellow out the heat of ultra-hot peppers while still preserving their flavor. The fermentation process breaks down the capsaicin molecules, which are responsible for the heat in peppers, making them less potent and allowing their flavor to shine.

Which Peppers To Use

This recipe is up to your personal tastes. Feel free to adjust for your desired heat level – if you like spicy foods, use hotter peppers, like scotch bonnets or ghost peppers. If you prefer to keep your taste buds intact, use a mix of hot and sweet peppers to make a more mild hot sauce. There are some great CHILI PEPPER HEAT SCALES on the internet to help you pick!

I used a mix of jalapenos and serranos and found this hot sauce to be quite zippy! If you’re not a huge fan of super hot sauce, consider mixing in green bell pepper with green chilis.

We eat with all of our senses – not just taste, so be mindful that at the end of fermentation, we’ll be blending all of the ingredients into a homogenous sauce. One thing you may want to watch out for is combining colors that could be unappealing when mixed together; think green chilis and red bell peppers making an undesirable brown hue!

Bottled hot sauce.

Key Ingredients

Hot Chilis: Use fresh, ripe chili peppers for this recipe. Discard any that have blemishes, bruises, or are otherwise damaged. You’ll need 1 pound of peppers. Feel free to use different types of peppers within the same batch to highlight different nuances. I used serrano and green jalapeno peppers for this batch.

Salt: Choose mineral sea salt for the best flavor profile or coarse kosher salt for the most neutral salt flavor.

Water: Spring water or well water works great in fermenting recipes. Avoid chlorinated water wherever possible as chlorine can affect microbial activity. I use straight well water or well water run through my RO system for all my ferments.

Dill Pickles: I used standard vinegar pickled cucumbers for this recipe, but feel free to use fermented dill pickles or half-sour pickles if you’ve got those handy!

Ingredients required for dill pickle serrano hot sauce.

How To Make Dill Pickle Hot Sauce

Prepare Ingredients:

  1. Prepare for fermenting by washing a fermentation vessel, which can be as simple as a mason jar and lid. It does not have to be sanitized or sterilized but should be washed well with soap and hot running water. Set aside to dry. Wash fresh ingredients under warm running water.
  2. Coarsely dice 1 pound of hot peppers, 1/2 of a yellow onion, and slice 6 garlic cloves. Add all ingredients to the fermentation vessel.
  3. Top the jar off with 1/2 teaspoon mustard seed and 1 teaspoon dried dill.

Prepare The Brine:

  1. Combine 2 cups of water with 1 tablespoon of sea salt. Stir until completely dissolved.
  2. Pour salt brine into the fermentation vessel until ingredients are covered – if you do not have enough brine to cover the vegetables, make another batch; 2 cups water: 1 tablespoon sea salt.
  3. Weigh down the ingredients before securing the lid tightly. Use fermentation weights, a clean ziplock bag filled with salt brine, or even a crumpled piece of parchment paper to hold the ingredients below the surface.
  4. Set it aside to ferment.

Ferment The Sauce:

  1. Keep your ferment somewhere where you’ll see it daily to observe and to open the lid and burp it but keep it away from direct sunlight. If you’re using an airlock lid or pickle pipe, you won’t need to burp your ferment.
  2. After a few days, you should start to notice fermenting activity. There will be small bubbles that rush to the top of the jar when you tap it, the jar may hiss slightly when opened, the color of the peppers will dull, the brine will be cloudy, and the brine may leak over the top of the jar and run down the sides. Later on in the process, the fermentation signs will become less obvious, they jar may hiss less or the bubbles may be fewer, but the fermentation process is still moving along!
  3. Allow the sauce to ferment for 7-14 days.

Blend The Sauce:

  1. Once you’re satisfied with the level of fermentation, strain the contents of the fermentation vessel and reserve the brine.
  2. Blend the fermented vegetables along with 5 large dill pickles, 1/2 cup of the reserved brine, 1/4 cup white vinegar, and 1 – 1 1/2 cups of dill pickle juice in a high-powered blender or food processor until smooth. I use my Vitamix and it creates a silky sauce. If using xanthan gum, add 1/2 teaspoon of xanthan gum to the hot sauce and blend until completely combined.
  3. Add more brine to increase the salty flavor, more vinegar to increase acidity, or more pickles to cut the heat until you reach your desired flavor, feel free to add water to thin down the sauce if required.
  4. Optionally, you can run the hot sauce through a fine mesh sieve to make it ultra-smooth. It takes a couple of minutes, but it’s worth it.
  5. Transfer the finished spicy dill pickle hot sauce to small jars or woozy bottles for storage in the refrigerator.

Recipe Notes

Fermenting Time:

The great thing about fermenting foods is that it’s a personal process, and there’s usually no right or wrong answer when it comes to fermentation time. Most people ferment their sauce for 7-10 days, but you can certainly ferment for longer if you want to develop a deeper, more complex flavor.

The key is to experiment and find what works best for your taste buds. If you’re new to fermented food, start with a shorter fermentation time and then taste the ingredients or brine after a few days to see how it’s developing. If you like what you taste, then you can bottle it up and enjoy it. But if you want a deeper flavor, then you can let your sauce ferment for a little longer next time.

For these photos, I fermented the base for 10 days – Kevy couldn’t wait much longer to test it!

Fermenting Temperature:

The ideal range for fermentation is between 68-75°F.

If the temperature is too low, the fermenting process will take longer and may not be as effective. On the other hand, if the temperature is too high, the fermentation process will occur too quickly and may produce an unpleasant flavor.

Fermenting your hot sauce at the right temperature will ensure that it has a bold, flavorful taste.

Kahm Yeast:

If you’re familiar with fermenting, you’ve probably heard of kahm yeast.

If you notice a white film forming on the surface of your ferment, it’s more than likely kahm yeast – which is generally harmless but tastes terrible.

The presence of kahm yeast will probably affect the outcome of your sauce – though some people say you can scrape it off and continue, I’d advise you to scrap it and start again

Xanthan Gum:

I list xanthan gum as an ingredient in the list. It’s completely optional, but adding a small amount of xanthan gum helps to emulsify the sauce as well as increase its viscosity and create an almost creamy texture.

Another added bonus to using xanthan gum in your hot sauce is that it thickens without heating, meaning that you’re able to thicken while also maintaining all the probiotic goodness of your sauce.

Straining:

This is a personal decision – but I recommend that you do it!

I choose to strain all my homemade hot sauce because I find the resulting texture to be silkier, more pourable, and less likely to clog the nozzles of hot sauce bottles! Another added bonus to straining the sauce is that it removes all the air whipped into the sauce during the blending process.

Overhead view of dill pickle hot sauce.

Batch + Storage

Batch:

This recipe makes a large batch! After straining, I yielded just over 1 quart of dill pickle hot sauce.

Feel free to halve this recipe if you don’t need a quart of hot sauce. Haha

Storage:

Keep your delicious homemade hot sauce in the fridge for up to 12 months – if it even lasts that long!

The microbes in your dill pickle serrano sauce are still live and viable, even though you’ve blended them, they’ll continue to create carbon dioxide and you will create a spicy dill pickle booby trap. In the interest of avoiding a hot sauce explosion, please, please, keep it in the fridge!

More Lacto-Fermented Recipes To Try!

Fermentation Equipment

As previously mentioned, fermentation is very accessible – it doesn’t require any specialized equipment.

Fermentation vessel: This can be any glass jar that has an airtight fitting lid. A mason jar, an old pasta sauce jar, an old kombucha bottle. Anything you have around will certainly work! It just needs to be airtight and glass. Non-glass materials can be porous and difficult to clean, and/or harbor bad microbes.

Fermentation weight: While there are specific glass fermentation weights or pickle pebbles, you can use a few different things. A ziplock-style bag half filled with brine placed on top of the ingredients works great. A crumpled piece of parchment paper placed on top of the ingredients also works.

I have AIRLOCK LIDS and PICKLE PIPES as well as GLASS FERMENTATION WEIGHTS here in the Crave kitchen, but I also don’t have enough of them to keep me in the ferments, SO I often end up using other things from around the house and they work just fine!

If you love this recipe, please give it a star rating or leave a comment below! This helps me to create more content you enjoy!

📖 Printable Recipe

Dill pickle hot sauce in a woozy bottle.

Dill Pickle Hot Sauce

Allyson Letal
This Dill Pickle Hot Sauce recipe is the perfect balance of tart, spicy, and tangy. Unlike traditional hot sauces, this recipe pairs dill pickles with jalapenos and serrano peppers with a 10-day ferment to give you an addictively delicious condiment. Enjoy it over tacos, eggs, on chicken wings, or mix it into your next Bloody Mary. It's sure to add a unique flavor that you won't find anywhere else!
4.64 from 19 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Fermenting Time 10 days 15 minutes
Total Time 10 days 30 minutes
Course Preserved
Cuisine American
Servings 32
Calories 12 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 lb green hot peppers I used a mix of jalapeno and serrano
  • ½ medium yellow onion
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • ½ teaspoon mustard seed
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill
  • 2 cups water room temp
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 2 cups dill pickle brine divided
  • 5-10 large dill pickles
  • ¼ cup white vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon xanthan gum optional

Instructions
 

  • Prepare for fermenting by washing a fermentation vessel with soap and hot running water. Set aside to dry.
  • Coarsely dice 1 pound of peppers, 1/2 of a yellow onion, and slice 6 garlic cloves. Add all ingredients to the fermentation vessel, along with 1 teaspoon dried dill and 1/2 teaspoon mustard seed.
  • Combine 2 cups of room-temperature water with 1 tablespoon of sea salt. Stir until completely dissolved. Pour salt brine into the fermentation vessel until the contents are just covered. If you don't have enough brine to cover all ingredients, whip up another batch, 2 cups water to 1 tablespoon salt, and pour until just covered.
  • Weigh down the ingredients before securing the lid tightly. Set it aside to ferment. Keep your ferment somewhere where you'll see it daily to observe and open the lid and burp it but keep it away from direct sunlight. If you're using an airlock lid or pickle pipe, burping is unnecessary. After a few days, you should start to notice fermenting activity. There will be small bubbles that rush to the top of the jar when you tap it, the jar may hiss slightly when opened, the color of the peppers will dull, the brine will be cloudy, and the brine may leak over the top of the jar and run down the sides. Later on in the process, the fermentation signs will become less obvious, they jar may hiss less or the bubbles may be fewer, but the fermentation process is still moving along!
  • Allow the sauce to ferment for 7-14 days.
  • Once satisfied with the level of fermentation, strain the contents of the fermentation vessel and reserve the brine.
  • Blend the fermented vegetables along with 5 large dill pickles, 1/2 cup of the reserved brine, 1/4 cup white vinegar, and 1 – 1 1/2 cups of dill pickle juice in a high-powered blender or food processor until smooth. I use my Vitamix and it creates a silky sauce. If using xanthan gum, add 1/2 teaspoon of xanthan gum to the hot sauce and blend until completely combined.
  • Add more brine to increase the salty flavor, more vinegar to increase acidity, or more pickles to increase the dill pickle flavor, or cut the heat, until you reach your desired flavor, feel free to add water to thin down the sauce if required. Optionally, you can run the hot sauce through a fine mesh sieve to make it ultra-smooth. It takes a couple of minutes, but it's worth it.
  • Transfer the finished spicy dill pickle hot sauce to small jars or bottles for storage in the refrigerator.

Notes

fermenting time:

The great thing about fermenting hot sauce is that it's a personal process, and there's no right or wrong answer when it comes to fermentation time. Most people ferment their sauce for 7-10 days, but you can certainly ferment for longer if you want to develop a deeper, more complex flavor.
The key is to experiment and find what works best for your taste buds. If you're new to fermented food, start with a shorter fermentation time and then taste your sauce after a few days to see how it's developing. If you like what you taste, then you can bottle it up and enjoy it. But if you want a deeper flavor, then you can let your sauce ferment for a little longer next time.

fermenting temperature:

The ideal range for fermentation is between 68-75°F.
If the temperature is too low, the fermenting process will take longer and may not be as effective. On the other hand, if the temperature is too high, the fermentation process will occur too quickly and may produce an unpleasant flavor.

kahm yeast:

If you notice a white film forming on the surface of your ferment, it's more than likely kahm yeast – which is generally harmless but tastes terrible.
The presence of kahm yeast will probably affect the outcome of your sauce – though some people say you can scrape it off and continue, I'd advise you to scrap it and start again.

xanthan gum:

I list xanthan gum as an ingredient in the list. It's completely optional, but adding a small amount of xanthan gum helps to emulsify the sauce as well as increase its viscosity and create an almost creamy texture.
Another added bonus to using xanthan gum in your hot sauce is that it thickens without heating, meaning that you're able to thicken while also maintaining all the probiotic goodness of your sauce.

Batch:

This recipe makes a large batch! After straining, I yielded just over 1 quart of dill pickle hot sauce.
Feel free to halve this recipe if you don't need a quart of hot sauce. Haha

Storage:

Keep your delicious homemade hot sauce in the fridge for up to 12 months – if it even lasts that long!
The microbes in your hot sauce are still live and viable, even though you've blended them, they'll continue to create carbon dioxide and you will create a spicy dill pickle booby trap. In the interest of avoiding a hot sauce explosion, please, please, keep it in the fridge!

Nutrition

Serving: 1tablespoonCalories: 12kcalCarbohydrates: 3gProtein: 0.4gFat: 0.1gSaturated Fat: 0.02gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.1gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.01gSodium: 526mgPotassium: 61mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 153IUVitamin C: 7mgCalcium: 10mgIron: 0.2mg
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24 Comments

  1. Hello 👋

    While I am anxiously waiting for my first Serrano harvest, I was wondering if this could be water bath canned??

    1. I don’t think it can, but it can be kept for ages in the fridge – I know that not everyone has a ton of fridge space, but I have quart jars of different fermented hot sauces in my garage fridge, and they’ve been there over a year and are still good 🙂

  2. Do you think fresh dill could be used also? If so, how would you suggest using it – weed vs seed head. I think I would like the added flavor of the added fresh dill.

    1. Absolutely! I’d not be afraid to add a few sprigs or flower heads. I would strain out the flower heads prior to blending, the fronds would be ok though!

  3. I’m getting ready to make this either today or tomorrow.

    One note of caution:
    You say to “secure the lid tightly” when you first put everything in the jar with the brine. This is a recipe for an explosion in your kitchen 🙂
    Fermentation produces gasses, and those gasses need a way out of the jar. You can use a fermentation lid on your mason jar, or even just a coffee filter w/rubber band.
    If you tighten a lid, you’re going to be surprised when you open it, and NOT in a good way.

    Lobstah

    1. Hi Lobstah,

      You’re exactly right! I do address pressurization of the jar and the requirement to burp the jars if not using fermentation lids that self-vent in the Tips + Tricks section under tip number 2, in the photo tutorial under Ferment The Sauce step 1, as well as in the printable recipe card under step 4.

      Hope you enjoy the hot sauce!

  4. 5 stars
    Oh my my!! This sauce is delicious 😋
    I’ve made several hot sauces before, and when I found this one I was like Oh heck Yeah!! So happy with how it turned out!! Thank you for sharing 🙂

  5. I have dill pickles with wonderful flavor, but I over processed them. Might this be a great way to still use them instead of tossing them out? I shared this with my sister. The consensus is “Make this now!”

    1. This is a super great idea! This is the perfect way to use up canned pickles that are a little softer than you’d like, plus you get to use the brine too!

      Another good way to use up softer pickles is to make dehydrated pickle powder 🙂

      Ps. I agree with your sister!

  6. I started a batch a week ago…the first 5 days or so things seemed good. Burping each morning released a nice “whoosh” and small bubbles as described in the recipe. Now 8 days in, the bubbles are non-existent and when burping there isn’t much of a release…is my back ok?

    1. You bet! As the ferment continues, the microbes consume the available sugars and starches in the peppers and other ingredients. Eventually, they eat through most of them and you’ll see signs of slowed down activity. This is totally normal!

      I will add a note to that effect to the recipe to clarify.

  7. Nothing happening much in my sealer. Spent a lot of money on ingredients but worked it isn’t going to turn out. Now at day 15 and I don’t see much as far as fermentation. Sitting on my counter in the kitchen. Wait longer?

    1. Hey Christine,

      I’d love to help troubleshoot this:

      1. Is there any signs of mold or contamination in the jar? Fuzzy things on top, foul smells etc?
      2. Is the jar cloudy?
      3. Have the peppers dulled in color? (check out the pictures under “Ferment The Hot Sauce:” section for reference)
      4. Were the peppers and other ingredients washed in hot water, potentially reducing the number of lactic acid bacteria?
      5. Have there been any signs of pressure or bubbles in the jar?
      6. Did you use a closed mason jar or fermentation lid?

  8. No mould. No bubbles. No odor. Yes colors have dulled. Not cloudy. No didn’t wash in hot water.

    Been over a week now Don’t know how to proceed. Peppers were expensive. Don’t want to waste it

    1. Can you email me a picture, cravethegood @ gmail . com?

      It might be just ready to be blended – sometimes signs of fermentation aren’t as obvious – if the peppers have dulled, no signs of mold, or foul smells, I’m gonna say I think it’s ready. There are no problems with fermenting for 16 days versus 10 either, so no worries there.

  9. 4 stars
    I tried this recipe almost exactly as written and while it was quite good and flavorful it was simply 2 mild for me. In my area only red peppers are available and super spicy varieties so, I fermented a pound of them along with a pound of beets. I followed the recipe almost identically but using the beats instead of the dill pickles and the result was phenomenal. Quite likely one of the best hot sauces I have ever tried. I just wanted to throw this up there in case people want something that works well with red peppers.

  10. I believe I forgot the onions and it’s been about a week. Could I still add them when blending or will that dull the spice.

    1. Hey Mike! Been there.

      I’d suggest chopping them pretty fine for increased surface area, then adding them now. And then feel free to give it a couple extra days in the ferment. Just make sure the onions and all your tools are super clean before chopping and adding them, cause you’d hate to introduce baddies now!

      Hope that helps!

    1. I have not tried this, and unfortunately, I’m not qualified in food science to answer that question. Heat treating any fermented foods also kills off the beneficials biotics within them.

      I have absolutely gifted this sauce, but I packaged it in woozy hot sauce bottles and instructed the recipients to keep it in the fridge. It works just as well, and you get the benefit of saving a processing step haha!