Chilli Sauce

The key to good Chilli Sauce is fresh chillies

Chilli Sauce: known as Spicy Sauce in our house and a permanent fixture in the fridge. Due to the amazing weather we’ve had here (until the snow arrived on Sunday), the chillies have stayed on the plants until the end of January.

It takes about an hour to make, and the sieving at the end is a real pain, but it is a fantastic thing to have in the fridge. This recipe has ginger and garlic, which does not overpower the flavour but adds a real depth to the sauce. Ditto the apples, which act as a base and flavour carrier.

Cook the chillies for the perfect Chilli Sauce
Cook the chillies whole or chopped

For this Chilli Sauce, I used cayenne chillies (a few green, but the majority were red) and a couple of the classic Greek banana chilli peppers, readily available at the moment. I also did not de-seed the chillies. I like a little texture in the sauce. Adapt the recipe accordingly ….. smoother or spicier.

It is really tempting to melt the onions and chillies in olive oil, before adding the vinegar, which I confess to having done in previous batches. However, it is not advised as oil can introduce botulinum toxin. So no olive oil in the process.

To sterilise my jars, I run them through the dishwasher on the hottest programme, but that is not always convenient if the dishwasher is not full, so below is a link to a simple boiling method. The BBC Good Food website recommends thoroughly washing the jars and lids – turning them upside down wet onto a baking tray and putting them in the oven at 160 -180 degrees C for 15 minutes.

For more delicious sauces, visit our dips and sauces pages.

Chilli Sauce

Tangy, piquant sauce, perfect for spicy eggs or giving a added depth to sauces and stews.
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Course: sauce
Cuisine: Mediterranean, Mexican, Spanish
Keyword: easy, essentials, spicy, store cupboard essential
Prep Time: 8 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Author: The Wild Epicurean


  • 300 g fresh red chillies finely chopped and de-seeded if you want a milder smoother sauce – I used the cayenne varitiety of chilli together with a few banana chilli peppers but use whatever is available and is the right level of spice for you
  • 200 g apples – the ideal is half sweet and half cooking peeled, cored and chopped
  • 300 g chopped red onions
  • 5 cloves garlic – grated or sliced
  • 5 cm piece of ginger finely sliced (optional)
  • 1 tsp green peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 360 ml distilled white vinegar – minimum 5° acidity
  • tsp salt


  • Sterilise the jars or bottles.
  • Gently soften the chillies and onions in about quarter of of the vinegar together with the peppercorns, garlic, ginger and mustard seeds.
  • Add the apples and salt and the rest of the vinegar. Heat very gently, stirring until the mixture boils.
  • Turn down the heat and simmer for approximately 45 minutes, adding more vinegar if it becomes too dry before the vegetables have had a chance to soften. You can then gently reduce it a little until the sauce has slightly thickened but is still saucy. Add more or less vinegar depending on how pourable you want it to be.
  • Whizz the sauce with a handheld mixer or in a food processor and then immediately press the mixture through a sieve – fine enough to stop all the bits but also big enough to extract the sauce. Pack immediately into your sterilised jars while still hot. See notes for tips.


You don’t have to whizz,  as it will intensify the sauce; however, it will also make it easier to pass through the sieve. Make sure the blade is sterilised.
I prefer to use lots of small jars because they will only keep a few weeks in the fridge once opened.
As with all bottling using vinegar, do not use metallic tops that have not been coated. It would be best if you sterilised both the lid and the jar. The sauce should be bottled immediately while still hot into hot jars. After sealing the lid, you should then invert the jar to heat the air gap, which will help the sauce to keep.
Ideally, store the sauce in a cool dark place, for a couple of weeks before using, to help the flavours develop.
Adapted from a wonderfully practical book by Joan Wilson, E 1996, Perfect Preserves, Penguin Group, England.

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