Scotch bonnet chilli sauce recipe

 There’s nothing Scottish about these wee dudes. The Caribbean cousins of Mexico’s habenero, these ‘lil tropical chillies pack a fruity hot punch and are guaranteed to spice up your life (in a non-Spice Girls à la 1997 way).

It’s no secret that I’m a massive spice fan – last year I made a green chilli pickle that nearly blew the heads off all my dinner guests, and chillies in some form are regular ingredients in many of my recipes. In my cupboard I will usually have no less than 3-4 types of chilli sauce, often more; plus a plethora of fresh and dried chillies in stock. How the tables have turned since the almost daily arguments I used to have with my dad declaring that I didn’t want to have spicy food, I just wanted to eat ‘normally’. Growing up in a single parent home to a working class Indian father in ’90s middle class, whiter-than-white, Edinburgh, I was desperate to embrace anything considered normal, even if that meant bland Scottish scran! But as I grew older my tastebuds developed beyond Coco Pops and Findus Crispy Pancakes, and I began to understand what my dad, and most of the eastern world, was enjoying so much. Now living in a country, and city, I realise that we are super lucky to have international cuisine and ingredients at our fingertips we can enjoy food and dishes from across the world. International shops stock all variety of chillies and street markets will rarely not have a spicy sauce and chutney stall. Companies like World of Zing and Hot Sauce Emporium are bringing hot sauces to the masses, but it’s really easy to make your own, and you can experiment with different ingredients and flavours. I am lucky to live near Hops, Burn and Black – a unashamedly hipster haunt that sells beer, chilli sauce and vinyl (see what they did there?!)

I recently came across Pepperscale, fast becoming one of my current obsessions, which has information on all different chillies, as well as hoardes of recipes for sauces, chutneys, main courses and even cocktails. All with a spicy twist. The Scotch bonnet sauce I discovered was surprisingly simple so I got myself down to Peckham, picked up a big bag of red bonnets, and got cooking! With eight core ingredients (including water) this is really easy and quick to make, not to mention absolutely delicious – a perfect balance of natural tang and fiery kick.

How long will homemade sauce last is a common question? Not long in my house (or my office)! But if I wasn’t predisposed to having spice in pretty much every meal then this sauce will safely last up to six months in the fridge, if not longer. I’ve read that many similar homemade sauces can last years. Chilli and vinegar are both natural preserving agents which will prolong the shelf life of your sauce. As there is no fruit in this sauce it also means it will last longer. Flavours do change over time and you should give the sauce a good shake or mix before eating it. It can get spicier over time as chillies naturally increase in heat as they age. I keep shop bought hot sauces in the cupboard but I have experimented with keeping this one in the fridge, and it is doing ok. Another useful trick is sterilising your jars or bottles first in hot water, just to reduce the likelihood of any bacteria whatsoever getting in. Trust your instincts – if it smells or tastes bad then it most likley will have turned, but if it’s the same sauce one year later, you’re going to be ok. NB: don’t sue if not 🙂

Please let me know how you get on with this sauce. I didn’t find it as spicy as I hoped (and I upped the spice ratio from the original recipe) but my tastebuds may already be slightly desensitised…

What is your favourite hot sauce? Do you have any great spicy recipes? Share in the comments below!

Scotch bonnet chilli sauce

  • Servings: 3-4 jars
  • Print


  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 8 garlic cloves, crushed & diced
  • 12 Scotch bonnet chillies, diced
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 cup lime juice (approx 4 squeezed limes)
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Pinch of salt


Heat the oil in a frying pan and cook the onion and carrot for five minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another 2-3 minutes until all are soft. Be careful to not let the onion or garlic burn or brown.

Put the vegetables in a food processor with all other ingredients and blend until you have a smooth sauce.

Return the sauce to the pan and simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring regularly.

Let it cool then transfer to bottles or jars to store.

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