Carolina Reaper Recipe: The Hottest Homemade Hot Sauce

August 29, 2022
Written by Kristy J. Norton

Carolina reaper hot sauce is seriously hot stuff that’s not for the faint of heart. Many people can barely have more than a tiny serving occasionally but for those who love the heat, you can borrow either of the two recipes below and make a jarful to go with every meal from veggies to eggs and pot roasts.

As a grill chef, my indulgence in making my own hot sauce came with the job. In my experience, people love a good, super-hot, smoky, spicy, sweet, well-balanced hot sauce to go with just about any dish most especially meats.

So I made as hot a sauce as I could muster and my customers absolutely love it! The recipes below are my top picks for a truly fierce sauce. Let’s make some of the hottest hot sauce you will ever have.

Carolina reaper recipe

Homemade Carolina Reaper Hot Sauce Recipe

Recipe No 1

This recipe makes a basic starter sauce which would be the best for your first attempt. Hot sauces are a mixture of peppers, vinegar, and salt but for this simple recipe, we can add some onion and garlic flavors to keep it interesting.


  • ½ pound Carolina reaper peppers
  • 1 cup white or apple cider vinegar
  • ½  tsp salt
  • 1 finely chopped white onion bulb 
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp olive oil 
  • 1 cup water
carolina reaper hot peppers

Other Equipment

  • Cafeteria gloves
  • Safety goggles
  • Face mask


  1. Wear a face mask, eye goggles, and gloves before cutting and cooking the peppers. Carolina peppers give off powerful capsaicin fumes effectively pepper-spraying the house and burning your hands if you do not use these items.
  2. Open windows for better ventilation and preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. Chop off and discard the top of the peppers, then slice or cut them into halves.
  4. Place the peppers in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes until they are slightly charred and wilted.
  5. You can place the onions and garlic along with the peppers. If you do, don’t chop the onions too finely. 
  6. Alternatively, saute the onions and garlic separately in a little olive oil till tender.
  7. Put the peppers, onions, and garlic into a food processor. Add the salt and vinegar, then process the mixture.
  8. Add water till you get your desired consistency. You can make it as smooth or as chunky as you would like.
  9. Pour the sauce into glass jars and refrigerate. Your sauce is ready.

Recipe No 2

This awesome recipe is more adventurous and ridiculously hot so ensure that you protect yourself from the fumes. 


  • ½ pound fresh or dried Carolina reaper peppers
  • 2 Jalapeno peppers or another pepper of your choice
  • 1 cup white or apple cider vinegar
  • ½  tsp salt
  • 1 finely chopped white onion bulb 
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp olive oil 
  • ½ cup lime juice, lemon juice, or 1/4 tsp citric acid
  • 1 cup water


  1. Wear safety goggles, a face mask, and cafeteria gloves.
  2. Open the windows to ventilate your kitchen.
  3. Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  4. Slice or halve all the peppers and lay them on a wire rack. 
  5. Add the onions and garlic cloves to the rack and bake till they are slightly charred and wilted.
  6. This should take 15 minutes.
  7. Alternatively, if you do not wish to bake it, pour olive oil onto a frying pan and saute the peppers, onions, and garlic. Ensure they wilt and char slightly.
  8. Once ready, put the peppers, onions, and garlic into a blender or food processor. Add the salt, vinegar, lime juice, and brown sugar.
  9. Process this to get a smooth mixture.
  10. Use the water to get the consistency you like.
  11. Pour the mixture into a pot and let it simmer on low heat for 10 – 20 minutes. This will meld the flavors even further. 
  12. Let it sit and cool before pouring it into half pint jars or bottles.
  13. Refrigerate the sauce.
Spicy hot chili pepper sauce

Safety Instructions

  • Any super-hot chili pepper contains a huge amount of capsaicin which is released into the air when they are chopped.
  • These fumes irritate the eyes, lungs, and skin which causes excessive coughing and tearing up.
  • Always wear gloves, goggles, and a mask when cooking with hot peppers.
  • Do not let the peppers come into contact with bare skin. This could cause a chemical burn.
  • Cook super-hot sauces in a well-ventilated kitchen with windows wide open.

How To Use Carolina Reaper Sauce In Your Cooking?

Great hot sauces are versatile. The only thing you have to remember is to use just enough so that you can still eat the meal. You can use this sauce in:

  • Pasta
  • Ground meats
  • Salads
  • Wings
  • Vegetable stew
  • Relish
  • Bone broth
  • Marinades
  • Curries

What Can I Eat With Carolina Reaper Pepper Sauce?

This is a sauce you can put on just about anything to spike with some heat including;

  • Burgers
  • Fries
  • Crackers
  • Nuggets
  • Salads
  • Roast meat
  • Eggs
  • Pasta
  • Cheese

Can I Use Other Peppers For This Recipe?

The above recipes may be too hot for most people but they will work just as well with different peppers.

You can substitute them with less punchy chili peppers such as mixed dried peppers, scorpion pepper, habanero, serrano peppers, and jalapenos. 

Is Carolina Reaper The World’s Hottest Pepper?


The Carolina reaper ranks highest on the Scoville scalewhich is a metric that grades peppers based on how hot they are.

Even if you haven’t had Carolinas, it’s more than likely that you have come across peppers such as jalapenos. A jalapeno is quite hot for most of us but it is tame compared to Carolinas.

The measure of ‘hotness’ is awarded in Scoville heat units and just to give you some perspective, consider the scores below:

  • Jalapeno: 2500 – 5000 units
  • Serrano: 10,000 – 23, 000 units
  • Habanero: 100,000 – 350,000 units
  • Ghost peppers: 550,000 – 1,000,000 units
  • Carolina reapers: 1,400,000 – 2,200,000 units
Carolina Reaper The Strongest Pepper

More About Carolina Reapers

They are not found naturally and are a hybrid or a cultivar developed by pepper grower Ed Currie of South Carolina. Ed’s intention was to create the hottest pepper and shatter the world record.

He succeeded.

He produced the pepper by crossing the Red Habanero from the West Indies, with Pakistani Naga, a popular condiment in Bangladesh and India. As of 2013, it was over seven generations old.

The Carolina reaper, scientific name HP22B was thus developed and when tested at Winthrop University it scored highs of up to 2.2 million units.

This made it the top contender for the hottest pepper in the world, officially taking that title in 2012.

The pepper is registered as The Smokin’ Ed’s Carolina Reaper and produced as a hot sauce by the Puckerbutt Pepper Company.

The appearance of a Carolina reaper chili pepper is quite distinctive. Carolina reaper peppers are small round bright red peppers with stumpy textured exteriors and scorpion tails.

It has a slightly fruity flavor profile but this is easily overwhelmed by its heat. The plant can grow to 4 feet and can be grown easily from seed.

The Naga Morich, from which Carolina chili pepper was bred, is an incredibly hot pepper.

It is the hottest natural pepper known and the only natural pepper that has a Scoville score of above 1,000,000. Pakistani Naga, also known as Naga Morich is one of the hardest peppers to eat even for pepper aficionados.

Pepper-eating contests often feature Pakistani Naga as the ultimate challenge chili pepper and very few accomplished participants can eat this, especially in its raw state. It is only fitting that it was used to breed the Carolina reaper chili peppers.

I for one, look forward to a chili pepper eating contest featuring the world’s hottest chili pepper!


1. Where Can I Buy Hot Sauce Bottles?

Your local grocery store should have airtight glass containers or sterilized bottles for food storage. If not, you can buy some online.

2. To Pulp Or Not To Pulp?

This depends on what you want to do with your sauce. Keep the pulp if you want a thick sauce or a dipping sauce but you can strain out the pulp if you want a light sauce to sprinkle on your meals.

If you remove the pulp, try dehydrating it to make a Carolina reaper powder. Better yet, split your sauce into two portions and strain out the pulp from one portion. This way, both variations are available, depending on what you want with a specific meal.

3. How Long Does Carolina Reaper Hot Sauce Last?

Store-bought hot sauce easily lasts months due to the addition of preservatives. The homemade version can be tricky to preserve because you will not add any preservatives.

That being said, you can use more vinegar since it’s acidic and improves the shelf life of just about anything prepared in it. The lower the pH level of your vinegar, the longer the sauce can keep.

The recipes above have a shelf life of about 2 – 3 weeks but just to avoid a health mishap, measure the pH level first. 

A pH level of 4 should last a month. After that, the pH may start to rise and if it does, your sauce may not be in tip-top shape for consumption so discard it and make a fresh batch.

Pepper, specifically capsaicin is a harsh environment for bacteria to thrive which makes your homemade sauce fairly immune to spoilage.

Lastly, observe strict hygiene when handling your sauce and preparing it for storage. Ensure that the glass bottles you store the homemade sauce in are food grade and airtight.

4. Can I Process This Sauce For Longer Storage?

Yes. By lowering the pH or increasing the acidity of the sauce, you can process it for longer storage. Increasing the vinegar should lower the pH. For longer storage than a month, try to achieve a pH of 3.5 or less. 

You can also ferment the peppers before making the sauce, which is a tried-and-tested preservation method. Fermented peppers will contain substances that destroy a plethora of bacteria, thereby functioning as a preservative.

5. Does Carolina Reaper Make You High?

No. Capsaicin in the pepper triggers the same reaction as a burn and later, a feeling of heat ensues but it is not a stimulant and you will not get high from eating any pepper sauce.

6. Is Eating Carolina Reapers Good For You?

Peppers are fruits, so they are a good addition to a larger balanced diet.

Besides, there are no known adverse side-effects caused by eating any hot pepper despite their extreme heat.

Some reports have been made of people falling ill as a result of eating too much pepper but often, these effects are related to other existing conditions that affect the stomach and the larger digestive system.

A case of capsaicin burning a hole in the esophagus was once reported but the patient had been throwing up repeatedly. This caused excessive abrasion to the esophagus, creating a world of damage.

On its own capsaicin, particularly after cooking, does not have adverse effects on the body and continuous exposure can make you adapt to its harshness. Even the chemical burn caused by raw capsaicin on bare skin is more irritating than damaging. It heals in no time.

Many chefs, myself included, can handle the hottest peppers without gloves but it takes time and a practiced hand to do it with skill and care.

So, enjoy the hottest sauce freely. It is perfectly safe.

By Kristy J. Norton
I'm Kristy – a chef and connoisseur of all things BBQ! You can find me either in my kitchen (or someone else's) or at a big outdoor barbecue surrounded by friends and family. In both my professional and personal life I’ve picked up more than a few tips and tricks for turning out delicious food. I consider it a privilege to share it with others!
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