Caribbean Hot Pepper Sauce

Recipe by Katie Mae

Makes about 16 oz | Ready in 20 minutes | Stores 10 days in the fridge or 3 months in the freezer


½ sweet onion, diced
1 small carrot, diced
2–4 Scotch Bonnet OR Habanero peppers, diced
3 large garlic cloves, minced
½ teaspoon ground cumin
large pinch of dried turmeric
8 oz mango and/or pineapple, or more for more sweetness
2 limes, zested and juiced


  1. In a skillet or sauté pan over medium-high heat, add the onion, carrot, and hot peppers. Sauté for a couple minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add the garlic and cumin. Cover and sauté for a few minutes, until the onions are translucent.
  3. Transfer the sautéed mix to a small bowl and cool in the fridge until needed.
  4. Remove the skins and roughly chop the fruit.
  5. Add the fruit, lime zest, lime juice, and turmeric to a blender.
  6. Add the sautéed mix, and blend until creamy. Store in an airtight container in the fridge, so it’s chilled when you’re ready to use.

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This sauce is sweet and HOT. It’s an explosion of excitement and flavor for your tastebuds!

The heat is thanks to the scotch bonnet, or habanero peppers, which may be easier to find in the store. The two chilis are cousins with a comparable level of heat as well, and can thus be used fairly interchangeably.

So what’s the difference between the two?

Scotch bonnet peppers flavor many dishes around the world, but its origins are in Jamaica and is most popular in Caribbean cuisine. Habaneros originated in the Amazons and is common in many Latin cuisines. Compared to habaneros, the scotch bonnet has a slightly fruitier flavor AND a little more intense heat.

How hot are we talking?

Glad you asked!

Spicy has its own measurement, which is based on the main phytochemical in peppers that give them their heat, called capsaicin. It’s measured in Scoville Heat units (SHU) using the Scoville Scale.

You’re probably familiar with the spice of jalapeño peppers… Well those are only about 1000-4000 SHU.

The habanero chili peppers are 260,000 SHU! And the Scotch bonnet pepper is about 445,000 SHU!!!

To enjoy all of this heat, the pepper is often made into a salsa with the sweetest tropical fruit, either mango or pineapple, and zesty lime juice. I know not everyone can handle the heat, but for those who crave the heat, this is quite a seductive combo.

If I’m scaring you off with all this talk of heat, try it out with just one pepper. This will still be hot, but with all the fruit sweetness, it shouldn’t be too much for someone who enjoys a standard medium salsa.

Ready to try it out, but not sure what to put it on?

Well, I made this sauce to serve with my Puerto Rican Red Bean Stew, so that’s a great dish to start with.

Don’t stop there though. It’s a fun salsa to add to any dish of beans, rice or other veggies.

Just make sure the dish you add it to doesn’t have a lot of heat. Remember since it is hot, just a little bit is all you need.

However, I’d like to try this sauce with a can of coconut milk, which would calm the heat and could consequently be poured more generously over a meal.

If you try this out for yourself, be sure to leave a comment and share how it turned out!

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