I have been making a three pepper chili for years, but the spice content leaves a little to be desired for some people. I wanted to make a hot sauce that would complement this chili, but my first few attempts haven't been hot enough. I used jalapeño and poblano as the base along with vinegar and garlic. The sauce tastes exactly how I would like and tastes great with the chili, but it isn't hot enough. So, is there any way to torque up the heat with out changing the taste?

(I did use a few habanero on one batch but all I can taste is the addition, it throws the sauces flavor off in a fairly noticeable way)

  • As a note- as you increase heat, you will probably notice a corresponding overpowering of the sweetness (if you have sweet in there); as a result of adding heat (i.e. via extract) you will probably need to also adjust by adding sweet.
    – mfg
    Apr 19, 2011 at 17:16

2 Answers 2


There are a few things that might work. I would probably just add more seeds. The majority of the capsaicin where the heat comes from is in the seeds, while the majority of the flavor is in the flesh. You could just add some seeds from a hot pepper like habanero or cayenne or even more jalapeno seeds.

You could also add some chili pepper that has heat but not a lot of flavor. Some examples include cayenne and chile de arbol. Thai bird and african bird chiles are hot and also don't have a ton of flavor in my opinion.

Another option is to try a chili extract. For example, a habenero extract will have some flavor, but a small amount will add an enormous amount of heat. So you may be able to get away with an amount small enough not to add much flavor, while at the same time kicking up your heat to the desired level.

Personally I like habenero, esp in El Yucateco sauce, which I often add straight to hot sauces.

  • +1 for the birds eye chillies. Easily available, and you can choose whether to add the chillies whole (and fish them out later), or add them chopped.
    – KimbaF
    Apr 19, 2011 at 9:20
  • 1
    +1 for El Yucateco. Has saved me so much pain and suffering dealing with fresh habaneros.
    – derobert
    Apr 20, 2011 at 6:32
  • +1 for green birds eye chilies, which will have a flavor more similar to jalapenos than habaneros or El Yucateco (which I love, but has a very different flavor). Mar 7, 2019 at 17:07
  • Actually most of the capsaicin is in the white membranes to which the seeds are attached, some of which does end up in the seeds, but if you trim the interior white membranes of something like a Habanero or Scotch Bonnet you'll get plenty of heat without the flavor. Use gloves, and don't touch your eyes! Jan 14, 2021 at 17:43

Capsaicin, by itself, is pure heat with no noticeable flavour whatsoever.

You can buy capsaicin extract; it's a little hard to find but it is available. Usually it's somewhat diluted, i.e. the linked one has vegetable oil, but it's still 500,000 SHU (truly pure capsaicin would be 15 million).

A drop of the "pure cap" brand is about 5 times hotter than a habanero. Use that much and you'll probably be in agony. You usually need to take a single drop and dilute it, then use some of the diluted quantity. Although that brand might be diluted enough already to use without further dilution.

  • 1
    Surprised they sell that neat, could easily be fatal if carelessly used.
    – Orbling
    Apr 19, 2011 at 0:40
  • 500,000 means it diluted to a a similar concentration as a the hottest habanero chilis. A "ghost chili" would be about twice as strong as that extract. You can get pure (crystalized) capsaicin as well, but then you're officially insane. And at a LD₅₀ (mice) of 47mg/kg, you'll only wish it was (quickly) fatal.
    – derobert
    Apr 20, 2011 at 6:44
  • @Orbling Over 10 grams of pure capsaicin is needed for an adult to have fatal respiratory failure. The linked extract is a little over 3% pure capsaicin crystals. Therefore, the entire 2oz. bottle would contain approximately 1.9 grams of capsaicin. You'd have to drink at least five of those bottles at once for it to be fatal!
    – ESultanik
    Apr 20, 2011 at 11:51
  • 1
    @ESultanik: Tolerance is very dependent on a person's general health and exposure. You'll find a whole bottle of that would leave most people in quite a serious condition. Also, I was unaware it was only 3% capsaicin at time of writing, that is a good bit less than pure. I have had friends admitted to hospital for too much chilli before now. :-/
    – Orbling
    Apr 20, 2011 at 12:18
  • @Orbling You are correct that if that was a full 2oz. of pure capsaicin it would probably be fatal. And just because it's not a fatal dose doesn't imply that it isn't dangerous. I wouldn't want to drink one of those bottles!
    – ESultanik
    Apr 20, 2011 at 13:04

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.