first post here on Seasoned Advice and I'm just after a wee bit of insight in to the elements of a chilli sauce.

I've been looking in to making chilli sauces at home, but am yet to give it a go - I'm a huge fan of chilli sauces and would really love to nail the flavours I like in a sauce of my own.

I've checked out countless recipes in search of the key elements of a chilli sauce and then stumbled upon this article that stated the 4 key ingredients were fresh chillies, acid, aromatics (carrots, onions, etc.), and salt.

My Questions

1) If these are the core ingredients, what role do they play in creating the sauce? (Chillies are obvious, but the acid and salt I'm curious about)

2) Are there any other core ingredients that go towards making a good sauce?

2 Answers 2


That article covers the basics pretty well.

I would recommend that you look up some copy cat recipes of your favorite sauces so you get an idea of what goes into making them taste that way. Then you can experiment until you create your own signature hot sauce. You might like one that includes ingredients that you've grown in your own garden for something extra special.

Chillis (peppers) make up the principle hot component.

Vinegar or other acidic wakens up the pepper and increases its hotness on your tongue and lips.

Salt is used to balance the seasoned flavor of the suave. A hot sauce can taste very hot but flat without proper seasoning.

Your other ingredients help create the flavor profile of the sauce, onions sweeten the sauce counter intuitively, parsley can add some green freshness as does cilantro though some people do not like cilantro at all. Garlic is a common component as well whether it's fresh or powdered. Ginger is another brightening agent, that can add both flavor an apparent potency of the sauce.

Sugar by the way whether that cane sugar, or more flavorful honey is also common in hot sauces. Hot and sweet is a fabulous combination that can even entice people to eat just a little bit hotter than they would have otherwise.

If you want the hotness to linger (stay around longer than usual) then add some oil or fat component to the suace. But beware, your friends and family may not forgive you when that spoon of sour cream doesn't help as much as it should.

What you have to decide is, are you looking just to make a sauce that is hot as hell, or do you want to make a sauce that everyone will remember tastes so darn good and that you made it?

There are also some other ways to create desired spicy effects. In Thai cooking, curry pastes are made prior to making the dishes, and those pastes are then blended with other things to make sweet and hot, or peanuty and hot, or whatever. So check out curry past recipes. There are 4 basic ones (red, green, yellow and massuman). Do some searching on curry paste recipes to see some of the more unusual ingredients that may go into a hot concoction.


Acid and Salt are preservatives. A bag of fresh chillies will rot within a month even in the fridge, a proper chilli sauce won't.

Also acid and salt are part of the common taste profile of most savoury dishes anyway, and if the sauce is used as an actual sauce e.g. on protein, these are welcome seasonings too.

Some famous types are rather close to the basic recipe: Sambal Oelek, Sriraja Panich etc.

  • 1
    Sugar can be used as a preservative too
    – TFD
    Nov 18, 2015 at 9:48

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