I'm looking to make a hot sauce that would be great for dipping and BBQing. I've made about 5 batches with different variations but generally the same idea. Some batches have been too hot, some too sweet, and some lacking depth. People have told me they like it, but I personally am not happy with it.

I have realized that I do not like the tastes of molasses or brown sugar and that it smells bad to me when cooking, so I am trying to perfect this recipe using only honey as a sweetener.

I wanted some feedback from the gurus here as to how I can balance the amount of heat, sweet, and acidity in this recipe. I like things pretty hot, and I also like pepper. I'd say on a scale of mild-medium-hot-suicide, I'm aiming for hot. As for pepper, a lot of the recipes I've read online don't even use pepper, but it is essential for me.

Here is my recipe:

2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 chopped onion
1 chopped bell pepper
3 scotch bonnets, stems removed, keep whole
5 chopped garlic cloves
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup lime juice
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp peppercorn
2 sm cans tomato paste

Here is how I'm cooking it:

step 1:
melt butter over medium heat
add chopped onion, bell pepper, garlic cloves, and whole scotch bonnets
cook until tender (approx 10-15 mins)

step 2:
add honey, lime juice, vinegar, sea salt, peppercorn, and tomato paste
bring to a boil and low rolling boil for approx 10 mins
lower heat and simmer for approx 30 mins

step 3:
let cool to room temperature
blend until smooth

I'm just looking for some feedback as to how I can improve this recipe and balance it well. What is it lacking? What proportions are off? Should I add ginger? Do I need more garlic? What better steps can I take during the cooking process?

Thank you for your time.

closed as primarily opinion-based by rumtscho May 31 '17 at 21:01

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 3
    Can you be more specific about what you don't like about it? Different people have different preferred flavors and balances of sweet/sour/salt/heat, so there's not really a way for anyone to tell you what the right proportions are or whether you should add garlic or ginger. Unfortunately that usually means that people can't help much in that regard: by the time you figure out what you don't like (e.g. too sweet) you already know how to fix it. – Cascabel May 29 '17 at 13:58
  • I'm really just looking for some recommendations from people who use this site which may have a more advanced palette than I do. – kjdion84 May 29 '17 at 17:39
  • is a HP sauce like fruity profile too "molassey" for you? – rackandboneman May 29 '17 at 23:09
  • 1
    @kjdion84 this makes no sense. Either there are differences between your taste and the taste of people with "advanced palettes", or there are none. If there are none, then you are better situated to fix it than people who have never tasted the output of your exact recipe, even though they have the same taste. If there are differences, any fixes they suggest will go further away from what you like. It will be like going to a painter to choose a painting for your living room using his taste - don't wonder if he picks a Jackson Pollock where you would have liked a Thomas Kinkaide. – rumtscho May 31 '17 at 20:44
  • After checking with Meta, I would say we have a very direct policy about this kind of question: cooking.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/1091. Requests for recipe modifications are allowed if they have objective criteria. Any requests for a general "improvement" on the lines of "tastes better", "better balanced" and other vague terms which are a matter of taste are not accepted, since they end up in random lists of things to add, just like the first answer here. – rumtscho May 31 '17 at 21:01

There are various ingredients you could play with to change the taste. Whether they sound appealing is up to you.

Fats Do you ever use tinned anchovies in your cooking? You could substitute the oil from the tin for the butter when cooking the vegetable portion. You'd never notice a fish taste but only a richer flavour. (I regularly add some Thai fish sauce made from anchovies to my spaghetti sauce when I make it. My son who dislikes fish sauce likes the spaghetti and he knows I add it too. He says it builds flavour.) If you'd like a hint of Asian flavour, use regular cooking oil (your preference) plus a little dark toasted sesame oil in it. Supermarkets, as well as Asian grocers sell it.

Acids I quite like lime juice but lemon juice would add a different flavour, if you wish. Personally, I don't use regular white vinegar that often in cooking. I find it a little too harsh and lacking any flavour. There are a wide range of different vinegars you could choose from that would add different flavours such as apple cider, red or white wine, balsamic, rice and malt vinegars. I normally stock 4-5 different vinegars for different foods and style of cuisine.

Extras Would you try adding soy sauce to your sauce to replace some of the salt? It would suit a more Asian style of sauce. Ginger would go very well with this. Worcestershire sauce is something else you could add. Are you using regular clover honey? It's a very mild honey. There are different honeys with a richer deeper flavour you could try.

I wouldn't add too many variations, perhaps just try one at a time of those that appeal to you so you know what suits your taste or not. As for proportions, I doubt anyone would know what to suggest since we haven't the same taste preferences as you.

  • I have a couple Scotch Bonnet peppers that a plant that I brought indoors for the winter gave me (before my pet rabbit destroyed the plant). Think I'm going to work with all the info given in this Q and A to make use of that. Good suggestions! – PoloHoleSet May 31 '17 at 17:07

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