How I Make My Easy & Tasty Scotch Bonnet Salsa & Sauce

Do you have almost too many ripe scotch bonnets on your plant? Not quite sure what to do with all the heat? May I suggest you make my simple Sweet and Hot Scotch Bonnet Pepper Salsa, Hot Sauce, and Paste?

This recipe is a family favorite, and it is easy to regulate both heat and sweetness.

My Sweet and Hot Scotch Bonnet Peppers Paste & Hot Sauce only takes 5 ingredients. Chop your scotch bonnets and sweet peppers. Add to a apple cider vinegar, brown sugar and salt mixture and cook for 5-10 minutes until soft. Use as it for a salsa, drain for a pepper paste or give it a whirl in a food processor for a smooth hot sauce. 

Apart from the taste, this recipe really shines as it gives you 3 condiments in one batch.

  1. The hot sauce gives that sweet heat that reminds you of the scotch bonnet peppers Caribbean roots.
  2. The paste is a great way to store a lot of heat and flavor in a small container. 
  3. But my favorite is the salsa. It is so versatile and can be used in cold and warm salads, sandwiches, pasta dishes, and pretty much everything else (if you ask me).

And do not worry if you are not a hot pepper fan.

I will show you how easy it is to regulate sweetness and heat to find your “sweet and heat spot.” 

One jag of chunky salsa and one jar of smooth salsa
Chunky and smooth salsa (or hot sauce)

So, without any further delay. Here is the whole process from start to finish with photos to make it easy to follow along.

How To Make Scotch Bonnet Salsa, Sauce and Paste

First, always use gloves when handling hot peppers and work in a well-ventilated area with the fan going at full blast. When you cook poppers, steam from the pan can cause serious discomfort or worse if ingested.

1. Getting the ingredients

My recipe only calls for 5 ingredients.


*I like to use at least one green sweet pepper as I like the contrast in color. 

The recipe makes 6 dl / 20 fl oz of salsa.

Why 6 dl/20 fl oz? Well, the masonry jars I use for pickling and storing hold 5 dl. This recipe gives me an extra "chef's portion" to enjoy after cooking without anyone knowing. 

I do not always use gloves when I handle hot peppers. But this does not mean that you have the same tolerance. I have been growing, handling, and cooking with hot peppers for years, and I am probably not the norm here.

2. Prepping the Scotch Bonnets

  • Remove the stalks from scotch bonnet peppers. Save the stalk and end bit for compositing.
Remove stalks from scotch bonnet peppers
  • Chop the scotch bonnets into small, uniform pieces. This is when you decide how chunky your salsa will be.
Chop Scotch Bonnet peppers into uniform pieces

2. Prep the Sweet Peppers

  • Remove stalks and save for composting.
Remove stalks from Sweet Peppers
  • Cut into slices and chop into the same size pieces as the Scotch Bonnets.
Chop sweet peppers into uniform pieces

3. Mixing the base

  • Pour Apple Cider Vinegar, Brown sugar, and salt into a pan. I prefer using a skillet type pan.
Add apple cider vinegar to salt and brown sugar
Add brown sugar to apple cider vinegar and salt
Add salt to apple cider vinegar and brown sugar

4. Add peppers to the pan

  • Add the chopped peppers to the pan and stir to mix
Add chopped peppers to salt, apple cider vinegar and brown sugar

5. Cook until soft

  • Let mixture simmer for 5-7 minutes until soft.

At this stage, you have your salsa ready to use.

6. Make Hot Sauce or Pepper paste

For hot sauce: For pepper paste: 
Pulse in a food processor until smooth. Strain using a sieve to remove all liquid.
Now you have your hot sauce ready for bottling. Pour through a sieve for a super smooth sauce.Store as a chunky paste or run in a food processor for a smoother texture.

Personally, I am careful when using food processors; I prefer a slightly chunky consistency.

7. How to store

All that is left is to pour the salsa, sauce or pepper paste into clean containers and let them cool before placing them in the fridge.

Here, you want to focus on 3 things:

  • clean containers 
  • airtight containers 
  • and remember to refrigerate when cool

I always place containers in boiling water to ensure they are clean and sterilized.

How long will Salsa, Hot Sauce, and Pepper Paste Last?

Fresh salsa will only last days in the fridge.

But following this recipe, I have had jars in the fridge for several weeks without any problems.

When I want the jars to last for longer, I make sure the jars are properly sterilized and live in the back of the fridge to minimize temperature fluctuations when the door is opened.

And, of course, I do not open the jars to check until I am ready to use them.

And when you do open the jars, use common sense, smell, and taste to ensure it is safe to eat.

I have never had problems with storage using this recipe. Still, I have never stored anything longer than 3-4 weeks. When I run out, I make a new batch from fresh or frozen peppers. 

Finding The Perfect Blend Of Sweet And Hot

I am not a food scientist, but this much I know is true from experience:

  • Sugar and fruits like pineapple and mango make the product sweeter, but the shelf life is shorter
  • When you add more ingredients, you increase the risk that something “goes bad”
  • Apple cider vinegar adds acidity and helps increase shelf life
  • More peppers make a hotter end product

And this is really all the information you need to find your perfect flavor.

  • Looking for more heat? Add more peppers and maybe even a ghost pepper or two
  • Looking for more sweetness? Add more sugar or fruits like pineapple, mango, papaya, or even tomato.

I don’t include exotic fruits in my recipe because I do not usually have them at home. This is meant to be a simple recipe using what I have at home.

If you are looking for recipes with more ingredients and a more complex flavor profile, check out the article The best peppers for hot sauce (& no fermentation recipe)

What Makes Scotch Bonnet Salsa Special?

The star of the show is, of course, the scotch bonnet pepper.

Scotch bonnets are hot peppers clocking a respectable 100 000 – 350 000 Scoville heat units (SHU).[1] To give you a reference, Jalapeño peppers are considered medium hot chili peppers at 2 500 – 10 000 SHU.

So yes, scotch bonnets do pack some heat.

But the fiery heat combined with the fruity and sweet flavor sets them apart from other hot peppers with the same SHU rating – like most habaneros.

Looking For A More Complex Flavor Profile?

There are many ways to add flavor to salsas and hot sauces.

Fresh tomatoes, cilantro, garlic, lime juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper are just some examples of adding flavor to your creation.

Serving and Enjoying Your Culinary Masterpiece

Salsa Variety for Every Spot

Salsas and hot sauces aren’t just for dipping tortilla chips; they can elevate any dish. Spread it on tacos, pair it with grilled meat, or use it as a vibrant topping for your favorite snacks. The possibilities are endless.

FAQs – Your Burning Questions Answered

How hot are scotch bonnet peppers?

Scotch bonnets bring intense heat, so use them sparingly unless you’re ready for a fiery experience.

Can I use habanero peppers instead?

Absolutely! Most habaneros are comparable to scotch bonnets in heat, but they are less fruity in flavor. But some habanero varieties are way hotter, so pay attention and read before you use them.

How long does the salsa last?

Fresh salsa will only last days in the fridge.

However, adding vinegar increases the shelf life when the product is stored properly. I have had no problems storing my salsas made with this recipe in the fridge for 2-4 weeks. But always use common sense and err on the side of caution.

Summary: Salsa, Hot Sauce, and Pepper Paste

  • Chop it Right: Uniformity is the key to a visually appealing salsa.
  • Feel the Heat: Adjust spice and sweetness levels to match your preference.
  • Pulse to Perfection: Use a food processor for your ideal smooth or chunky consistency.
  • Versatility at its Best: Salsa goes beyond chips; try it on tacos, grilled meat, sandwiches, or as a topping for snacks.
  • Storage Tips: Airtight containers and refrigeration are your salsa’s best friends. 
  • Shelf-life: Vinegar, clean containers, less sugar, and fruits, and fewer ingredients extend shelf life when stored properly

There you have it, my favorite way to make sweet and hot scotch bonnet salsa, hot sauce, and pepper paste from one and the same recipe.

Now, go on and use this newfound knowledge to create your favorite blend. And do let me know what you do. I cannot wait to try your salsa recipe!

Helpful resources:


Mattias Magnusson: Hello, I'm Mattias, a passionate and experienced gardening enthusiast. I am the creator of, your guide to year-round herb and veggie growing. Let's simplify green living, no matter your space or location.