Making Chilli Sauce At Home? 6 Things You Should Avoid

If you’re making red chilli sauce at home, to avoid chemical preservatives and toxic stabilisers, you should know it’s easier than you think. There are many kinds of chilli sauces; some are oil-infused, some are drier and make minimal use of water while some resemble the viral Asian wet-wet sauce which is a hybrid between chilli oil and stir-fry sauce. It largely depends on the kind of chillies you’re using and the level of heat you want. If you want a medium-hot ketchup-style tomato-chilli sauce, your best bet is some roasted red peppers. 

However, if you want a good balance of savouriness and want an oily base, red chilli pepper, Fresno peppers, hot ‘chile’ pepper and peppercorns can help you best. It’s important to remember every chilli sauce has different recipes since each chilli has different flavour profiles. Plus, you must consider if you’re planning to use the red chilli sauce for Asian, European, Mediterranean or another kind of recipes. Here are some simple errors you should steer away from while making a red chilli sauce at home.

Don’t pick chillies that have too much heat

Using chillies that are either too hot or too mild, or those not suited for sauces, can result in a product that either overwhelms with heat or lacks the depth of flavour. Some of the most popular choices for red chilli sauces include cayenne peppers for their balanced heat and bright colour, red jalapeños for a milder and slightly sweet flavour, Thai red chillies for a very hot and aromatic profile, and serrano peppers for moderate heat and a fresh, crisp taste. Mixing different types of chillies can add complexity to your sauce, but always be mindful of the overall heat level you desire.

Prep the chillies right

Some chillies are seedless and their heat lies in their membranes, while some chilli seeds carry the heat within them. So each chilli needs a different kind of handling. Proper handling and preparation of chillies are also essential to achieving the right texture and flavour. Mishandling chillies can lead to uneven heat distribution and texture issues. Always wear gloves when handling hot chillies to avoid skin irritation. 

If you prefer a milder sauce, remove the seeds and membranes, as these contain most of the heat. Uniformly chopping the chillies ensures even cooking and blending. Additionally, consider toasting or roasting the chillies before using them; this can enhance their flavour by adding a smoky depth that elevates the final sauce.

Overcooking can ruin the recipe

The cooking time for your sauce is critical; overcooking or undercooking can affect both texture and flavour. Simmer the sauce gently to allow the flavours to meld without evaporating too much liquid. Typically, 15-20 minutes of simmering is sufficient. Avoid vigorous boiling, which can break down the chillies excessively and result in a watery sauce. The goal is to cook until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon without being too runny or overly thick.

Don’t skip trial and error for the right balance

You can try to make smaller batches of sauce just to try out the flavour. Balancing the ingredients is another key aspect of making a great red chilli sauce. A sauce that is too acidic, too sweet, or too salty can be off-putting. To achieve a harmonious balance, carefully measure and adjust the key ingredients: vinegar for acidity and preservation, sugar or honey for sweetness to balance the heat and acidity, salt to enhance the overall flavour, and garlic and onions for depth and umami. Tasting the sauce after every addition during preparation allows you to make necessary adjustments, ensuring all flavours meld perfectly.

Inconsistent blending

Inadequate blending and straining can leave your sauce with unappetizing chunks or an uneven texture. Use a high-powered blender or food processor to achieve a smooth consistency, blending in batches if necessary. After blending, strain the sauce through a fine-mesh sieve or cheesecloth to remove any remaining seeds or skin, ensuring a silky texture. This step is crucial for a professional-quality sauce.

Not every chilli needs roasting

The roasting process can caramelize the natural sugars in the chillies, adding a subtle sweetness. It can also mellow the sharpness and raw heat of fresh chillies, resulting in a more balanced sauce. However, not every kind of chilli needs roasting. 

Chillies with thinner skins, such as cayenne or small Thai chillies, do not always need roasting as they blend well without it and their skins do not significantly affect the texture. If you prefer a bright, fresh chilli flavour in your sauce, you might skip roasting. Fresh chillies offer a more direct and sharper heat profile. Chillies like red bell peppers, or larger ghost peppers have thicker skins that can char nicely when roasted, adding depth to the sauce. If you want a smoky, rich flavour, roasting is highly recommended for Mexican sauces.