The Last Thing To Do Before Throwing Away Used Hot Sauce Bottles

Attention, hot sauce fanatics: You've been making a huge mistake. If you're constantly reaching for a bottle of hot sauce to up the heat on your average dishes, you've probably tossed your fair share of hot sauce bottles into the trash. And unfortunately, this means you've already wasted a huge flavor opportunity by throwing them away. 

Your cardinal sin? Not turning that lingering hot sauce goodness into an epically infused homemade chili oil. The bottle itself works as the perfect vessel, while the chili sauce dregs work as the flavoring agent. The only thing you need to provide in creating this pantry item is high-quality oil. Of course, that's just the tip of the iceberg. You can add in a few other ingredients, like crunchy garlic chips and chopped roasted peanuts, and make your own epic chili crisp. Or, you can even take it down another road, and add in other kitchen scraps, like leftover herbs and spices, and create a complex layered condiment. 

Create spicy infused oil from leftover hot sauce bottles

It all starts with whatever hot sauce you've just finished. Any brand will work, but Sriracha, Tabasco, and Frank's Red Hot are good places to start, and just remember, you'll want a glass bottle for best results. From there, it's about choosing what kind of oil you want to infuse. Extra virgin olive oil is a classic choice for its bold, earthy flavor, but for a spicy infusion, you may want to start with a milder-tasting oil, like grapeseed, vegetable, or canola oil. You'll heat your oil to a high temperature, between 225 and 250 degrees Fahrenheit. This high temp is needed to toast the spices and help them release their essential oils for maximum infusion. 

Meanwhile, you'll place your chosen spices and herbs into the base of your hot sauce bottle or in a heat-proof bowl with a funnel on standby. To create an authentic Sichuan chili oil, some common spices are cinnamon, bay leaf, star anise, and Sichuan peppercorns. Bonus additions would be granulated garlic, ginger, cardamom, cloves, and fennel seed. From there, you'll pour over your hot oil and let it sit until completely cool. 

If you'd like to take it in a more basic direction, you can heat 1 cup of neutral oil and pour it over 3 tablespoons of dried chili flakes. These DIY chili oils should last up to three months in your pantry, the perfect reincarnation of your go-to hot sauce.