The Super Simple Trick To Thickening Hot Sauce

Prefer your food on the spicy side? Then you probably already know that the term hot sauce can mean a lot of different things. Take Sriracha, tabasco, and Louisiana hot sauce for example. They're nothing alike in terms of flavor, consistency, or spice level, yet are each referred to as hot sauce, simply because they're all considered "hot." Depending on what you're eating or cooking, you might want your hot sauce to be extra thick and concentrated, and in other cases, more liquidy and mild. That's why making your own hot sauce is a total game-changer. 

Hot sauce, Bon Appétit explains, always starts out with four basic components: Chili, acid, aromatics, and salt. You can play around with the seasoning, the types of peppers and acid, but these elements are the foundation of any hot sauce. Once you settle on the perfect combination of ingredients, you can then thicken it to your liking — that's the easy part.

Hot sauce thickens when the acid evaporates

Hot sauce gets its flavor from the chili peppers, aromatics, and salt, but it's the acid that binds it all together. Whether you use vinegar or lemon juice, the resulting mixture will end up liquidy, but as Baking Kneads explains, this can be controlled through what's called reduction. 

To perform a reduction, you'll need to transfer your hot sauce into a small pot and bring it to a simmer — not a boil. Using low heat is important because if you want extra thick hot sauce, you need to reduce it gradually. Otherwise, it could easily burn and ruin the flavor, and you want to have as much control as possible. As the acid cooks down, the moisture will evaporate out, and as a result, the consistency will change. The longer you simmer your hot sauce, the thicker and more concentrated it'll become. Just stir as you go, and monitor the sauce until the consistency and heat level is to your liking.