Fresno peppers are commonly spotted in the supermarket right beside the jalapeño peppers. And, for good reason. These tasty peppers are similar to jalapeño peppers in many ways. They have several culinary uses in the kitchen and pack a delicious flavor with respectable heat.
This Fresno hot sauce is the perfect way to put these peppers to use and add flavor to any dish.
Like many other peppers, Fresno peppers ripen from green to red. They are edible at any stage, but we prefer them when they reach their most mature stage – fiery red. This is when the pods are spiciest and most flavorful. Thankfully, this is how they are harvested and shipped commercially, so you’re unlikely to find them in their unripe green form.
Fresno peppers have slightly thinner walls than jalapeño peppers, making them perfect for hot sauce recipes like this one. We also like using Fresno peppers in salsa recipes, or smoking them on the grill.
Why you’ll love this Fresno hot sauce
- Fresno peppers are easily found at many grocery stores. So, you can make this delicious hot sauce, even when the garden is not in full-swing.
- It’s a beautiful fiery red color that makes an excellent gift. Bring this hot sauce to your next holiday party for a decorative table sauce.
- The flavor is very versatile. It tastes great on chicken, Mexican food, fish, eggs and so much more.
- This recipe comes together very quickly. There is minimal prep work involved and you can have a fresh batch blended up in no time.
About the ingredients
- Fresno peppers – While we always recommend growing your own peppers, Fresno peppers are easily found in many grocery stores. Look for ripe, red Fresno peppers that are firm (not mushy or soft). Do not use green Fresno peppers for this recipe as the flavor will be too vegetal.
- Red bell pepper – Bell pepper adds volume to this hot sauce while also contributing to the beautiful red color. We also love the subtle sweet flavor it adds to this recipe.
- Vinegar – White vinegar works best in this recipe. It helps create a pourable consistency while also adding needed acidity in this hot sauce.
- Garlic – Most of our hot sauces contain garlic, and for good reason. Just a small amount adds great depth and flavor to this sauce.
- Onion – For this recipe, we like using yellow or white onion. After charring on a cast iron skillet, the flavor and bite of the onion significantly mellows out, melting into a smooth sweetness.
- Smoked paprika – Smoked paprika contributes to the fiery color of this sauce while adding interest and complexity. You can also used plain paprika if you want less smokiness.
- Salt – Start off with 2 tsp of salt and then add more as desired.
How to make Fresno hot sauce
This is an easy hot sauce recipe that is somewhat similar to our basic jalapeño hot sauce. With just a bit of ingredient prep, this sauces whizzes up in the blender in no time!
- ½ lb Fresno peppers
- ½ yellow onion
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 red bell pepper
- ⅔ cup white vinegar
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tbsp water (as needed)
- Oil (for searing)
- Prepare the Fresno chiles and red bell peppers by cutting off their stems and removing the seeds and piths. Remove the skin from the garlic and onion.
- Heat a cast iron skillet to medium-high heat and add oil to the pan. Blister the red bell peppers, onion, and Fresno chilis until the vegetables are charred on all sides. For the last 2 minutes, add the garlic and lightly brown the outsides without burning it. This takes about 6-8 minutes.
- Add the charred peppers, onions, and garlic into a blender along with the smoked paprika, vinegar, and salt.
- Blend until smooth and let cool. If you’re having trouble blending the hot sauce to the right consistency, try adding a tablespoon of water to adjust to the desired consistency.
- Season to taste by adding more salt. Using a funnel, pour the sauce into hot sauce bottles. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 months.
Note: For a more complex flavor, you can ferment the fresh ingredients before adding the vinegar.
Watch this recipe’s video:
How long does this Fresno hot sauce last?
Store this sauce in the fridge and consume within 3 months. For the best storage time, test the pH level of your hot sauce aim for a value below 4.0 This ensures proper acidity for long-term storage.
- 1/2 lb Fresno peppers
- 1/2 yellow onion medium
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 red bell pepper
- 2/3 cup white vinegar
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 Tbsp. water as needed
- Oil for roasting
- Prepare the Fresno chiles and red bell peppers by cutting off the stems and removing the seeds and piths. Remove the skin from the garlic and onions.
- Heat a cast iron skillet to medium-high heat and add a thin layer of oil to the pan. Roast red bell peppers, white onion, and Fresno chilis until the vegetables are charred, about 6-8 minutes. During the final 2 minutes, add in the garlic until browned.
- Add the charred peppers, onions, and garlic to a blender along with the smoked paprika, vinegar, and salt.
- Blend until smooth and let cool. If you’re having trouble blending the hot sauce to the right consistency, add 1 Tbsp. of water to adjust to the desired consistency.
- Season to taste by adding more salt if necessary.
- Add into hot sauce bottles and store in refrigerator.
- White onion or shallots can be used in place of the yellow onion
- Red jalapeños are a great substitute for Fresno peppers
- Chipotle powder makes a great alternative to smoked paprika
- Add 1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper for another layer of spiciness
Fresno Pepper FAQs
Fresno peppers usually have a space in our garden. They’re incredibly versatile and easy to use in the kitchen. These peppers are also a favorite to gift to family and friends for their relatively low heat level and usefulness.
Are Fresno peppers hotter than jalapeño peppers?
Simply put, Fresno peppers are slightly spicier than jalapeño peppers. Fresno peppers measure around 2,500 – 10,000 Scoville Heat Units (SHU), while jalapeño peppers are typically between 2,000-8,000 SHUs. There is variation depending on the variety you are growing, as well as the growing conditions of each plant.
What is the closest pepper to a Fresno pepper?
Jalapeño peppers are the closest pepper to a Fresno when discussing culinary use in the kitchen. Check out this article for Fresno pepper substitutes. For the most comparable pepper, choose a fully ripened red jalapeño pepper.
What are Fresno peppers good for?
Fresno peppers are delicious in salsas and hot sauces. You can also dehydrate them and make a versatile hot pepper powder (similar to cayenne powder).
Are Fresno peppers difficult to grow?
Fresno peppers are great for the beginner gardener. Some varieties grow upwards, making them a unique addition to your pepper garden. While we find them slightly more difficult to grow than jalapeño peppers, they are a rewarding plant to keep. If you are able to grow bell peppers successfully, you’ll be able to grow Fresno peppers without any issue!
I hope you enjoy this Fresno pepper hot sauce recipe and make a batch the next time you have a large harvest. If you haven’t already grown your own Fresnos in the garden, be sure to give it a try. They are a unique and fun pepper to grow with many culinary uses in the kitchen.
Crystalyn loves spicy food and getting creative in the kitchen. When she isn’t finding new ways to use hot sauce, shes very busy watching cat videos on the internet.