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60 responses to “Homemade Chiltepin Hot Sauce”

  1. Warner

    They get collected. I use Frank’s but I’ve a bottle labeled Pain and Suffering with a picture of a Dominatrix, and one picked up in an Indian spice shop on Manhattan, labeled Colon Cleanser.

    Something to bring home to give people something to talk about.

  2. DiggingDogFarm

    I love chiltepins.
    I grow a chiltepin called McMahon’s Texas Bird Pepper….short easily managed plants with well flavored fruits.
    Seeds are available from Seed Saver’s Exchange…..

  3. Susan in the Boonies

    I always learn so much from reading your blog! Had no idea hot sauce was so easy to make!

  4. Rachel Willen@FoodFix

    I’ve wanted to make my own hot sauce because I love Siracha but want something with the heat but not the garlic. I’ll try this with thai chiles…thanks!

  5. Hot Sauce

    I agree there are so many hot sauces out there and most of them have a funny or different label which makes them more easy to sell.

  6. Kristin

    I saw these sold in Central Market in Austin Tx just yesterday as pequin peppers. They were in small packages the size of an orange. Now I wish I’d bought some.

  7. Cindi

    Can dried chiles be used for this and, if so, would the amount change or preparation be needed?

  8. Rachel @ Dog Island Farm

    Have you tried canning this? I’ve got a ton of peppers coming of age right now but we easily have a gallon of Tapatio.

  9. Ricardo Rodríguez

    My family is from outside of Monterrey, México. We make dry beef or machacado and sell it in several stores of our own, along with local typical candies, breads and preserves, among which is this chile. We call it piquín. Sell it in vinegar whole, or in sauce form, very similar to the one you make, except for the paprika and smoked salt.
    They usually start flowering after the rains and many people make a living of foraging them in the woods and orange orchards and sell them at the side of the road. Sometimes you can see little pick up trucks with the tailgate lowered and inside a little 2 feet tall hill of these chiles. Depending of the season, can be quite expensive.

    There is also another variation, which I think is also chiltepin, but the fruits are elongated instead of espherical, and it is called japanese chile (go figure), and although it sells well, is less apreciated.

    About germination, you need to get rid of the chemical dormancy on the seeds, either by blancheling them a few seconds in boiling water, or feeding the whole chiles to your canary and collecting the seeds later when you change the newspaper from the bottom of the cage. that´s the way most chile plants appear all of themselves sooner or later in our gardens under the trees. They like shadow, and if you take care of them and it doesn´t freeze, they can live for several years. When we go hunting some times find a lot of plants near the water ponds and along fences and get loaded for all the year´s worth. Can put it to dry, make a sauce like yours, put them in vinegar, freeze them, or just put them in a jar mixed with a lot of salt and they will stay moist and edible a long time.


  10. Peter Arnold

    Ricardo, what a great description of your part of the world and how you handle pequines!

    Other peppers: out in the Galapagos Islands, (which I visited 8 times but only once on pleasure), the local pepper is a perennial bush about two or three feet tall. The peppers themselves are tiny, but pack a wallop you’ll never forget. Took some back to Quito where we were living but could not get the seeds to germinate either. Some form of stratifying like passing seeds through canaries must be the answer. I remember in a plant phsyiology course I took we submerged black locust seeds in sulfuric acid to get them to germinate

  11. Jeff

    In South Texas , they are always found where doves tend to congregate and roost.
    Barbed wire fences are prime spots and easy to follow looking for them.

  12. Cindi

    Thank you, Hank! I’m glad, as the only chiles I can find up here, aside from the ubiquitous jalapeno, are in their dried form. I’ll be trying my hand at hotsauce now! 🙂

  13. DiggingDogFarm

    I’ve never had to do anything super special to get the to germinate well.
    I place seeds in a moist paper towel inside a plastic baggy at a temperature of 85 degrees.

  14. Mike Rothman

    I have made hot sauces for 7 or 8 years. I abhor Franks and just barely tolerate Tabasco.
    There is lots of good sauces out there. With a PH meter you can tone down the Vinegar to a acceptable level . I have found that Roasted Fermented red peppers Taste the best. Green peppers taste better to me Roasted and not fermented. Try using some fresh roasted red peppers with your dried chilies and I think you may like the flavor even more.
    One of the top 2 or 3 I make has anchovies in it typically I don’t use starch but I am experimenting with arrow root. Xanthian gum just looks wrong on a hot sauce label

  15. Holly Heyser

    Jeff, do the doves eat them? That’d be one spicy dove!

  16. Spiritrunner

    is there another chili that might be close second to these?i live in a small town in central cali and they don’t sell those here and the closest city is 50 miles away with no car so not an option.

  17. Jeff

    All Birds and especially the Doves eat the heck out of them.
    I assume that is why they are called Bird Peppers .
    I was somewhat surprised to learn that they can be easily grown from seed. Like Ricardo, I thought they had to pass through a birds intestinal track to make germination possible.
    Learn something new everyday I guess.
    I love a crushed pepper or two in a bowl of Pinto Beans.

  18. Chris Henry

    Just made this with an assortment of Thai bird chilies, jalapenos and Hungarian wax peppers. I’ve been a hot sauce fan my whole life but can’t imagine ever paying for another bottle after this. I’m off to the market to round up as many different chilies as I can find to play around and make as many different kinds as I can. Thanks for the recipe and tips!!

  19. Ricardo Rodríguez

    Thanks for the comments.

    I just talked with a friend from my shooting range who has a nursery, and chated a while about these chiles. Seems that piquín or chile del monte (wild chile) tends to be a little special about handling, so very few people grow it, most is collected directly from the wild. that´s why the sauce makers that have bigger operations rely on some variety also called piquín, but that is growed in Chiapas, in the southmost part of México. It is spherical but is slightly pointed, and you can also pick it out because when green one side is slightly purple. Piquín connoiseurs despise it as not the same as the real thing.
    Another substitute can be the japanese chile, which looks just like the ciltepín, except in the long form of the fruits, and also grows wild, but it can be cultivated more easyly and yields more. Thats why you can see it frequently at the supermarkets in dried form.

    Supposedly the real wild chile is more forgiving with the stomach, and is not hot at the way out like other chiles.

  20. J.W. Hamner

    I have a small bag of pequin peppers (more oblong than the chiltepin you picture) that I bought on a whim from a local spice shop that I’ve never known quite what to do with. Thought I’d throw them at random into a roja sauce with other dried chiles, but a hot sauce sounds more fun.

  21. Steph

    Just made this tonight with Thai Bird Peppers that were picked from our garden on Sunday and a few roasted red peppers (as suggested in another comment). I am leaving it in the refrigerator overnight to rest. My question is: Should this be strained to remove the bits of seed that didn’t puree? Otherwise it looks, smells and tastes great

  22. Becc

    I successfully grew mutton peppers (Central American pepper passed along in my family), which are also hard to germinate, by using the suggestions on this website:
    Your blog is wonderful. I cook a fair amount of game, and love learning about edible wild plants.

  23. Rich Hardesty

    I tried growing chiltepins from seed before with not much success so this year I bought seedlings from a nursery.
    They arrived as 6″ plants which after they had a chance to recover from the 3 day shipping process I transplanted them into pots as I plan on bringing them in before the first frost. I live in south central Pennsylvania. The 6 seedlings I bought are producing like crazy and have been since the middle/end of July when the first flowers appeared. But with 80 days for the fruit to mature I’m figuring till the beginning of Oct. to start harvesting them. I also used some fertilizer when I transplanted them and when they began to flower. Something made for hot peppers. I put up netting around them because where I live I didn’t think they’d do well having the birds eat them and distribute the seeds.

    Thanks for sharing the recipe I’ll give it a try when the peppers are ripe.

  24. Ricardo Rodríguez

    Hello again!

    Just to let you know, there will be heldm, in Monterrey, Mexico, the first Festival of kid goat and chile piquín, from Sep 15th to 18th. There will be a gastronomical sample, folkoric music and dances, artisan market and conferences about the raising of goats and the growing of chile piquín.

  25. Karen

    What we call Bird Pepper in South Florida is described and pictured here:
    I’ve gotten plants of it from native plant raffles and grown it and gotten very few peppers from it – birds really do like it! Will try your sauce recipe with other garden chili peppers – sounds good. Wonder if it would work with the smoked chilies I have in the freezer, since it’s all getting pureed anyway?

  26. GEOTYPE Corpus Christi

    Landed on this site today by searching “Chiltepin red pepper”. We found a pepper plant in our new backyard in Corpus Christi and soon discovered it’s a chltepin! It’s completely LOADED right now, and one little guy has turned nice and red…we are excited to see the rest follow along! We’ll try this recipe out as soon as we’ve harvested the first batch. Thanks for the recipe!

  27. Sophia

    I’m a native southern Arizonan. My dad working on a local ranch we get Chiltepins every year…from the wild. We are addicted to them. This year I tried growing them with success. I have 9 plants about 1.5 feet tall. They are currently blooming and giving chilies…purple at the moment.Once they ripen I am definietly going to try this recipe!

  28. Rich Hardesty

    I have been growing chiltepins this year here in Middletown, PA. I just used a modified version of this recipe for my hot sauce. Instead of using xanthan gum I used some frozen okra as a thinkener.. I also add carrots to mine for a sweeter flavor and some slightly cooked onions. I’ve been growing my plants outdoors in pots and before we had snow a few weeks ago I brought them inside. They are still producing lots of ripe peppers. I have enough each week to make another batch of sauce from 6 plants. The largest of these plants is 4 feet tall. I’ve made 2 batches of sauce in the last 3 weeks. I figure with all the peppers still ripening I’ll make at least 2 or 3 more batches before it’s done for the season.

    Thanks again for sharing your recipe with us!

  29. ValleDawn

    Here in Tucson I’ve had a plant for about 10 years that readily propagates itself in the spring. Seedlings everywhere!

    It was bought originally at the Botanical Garden sale as a Baboquivari Chiltepin. The fruit is oval and HOT. It goes from green to orange to red. No purple.

    With the final harvest today I’m going to make your salsa, but also try pickling some, then steeping in simple syrup to use with appies, or in cocktails… Ooh la!

  30. Roberto De La Vega

    Hi All;
    I wish people would learn, ALL HOT PEPPERS are from MEXICO & Central America, through the trade ships of old is how peppers got all over the world. There is no such thing as a Thai Chile, or Japanese Chile, Italian Chile. Just like where are Potatoes or Pineapples From, they are both from Mexico, not Hawaii or the Philippines or Ireland! Thanks to trading ships again & the Dole company stuff gets shipped around the world! See you learn something every day!

  31. fermented hot pepper sauce « Culinaria Eugenius

    […] Hank Shaw’s hot sauce recipe, a wholly different preparation than mine, directs the cook to add spices, which would be great next time.  The recipe also icludes two particularly good tips: using a binding agent called xanthan gum to prevent the sauce from separating, and letting the sauce de-aerate.  For about 2 cups of finished hot sauce, he advises using 1/4 teaspoon of xanthan gum, mixed with 2 tablespoons cold water.  Without the xanthan gum, expect the pepper mass to float atop some briny water in your jar.  Nothing dangerous, but not the most visually appealing thing in the world.  A good stir fixes the problem. […]

  32. Mary H

    I was given a plant years ago and it self-propagates quite easily in my garden here in Houston. If I had known they were so pricey, I would have saved more of the plants! This year, since I’ve installed an automatic watering system and it gets daily watering and a little more sun, it has gone CRAZY! I will try your recipe, among others, for my son-in-law, who loves hot sauces.

  33. Callie Fisher

    I have had two of these plants, for 3 or 4 years now, a gift from my neighbor. Central Texas. They must be chiltepin, small rounded oval peppers that go green, orange then red, no purple. I only get a few ripe at a time, my suspicion was birds and after reading a few of these articles I can see why, we have many many white wing dove that roost in the area. I certainly want to try to propagate them and in the future cover with the netting I use to keep the birds from my tomatoes.

  34. James

    I made this recipe with pequins I ordered on line, and it’s delicious with a no-joke heat level.

  35. Chili Daddy

    Try this:

    Roast dried chile pequins in a 300 degree oven for about 20 minutes.

    Cool, then grind into a fine powder in a spice grinder. If you like, sift through a wire collander to remove the seeds.

    The aroma of these roasted pequins is unbelievable and the taste is awesome – gopod heat and more flavor than cayene ever dreamed of having.

    Sprinkle on food instead of adding hot sauce. Heat & flavor without the vinegar.

  36. Bently Brunson

    According to my considerable research, pequins are domesticated (and different) variants of the Tepin chile (Chiltepines). Pequins are popular in Texas apparently. Tepin and Chile are Aztec words for Flea and Chile. Some speculate that the chiltepin was so named for it’s sharp bite (arrebarato?), or perhaps it’s dimunitive size. Peguins are more elongated that chiltepin, and have a slower, longer burn. Chiltepines make the better hot sauce. My Mexican-American father in law gave me a “Chitopena” plant, and I started researching the whole subject. Very important to our Hispanic heritage. To correct an earlier post, chiltepins are, in a sense, the mother of all chilies, but is only one of many similar native chilies throughout South and Central America. The birthplace for all chilies is undisputably an area bordering Ecuador, Boliva, and Peru. The natural chilies were spread throughout the America’s by birds, and THEN, were domesticated by the Maya, Aztecs, etc. I love chiltepins.

  37. Del

    Bentley, you have it correct. Chili-tepin is the little round ones, Chili-piquin are the elongated ones. The ‘*tepin’ peppers provide a quick flavorful burn and subside, ‘pequin’ provide a similar burn with less flavor and it last a bit longer on the pallet. My personal favorite are the small round ones, chilitepin. Gonzales Texas.

  38. Luke and Kimber Shenoy

    Took a couple of years to get these growing in our Sacramento summer. They have a great flavor! Will try the sauce recipe with some mods and enjoy!

  39. Holly

    Thanks for sharing the hot sauce recipe. I’m wondering if I can leave out the xanthan or substitute something else. ??


  40. Mary Thorpe

    Thank you for the recipe. I’m growing McMahon’s Bird from Burpee Seeds again this year. No problem germinating, keeping the temperature in my mini greenhouse 85-90 degrees 24/7- only takes a lightbulb or two. I grew them last year (started in April) but only got a few peppers. Started ’em much earlier this year (February) and am looking forward to a better harvest.

    I’ve learned some things by reading some of the other posts- that pequins and tepins are not just different names for the same pepper. And now I’m surmising that they are called bird peppers because birds like them. I’ll plan on using netting, too! I’ll look for authentic chiltepins to grow next time. Thanks to Rich Hardesty for the tip about Vinland Valley Nursery for plants.

  41. Dave

    Made this yesterday and tried it today and is very good and has a flavor and hottness I really enjoy. The only problem is it has a strong vinegar flavor to fix this can I put in less vinegar and more water? What would your suggestion be.

  42. Kennedy

    I am going to try this recipe but was wondering if you have canned this recipe using water bath method.. I have tons and tons of hot Apache peppers and want to can some hot sauce

  43. Kennedy

    I was wondering what one could use in place of xanthan gum?

  44. Janet

    My mom owns a ranch in Arizona close to mexican border. She started out with one chili tepine plant that someone gave her and over the years they now just grow wild on her land. I’m not sure if this is true but she tells me that the reason they call the tepines “birds eye” chili is because birds eat them and when and where they poop out the seeds a plant grows. The seeds go thru the digestive track of the bird which sort of ferments them and allows for the seeds to germinate. . She sends them to me dried every year. This year I was there when they were ripe and ready for harvest so I took home a butt load of fresh ones. They are hot but so very tasty!

  45. psam ordener

    I bought a couple of pequin plants at my local HEB (Texas grocery chain) this Spring for a dollar apiece. Had no idea what they’d taste like, but liked what I tasted. My bush (now three feet tall and wide) is covered in peppers in varying colors – green, yellow, purple, orange, red. Red seems to be the last stage. They’ve never gotten past it on the plant – birds eat them. We pick them. Now I have a good idea what to do with them. Thank you!

  46. Rick

    Great Hot Sauce recipe! I love it and I get alot of compliments on it! People have told me they would pay me to make them a bottle! Thanks

  47. E.W. JOrdan

    We have used Chiltepin Peppers for three generations. We sometimes buy it in powdered form. This way you can measure the dose to your own liking. I started two plants this spring and I have harvested about a quart jar of the peppers. Can’t wait to try your recepie. Thank You for posting/sharing it with us.

  48. Mike

    I have been able to germinate seeds from my pequin peppers this year. I managed to get 17 plants to grow out of hundreds of seeds planted. I have a plant that was given to me in 2002. I have kept it for 13 years so far and it is not showing any signs of giving up. Being in Wisconsin, I bring it in in the late fall and take it back outside in the spring when the weather is warm enough. Most of the pepper plants I started this spring are producing peppers already. These are the best peppers in the world, in my humble opinion. There is a Mexican restaurant in Dubuque that makes a salsa/sauce from the pequin pepper. Yours seems like it could be similar to theirs. I can’t wait to try it. Thanks for the recipe!

  49. Denise

    Found this site searching for info on Chili Tepins. Looking forward to trying your hot sauce recipe. We have many plants that have come up from volunteers over the years. I have a friend who would like to grow some plants. Would she be able to grow them by planting our chilis? If so, would she plant red or green ones? Thank you!

  50. Cindi

    When u let settle for 1 hour in the jar is it closed or left open ?

  51. Callie Fisher

    Rich Hardesty I appreciate your Middleton, PA viewpoints. I am originally from Central Texas but have lived in Maine now. I posted here in 2012 that i had 2 plants in Texas but the are now all over my Texas yard. Our son lives in out Texas house & the last 2 years mailed me my chiltepins when they ripened. But I would like to try to get some plants started in pots & grow indoors in our basement. It would probably be a lesson in futility but i so miss being able to pick them fresh, they are the best. I’ve never had enough peppers at one time to make sauce but this is a great recipe, I hope to try it one day with these or with cayennes.

  52. Trent Jackson

    Cool, want to try. But I’ve been around the web and “pequin” is clearly a different species than “Chiltepin” … both are small and fiery, but pequin is more elongated, while Chiltepin is berry-like in its robust roundness. Such a berry-like roundness it has, that a bird might eat it readily, thinking, perhaps that it was a pyrancantha berry … thus spreading its seed far and wide by the dropping of much feces upon the land.

  53. Dave

    I germinate the chile petines (Pequines) all the time. All I do is go pick some mature red ones (they grow wild here in Texas), let them air dry on a paper towel in some sort of open container, in a single layer. Once dry I break them open, to get the seeds out. If you plant the whole tiny pepper the seeds grow a fungus, never germinate. I love them fresh green or red with a bite of crisp bacon!

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