Thursday, January 27, 2011

West Indian Pepper Sauce

I never realized how incomplete my life was without this condiment until I moved away from home and did not have easy access to it any longer.  Growing up, this pepper sauce was a staple in my home, much like in every West Indian home.  I consider this sauce to be the "Tabasco" of the Caribbean islands (and Guyana) because it is a condiment that is added to almost any type of savory food for flavor as well as for spiciness.  The type of peppers that is used to make this pepper sauce is usually wiri wiri pepper (also known as cherry pepper) or scotch bonnets.  They are both very hot peppers and when made into a pepper sauce, it is seasoned to bring out the tastiness.  Many people simply like to make their pepper sauce by just blending the peppers with a little vinegar.  Different countries in the West Indies might have slight variations of this recipe, but in the end, the result is similar, a spicy, flavorful condiment that your meal can't be without!

I had no idea the amount of work that goes into making this pepper sauce until I went to Guyana in 2009 on a family vacation.  My grandfather is the anointed pepper sauce making guru, so one hot day during my time there, I sat in a hammock and attentively watched as he made pepper sauce to be bottled for us to bring back to New York and Florida. The aroma filled the entire "bottom" house, and made us cough as if we all had bronchitis, but somehow, he was able to withstand the smell and continued to grind the peppers. 


He used a food mill like this one to grind the peppers for the sauce.  It was all done manually, all 10 pounds of pepper! I used only 2 pounds of wiri wiri pepper, so as you can imagine, this was definitely a huge feat for him!  Now back in New York and unable to find anything close to my grandfather's pepper sauce,  I made a phone call to Guyana to get the recipe.  Pepper sauce is not just about being spicy, its also about the texture and the flavor.  I don't particularly care for watery pepper sauce, I like it smooth and thick with lots of flavor.  I used the blender to make my sauce, it was much easier since I do not own a grinding mill.  The texture was exactly the same and so was the taste.  Another family recipe has been made, tasted, and documented!  This recipe comes to you all the way from Grandpa Roland in Guyana...enjoy!

I used 2lbs of pepper.  Make sure you use a glove when removing the stems, otherwise your skin will get burned from the capsaicin in the seeds! 

How about a closer look?

Peel and dice one green mango and one head of garlic

Since 2lbs is so much pepper for a standard size blender, blend a little at a time so your blender doesn't flow over

add green mango and garlic 

It is not pictured here, but for 2lbs of pepper you will need 1/2 cup of 
white distilled vinegar.  Add a little bit of vinegar at a time and blend
 till the sauce looks smooth and you don't see very many seeds.

West Indian Pepper Sauce 
(makes about 4 cups pepper sauce)
  • 2lbs wiri wiri pepper or scotch bonnet peppers (stems removed)
  • 1 green mango (unripe mango) or 2 large cucumbers, peeled and diced
  • 1 head of garlic, peeled
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup white distilled vinegar
  1. Rinse peppers and remove all stems
  2. Add about 1 cup of peppers to a blender with a little mango or cucumber, a little bit of vinegar and garlic, blend until smooth. 
  3. Repeat process until all ingredients are used up and sauce is smooth and not watery (it should have a tomato/pasta sauce texture). 
  4. Store sauce in a mason jar.  


  1. Those are some beautiful peppers, where did u find those?? The peppers on Liberty Ave are bruised and rotten, here in Atlanta I can't find any.

  2. Hi Jehan!

    I brought those peppers back from Florida when I went to visit over the holidays. I just put them in the freezer so they wouldn't rotten out. And yes, I agree, the peppers on Liberty Ave are dingy and rotten looking and they still sell it for upwards of $11.99/lb craziness!!

    What about scotch bonnets? Do you have access to those?

  3. Hey! I made this today! Instead I used a piece of cucumber! It's really hot! Thanks a bunch!

  4. A relative of mine from guyana gave me some of these peppers and boy the texture and taste of the sauce is amazing.

  5. What a great sauce! My friend is Guyanese and his mom makes this sauce. Where I live its impossible to find wiri peppers so I used Habanero peppers and Italian hot cherry peppers(for the red color.) The result is very similar to what my friends mom makes. THANKS!

  6. Hi, I'm literally all ready to make this sauce but wondered which kind of vinegar (Malt, white etc.) to use? Please help!

    1. Hi anonymous,

      It's white distilled vinegar :)

    2. Hi Alica,

      I promise to sign up when I have time, last it 2 tsp salt like it says in the picture or 3 like it says in the recipe?

    3. Hey no problem, sign up when you can :) Also thanks for catching that error! It's 2 tsp of salt. I've made the correction in the recipe! Thanks so much!

  7. Hello,

    Do we store this in the fridge? how long does it last? Any tips for long term storage?

    Thank you - this looks amaaaazing.....we have a lot of cherry peppers in our garden and were wondering what to do, so cannot thank you enough:)

  8. Hi Christina,

    You are very welcome! Since this pepper sauce has vinegar in it, it will keep until you finish the bottle of pepper sauce! The vinegar is a preservative. I keep a large jar in the fridge and a smaller container on my counter. Send me a picture! Good luck!

  9. PLease assist this mango impaired native NY'er who loves Guyanese pepper sauce!!!
    Picked a mango for this recipe from the supermarket but when I opened it was orange inside and so sweet and delicious but I think not the right mango for this sauce??
    Like I said I'm from NY and grew up with apples and pears as the fruit so am mango ignorant - any tips on what kind of mango to purchase for this? "green" is not enough as the one I bought was green on the outside but not, I think what you are referring to.
    Please help as I want to make this sauce!! Love all food Guyaneses exposed to the cuisine at my job where some of the ladies are super amazing and generous cooks!!!

    1. Hi Penny!

      Yes you are correct, if the mango is sweet then you definitely don't want to use it. What you are looking for is mango with green skin that is hard to the touch when you press your finger into the skin. it should be sour if you peel it and cut a piece to taste. It should not be juicy at all. If you live in NY you can certainly find these types of mangoes at Asian vegetable & fruit markets. Do you live in the 5 boroughs? Feel free to email me, I can give you specifics on where to get the mango. My email address is inner

      Thanks for your message!

  10. Beautiful pictures, I'll try recipe once I get some Wiri wiri

  11. I normally use cucumber relish or onions along with the peppers instead of the green mango or cucumber.

  12. Where in Florida can I find wirri wirri pepper ?

    1. Hi there,

      You can check out Caribbean Super Center in Orlando.

  13. Does anyone know where I can buy a bottle of this sauce?

  14. Has anyone tried a ripe mango for sweetness as opposed to a green mango for the sourness