Lacto Fermented Fresno Pepper Hot Sauce


Lacto fermented Fresno pepper hot sauce. I love a great hot sauce!
You will always find several different hot sauces in my pantry, two of my favorites are my green Harissa and Zhoug, a Yemenite hot sauce. Each hot sauce in my collection has a different level of heat. Some are very pleasant and give me that little kick, while others will give me tunnel vision and tears will run down my cheeks. Lacto fermentation delivers intense and complex heat. My Fresno pepper hot sauce includes the seeds of the peppers. So be warned, the sauce packs quite a punch.

Not long ago, fermentation was the way to have food for the winter

The excess harvest was Lacto-fermented and preserved for the winter months. Lacto-fermentation is an ancient method of food preservation that has been around for thousands of years. How things have changed in our days, instead of the Lacto fermented nutrient-rich foods full of enzymes and probiotics, the average diet today consists mainly of sugar-laden, lab-created, and highly manufactured foods. FYI, my hot sauce only needs salt, water, and red Fresno peppers. That’s it! Be sure to use high-quality sea salt and do not use treated water, chlorine is harmful to fermentation, and spring water is what you want to use.

You can’t ferment without time

I let my peppers age for one week in a Mason jar with the lid tightly closed. After the second day, the mix starts bubbling and you know the fermentation has begun. Some suggest fermenting a hot sauce for up to a month, however, one week is long enough for me. The fermentation changes the flavor of the hot sauce, adding a much more complex tangy layer.
The saltwater brine creates an anaerobic environment (free of oxygen) where only lactobacillus bacteria can survive. The lactobacillus bacteria act as a preservative, keeping harmful bacteria from living in the ferment. The process works because of the fact that harmful bacteria can’t tolerate much salt, but there are healthy bacteria that can.

hot sauce

Lacto-fermentation “How It Works” written by Leda Meredith explains the stages as…

  • In stage one of Lacto-fermentation, vegetables are submerged in a brine that is salty enough to kill off harmful bacteria. The Lactobacillus good guys survive this stage and begin stage two.
  • In stage two of Lacto-fermentation, the lactobacillus organisms begin converting lactose and other sugars present in the food into lactic acid. This creates an acidic environment that safely preserves the vegetables — and gives Lacto-fermented foods their classic tangy flavor.

hot sauce

Fresno chilies

Fresno chilies are shaped very similar to jalapeño chilies and they can easily be mistaken for red jalapeño. They are available in red and green varieties, the red being the sweeter of the two. On the chili heat scales, they rate a 4 – 6 out of 10. Choose bright-colored, glossy peppers that are firm with medium to thick flesh, avoid soft spots. Store refrigerated, unwashed in a plastic bag for up to 5 days.
I have to mention it, even so, I know everyone is aware of it, be very careful when you are handling fresh chili peppers; I recommend wearing vinyl kitchen gloves. Otherwise, if you don’t properly wash your hands after handling the peppers, they can really hurt your skin and lips, and be sure to avoid touching your eyes.

hot sauce

Chili peppers have demonstrated health benefits

They are packed with vitamins A & B and are also a good source of vitamin C. They are free from cholesterol and saturated fats, low in calories, and high in fiber. All of this plays an important role in keeping our bodies running like a well-oiled machine.

hot sauce

No worries Lacto-fermented foods are safe to make at home

Allow the hot sauce to ferment at room temperature. You will know if something goes “bad” the signs will be there, mold or a horrible smell will tell you that it’s time to make a new batch. Lacto-fermented foods are naturally preserved foods. They are made without heat, so you will never get the same storage time that you get with canned food. However, this is a great trade-off, since you get all of the live probiotics, enzymes, and vitamins that are destroyed in heat and canning.
Lacto-fermented hot sauce is not a shelf-stable sauce. Kept in the refrigerator it will keep for 4 to 5 months.
I’m not worried about shelf life since the small batch I make is gone in no time. Enjoy and move forward with confidence, Lacto-fermentation is easy!

hot sauce

Lacto Fermented Fresno Pepper Hot Sauce

Chef Norbert
My Fresno pepper hot sauce includes the seeds of the peppers. So be warned, the sauce packs quite a punch.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Sauces
Cuisine American
Servings 20
Calories 4 kcal


  • 1 cup Fresno peppers stems removed, sliced
  • 2 garlic
  • 1/2 tbsp sea salt
  • 1 cup water purified


Make the brine

  • Make the brine by heating up 1 cup of purified water with 1/2 tablespoon of good-quality sea salt. Stir the brine until salt is dissolved and let the brine cool to room temperature.
    1/2 tbsp sea salt, 1 cup water
  • Place the sliced peppers and smashed garlic in a Mason jar. Pour brine into the Mason jar, to cover the peppers and the garlic. Make sure peppers are covered with brine.
    2 garlic, 1 cup Fresno peppers
  • Cover the Mason jar tightly with lid and set in a cool place. Shake the jar daily to prevent mold from forming. After about two days, small bubbles will start to build and the fermentation process has started.
  • Ferment for 1 week or longer. Once fermentation is complete, drain and reserve brine and place peppers and garlic in a food processor, add brine as needed. Add brine a tablespoon at a time and blend until it reaches desired consistency. Transfer to a Mason jar cover with a lid and keep in the refrigerator.

Chef Notes

Chef's tip:

Sriracha Style fermented hot sauce with honey - blend your fermented hot sauce with honey, add a little granulated sugar for additional sweetness and you have a great dipping sauce.


Serving: 1 Tbsp | Calories: 4kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 0.1g | Fat: 0.05g | Saturated Fat: 0.01g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.01g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.004g | Sodium: 175mg | Potassium: 31mg | Fiber: 0.3g | Sugar: 0.5g

Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate

Keyword Easy, Fresno peppers, Garlic, Hot sauce, Peppers, Sauce
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Join the Conversation

  1. Gordon Owens says:

    Hello, I am following a recipe that I found online for a substitute for Hoy Fong sriracha. The recipe calls for red jalapeno peppers, salt, sugar, garlic and water. They said to add the 1 pound of peppers, salt (1 tablespoon), garlic, (4 cloves), sugar, (2 tablespoons) and water (1/4 cup) to a food processor and process until you have a smooth liquid then place it in a sealed mason jar and allow it to ferment on the counter for 7 days. My concern is that your recipe calls for submerging the peppers in brine then process them and as this doesn’t follow that approach I’m worried that it might spoil and end up giving me food poisoning. So I wanted to write and get your thoughts. Any info/suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Norbert Author says:

      Gordon, as a rule, with Lacto Fermentation everything should be submerged beneath the brine.
      I brine my sliced peppers and AFTER they are fermented I process them into a smooth consistence. That is the way I have been doing it for years.
      You always can add a fermentation weight (Amazon) to keep the peppers submerged. Like it or not bacteria is everywhere, anything that is exposed to air can get mold. One more thing, make sure all your utensils, caning jars etc are sterilized, good luck, best NB

      1. Gordon Owens says:

        Thanks for the info. It looks like it’s fermenting as there are little bubbles popping up, looks a little like alka seltzer. I plan to open the jars in the next day or so to burp it and see what it smells like. If it smells OK I’ll let it continue, if not out it goes and I’ll try again using your approach. Either way if this turns out good or not for the next batch I’ll use your approach. Thanks again. -Gordon

  2. Kathleen Scott says:

    I grow Fresnos in the summer (as they are not readily available in New England in the cooler months) just to make this sauce. We all love it – especially on oysters!!

    1. Norbert Author says:

      Thank you for sharing your feedback. I love hot peppers, looking out of my window at bushes of beautiful Fresno and Thai peppers 🙂
      Glad you all love the recipe. Sounds just about perfect on Oysters 🙂

  3. Kathleen Scott says:

    This recipe is absolutely delicious. I make it for y friends as gifts and they always ask when it is coming. I love it on so many things: eggs, Mexican dishes, raw oysters – you name it!

  4. I am about 1.5 weeks in and the brine has turned a bit cloudy… Is this a sign something has gone wrong?

    1. Norbert Author says:

      I ferment my peppers for one week. You will know if something goes “bad” the signs will be there, mold or a horrible smell will tell you that it’s time to make a new batch.

    2. Cloudy is normal, I believe it is the proteins of the pepper breaking down into the water.

5 from 4 votes (4 ratings without comment)

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