Kitchen Notes

Smoky Sangrita

Sangrita is one of our favorite weapons in the kitchen and at the bar for injecting tons of smoky, spicy, umami flavor into drinks. It's the base for our house Bloody Mary and Michelada, and the perfect counterpart to a glass of mezcal for sipping. 

  • 1 cup tomato juice 
  • 1 cup hot sauce (makes sure you use something with chipotle for that sweet smoky hit)
  • 1 cup orange juice 
  • 1/3 cup fresh lime juice 
  • 1/3 cup kosher salt 

Add ingredients to a large pitcher and keep cold. You can also blend for a couple minutes to get everything extra smooth but it's not necessary. Keep refrigerated. 

10 Creative Ways Use Your Homemade Hot Sauce

Homemade Hot Sauce Kit and Avocado Toast

All right! You just made your first two hot sauces with your Homemade Hot Sauce Kit. Now what? You can do the typical drizzle over eggs or slather it all over a taco. However, we here at The Chili Lab like to encourage people to go beyond heat and get a little creative.

Now that we got your creative hot sauces flowing with your Homemade Hot Sauce Kit let's put that sauce to good use. Here are 10 Creative Ways to Use Your Homemade Hot Sauce.


What Are Hot Sauce Flavors in the Homemade Hot Sauce Kit?

If you've never used the Homemade Hot Sauce Kit or this is your first time making your own hot sauce, you might not know what flavor profiles we're working with. 

When you purchase a Homemade Hot Sauce Kit, we send you everything you need to make two artisan flavors in your own home. 

The Kit conveniently comes with:

🌶 2 Chili Lab Spice Blends (Forager's Blend and Grove Blend)
🌶 4 Glass Hot Sauce Bottles with Corks (4 oz)
🌶 1 Stainless Steel Funnel
🌶 1 Fine Mesh Strainer
🌶 1 Hot Sauce Instruction Card

We do everything but make the sauce. That's the fun part, and that is for you. Now, that you have a solid introduction of what the Homemade Hot Sauce Kit is, let's take a quick detour and explore the two flavors that are going to transform your menu.


Homemade Hot Sauce Kit: Forager's Blend

The Forager's Blend has the berry flavor you'd expect of a chili flake with this hue. Its sweetness is further enhanced by the smoky, almost oak-like undertones that linger with each bite. 

Our blend is thoughtfully crafted with three delicious chili peppers:

🌶 Guajillo
🌶 Chipolte
🌶 Pequin

These three chilies create a flavor profile that it makes this hot sauce particularly delicious with lamb and wild mushrooms. However, this article is about more out-of-the-box ways. Now, let's take a look at the other hot sauce blend flavor profile you get with the Homemade Hot Sauce Kit.


Homemade Hot Sauce Kit: Grove Blend


This is like the tropical oasis of hot sauce flavors. The Grove Blend has a zesty spirit that brightens any dish its added to. Don't let these tangy vibes fool you as the Grove Blend has a lingering bite. However, the sweet kiss of citrus keeps having you come back for more. 

This back-and-forth with your taste buds can be attributed to these three chilies:

🌶 Piri Piri 
🌶 Habanero 
🌶 Anaheim

Your Grove Blend Hot Sauce has a light texture that lends itself to seafood, chicken, and kale chips. However, you can be a bit more creative than that. Here are 10 ways how. 


Make a Salad Dressing

When life hands you lemons, make lemonade. When you have excess sauce, use a salad dressing. Many salad dressings you buy in the grocery store are high in calories and low on flavor. Since the Homemade Hot Sauce Kit recipe causes a vinegar base, your hot sauce makes for a great addition into a homemade salad dressing. 

Just as you got creative making the hot sauce yourself, think-outside-the-box when crafting your salad dressing. How about mixing a little honey mustard and peanut oil in with the Grove Blend? Perhaps combine some extra virgin olive oil,  a dash of raspberry balsamic vinegar, and some Forager's Blend Hot Sauce? With the Homemade Hot Sauce Kit, the salad dressing options are endless (Betcha never thought you'd say that!). 


Create a Popcorn Topping

Date night can be expensive. The popcorn alone can cost more than the movie. So, bring date night home. Pop some popcorn on the stovetop. While that's happening, heat up a 1/4 stick of butter. 

eating popcorn

As the butter becomes more solid than liquid, add in hot sauce. For beginners, try starting off with about 1/4 cup of hot sauce. We don't like to judge. Use as much as you want! 

You'll notice this sauce has a creamy, almost Buffalo sauce texture. It'll coat your popped kernels like a cozy hug. 


Fold Into Your Burger

What's more delicious than a juicy burger? Well, make it even juicier with some leftover homemade hot sauce. As you are working the patty, add in a little hot sauce. While both flavors would go magnificently with a hand-crafted burger, we'd recommend the Forager's Blend for your first go-around.

Usually, a mouth waters before eating a burger, but with this one causes your mouth to water as you chew. The woodsy flavors of this sauce burst with each bite into your burger, making you fire up the grill for seconds in no time. 


Make Corn Muffins

This right here is a game changer. Just a little hot sauce into your corn muffin batter will go along way. We highly recommend adding a touch of Grove Blend Hot Sauce to a jalapeño cheddar corn muffin. 

corn muffin

If you're making a berry muffin, there's no better compliment than adding some Forager's Blend to the mix. The chipotle nuances are amplified in the presence of berries. This makes for an eye-opening morning treat. 


Mexican Hot Chocolate or Tea

Ever had a hot sauce so good, you wish you could drink it? Well, now you could. Add a little bit of Forager's Blend to your hot chocolate. We suggest you do this around a fire for the ultimate internal warm-up. 

You can add some Grove Blend instead. That would be a delicious additive for someone who enjoys chocolate-covered citrus fruits. However, a 1/2 teaspoon of Grove Blend can transform your energizing green tea in a cup of island getaway!


Make More Sauce

Leave it to the makers of the Homemade Hot Sauce Kit to say make more sauce. While you can buy refills of Grove Blend and Forager's Blend Chili Flakes for future hot sauces (or try something new and get the Garden Blend), you can also use the hot sauce you already make more sauce.

Are you making some homemade spaghetti sauce? Add in some homemade hot sauce. Without question, the Forager's Blend will add a bold flavor to your sauce that will make family triple dipping their garlic bread.   


Want to switch up a marsala sauce for portobellos or fish? The Grove Blend is to the rescue. Your Grove Blend sauce pairs deliciously with chicken broths, white wines, and other light sauces used for leaner proteins.

Lastly, both flavors are perfect for homemade aiolis or mayo dips. We suggest mixing in some Grove Blend aioli with garlic and mustard on a ham sandwich or Forager's Blend aioli with a touch of brown sugar and minced onion on a pastrami wrap.


Add to a Smoothie/Juice

We throw many foods with bite into our smoothies and juices including ginger, lemon, and bell peppers. Why wouldn't you throw in a little bit of hot sauce?

Give your pre-workout routine the heat you need by combining the Grove Blend with tropical fruits and lighter colored vegetables. The citrus zest of the Grove Blend works well with oranges, bananas, carrots, mangos, and celery. 

If you have a berry-heavy blend, bring the flavor up a notch with some Forager's Blend. It's rich flavor also blends nicely with dark greens and beets. 


Mix In Your Hummus

We all love a good hummus dip. However, it seems like we've tried every flavor under the sun. That's why you need to go beyond the boundaries by going beyond the heat. 


Both flavors bring a unique experience to traditional hummus. If you want to jazz up a roasted red pepper, caramelized onion, or sun-dried tomato, try using the Forager's Blend first. Olive tapenade, spinach, and artichoke, and lemon hummus blend nicely with your refreshing Grove Blend Hot Sauce. 


Hot Sauce Frosting

Just because they blew out the candle doesn't mean they blew out the heat. If you or your loved one is a Chili Head, make them some hot sauce frosting. 

When you are blending the cream cheese and butter to make the frosting, add in the hot sauce and mix a little more before adding in any dry ingredients. 

Which homemade hot sauce you use depends on which type of frosting you are making. However, we are partial to use Forager's Blend in icings on chocolate cakes while Grove Blend goes well with vanilla.


Add to Your Jam

We love pepper jelly. While you can make pepper jelly at home, sometimes you can just mix and match what you already have on hand. For instance, a blackberry jam with Grove Blend hot sauce on a cinnamon raisin bagel is the breakfast of champions. 

jam and toast

You know what else is our jam? Putting Forager's Blend Hot Sauce on some strawberry jam. From there, we put the jelly on top of cream cheese. Spread on cheese and crackers for an easy peppertizer at your next party!

Pepper of the Week: Bulgarian Carrot Pepper

Pepper of the Week:
Bulgarian Carrot Pepper

This week's #POW brings the pow as Bug Bunny does to Elmer Fudd. We're talking a carrot pepper. Our Pepper of the Week is the Bulgarian Carrot Pepper. Also known as shipka, the Bulgarian Carrot Pepper can be used a variety of ways. From salsa recipes to hot sauce...heck, even bread, we've got you covered. Let's get to know a bit about the Bulgarian Carrot Pepper. 

What is a Bulgarian Carrot Pepper?

This heirloom pepper has a unique flavor profile. It's a tad bit sweet with the bite of spice we know and love from jalapeño. As the name implies, at its full maturity, the Bulgarian Carrot Pepper resembles a carrot. 

Bulgarian Carrot Pepper

Image via Mad Meat Genius

Characteristics of a Bulgarian Carrot Pepper:

🌶 Heat intensity: Medium to Hot

🌶 Size: 2 -5 inches 

🌶 Scoville Units: 5,000 to 30,000 SHU

🌶 Flavor Profiles: Sweet, Tangy, Bit of Heat

This pepper brings a nice pop to your plate. Its versatility allows you to spice up a breakfast omelet, bring some crunch to a lunchtime salad, or a savory bread perfect to dip into your soup!

History of the Bulgarian Carrot Pepper

The modern-day Bulgarian Pepper is believed to be cross-between habanero pepper commonly found in the Caribbean and an old-school Bulgarian pepper. This pepper was known as the Shipka. 

Shipka is a term to describe a range of prickly shrubs. In particular, Bulgarians have dubbed wild roses as shipkas. Based on the color of the original Bulgarian Carrot Pepper resembling rose hips, it earned the shipka name. Although, others also say the name came from the small town of Shipka that lies in the center of Bulgaria. That's the mystery that comes along with history!

The pepper stayed around the Black Sea and Greece until the 1980s. This orange-hued pepper found its way to the Caribbean region when the pepper was smuggled out of the Iron Curtain.

Winston Churchill came up with the term, "Iron Curtain" to describe the divide of a post-World War II Europe.

Winston Churchill, Iron Curtain Speech

Winston Churchill "Iron Curtain Speech

Image via Missouri State Archives

One side was aligned with the States, while the other was under Soviet rule. Sometime during the 1980s, the peppers crossed the sea. While they still thrive in colder areas, Bulgarian Carrot Peppers can be found in the States today!

Bulgarian Carrot Pepper Recipes

Now that you know a thing or two about this unique pepper, let's give you some Bulgarian Carrot Pepper recipes!

Bulgarian Carrot Pepper Bread

Nothing compliments a hot soup, makes better use of spaghetti sauce, or hold together a sandwich like a delicious bread. This savory recipe courtesy of PermaCulture News will have your mouth watering and your belly satisfied!


🌶 1- 8oz Package Cream Cheese (Softened) 
🌶 2 Large Farm Fresh Eggs
🌶 4 cups Mozzarella Cheese
🌶 2-3 Bulgarian Carrot Peppers 
🌶 2 cups Almond Flour
🌶 2 tsp. Aluminum-free Baking Powder

Get the full recipe at PermaCulture News. 

Bulgarian Carrot Pepper Salsa

Salsas are great because you dip chips, dress up your eggs, or add a kick to your baked chicken breast. Whatever you decide to do, be sure to tag us on Instagram @TheChiliLab! Here is the recipe courtesy of Feed Your Skull

The Salsa Recipe

Image via Feed Your Skull


🌶 2 - 14.5 oz cans of Muir Glen Diced Tomatoes (No Salt)
🌶 1 cup Lightly Packed Cilantro, Chopped
🌶 1 cup Diced Onion
🌶  4 Cloves Garlic, Minced

🌶 1 Bulgarian Carrot Pepper
🌶 1/2 Lime
🌶 1 1/2 Teaspoons of Sea Salt

For an extra kick, add a little citrus burst with The Chili Lab Grove Blend Chili Flakes. Get the recipe via Feed Your Skull here.

Bulgarian Carrot Chile Sauce Recipe

Seeing as we have our own At-Home Homemade Hot Sauce Kit, we can't help but share a hot sauce recipe for this week's Pepper of the Week! Let's take a look at this recipe courtesy of the Mad Meat Genius.

Bulgarian Chile Hot Sauce

Image via Mad Meat Genius


🌶 ½ pound of Bulgarian Carrot Pepper 
🌶 ½ Small Onion, Chopped
🌶 2 Cloves Garlic, minced
🌶¼ cup of Vinegar
🌶 ½ cup of Water
🌶 1 Tablespoon Sugar (Honey)

 Get the complete recipe at Mad Meat Genius.

Celebrate Pepper of the Week

Now that you know the 4-1-1 on the Bulgarian Carrot Pepper, join in on the fun. Follow us @TheChiliLab on Instagram and celebrate all things Bulgarian Carrot Pepper all week long!

Hot Sauce Master Class: Preserving Chilies

Long before we came out with our hot sauce making kit, we can chalk up the invention of hot sauce to a time prior to refrigeration. It’s more than likely that the first chili pepper condiments were made as a way to stretch out the summer chili crops. There are two main methods for preserving peppers: fermenting with salt and pickling with vinegar.

Fermented with Salt Chili Peppers


Fermenting peppers requires a little bit of patience, but it yields exceptional results. Many of the popular brands of hot sauce on the market (Tabasco, Texas Pete, and Frank’s) owe their depth of flavor to an aging process that starts with a pepper mash—essentially peppers that have been fermented with a salt-brine.

Pickled Peppers in Vinegar

Pixabay - Pickled Peppers

Another method of putting up peppers is pickling, most commonly with a vinegar brine. Heavily salted liquids like fish sauce or alcohols like sherry also make excellent brines. The latter is a fixture of Caribbean cuisine and is the simplest condiment to make from scratch. After the peppers have soaked in the sherry for a few days, you can use both the peppers and the liquid.

Now that you have the preserved chilies taken care of, do you have some dried chilies you need to put to good use? For one, you can try rehydrating chilies.

Otherwise, make your own hot sauce. Try out our Homemade Sauce Kit where you can make two unique hot sauces in your own kitchen (with little effort and little clean up)!

Hot Sauce Field Guide: Nam Prik

There is no better example of the balance between sweet, salty, sour and spicy than this Thai condiment. To make this chili jam, dried chilies, shallots and garlic are fried to bring out their flavors, then blended with a mix of brown sugar and dried shrimp paste, and finished with fish sauce. If the idea of shrimp paste freaks you out, you can omit it—the jam will still be delicious.

Yield: 2 cups

  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 2 1/2 ounces dried chilies
  • 25 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 5 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons shrimp paste
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons fish sauce

Add the oil to a skillet over medium high heat. When the oil is hot, add the chilies and fry, stirring , for half a minute, taking care not to burn them. Transfer them to a paper-towel lined plate. Add the garlic to the skillet and fry for about 15 seconds, until barely brown, then transfer to the plate with the chilies. Add the shallots and fry until crispy, about 1 minute. Transfer to the plate with the chilies. Remove the skillet from heat, leaving the oil in the pan.

Place the chilies, garlic and shallots in a food processor and process until a paste forms. Set aside.

Return the skillet to medium heat and add the shrimp paste, breaking it up with the back of a wooden spoon. Add the brown sugar and stir until it dissolves. Then stir in the reserved chili paste, 2 tablespoons water and the fish sauce. Cook for a few minutes until the mixture is combined and slightly thickened. Store in a lidded container in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.

Hot Sauce Field Guide: Grilled Peach Salsa

Not exactly a hot sauce but definitely a close cousin, this salsa should be on your summer barbecue rotation. We sprinkle the peaches with ground chili flakes before grilling to lend a second layer of heat and complexity to the brightness of fresh jalapeño.

Yield: 2 cups

  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1 fresh jalapeño chili, stem and seeds removed, finely chopped
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 2 peaches, halved, pits removed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup mint leaves
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves

In a small bowl, combine the lime juice, jalapeño, and red onion. Let sit for 10 minutes. Prepare a medium-hot grill (or a grill pan over high heat). Rub each peach half with olive oil, then sprinkle with the cayenne. Arrange the peaches on the grill, cut side down, and cook for 2 minutes. Flip the halves and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Transfer the peaches to a cutting board to cool. When they are cool enough to handle, dice into ½-inch cubes. Transfer to a medium bowl with the mint and cilantro. Add the marinated jalapeño and red onion and their juices. Season generously with salt, and serve.

Love the idea of making your own hot sauce but don't know where to start? Try our At-Home Homemade Hot Sauce Kit on for size! Our Kit comes with everything you need to make two delicious hot sauces...including clear instructions! Hot sauce made sauce made by you.

Hot Sauce Field Guide: Belizean Heat

One of our favorite bottled hot sauces on the market is a habanero-based condiment from Belize called “Marie Sharp’s Belizean Heat.” It’s undeniably fiery, but with a touch of earthy sweetness to balance everything out. The secret ingredient: carrots. Here’s our homemade version.

Yield: 2 cups

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped carrots
  • 3 fresh habanero chilies, stem and seeds removed, diced
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

In a skillet over medium heat, add the canola oil. When it shimmers, add the onion and carrot and cook until tender, about 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a food processor. Add the chilies, lime juice, salt and 3/4 cup water and puree until completely combined. Transfer to a bottle and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Hot Sauce Field Guide: Muhammara

As far as Middle Eastern dips are concerned, muhammara is the stepsister, always outflanked by hummus. But we love this underdog, which combines chilies, bread, walnuts, and the sweet-sour kick of pomegranate molasses into a spread that we can’t stop eating.

Yield: 1 1/2 cups

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 slice bread, cut into cubes (about 1 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons crushed Aleppo chili flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3/4 cup walnuts, toasted
  • 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
  • 1 roasted red pepper, peeled, seeds and stem removed
  • 1/2 cup olive oil 1 teaspoon sea salt

In a medium skillet over medium heat, warm the oil until it shimmers. Add the bread cubes and toast, stirring occasionally, until they are golden brown. Add the crushed chili flake and cumin and stir to coat, cooking for another minute or so to toast the spices. Transfer the mixture to a food processor. Add the walnuts, pomegranate molasses, red pepper and olive oil. Process until the mixture forms a thick paste. With the machine running, add ½ cup water and the salt. Transfer to a lidded container until ready to serve. Serve it as a dip with toasted pita bread. The muhammara will keep, refrigerated, for 1 week.

Hot Sauce Field Guide: Mojo Picon

Mojo, like salsa or aji, is really a blanket term, used across multiple countries to refer to a wide spectrum of chili-based sauces. In Cuba, its defining characteristic is orange juice; in Puerto Rico, it’s more of a garlic marinade than a hot sauce—some versions don’t even contain chilies! But the original version, which stems from the Canary Islands, is typically made with chilies (including dried ground pimentón), and bread.

Yield: 3/4 cup

  • 3 dried guajillo chilies (about 1/2 ounce)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 slice bread, cut into small cubes (about 1 cup)
  • 1 teaspoon smoked pimentón
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

In a small bowl, cover the guajillos with boiling water and let sit for 10 minutes to rehydrate. Drain, reserving the liquid, and remove the stems and seeds from the chilies. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the bread and toast, stirring occasionally, until it turns golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add the pimentón and toss to coat. Transfer the bread, the rehydrated chilies, garlic, red wine vinegar, and cumin to a food processor, and process. With the motor running, add the reserved chili soaking water by the tablespoon, until the sauce reaches your desired consistency (you can keep it thicker, like a paste, or thin it out to be more of a sauce).