Lemon Drop Hot Sauce Recipe

Photograph: Max Falkowitz

This hot sauce is a perfect last-minute dash of heat and flavor. Despite its benign color, it's fairly hot, but not as face-meltingly spicy as a brew whipped up from habaneros.

Purists may scoff at the inclusion of olive oil and honey in this sauce, but it rounds off the heat and helps the lemon flavor sit on the tongue. You can go without it if you want the sauce hotter. You shouldn't have to worry much about the raw garlic and oil breeding botulism spores—this is an acidic environment that doesn't force air out—but if you're really concerned either use the sauce quickly or cook your garlic first.

If using fresh lemon drop chiles, simmer about 2 cups of seeded peppers in the vinegar until soft, then proceed with the rest of the recipe.

Recipe Facts

Active: 10 mins
Total: 10 mins
Serves: 24 servings
Makes: 1 1/2 cups

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  • 1 ounce dried lemon drop chile peppers (about 1 1/2 cups), stems and seeds removed

  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds

  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds

  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled

  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar

  • 1/4 cup fruity extra-virgin olive oil

  • Honey, to taste

  • Salt, to taste


  1. In a skillet over medium heat, toast chiles, coriander, and cumin until just fragrant, about 10 seconds. Remove from heat and transfer to blender along with garlic, vinegar, and olive oil. Blend until very smooth, scraping down sides of blender as needed, for 3-5 minutes.

  2. Pour hot sauce through a fine-meshed strainer into a bowl. With a rubber spatula, push sauce through strainer to separate all liquid from chunks of pepper and spices. Add honey and salt to taste, starting with about 1/4 teaspoon, then transfer to a very clean bottle or jar. Store sauce in refrigerator, where it keeps well.

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Nutrition Facts (per serving)
28 Calories
2g Fat
1g Carbs
0g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 24
Amount per serving
Calories 28
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 2g 3%
Saturated Fat 0g 2%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 50mg 2%
Total Carbohydrate 1g 0%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Total Sugars 1g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 1mg 3%
Calcium 3mg 0%
Iron 0mg 1%
Potassium 33mg 1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)