Serious Salsa: Habanero Hot Sauce Recipe

The other day I arrived at the office to find a bottle on my desk. It was an old beer bottle, but inside wasn't the usual pale yellow liquid. Instead, this bottle was filled with a thick, orange liquid. This definitely wasn't beer.

Thinking it was garbage, I was about to throw away the bottle when a colleague came over and said, "You like hot sauce, don't you? Try this." And he reached over, twisted off the bottle cap and poured out a bit into a paper cup.

I asked him if he had any tortilla chips, but he didn't. No matter; you don't need chips to taste a salsa.

First, I took a sniff of the salsa. It smelled like vinegar, lime juice and garlic. The scent was innocent enough, but there must have been some powerful juices in that bottle as while smelling it my nose started to tickle and my eyes started to water.

Of course, if the salsa was orange, it had to have been made with habaneros—one of the most fiery chiles on the Scoville scale. (If you're not familiar with the Scoville scale, it's a way to measure up a chile's heat by adding up the level of capsaicin, which is the compound that gives a chile its fire.)

I took a swig. A few of my of my office mates looked at me in shock. "Isn't it a little too early to be doing salsa shots?" asked one.

But before answering, I poured myself another taste of the habanero salsa. I needed to confirm that it was indeed as refreshing and delicious as I thought it was. And yes, it was.

He left the bottle for me, saying I could pour it over my eggs, spread it on my sandwiches, or even use it as a dip for some chips from the office vending machine. Anytime I needed a quick hit of heat, this could be my source.

I asked him for the recipe and he obliged me. And after testing it to make sure it worked, here it is.

Warning: This salsa is extremely fiery, so please be cautious! If you have latex gloves, I highly recommend using them when chopping the peppers.

Editor's Note: You may know Lisa Fain as the Homesick Texan. She joins us each Thursday this summer with a new salsa recipe for you to try.


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 large carrots, chopped
  • 2 medium-sized red tomatoes, cut into quarters
  • Quarter of one Spanish onion, cut into strips
  • 3 habenero peppers, cut in half
  • 3 cloves of garlic, cut in half
  • Juice of one lime
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • Salt to taste


  1. Heat the oil in a skillet on medium heat. Add the carrots and let them cook for about five minutes. Then add to the skillet the onion, tomatoes, habaneros and garlic cloves and cook, stirring occasionally.

  2. Transfer skillet contents to a blender and add lime juice, vinegar and pulse (can add a bit of water, a tablespoon at a time if it’s too thick.

  3. Salt and pepper to taste.