Lacto-fermented chilli sauce

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This versatile chilli sauce recipe gets its flavour from fermented garlic and chillies, which add a funky tang to proceedings. It can then either be blended into a rough paste or completely blitzed into a smooth sauce – whichever you prefer. Take a look at all of Helen's hot sauce recipes here.

First published in 2019

An everyday hot sauce should have just the right balance of heat; an enjoyable prickle but not so much it needs rationing on the plate. Flavour is also important – it should be clean and fresh but with enough going on in the background to hook you in and firmly secure its place as a staple condiment. An essential friend you can add to anything to improve it by at least eighty percent.

This is a brilliant everyday hot sauce recipe, even if I do say so myself. The lacto-fermenting process means it has a tang and depth of flavour you just don’t get from regular hot sauces. It’s mild enough to splosh all over everything at any time of day but interesting enough to keep you coming back for more. I eat so much of this I’m constantly fermenting a new batch. My friends are also very keen on it, so bear that in mind if you’re going to start sharing it out.

This recipe makes enough for two 500ml bottles or jars.





  • Food processor or blender
  • Sterilised jars


Add the chillies, garlic and spices to a large sterilised Kilner jar along with the salt and 1 litre of water and leave to ferment for a week and half. It should start to bubble after a few days, which is how you know it’s fermenting. Open the lid to allow the built-up gas to escape every few days
Once fermented, strain the contents of the jar but reserve the liquid
Blitz the chillies and garlic in a food processor until roughly chopped, adding a splash of the fermenting liquor to get it going. I suggest you start by blitzing half to a roughly chopped paste, then blitzing the other half entirely with 200ml of the fermenting liquid, to make a smooth sauce. You can then decide which you prefer (for me, it’s the paste)
Transfer to sterilised jars and keep in the fridge for up to 3 months

Helen Graves is Head of Content at Great British Chefs. She's also the author of the cookbook LIVE FIRE: Seasonal Barbecue Recipes and Stories of Live Fire Traditions, Old and New, and the editor of Pit, an independent magazine with roots in live fire cooking.

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