Plop some hot peppers in a bottle of booze and set it aside for as long as you can resist. What could be easier? Or more versatile! We’re dribbling this over and into beans and rice, stews and soups, fish tacos. Just don’t take a swig of it. And, as author Virginia Burke recommends (because we know you’ll be tempted), “If you succumb to temptation and eat the pepper, you can always add another one to the sherry later.”–Renee Schettler

Four bottles of pepper sherry.

Pepper Sherry

5 / 3 votes
This pepper sherry is a popular Caribbean condiment made, with hardly any effort, from hot chile peppers and sherry or rum. Drizzle or splash it over eggs, rice, beans, stew, tacos, and more for unexpected intrigue.
David Leite
Servings50 servings | 1 bottle
Calories13 kcal
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time7 days
Total Time7 days 5 minutes


  • 3 whole hot peppers, scrubbed, rinsed, and patted dry
  • One (26-ounce) bottle sherry or rum


  • Remove the stems from the peppers and halve them or prick them with a fork or skewer.
  • Pack your peppers into a clean mason jar and cover with sherry (or rum) and screw on the lid. If the peppers are slender enough, you can simply slide them into the bottle of booze (you may have to remove some of the liquor) and cap.
  • Let sit for up to a week before using. Keep in a sealed bottle in the fridge for up to six months.


*What kind of chile peppers can I preserve in sherry?

This recipe is a little vague, we know. But therein lies the beauty of it. Use what you like, or have on hand, or what tickles your fancy at the market. Search out something hot or mild or fruity, that’s all up to you.
You can use any pepper that will fit into your chosen vessel–a small bottle will take a whole handful of small peppers. A mason jar might take 3 or 4 big ole peppers. Mix and match to your heart’s content. A good way to decide is to look at the container you want to use and then pick your peppers from there, Peter Piper.

Adapted From

Eat Caribbean

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Serving: 1 tablespoonCalories: 13 kcalCarbohydrates: 1 gProtein: 1 gFat: 1 gSaturated Fat: 1 gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1 gMonounsaturated Fat: 1 gSodium: 1 mgPotassium: 19 mgFiber: 1 gSugar: 1 gVitamin A: 26 IUVitamin C: 4 mgCalcium: 2 mgIron: 1 mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2005 Virginia Burke. Photo © 2005 Steve Baxter. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

Think of all the wonderful things you can do with and to this. First of all, you can change the subtle taste of “hot” by choosing different peppers with which to experiment. I used yellow chile peppers for one batch and California serrano peppers for another batch. I elected to try the recipe using the rum instead of the sherry. And now I’m waiting to let each batch sit a while so that they really rock and roll. They’re both fairly tame right now, but good. I plan to use one or the other in black beans with rice.

It is an old tradition around here—meaning New Orleans—to have a bottle of hot peppers in vinegar or another spirit on the table next to the S&P and the Louisiana Gold Hot Sauce. Pepper Sherry how do we love thee—let us count the ways. Grillades and grits? Check. Bloody Mary? Check. Beans and rice? Check. Fried chicken? Check. Buffalo wings? Check. And best of all—slice a pepper and plaster it in between layers of a great muffaletta. OH YES!

This was delicious. I used Tio Pepe Palomino Fino (extra dry). I soaked them in the bottle itself in the fridge for 48 hours before I first tried it straight up. I did drink it straight because a winery in the Okanagan (British Columbia) makes a fruit wine with a hot pepper in it so it starts off sweet and then has a kick and this reminded me of it.

I make a sherry chicken dish in a cast-iron pan with vegetables and it calls for 1/2 cup of sherry. I usually make this in the Fall/Winter but I gave it a go now using this sherry and it was absolutely fabulous. It gave a nice sherry flavour but with a bit of a kick. Just enough of a kick to compliment the chicken and vegetables. I can’t imagine making this dish with just regular sherry. This is now a must-have come the fall season.

About David Leite

David Leite has received three James Beard Awards for his writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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  1. We have habaneros at the farmers market right now! What do you think? Too hot? Or is there no such thing as too hot?!

  2. I was first introduced to sherry peppers or pepper sherry, whichever you prefer, over 40 years ago when I met my prospective in-laws. I was given a bowl of split pea soup and a strangely shaped vial (vile?) of a dark liquid filled with peppers. Afraid to offend them, I put a tiny drop in my soup, then another, then another- I was hooked, and needed the recipe. According to my island husband, take some bird peppers HOW MANY??? and cook them HOW LONG? in some vinegar HOW MUCH? WHAT KIND? Then put them in a jar WHAT SIZE? and then pour in cooking sherry HOW MUCH??? Still confused, I turned to a Bermudian cookbook. Even more vague. Bottom line? As this recipe states, take some peppers and let them soak in rum or sherry, or even cooking sherry depending on your budget or fear of the unknown. Put them away for a bit, then have a small taste. Hot and mellow at the same time? Ready to go in split pea soup, bloody marys, fish chowder, collard greens, BBQ sauce, basically anything that needs a little kick.

  3. Living just outside of St. Augustine, FL, I can tell you the Datil pepper is just an outstanding pepper. I don’t even try to duplicate Outerbridge’s pepper sauce, but trying to get close has been a wonderful trip. Pepper sauce on greens, a must. Enjoy.