Sport Pepper Sauce

Sport Pepper Sauce Recipe

What my granddaddy and a lot of Southerners call sport peppers are little green and red and sometimes yellow hot peppers, Capiscum annuum, similar in taste to Tabasco and the Thai chiles found in many Asian markets. I store my sport pepper sauce in the refrigerator, not in the pantry, which means I hardly need to cook the peppers first. The sauce doesn’t last as long as it otherwise would, but the flavor is brighter. Use on slow-cooked greens when you want a jolt of flavor.–John Besh

LC Sport Pepper Primer Note

If you’ve yet to be acquainted with the sport pepper, allow us to introduce you. Pickled sport peppers–and their accompanying mediumish heat–are commonly sighted in Chicago atop hot dogs and hot beef sandwiches. Down South, though, it’s the pickling liquid, not the peppers, that are most coveted down. Here a bottle of sport pepper sauce awaits on darn near every table, not for dipping your grubby fingers into so you can snag a pepper for your sandwich but rather for you to shake and dribble willy-nilly. Those in the know rely on the vinegary twang to anoint cooked greens, fried chicken, and, though the taste isn’t quite the same as Tabasco or Crystal, just about anything you’d douse with bottled hot sauce. Can’t find sport peppers? Use whichever skinny pepper of whatever Scoville heat unit you can tolerate.

Sport Pepper Sauce Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 15 M
  • 15 M
  • Makes 1 1/2 quarts


  • 2 cups mixed sport peppers or small, slender Thai chile peppers
  • 1 quart (4 cups) white vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons salt


  • 1. Scrub the sport peppers under cool running water. Leave them whole unless they’re terribly large, in which case you can halve them lengthwise. Place the chiles, vinegar, and salt in a medium pot, bring to a boil, and let ‘er rip over medium–high heat for 2 minutes.
  • 2. Working quickly and using a slotted spoon or tongs, divide the chiles evenly among several hot, sterilized jars or bottles. Using a sterilized funnel, carefully fill the jars or bottles with the hot liquid. Seal the jars or bottles according to the manufacturers’ directions. Let rest at room temperature until cool.
  • 3. Stash the bottles or jars in the refrigerator for at least 1 week before using to let the flavors develop. The “sauce” will keep in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.
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