Southern Hot-Pepper Vinegar

We have a feeling that this Southern Hot-Pepper Vinegar is going to be a new pantry staple.

Southern Hot-Pepper Vinegar
Photo: Victor Protasio; Food Styling: Rishon Hanners; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis
Active Time:
5 mins
Cool Time:
3 hrs
Chill Time:
8 hrs
Total Time:
11 hrs 5 mins
2 ½ cups

Only requiring 6 ingredients—one of them being water—this pepper vinegar recipe couldn't be easier to execute. In this recipe, a variety of peppers marinate in and infuse white vinegar with a welcome kick of spice. This vinegar is the perfect finishing touch to add to a whole slew of dishes—just a dash on top will go a long way. Use the vinegar to brighten a stew, collard greens, field peas, or oysters.

The pepper vinegar is hot but not over the top, so it imparts a nice background heat to whatever you add it to. After sitting overnight, this vinegar develops a lot of flavor—and it's only going to taste better and get hotter in a few days' time.

A pepper-picking tip: Most green peppers are harvested early and are less ripe (and less expensive) than other colors like red, yellow, and orange. In this recipe, you can use whatever peppers you like; this mix is on the milder side, but serrano chiles, tabasco red peppers, or Thai chiles would be great here, too, depending on your tolerance for heat. Consider this a basic infusion formula that you can add to or tweak at your leisure.


  • 5 small jalapeño chiles (3 oz. total)

  • 5 medium-size red Fresno chiles (3 5/8 oz. total)

  • 1 medium-size banana wax pepper (2 ¾ oz.)

  • 2 ¼ cups white vinegar

  • ½ cup water

  • 2 large garlic cloves, smashed


  1. Split jalapeños, Fresno chiles, and wax pepper lengthwise. Place in a 1-quart canning jar, glass bottle, or medium-size airtight container. Bring white vinegar, water, and garlic cloves to a boil in a small saucepan over high. Remove and discard garlic cloves; immediately pour vinegar mixture over peppers. Let cool completely, about 3 hours. Cover with lid, and chill at least 8 hours or up to 12 hours before using

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