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Spicy Sandwich Showdown + Homemade Hot Sauce Recipe

January 11, 2021
7 min. read

Spicy Chicken Sandwiches

If you read our New Year’s blog two weeks ago, you know that one thing we’re looking forward to this year is the return of regular sporting seasons and events. Well—we don’t have to wait too long; the professional football championship game is taking place in just under a month! And you know what that means…A night of gripping live entertainment, cheering on our favorite team, and (of course) delicious snacks and appetizers!

Speaking of “game day” food, some of the most popular sports and tailgating meals revolve around one popular, trendy condiment: hot sauce!

From classics like Buffalo and Tabasco to internationally influenced varieties such as Sriracha and Gochujang, chili pepper sauces love to grace some of our favorite dishes with an extra level of spice and complexity. (And we spicy-food-lovers are grateful for it!)


How to Make Homemade Hot Sauce

Homemade Hot Sauce

One stroll through the supermarket will give you a taste of just how many varieties there are of hot chili pepper sauce…the options are endless! And while it can be a lot of fun to test out new brands of hot sauces now and then, sometimes it can be just as rewarding to prepare your own!

With homemade hot sauce, you get the chance to customize the flavor profile and spice level to your exact liking. You can also more easily experiment with adding new ingredients and control the taste and consistency to your preference.

If this sounds intimidating, don’t worry! Check out the basic hot sauce recipe below, then explore some fun ways to customize this with other methods and flavors in our Hot Sauce Tips and Resources section!

Basic Hot Sauce Recipe


  • 1 Lb. Fresh Chili Peppers of Choice (quantity may vary)
  • 1-2 Cups Vinegar
  • 1-2 Teaspoons Kosher Salt
  • 4 Cloves Garlic, peeled


  1. Wash the peppers and remove the stems. Remove the seeds, if desired. Roughly chop peppers.
  2. Add the peppers, vinegar, salt, and garlic to a pot and bring to a quick boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 10-15 minutes to allow the flavors to develop. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
  3. Pour mixture into a blender or food processor; blend until smooth. Transfer hot sauce into bottles or jars; optionally, strain out the pulp first for a smoother, thinner consistency.
  4. Note: You can add additional heat or flavors, if desired, by combining different types of peppers or adding optional ingredients such as fruit or fruit juice, spices, seasonings, or vegetables such as onions to steps 2-3 above. Simply add extra ingredients, re-blend, and season to taste.Our variations are as follows:
    1. Chipotle (20 dried peppers) + 2 Tbsp. Lime Juice
    2. Cayenne (9 medium fresh peppers) + 1 Tbsp. Honey
    3. Habanero (12 small fresh peppers) + ¾ Cup Mango (fresh, diced)
    4. Ghost (12 dried peppers) + 1/4 Cup Onion (chopped)
  1. Serve atop your favorite dishes, such as the Crispy Chicken Sandwich on Martin’s Sandwich Potato Rolls, shown below.Spicy Chicken Sandwiches with Homemade Hot Sauce

View Full Recipe:


Mix it Up!

We chose to prepare our hot sauce recipe four different ways (in incremental heat levels), so we divvied up the base ingredients into fourths and incorporated unique pepper + flavor combos into each. Check them out below!

Level #1: Chipotle + Lime

Chipotle-Lime Hot Sauce

For the mildest hot sauce variety, we chose chipotle and lime: a classic flavor pairing commonly used in Mexican cuisine. A chipotle is a red ripened jalapeño pepper that has been smoked and dried. It has a rating of 2,500-8,000 on the Scoville Heat Unit (SHU) scale.

Level #2: Cayenne + Honey

Cayenne-Honey Hot Sauce

For our second hot sauce variety, we decided to give our taste buds a bit of a reprieve with the addition of some honey, to h help round out the flavor and calm the heat ever-so-slightly. The spicy-sweet balance actually makes for a very pleasant taste! (Note: cayenne peppers range between 30,000-50,000 SHU.)

Level #3: Mango-Habanero

Mango Habanero Hot Sauce

Habaneros are infamous for their fiery heat, yet their small size and slightly fruity flavor makes them a favorite in hot sauces. Clocking in at 100,000-350,000 SHU, they can pack quite the punch. To round out the flavor again and complement their flavor notes, we paired this pepper with some fresh mango!

Level #4: Ghost Pepper + Onion

Ghost Pepper Hot Sauce

For our hottest hot sauce, we chose the Ghost Pepper—a superhot variety that ranks between 855,000 and 1,041,427 SHU. Being one of the hottest peppers out there, this sauce is not for the faint of heart! We kept this hot sauce savory with the addition of some chopped yellow onion.


Spicy Chicken Sandwich Showdown

Spicy Chicken Sandwiches with Homemade Hot Sauce

Looking for an interactive activity to do on the evening of the Big Game? Why not try your hand at making your own custom hot sauces in varying spice levels using the recipe guide above, then serve them up on some quick breaded chicken patties atop Martin’s Potato Rolls. Here’s where the competitive part comes in: host a taste test with your family or watch party crew, and see who can make it through to the hottest sandwich! (Warning: the “ghost pepper” variety can get extremely hot!)

Bonus: Check our social media sites on 1/29/2021 to watch a “saucy showdown” between a few members of the Martin family! Try and guess who will be able to handle the heat!


Hot Sauce Tips and Resources

Try customizing your hot sauce with some of these fun tips!

  • Know your peppers. Before choosing your peppers, look up their relative “heat” level on the Scoville scale. Learn more about chili peppers at
  • Mix up your pepper variety. Try experimenting with different types of peppers to find the flavor and heat level that you enjoy. You can also blend multiple peppers into one batch of hot sauce to create unique combinations. A good rule of thumb if you’re just starting out, or don’t know how much heat you can handle, is to use a majority of mild or medium chili peppers, then gradually add in a hotter pepper variety until it suits your taste. (Start with a 3:1 or 2:1 ratio of sweet/mild to hot peppers.)
  • Experiment with different types of vinegar. White vinegar, apple cider vinegar, champagne vinegar, etc. all have their own unique tastes that pair well with different ingredients.
  • Use equal parts vinegar and water. If you prefer a lighter, less vinegary sauce, try halving the vinegar and diluting it with equal parts water in your recipe.
  • Play around with the ratios. If you prefer a thinner sauce try adding more water or straining out the pulp after blending. For a thicker sauce, start with less liquid and adjust to your preference.
  • Mix in additional ingredients:
    • Fruit: Mango, Peach, or Pineapple
    • Citrus: Lemon or Lime Juice
    • Vegetables: Onion, Carrot, or Tomato
    • Sweeteners: Honey or Maple Syrup
    • Seasonings: Garlic Powder, Cumin, Black Pepper, or Dried Herbs
  • To make Buffalo Sauce: take your custom hot sauce recipe and add butter, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, and seasonings to taste. (See our step-by-step instructions.)
  • Test out different forms of peppers. Did you know you can make hot sauce using fresh, dried, or powdered chili peppers? Check out the below resources for more info.
    • How to make hot sauce from dried peppers: Simply rehydrate the peppers in hot water and/or vinegar until softened. Then proceed with basic recipe.
    • How to make hot sauce from chili powders: Simply mix together the chili powder, vinegar, and salt, and blend until smooth.
    • How to make fermented pepper mash: Many hot sauces (such as Tabasco) utilize fermented rather than fresh peppers, which adds another layer of complexity to the taste and also mellows out the heat from the peppers. To try: finely chop some fresh peppers, then mix with salt (or a salt/water brine) and allow to ferment for 1-2 weeks. Explore the article linked here for more detailed instructions.
  • Use gloves and/or goggles with handling hot peppers. The oils from hot peppers can cause burns to your skin or eyes, so take necessary precautions and be sure to wash your hands and cooking materials thoroughly.



Martin’s Ultimate Game Plan Sweepstakes

To get you geared up for the Big Game, Martin’s is running a two-week-long sweepstakes! Beginning today, January 11, 2021 at 9:00 AM through January 25, 2021 at 8:59 AM, you can enter to win FREE Martin’s Potato Rolls for your game day spread. (Hint: they’re perfect for serving up some spicy chicken sandwiches or burgers for yourself and your crew.)

Plus—Be sure to explore our sweepstakes landing page for more great content, from game day tips and tricks to prizeworthy recipes your family is sure to love!

Find all this and more at:!

Ultimate Game Plan



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