Sweet Pepper Sauce

Turnip greens, pinto beans, and cornbread are staples of many meals in the South.  Sometimes, we don’t even need anything else!  But, no self-respecting Southern cook would dare serve beans and greens without the other staple- Sweet Pepper Sauce.  Pepper sauce is the go-to, must-have condiment on any Southern table.  Unlike a hot sauce, or a thick sauce made with roasted peppers, Sweet Pepper sauce is a vinegar-based, thin condiment that is poured over many dishes to “season” them.

Sweet Pepper Sauce peppers

I’ve seen pepper sauces made with many different types of peppers.  My Grandmother made this for years, and she only used cowhorn peppers.  She would use a mixture of red and green cowhorn peppers.  I’ve seen it made with tabascos, Thai, bell peppers, jalapenos, anaheims, and any number of other peppers.  The goal is the same, a sweetened, vinegar condiment that has just a hint of the pepper in it for a nice nuance.

Sweet Pepper Sauce Recipe

All in all, this is about as simple as it gets.  Use only fresh peppers.  I generally make a small slit in each pepper so they will imbue the vinegar with the pepper essence more readily, but you don’t have to do that.  The general rule of thumb is as simple as 1, 2, 3- 1 cup vinegar, 2 cups sugar, and 3 cups water.  To that, add 1 tsp kosher salt.  Other than that, it’s really up to you.  I generally add some slivered red onions, garlic, and black peppercorns to my recipe, but whatever you want to add is fine.  The sauce will last 2-3 weeks in the fridge, or can according to USDA canning standards for long-term storage.  I always have a few jars sitting on my shelf.  As my pepper harvest moves through the year, my pepper sauces go from fresh green cowhorns and jalapenos to ripened ones.  The flavors only slightly change, but every jar I open reminds me of when I canned it.

As always, I hope you enjoy!

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Sweet Pepper Sauce


Sweet Pepper Sauce is a must-have Southern condiment.  Whenever you are serving turnip or collard greens, pinto beans, sour kraut, or any other Southern side item, you’ll want to have this sauce with you to “season” them up!



1 cup cider vinegar

2 cups white sugar

3 cups water

4 smashed garlic cloves

1 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp cracked black pepper (optional)

1/2 red onion, julienne sliced, optional

1 lb peppers- cowhorn, jalapeno, anaheim, or other.  Cut each pepper with a small slit.


Add vinegar, water, salt, and sugar to a stockpot and heat and stir until sugar and salt are dissolved.  Add peppers, garlic, onions, and black pepper, if desired.

Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer.  Stir occasionally, pressing peppers slightly to ensure they absorb the vinegar mixture.  Simmer for 30 minutes.

Store in airtight jars, or can according to regulations.