· By Angela Petulla
How to Make Hot Sauce Less Hot
Whether you’re a home cook trying your hand at a new hot sauce recipe or you’ve purchased a new sauce brand that turned out to have more heat than you can handle, learning how to make your hot sauce less hot is a useful skill. In this article, we’ll walk you through some helpful tips to tone down your hot sauce to make the heat level more manageable and enjoyable.
How to Make Hot Sauce More Mild
There are a few different approaches you can use to make a hot sauce less spicy, and the method you choose will depend on where you are in the hot sauce creation process (if making it at home), the type of hot sauce you want to tone down, and the ingredients in your sauce. Below are our top tips to create a more mild hot sauce.
Remove the Spicy Part of the Pepper
Many of us have heard that the seeds are the spiciest part of a pepper, and to tone down spicy food you should remove the seeds before cooking. However, pepper seeds are not innately any spicier than the rest of the pepper. The true culprit is the white pith of the pepper.
Capsaicin is the compound in chili peppers that gives them their spiciness. The more capsaicin in a pepper, the spicier it will be. The white pith of the pepper flesh contains the highest concentration of capsaicin, making it the hottest part.
The myth that the seeds are the spiciest part of the pepper is prevalent because the seeds often come in contact with the pith, covering them in residual capsaicin and giving them a spicier taste.
With all this being said, if you want to create a milder hot sauce, removing the pith and the seeds from your peppers prior to cooking your sauce will result in a less spicy final product because you will be incorporating less capsaicin into the hot sauce all together.
Use Less Hot Peppers
Like the previous tip, this recommendation will only work if you have not yet made your sauce. The type of chili pepper you use can largely impact the spiciness of your hot sauce because different peppers have different levels of capsaicin.
The Scoville scale is used to measure the concentration of capsaicin in a pepper, and this is measured in Scoville Heat Units (SHUs). Peppers with more SHUs are spicier, while peppers with a lower Scoville rating are milder.
If you are looking to create a mild hot sauce, using peppers at the bottom of the Scoville scale will create a less spicy sauce. These peppers include:
- Bell peppers: 0 SHUs
- Shishito peppers: 100 - 1,000 SHUs
- Poblano peppers: 1,000 - 1,500 SHUs
- Jalapeños: 2,500- 8,000 SHUs
- Fresno peppers: 2,500 - 10,000 SHUs
For comparison, below are the Scoville ratings for other common chili peppers that can result in a hot or extra hot sauce:
- Cayenne: 30,000 - 50,000 SHUs
- Thai chili: 50,000 - 100,000 SHUs
- Habanero: 100,000 - 350,000 SHUs
- Scotch bonnet: 100,000 - 350,000 SHUs
- Ghost pepper: 855,000 - 1,041,247 SHUs
- Carolina Reaper: 1,400,000 - 2,200,000 SHUs
Dilute the Sauce with Other Ingredients
Diluting your sauce is a great way to make your hot sauce less hot, but it can impact the flavor and texture of your sauce.
There are a few different options you have to dilute your sauce, including adding more of the base, adding fat, adding sweetener, and adding alternative ingredients.
Add More of Your Hot Sauce Base
This is likely the most straightforward of the different ways to dilute your hot sauce. By adding more of your hot sauce base, you will maintain more of the innate flavor of your hot sauce while also toning down the heat.
Vinegar-based and tomato-based hot sauces are some of the most common. You can tone each of these down by adding more vinegar or more tomato to dilute the heat level.
Similarly, if you made a fruit-based hot sauce, such as a mango habanero, you can add more of the base fruit to dilute the sauce. Keep in mind though that adding more fruit will also sweeten the hot sauce, so be sure to taste as you go to keep the flavor as you want it.
Capsaicin is oil soluble, meaning the molecule will dissolve in oil, resulting in a reduced heat level. This is why you’ll sometimes see eating peanut butter, a food high in fat, as a recommendation to cool your mouth down after eating spicy food.
This same logic can apply when making a hot sauce as well. Adding more butter or oil can temper the heat of the sauce while maintaining its base flavor. Just be sure not to add too much fat to avoid having an oily end product.
Additionally, some sauces may require emulsification (for example our mild buffalo sauce is emulsified during its production process), so you will not want to add oil or butter directly to these sauces. Instead, creating a small amount of the emulsified mixture and then adding it into the sauce will help it maintain a creamy consistency without separating.
Sugar absorbs capsaicin and can neutralize heat, so adding some additional sweetness to your hot sauce is an excellent way to make it less hot. However, the type and amount of sweetness you add can heavily influence the flavor. Below are a few ideas that you can consider incorporating, and be sure to add your chosen ingredient a little bit at a time to avoid making your sauce too sweet:
- Maple syrup
- Fruit or fruit purees
- Sweeter vegetables, such as bell pepper
Add Alternative Ingredients
Alternative ingredients in this sense is referring to a catch all bucket for any other ingredients you may incorporate that are not already in the sauce. At the end of the day, adding more mild ingredients can dilute the concentration of the heat across your sauce, so adding alternative ingredients is a great way to experiment with new flavor profiles and components of your sauce.
For example, you could add carrots and onions to dilute your sauce further while giving it a more savory flavor, or you could add lime juice and cilantro to make a brighter sauce and reduce the heat.
This method to make a hot sauce more mild is certainly more experimental, but it can result in new innovations and delicious combinations!
How do you make sriracha less spicy?
If you’re aiming to make a mild sriracha sauce or are trying to tone down your concoction after adding too many peppers, incorporating additional sweetener can help. Sriracha sauce is generally on the sweeter side, so as long as you add the sweetener slowly and don’t go overboard, you can still salvage your sauce.
Another option is to incorporate less spicy peppers. While many srirachas are made with red jalapeños, you can add milder peppers to dilute the concentration of heat in the sauce while maintaining its classic flavor.
How do you make buffalo sauce less spicy?
Buffalo sauce in its most simple form is made by combining butter with hot sauce, so to tone down the heat, you can simply add more butter.
If you’re open to making a slightly sweeter buffalo sauce, adding honey or agave could be a good option as well to neutralize some of the spiciness.
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