Serrano Hot Sauce Recipe

5 from 2 votes

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This fiery Serrano hot sauce is a simple recipe that delivers a major punch of flavor. It features roasted Serrano peppers, tomatillos, and garlic along with lively lime juice and snappy apple cider vinegar.

closeup: a spoonful of Serrano hot sauce over a ceramic bowl with more sauce

My chili peppers in the garden are on overload and this is one of the ways I use them up!

Whip up a batch of this devilishly delicious Serrano hot sauce and add some heat to all of your favorite dishes. The green hue speckled with seeds and spices isn’t too bad to look at either! 

This lively condiment delivers just the right amount of tangy heat without being too overwhelming. Plus, this Serrano hot sauce recipe is super easy to master, requiring only simple ingredients and 15 minutes of your time. Whether you are looking to spice up breakfast omelets or Mexican-themed entrees, this Serrano sauce is a total crowd-pleaser!

a glass jar full of Serrano sauce next to a ceramic bowl with more sauce

For more zingy DIY sauces, check out my Adobo Sauce, Apricot Chipotle Sauce, and Homemade Buffalo Sauce.

overhead: ingredients needed for this Serrano hot sauce recipe

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions

  • Serrano Peppers – The MVP of the recipe, Serrano peppers are similar in flavor to jalapenos but with significantly more heat. Their flavor is often described as fruity, earthy, grassy, and complex. 
  • Tomatillos – A member of the nightshade family like tomatoes but with a sweeter, milder flavor and drier, denser flesh inside compared to its relatives. Tomatillos boast a tartly sweet, acidic, and earthy taste. 
  • Garlic – Gives the sauce a sharp pungency and zesty kick. The roasting process brings out the sweeter, nuttier flavors in the cloves. 
  • Apple Cider Vinegar Adds crisp, sour, and acidic elements with a hint of fruity sweetness. You can sub in plain white distilled vinegar if that’s what you have on hand. However, you’ll likely want to add a bit of water to compensate for the extra acidity in white vinegar.  
  • Lime Juice – Brings a bright, zingy, and slightly sweet citrus flavor to the Serrano hot sauce recipe. 
  • Cornstarch – This neutral-tasting starch is perfect for thickening the sauce. If needed, you can use other thickeners like tapioca starch or arrowroot powder. In a bind, you can even thicken your sauce with all-purpose flour, so long as you let it cook for a few minutes. Just remember to let your gluten-free friends know before sharing!
overhead: roasted Serrano peppers, tomatillos, and garlic on a baking sheet

How to Make Serrano Hot Sauce

  1. Prepare the Oven. Set your oven to broil and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Char the Veggies. Place the Serrano peppers, tomatillos, and garlic on the baking sheet and give them a drizzle of oil. Place them under the broiler for about 5 minutes, until charred. 
  1. Combine & Blend. Transfer the roasted veggies to a blender along with the water, lime juice, vinegar, and salt. Pulse to puree the mixture and add more salt as desired. 
  2. Heat & Thicken. Place a saucepan over medium heat. Add the blended mixture, bring to a boil, and reduce heat. Use a small bowl to combine the cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of water. Mix the slurry into the saucepan and cook for an additional 3 minutes.
  3. Cool & Store. Remove the pan from heat and allow it to cool at room temperature. Transfer the sauce to glass jars or airtight containers. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 months.
extreme closeup: a spoonful of this Serrano hot sauce recipe over a saucepan with more sauce

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Frequently Asked Questions

How hot is Serrano hot sauce?

This Serrano hot sauce recipe relies on Serrano peppers as the main ingredient and can be described as medium-hot. As mentioned, these peppers are similar in flavor to jalapenos but with a much spicier kick. 

How much spicier? Serranos are about 4-5 times spicier than jalapenos actually! Scoville heat units, or SHU, is the universally accepted system for measuring the heat in spicy peppers. Serrano peppers have a rating of between 10,000 – 23,000 SHU, whereas jalapenos are milder with a rating of 2,500 – 8,000 SHU. 

Please don’t be intimidated though! While spicier than some hot sauces, my Serrano hot sauce is not made with the hottest peppers out there.

Do you have to remove seeds from Serrano peppers?

It is not necessary to remove the pepper seeds when making this Serrano hot sauce recipe. Simply remove the stem, roast, and toss in the blender. 

That said, you are more than welcome to remove the seeds if you’d like to make your Serrano hot sauce a bit milder.

How to use Serrano hot sauce?

Add Serrano hot sauce anytime you want to add pungent, peppery, spicy flavor to your dishes. Here is a small collection of recipes to enjoy this recipe with: 

– Dip or drizzle some on chicken dishes like Chicken Wings or  Barbecue Chicken.
– Spice up Navajo Tacos, Shrimp Tacos, or any other tacos recipe. 
– Add a dash to salsas like Classic Fire Roasted Salsa or this Avocado Salsa
– Spice up seafood meals like Grilled Swordfish or Blackened Mahi Mahi
– Serve alongside Enchiladas Rojas, Steak Fajitas, or any of your favorite Mexican dishes.

closeup: a spoonful of Serrano hot sauce over a ceramic bowl with more sauce
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Serrano Hot Sauce

5 from 2 votes
Homemade Serrano Hot Sauce is spicy, smoky, tangy, and bright. Spice up all your favorite dishes with this easy-to-make, zesty sauce.
Servings: 3 cups
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Total: 15 minutes



  • Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Add the peppers, tomatillos and garlic. Drizzle or spray lightly with oil. Place under the broiler until charred, about 5 minutes.
  • Transfer roasted ingredients, water, vinegar, lime juice and salt to a blender. Pulse to puree and taste for salt.
  • Transfer blended mixture to a sauce pan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat. In a small bowl mix the cornstarch with 2 tablespoons water. Whisk in the cornstarch slurry and stir, cooking for another 3 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool at room temperature. Store in an airtight container or glass bottle in the refrigerator. This will keep for 3 months.


Calories: 67kcal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 0.1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Sodium: 2337mg | Potassium: 311mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 435IU | Vitamin C: 32mg | Calcium: 38mg | Iron: 1mg

The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

Course: Sauces
Cuisine: Mexican
Have You Made This Recipe? Let Me Know on InstagramTag @keviniscooking or tag me #keviniscooking!
titled image (and shown): Serrano hot sauce recipe


Whether in the kitchen or on the grill, you’ll find me cooking American favorites with a love for BBQ, Mexican and Tex Mex. I’m passionate about making tasty food because life’s too short to be bland!

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    1. Store in an airtight container or glass bottle in the refrigerator. This will keep for 3 months Nicole. Enjoy!