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recipe Notes on Huy Fong Sriracha, or Forgive Me David Tran


Extreme Member
I haven’t been able to buy Huy Fong Sriracha locally for a long time, now. I’ve been using Tabasco‘s version, but it’s pretty bad — very pronounced garlic powder flavor, and the regular Tabasco they mix in tastes out of place. I don’t use a ton of sriracha, but it’s essential for certain dishes, so I need a homemade backup.

The recipes that currently exist, even those which claim to copy Huy Fong, seem instead to be their own (albeit delicious) thing. They take more inspiration from traditional fermented recipes than Huy Fong’s thicker, brighter, sweeter version. That’s usually a solid bet — going back to older, less industrialized recipes to gain more flavor — but, at least for me, it misses the simple appeal that made the green-capped sauce rightfully famous.

A number of accounts exist of Huy Fong’s process. The most detailed and credible I’ve seen is Mashed’s summary of Eater’s video (what a world we live in):

The process begins each day when over 21 tons of red jalapeños are delivered to the factory. The peppers are inspected and washed, before being sent into a grinder. While many other condiments cook their ingredients during production, Sriracha skips this step, and the peppers are ground into a mash and piped into industrial mixers. Next, vinegar, salt, and preservatives are added, forming a base for the sauce itself.

After mixing is complete, this base is then sent to a filling station, where it's pumped into storage barrels. These barrels are then stored in the factory's warehouse. To make the sauce, the chili base is extracted from the barrels and sent to another mixing room, where a number of ingredients including garlic and sugar (many of the ingredients remain a secret) are added to the mixture. The sauce is then pumped into those iconic little bottles, which are made in the same factory.

I’ve read elsewhere that they only manufacture a month’s worth of product at a time, to ensure it’s fresh on the shelf. Anyone who has had poorly-stored sriracha knows how necessary this is, and no wonder: this sauce is basically fresh!

Naturally, the “only a month at a time” can’t quite be the whole story… it would leave them with no product to sell over winter. I think a reasonable guess is that their warehoused base mash (of coarsely ground peppers, salt, vinegar, potassium sorbate, and sodium bisulfite) sits longer than that, at least in the off season, but that final mixing, bottling, and distribution takes place within a month. It’s also likely that the same base mash is used for all of Huy Fong’s products; photos of the mash in barrels show a coarse consistency, similar to their sambal oelek and chili garlic sauce.

The “many of the ingredients remain a secret” is a typical smokescreen. There is no room for them in the labeled ingredients: chili, sugar, salt, garlic, distilled vinegar, potassium sorbate, sodium bisulfite and xanthan gum. I’ve seen bottles with minor variations of these over the years, but there have never been “spices” or “natural flavors” or anywhere else to hide secret ingredients. Instead, I believe the secret is simply in their famously close relationship with their farmer suppliers and the resulting quality of their peppers.

There is also a somewhat unintuitive open secret hidden in their ingredients list and nutrition facts panel: by weight, there’s more salt in the recipe than there is vinegar. To a home cook, that sounds wild — it should be unpalatably salty. However, 75 mg of sodium (about 187.5 mg of salt) in 1 tsp (5 mL, about 5 g) of sauce indicates their salinity is about 3.8%. (Most hot sauces are 2-4%, so it’s salty but not outlandish.) How can there be less vinegar than that?

The answer is that they must be using highly concentrated vinegar or glacial acetic acid. Typical vinegar is 95% water and only 5% acetic acid, but glacial acetic acid is less than 0.5% water and more than 99.5% acetic acid. With that little mystery sorted, we can make an educated guess at ingredient proportions.

I always work in “baker’s math” for recipes. The weight of the main ingredient (flour in baking, peppers for hot sauce) is always reckoned at 100%, and everything else (also by weight) is in proportion to it. This makes it easy to harvest and use, say, 793 g of peppers and still use one master recipe: peppers = 100% = 793 g, so then if garlic is listed at 5% in the recipe, that’s 5% of 793 = 39.65 g of garlic in your odd-sized batch. It’s a different way to work, but it makes things easy in the long run.

The limits are set by the ingredients list: by weight, peppers must be > sugar which is > salt … > vinegar … > xanthan gum. (I’m dropping the preservatives from my home recipe.) We know from the nutrition facts that final salinity is about 3.8% and sugar is about 20%. So, a first attempt could be:

- 100% ripe jalapeños
- 22% sugar
- 5.012% salt
- 2% garlic powder (will also try fresh in mine, but Huy Fong uses powder)
- 1% glacial acetic acid
- 0.3% xanthan gum

Yield: 125.3% (plus salt)
Salinity: 4%
pH: about 2.82 (according to a random calculator, but it doesn’t seem wild)

I guess they could be using a lot less acetic acid, or else maybe they’re using a vinegar strength in between 5% and 99%. (This resonates with @Siv.) I’ll need to experiment and tweak.

The process as described relies on mixing to achieve smoothness, rather than straining, which makes it very easy. Additionally, I’m skipping the base mash at first. I may want to separate it out again later to enable winter production.

- Stem and wash the peppers.
- Slice them to about 0.5”.
- Mix them with the sugar and salt, add to blender, wait for salt to draw out some liquid.
- Add remaining ingredients and blend until smooth.
- Bottle and refrigerate.

How well blending will work without industrial equipment with this dry a mix is an open question. I have a Blend-Tec, but it’ll no doubt take some coaxing and stirring to extract enough liquid from the peppers to get a proper blend going.

Now I just need to wait for the peppers to ripen, or indeed to sprout. 😆

Edit: corrected terminology
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The Hot Pepper

Yes, that is spot on (the process quoted). People keep saying it is fermented but the vinegar is added to the base they make, which is the base for all their sauces. The base is stored in blue barrels but not sure how much fermenting is going on due to the vinegar. This base is the starting point for all of their varieties. I've seen a few factory tours that explain it well. Videos have helped me more than text.


Extreme Member
The answer is that they must be using pure acetic acid, also called glacial vinegar. Typical vinegar is 95% water and only 5% acetic acid; glacial vinegar is less than 0.5% water and more than 99.5% acetic acid. With that little mystery sorted, we can make an educated guess at ingredient proportions.

The chemical compound is acetic acid (CH3COOH). It is traded as glacial acetic acid, usually 99%+ (glacial, because its mp is slightly below room temperature. In the olden days, when chemistry was practically synonymous with Germany, it solidified in the lab). Vinegar is a fermentation product that contains acetic acid. Glacial vinegar, as far as I know, does not exist.
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Extreme Member
I trust your expertise, but that doesn’t seem right. What am I missing?

Source (my emphasis)

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires vinegar to contain at least 4% acetic acid, but may range up to 8% in commonly used vinegars.

Edit: I misread you as saying vinegar does not contain acetic acid. I see what you mean now… you’re letting me know that “glacial vinegar” isn’t correct terminology… it should be either glacial acetic acid or just high-strength vinegar.

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Business Member
I am trying to work out the recipe, and not knowing the Bakers recipe method...here is what i came up with...
The whole batch is 100%. Equate to grams or whatever.

.80 chiles
.176 sugar
.040 salt
.016 garlic powder
0.08 glacial/whatever strong vinegar
0.024 xanthan


The Hot Pepper

PS. The base they make is actually the product called Chili Garlic Sauce. This is used for the others as the base.


Business Member
maybe you could practice with red fresno peppers which are usually available from a local grocery store by order thru their produce departmant.
CHECK PRICES!!! as we are in the winter in the USA and fresh peppers might be $$$$...

Fresnos have a lot of seeds. when using these peppers in the past, I have sorted out removing the loads of seeds.

Have Fun and show us how it goes!


Extreme Member
I’ve dug into specifically the pH calculations a bit more now, and am realizing that I’ve been way underestimating the power of even household vinegar!

In fact, it looks like you could get pretty close to Huy Fong’s recipe using regular 5% vinegar, and almost certainly don’t need anything stronger than 10%.

I’ll need to dilute my glacial acetic acid down to about 10%, anyway — otherwise the amount required is too low for my scales to measure. 😛

(I realize I could have saved myself time by just paying more attention to @Siv’s thread, but ah well!)
Correction: The base is the product Sambal Oelek! This is the pure chili paste with no garlic or sugar.
My sambal oelek is pounded chilies, salt and vinegar. For you it's just the mashed up chilies, plain?

(I might add some garlic and lime juice to my sambal oelek if I want to go all out, don't tell anyone. 😀)

The Hot Pepper

I never said plain. By pure I meant nothing else is added to what was stored. The base that is quoted in post 1 here and stored in barrels is the same product as Sambal Oelek. So if one was curious about the base they could simply buy the Sambal.
I never said plain. By pure I meant nothing else is added to what was stored. The base that is quoted in post 1 here and stored in barrels is the same product as Sambal Oelek. So if one was curious about the base they could simply buy the Sambal.
I see! I thought the meaning of sambal oelek might be different, that's why I asked. Lost in translation till just now.