pique sauce

pique sauce

This recipe was destined to be shared with the world. In 2010, while Adam’s band was touring the West Coast, they stumbled upon a Puerto Rican restaurant called Sol Food just twenty miles north of San Francisco. None of the guys had ever tried this type of cuisine before, but everyone instantly fell in love. The outside of the restaurant was painted a vibrant green and the interiors were decorated with colorful vintage doors and lush tropical plants. Adam ordered a flat pressed vegetarian sandwich with avocado, roasted red peppers, sautéed onions, organic greens, sliced tomato, Jack cheese and a tasty cilantro-lime mayo, and it was one of the best sandwiches he had ever tasted. On every table in the restaurant there was a mysterious bottle of red sauce with no label, and as the guys looked around, they could see other customers generously pouring it over everything: sandwiches, black beans and rice, and yuca. Well, they started by adding a few tentative drops to their dishes, but by the end of the meal they were all practically drinking it straight from the bottle. It was spicy, tangy, and deeply flavorful: filled with bright chiles and just the slightest hint of sweetness, it was unlike anything Adam had ever tasted, and he had to find out more about it.

three kinds of chiles, two kinds of vinegar
scoring the jalapeños to release their flavor
the jalapeños soak for a few days

As it turned out, the sauce was available for purchase, and he couldn’t wait to bring some home! The bottle was packed tightly in his suitcase, and the day he got back we tried the sauce together, drizzled on some crispy tacos. Ryan’s reaction was just as enthusiastic, and sure enough, that first bottle lasted less than a week. We realized that our pique sauce habit would start adding up quickly since we would have to pay about twenty dollars per bottle to get it shipped to LA. So instead, we went online to see if we could find a recipe for this glorious hot sauce. We typed in “Sol Food”, “Pique”, “Recipe” and remarkably, a link came up on Yelp from a review that “Scot L” had written about Sol Food, and we were thrilled to read his words: “After my first visit, I set out to copy the Pique recipe because I was instantly addicted. I’ve got a good one now…” With nothing to lose, we wrote to him and asked if it was shareable. He immediately replied, sending us the recipe along with a caveat that we not post it online.

just a few tablespoons of onion
and a couple carrots
peeling six cloves of garlic

At the time, we didn’t have a cooking blog, and we had no plans whatsoever to share it with anyone, so we kept it to ourselves and enjoyed every bottle we made. But six years later, Husbands That Cook was born, and we wanted to share this wonderful Puerto Rican hot sauce with the world. Hoping that Scot L. would still be reachable on Yelp, we wrote to him explaining the situation. Again, he quickly responded with an enthusiastic yes! So thanks to Scot for generously sharing this personal recipe with us and our readers. Once you try it for yourself, you will see why we have become so obsessed with it.

cooked and ready to blend
adding some of the flavorful cooking water
chiles swimming in vinegar

Making hot sauce at home is fun and easy! You simply combine chiles, garlic, onion, and carrots in a blender with vinegar, mix it up, and that’s it! To add extra flavor and kick, this recipe uses vinegar that has been soaking for days with fresh green jalapeños, and each bottle of pique sauce is garnished a whole serrano chile. It’s perfect on sandwiches, pasta, salads, burritos—anything that could be brightened up with a tangy heat! You can even fill small bottles and give spicy gifts to some very lucky friends. We have been enjoying this sauce for over six years, and are thrilled to share it with you today, so you too can experience its delicious and addictive flavor!

bottling it up
each bottle gets a serrano chile

Shop the page:
glass bottles
metal mini prep bowls
santoku chef’s knife
quart measuring cup
glass mixing bowls
• a ninja blender is pictured here, but we have since upgraded to a KitchenAid ProLine.

spicy, tangy, and delicious on everything

Pique Sauce
inspired by Sol Food, adapted from a recipe by Scot Lang

5 green jalapeño peppers
4 cups white vinegar
40 dried chile de arbol peppers
6 cloves garlic, peeled and left whole
2 tablespoons chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 serrano chile per bottle, stem removed

Remove the stems from the jalapeño peppers, and cut halfway through the peppers, leaving them whole. Place the white vinegar in a large measuring cup or bowl, and add the scored peppers. Let them soak, covered, for 12 to 48 hours. Then discard the peppers or use them for another recipe.

In a medium pot, combine the dried chiles, garlic cloves, onion, and carrot. Add a few cups of water until the vegetables are covered. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes, until the carrots have softened. Pour the vegetables through a fine-mesh strainer, reserving the cooking liquid. Transfer the vegetables to a blender, then add the vinegar from the jalapeños, the rice vinegar, 1 cup of the vegetable cooking liquid, the salt, and pepper. Process until completely smooth and blended. Taste, and add vinegar or more cooking water if needed to reach the desired acidity. Pour the pique sauce into bottles for storage, and add one whole serrano chile to each bottle to soak. The sauce can be used immediately, but the flavor improves after a few days of rest. Try on all your favorite foods, and enjoy!

note:
— The pique sauce will stay fresh in the refrigerator for weeks, possibly even months, although we always finish it off before then!

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52 Comments on pique sauce

  1. Oddree
    August 16, 2016 at 12:24 pm

    Yum! I can’t wait to try this – love new hot sauce addictions. Thank you for the recipe, I love your site!

    Reply
    • husbandsthatcook
      August 20, 2016 at 11:26 am

      Thanks so much Oddree! We love hot sauce too, and this one is extra tangy and flavorful! We’ve been putting it on everything!

    • HEATHER
      October 10, 2017 at 2:10 pm

      DID THIS RECIPE OVER WEEKEND! NAILED IT!!! BEEN 6 YEARS WITH OUT THIS SAUCE, SOL FOOD IS FAR FROM PHX. I COULD JUST DRINK THIS! OKAY, NOW HAS ANY OF YOU FOOLED WITH SOL FOOD LEMON GARLIC? PLEASE LET ME KNOW

    • husbandsthatcook
      October 12, 2017 at 8:29 am

      Woohoo! Thanks for letting us know, Heather!! So glad you loved the sauce, that totally makes our day! We haven’t tried recreating the lemon garlic, but we should! 😉

  2. Jill
    September 5, 2016 at 5:14 am

    Everything loved the pique sauce! We are all obsessed now, too!

    Reply
    • husbandsthatcook
      September 5, 2016 at 11:47 am

      Woohoo! We love hearing that! Glad you have discovered the magic of pique–we had some with our eggs this morning, sooo good!

  3. Carol
    September 15, 2016 at 6:41 am

    Yes! Jill served it and now I can’t wait to make it at home,

    Reply
    • husbandsthatcook
      September 15, 2016 at 11:39 am

      She mentioned that she had made it! So glad you got to try it, and that it was a hit! Hope you’re doing well!

  4. Shree
    September 22, 2016 at 5:46 am

    i am super psyched to make this recipe soon. I’ve never made my own hot sauce. Does it need to be refrigerated and how long do they last? Thank you!!!

    Reply
    • husbandsthatcook
      September 22, 2016 at 2:08 pm

      Hi Shree! You will love making your own hot sauce! We do keep it refrigerated, and it lasts for weeks, if not months–depends how quick you go through it! 😉

  5. Peter
    October 31, 2016 at 2:49 pm

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. I have been a devoted fan of Sol Food since I moved to San Rafael about 10 years ago, and their pique sauce instantly became the best condiment I have ever tasted. When I or any of my friends get Sol Food, we hoard and slather over the sauce like Gollum with his precious. We’ve tried a few other recipes that seek to replicate their incredible combination of flavors to no avail. But after trying your recipe, I am here to attest that you’ve done it. You’ve really done it. And my life will never be the same. I just hope I don’t end up in the bowels of a mountain with my arms wrapped around a near-empty jar mumbling to myself about how it’s all mine.

    Reply
    • husbandsthatcook
      November 1, 2016 at 11:46 am

      Your comment made our day! We, too, have felt the seductive pull of Sol Food’s pique sauce, and we know that joy you’re feeling right now! We literally just made another batch this weekend, because we never like to be without a bottle for long. Here’s hoping you don’t end up in that mountain cavern, but if you do, we will be right there with you. #myprecious

    • Peter
      June 13, 2017 at 11:30 pm

      Just an update – I’ve now made the sauce at least a dozen times and have hooked many more people on the recipe. It’s really just perfect, thank you! A few things that others might find helpful:
      – The heat of the sauce is almost entirely dependent on the heat of the batches of peppers (both the jalapeños and the arbols), which you don’t know until you try them (or the sauce). I like the sauce hot, so I add a couple of habaneros to the vinegar along with the jalapeños, and let them soak for at least 2 days. I haven’t made a batch yet that was too hot, even for those who don’t love heat.
      – You can cut the salt if you want it to be lower in sodium. I typically use about 2/3 of a quarter cup scoop. – Depending on the size/firmness of the carrot chunks, they could need to simmer longer. Don’t worry about over-simmering.
      – Consider using at least 4 cups of water for the vegetables – extra cooking liquid can sometimes really make the batch. I usually add at least 2-3 cups, though not until after blending since the rest of the ingredients nearly fill my blender.
      – A little extra carrots for additional sweetness and color can work well, if that’s to your taste.
      – I blend, but not overly so. My goal is for each bottle, once cooled and settled, to be at least half ‘stuff’ and half translucent liquid. And the stuff typically breaks down into about 1/2 small particulates and 1/2 seeds and more solid (but still shredded/diced) peppers and veggies.
      – After blending, pour into a large bowl, add cooking liquid, and mix well. Ladle into bottles, mixing a bit between each scoop, and alternating bottles. Filling them all at the same time as opposed to one, then the next, then the next ensures consistency of liquid and veggies across bottles.

      This might be way too much information, but I really am pretty obsessed with this sauce. I’ve varied it a bunch, and the recipe as written is pretty damn near perfect. The great thing about it is that you can do whatever you want – more/less heat, more/less tang, add more sweetness, etc., and it goes with pretty much everything. Have fun, enjoy, and share!!

    • husbandsthatcook
      June 15, 2017 at 5:42 pm

      Hi Peter! This may be the BEST comment we’ve ever received! We are thrilled that you’ve put so much time and thought into the sauce, and that you have even improved upon it! All your notes are fantastic, and we’re sure that others will find them helpful too! We are definitely trying some of your techniques next time we make it!

      You rock.

      Thank you for being awesome, and for taking the time to write out all that great info!

  6. Anna
    November 2, 2016 at 9:26 am

    I can’t wait to try this! I’ve been searching around for a good hot sauce recipe to test out and this looks like exactly what I’ve been looking for! I’m wondering what you do about the stems on the dried arbols? Do you take them off or leave them?

    Reply
    • husbandsthatcook
      November 2, 2016 at 10:58 am

      We remove the stems first. They should snap off easily, and it won’t take long! Hope you enjoy the sauce, we just made another batch this weekend! Let us know how it turns out!

    • Anna
      November 3, 2016 at 11:46 am

      I made it this afternoon and it is amazing! Thanks for the recipe!! I can’t wait to taste it in a few days once the flavor matures even more.

    • husbandsthatcook
      November 3, 2016 at 10:03 pm

      Awesome! So glad you liked it! And yes, the flavors will get even better with time! Enjoy!

  7. Carolyn
    December 10, 2016 at 3:37 pm

    I just watched your IG story and saw that you were in my hood-Sol Food! We are totally obsessed with their food, hot sauce & salad dressing. I’ve looked online for both the hot sauce & dressing but never found a recipe. When you mentioned you had it I was beyond ecstatic!!! I buy four bottles of each time I’m there (or with my dinner delivery;))! Although I’m stoked to have the recipe it surely won’t stop my frequent visits!

    Reply
    • husbandsthatcook
      December 14, 2016 at 11:51 pm

      Your comment made our night! This makes us so happy! We used to buy bottles and have them shipped down here to LA; they cost a fortune, but we were happy to do it since they are so good… but now we don’t have to! So glad we were able to stop in to the restaurant on our trip up north, it was out of the way but we didn’t care! Soooo good!

  8. Aquacena
    December 15, 2016 at 12:52 pm

    Hi. I too love the Pique Hot Sauce from Sol and just ran out. Since I didn’t want to wait for a shipment, I want to try your recipe. I have a question, the ingredients list says “vinegar, chilis, salt, sugar” but there is no sugar in your recipe. Do you mean seasoned rice vinegar, like you use for sushi?

    Reply
    • husbandsthatcook
      December 16, 2016 at 11:20 am

      Hi Aquacena! We use plain unseasoned rice vinegar, and have found that the carrots add enough sweetness on their own. But if you try the recipe with a little sugar, let us know how it turns out!

  9. Arturo
    March 15, 2017 at 7:05 am

    I tried this recipe and found that its a bit watery. Could you cut the white vinegar in half?

    Reply
    • husbandsthatcook
      March 15, 2017 at 7:17 pm

      Hi Arturo! Pique sauce is traditionally very thin, almost more of a heavily seasoned vinegar. So it’s supposed to be like that! 😉 But definitely try adjusting it to your preference, and if you find a blend that works better for you, let us know!

  10. Travis
    March 25, 2017 at 7:26 am

    Saw your recipe and am making a triple batch of it today to hand out to friends and family for their review. Can’t wait to try it!

    Reply
    • husbandsthatcook
      March 25, 2017 at 9:57 am

      Awesome!! Can’t wait to hear the reviews! 😉 Thanks so much for letting us know!

    • Travis
      April 2, 2017 at 7:55 am

      The triple batch went a lot faster than we thought. Family and friends swooped in and took all of it leaving us with half a bottle. Gonna make a double batch today just for us! Ordered some special bottles to get more of the good stuff in it since our regular tobacco style bottles have too narrow of an opening. Our batch turned out a little more red than your pictures.

    • husbandsthatcook
      April 3, 2017 at 10:16 pm

      That’s awesome! Thanks for letting us know how it went! Sorry your friends left you so little, but at least you have another batch coming… 🙂

  11. Travis
    April 2, 2017 at 7:56 am

    **Tobasco style bottles

    Reply
  12. Ashley
    April 26, 2017 at 5:23 pm

    Thank you so much for the recipe! My sister brought us a bottle last year from Sol food and we are hooked. I just tried making the sauce and it is HOT! Way hotter then we thought, is there a step I missed with the arbol peppers or anything I can try to make it not as spicy? Thanks again for the recipe!

    Reply
    • husbandsthatcook
      April 26, 2017 at 6:48 pm

      Hi Ashley! So glad you tried the sauce–sorry it was too hot for you! The first thing to consider is that every pepper is different, so it could be simply that your batch of peppers was extra hot. But besides that, there are a couple ways you could reduce the heat level here:

      — In hot peppers, the spiciest parts are the seeds, and the white ribs where the seeds attach to the pepper. So, you could try cutting the dried peppers open and removing some or all of the seeds before using them.
      — The same could be done for the jalapeños that you soak in vinegar: try removing some or all of the seeds and white ribs before soaking. Or to go even milder, skip the soaking step entirely, and just use plain vinegar. You might lose a touch of flavor that way, but it should cut the spice level significantly.

      Good luck, and let us know if it works out!

  13. Victoria
    May 23, 2017 at 6:29 pm

    I’m also obsessed with the pique from Sol Food! I was looking for a similar recipe and never thought I’d stumble across this x) Thanks!

    Reply
    • husbandsthatcook
      May 24, 2017 at 10:13 am

      Woohoo! So glad you found us! We were so excited to finally get the recipe perfected, so we’re happy to share the knowledge with everyone! Hope you love it like we do! 😉

  14. E
    June 9, 2017 at 8:47 am

    I LOVE the sol food pique BUT this recipe does not taste anything like it. The arbol chiles are too hot and give a smoky flavor that shouldn’t be there. The color matches but that’s it. It tastes fine as a hot sauce but nothing like pique.

    Reply
    • husbandsthatcook
      June 9, 2017 at 5:56 pm

      Hi E, sorry to hear you didn’t like the sauce. We’re a little curious about the peppers you used, since ours never has any smoky flavor. Did you use smoked peppers?

  15. Doug
    June 26, 2017 at 11:53 pm

    Great recipe! I’ve been experimenting with recreating Sol Food’s pique for a while myself. So much variety in piques, but theirs is one of my favorites.

    Yours is delicious, and I’d say you’ve very nearly nailed it. It’s 95%, but there’s a little something missing. I added a bit of sugar (maybe 1tsp). The sol food bottle lists sugar as an ingredient so it’s definitely got a bit (label is: Vinegar, Chiles, Salt, Sugar).

    There’s also a tanginess that yours doesn’t quite have. I’m tasting these side by side, and the sol food one definitely has a stronger tang. They’re putting a different pepper in the final bottle, not a serrano, and I’m wondering if they’re using those in the blended chile mix too. I think its either an Aji Caballero that’s apparently quite common in Puerto Rican piques, or a tabasco pepper which is more common and same family.

    I think next batch I’ll try 70% arbols, 30% tabascos and see how that comes out. Shouldn’t take long because I put this stuff on basically everything.

    Cheers!

    Reply
    • husbandsthatcook
      June 28, 2017 at 11:23 am

      Thank you so much Doug! We love hearing this! We’re very curious to hear how the batch tuns out with the tabasco peppers, definitely keep us posted! And we’ll try adding sugar to our next batch, that’s a great suggestion! Thanks again!

  16. Nick
    October 30, 2017 at 3:10 pm

    Like so many here I tried this hot sauce at Sol and immediately fell in love with it. I took home a bottle and nearly finished it in a single night with my friends and a big pot of carnitas. Everyone was hooked. I am super excited to try your recipe, especially now after reading all these confidence-boosting comments 🙂

    I noticed with my original bottle that it was slightly fizzy, like freshly made kimchi, which suggests active fermentation is still going on. I imagine this has to be a large component of the depth of flavor and tang of this sauce. Does your recipe end up a little fizzy as well?

    I was thinking about doing your exact recipe but also adding the remainder of my store bought Sol sauce to propagate whatever good bugs they have into further batches, kind of using it as a “mother” similar to other fermented foods like vinegar, kombucha, or sourdough bread. However, if the fizz happens naturally with your recipe then I’ll probably just finish the sauce tonight 🙂

    Reply
    • husbandsthatcook
      October 30, 2017 at 9:27 pm

      Hi Nick! Happy to hear that you love that hot sauce as much as we do, and we’re glad you’re trying our recipe!

      We’ve never noticed a fizzyness with the hot sauce, but it’s possible that if it sat long enough, it would start to ferment and fizz… apparently none of our bottles have lasted that long, haha. If you’re feeling scientific, maybe try making the recipe and bottling some of it as-is, and bottle some with the Sol Food sauce mixed in as a starter, and see what the difference is! If you do, definitely keep us posted!

  17. Joanie S
    December 16, 2017 at 4:02 pm

    I was so excited to find your recipe. I live in Sonoma County and go down to Sol Food when i can’t think of anything else i would rather have than red beans, rice and plantain chips. Can you guys figure out that incredible spicy sweet creamy sauce they use with the plaintains. As good as the pique. And unique.

    Reply
    • husbandsthatcook
      December 16, 2017 at 5:00 pm

      Thanks so much Joanie! We will do some experiments with the creamy sauce, and if we come up with a good recipe, we’ll be sure to share it here! Thanks for the suggestion!

  18. linda
    December 20, 2017 at 9:26 am

    I love Pique Sauce. I had not had any since we moved here from San Juan. My dad used to make it all the time. I recently just found Don Ricardo Pique Sauce at my local Bravo Supermarket here in Orlando. Wow, it is the best!

    Reply
    • husbandsthatcook
      December 20, 2017 at 3:00 pm

      Thanks so much Linda, we love pique sauce too! It’s so tangy and delicious!

  19. Amber
    May 13, 2018 at 9:31 am

    Omg thank you thank you thank you!!!! I missed this sauce so much, and like another commenter said, I could just drink it. I had emailed Bon Appetit requesting they get the recipe, Sol Food said no, I had mystery jars in my fridge for years from random Puerto Rican recipe blogs. Then I thought to google it again this week and found this. Made it yesterday and it’s perfect!! Thank you! Now I don’t have to figure out a way to bring it back to Denver in a suitcase.

    Reply
    • husbandsthatcook
      May 13, 2018 at 6:18 pm

      Yesss!! This makes us so happy to hear! We were in the same situation before we starting making this recipe, so we know exactly how you feel! Welcome to the wonderful world of homemade hot sauce, haha 😉 You’ve totally made our day! xoxo

  20. Speez
    July 15, 2018 at 6:00 pm

    Finally made this, loving the flavor. The batch I made was definitely hotter than the Sol food version (that stuff I can semi-smother my food in, this stuff would knock me over doing that). Any thoughts on lowering/diluting the heat bit? More vinegar? More water? Some other liquid? More blended carrots?

    Thank you for this

    Reply
    • husbandsthatcook
      July 16, 2018 at 10:30 am

      Hi! That’s great you made the sauce! So glad you liked it!

      As for the heat level, there are a couple ways to lower it. The seeds and white ribs in peppers are where most of the heat is contained, so if you remove them from the jalapeños and the dried peppers before use, the final product will be milder. You can also simply use fewer peppers as well… try using fewer jalapeños or fewer dried chiles, and that should make it more mild. That said, some of the heat level is out of your control–every pepper is different, so some jalapeños can be super mild, and others are intensely hot, and you never know which is which! 😉

      Good luck, and let us know how it turns out!

  21. Angie Munguia
    July 29, 2018 at 7:53 pm

    Has anyone ever tried apple cider vinegar? For some reason I remember a friend telling me they used that in the sauce. I am beyond excited to try this recipe I no longer get my weekly sol food fix since I live in Washington. Thanks.

    Reply
    • husbandsthatcook
      July 30, 2018 at 8:13 am

      That’s a great idea! We haven’t tried using Apple Cider vinegar, but it should be tasty and add a hint of sweetness! Let us know if you try it out!

  22. Chris Englund
    April 6, 2019 at 2:05 pm

    Howdy from Jackson Hole! Too far from Sol Food to buy a bottle of Pique.

    Just made it, and I know it’s gonna be great! Two things differ from Sol Food’s sauce at least:
    1) Sol Food doesn’t “process until completely smooth and blended” as specified here. I wouldn’t be surprised if Sol Foods keeps things chunky for ease in making large batches. I think I’ll prefer doing it your way.
    2) On its bottle, Sol Food lists “sugar” as one of the ingredients. I don’t have a sweet tooth, so again I think I’ll prefer it your way.

    Internet research reveals “a different version for every household”

    Here’s a recipe with pineapple & lime juice, and cacao:
    https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/130821/pique-puerto-rican-hot-sauce/

    Reply
    • husbandsthatcook
      April 10, 2019 at 7:04 am

      Hello in Jackson Hole, Chris! We’re so glad you made the sauce! We were actually just at Sol Food a few weeks ago and we agree with your note—theirs is slightly chunkier, with whole pepper seeds throughout. At home, we like to have it smooth, though! As for the sugar, we find the carrots add enough sweetness that additional sugar isn’t necessary, but like you said, everyone likes theirs a little different! Enjoy the pique sauce!

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