Home Fermentation Recipes Fermented Hatch Green Chile Sauce with Cacao and Garlic

Fermented Hatch Green Chile Sauce with Cacao and Garlic

by Kaitlynn Fenley

My favorite hot sauce to make every August is fermented hatch green chile sauce. I incorporate cacao and garlic for a unique and vibrant flavor. This hot sauce goes great on tacos, burgers, burritos, and enchiladas.

Fermented Hatch Chile Sauce

At the beginning of August, I love seeing the Hatch Chiles arrive at the store. Their seasonal arrival means it’s time to make one of my all-time favorite hot sauces.

This hot sauce is something I threw together one summer after buying a bunch of chiles at the farmer’s market. It turned out so good that I had to write the recipe down from memory to make every year. My favorite part of this recipe is the incorporated cacao powder. It adds a good bit of beneficial, bioavailable magnesium.

Fermented Hatch Green Chile Sauce with Cacao and Garlic

Here are all of the ingredients you need to make this recipe:

  • 300 grams hatch chilies (hot, mild, or medium. whichever you prefer)
  • 30 grams garlic
  • 50 grams white onion
  • 10 grams cacao powder
  • 28 grams sea salt
  • 400 grams water

Are Hatch Chiles Spicy?

Hatch chiles come in a range of spice levels. Usually, you can find four kinds— mild, medium, hot, and extra hot. I enjoy mixing different spice levels in fermentation to get the best flavors.

For this recipe, I used half hot and half mild.

How to Make Fermented Hatch Chile Sauce

Making hot sauce is easy! It may initially seem intimidating to ferment hot sauce, but you’ve got this. Just follow the steps and be patient. In about four weeks, you’ll have the best hot sauce ever!

If this is your first time learning to make hot sauce, I suggest sticking to the recipe strictly. If you are an experienced fermenter, you can experiment a little bit by changing up the pepper varieties. Since hot hatch chiles aren’t always available and in season, you can evenly substitute for another kind of pepper. If you want to use, say, Anaheim peppers instead of hatch chiles, just evenly sub the weight of peppers.

Hatch Green Chile Sauce Fermentation Timeline

24 – 48 hours: All contents in the jar should be submerged beneath the brine. At this time, there are still Gram-negative bacteria and possible pathogens present.

48 hours – 5 days: After 48 hours, you should start to see lots of bubbles being produced. This is when the ferment enters stage two of vegetable fermentation. Leuconostoc bacteria begin to thrive, and Gram-negative organisms die off.

5 – 10 days: The bubbles in the brine will decrease as the ferment leaves stage two and enters stage three. The ferment will become cloudy, the color will change, and a pleasant sour smell will develop. You should also recognize garlic and pepper smells. Lactobacillus species begin to thrive at this time.

10 – 21 days: Next, Lactobacillus make up most or all of the microbial population. They produce copious amounts of lactic acid, making the fermented chiles smell even more pleasantly sour. This is when the vegetable mixture becomes preserved.

21 – 28 days: This is when you want to smell and taste test. Wait for the peppers smell and taste as you like, and then blend and refrigerate when you find the smell and taste most pleasant! We like ours best when we blend up the hatch green chile sauce and refrigerate at about 25 days.

Hatch Green Chile Sauce Fermenting Instructions

During the first few days of fermentation, carbon dioxide and bubbles will be produced. Sometimes, mason jars will become very full of liquid, and this liquid can seep out. You will need to burp the jar.

  • When burping the jar, remove the lid and tamper everything back down using a clean tamper or spoon. Make sure everything, including the weight, is still submerged below the brine. You can also rinse off the lid daily to keep things clean.

Always Trust your sense of smell: In the beginning, fermenting hatch chile can smell funky (but in a good way). When fermentation is finished, the chiles should smell pleasantly sour and have hints of garlic and onion.  Never eat anything that smells repulsive or yeasty. 

Never eat anything that has mold growing on it. By following directions, you should not encounter this problem. 

Note that most vine-growing vegetables that are wild fermented will have something called pellicle growth. This is completely normal for what I call “vine-growing” vegetables (anything that grows from a blossom) as long as it does not look furry, pink, blue, black, green, or magenta. 

A safe pellicle is normally opaque, off-white, and kind of crinkly. If you have surface growth like this, it’s a harmless mixed colony of wild yeasts. It’s not “mold.” You can skim it off the top and still eat your peppers. See the two pictures below as a reference for what a normal pellicle looks like.

How to Avoid a Pellicle

I used an approximate 3.5% total (w/w) salt concentration for this recipe. I usually avoid pellicle growth completely by increasing the salt concentration of the pepper fermentation.

Peppers can be fermented with up to 10% salt concentration. That’s way too salty, in my opinion. But I’ve tried many fermented peppers at 6% total salt concentration, and I’ve never had pellicle growth with a total salt concentration of 6%. The yeasts simply do not tolerate such high salt concentrations.

This, of course, is a much saltier pepper ferment. However, the hatch green chiles come out more sour, too, and this is perfect for hot sauce! I like to blend the higher-salt fermented peppers with apple cider vinegar for a perfect, full-flavored hot sauce.

fermented hatch green chile sauce blended smooth, in a white bowl. The hatch green chile sauce is a light brown color from the cacao in the recipe.

Supplies You Need to Ferment

  • 32 oz Wide Mouth Mason Jar
  • Fermentation Weight to fit your mason jar
  • Standard Metal Mason Jar Lid (this can rust in the presence of salt)
  • OR Rust Free Plastic Lid
  • Unrefined Sea Salt
  • Scale
  • Mixing Bowl 
  • or you can use a Weck Jar (without the gasket; only use the clips to secure the lid)
  • Blender (this is necessary for puréeing the fermented hatch chiles. If you don’t have a blender, a food processor works well too).
  • Funnel
  • Glass bottle or jar for the finished hatch green chile sauce

Blending Hatch Green Chile Sauce

After about four weeks, your hatch chiles will be done fermenting. To make the hot sauce, blend the contents of the fermentation jar in a blender until smooth. You won’t use all the brine for blending and can incorporate vinegar to balance the flavor.

You can also strain the pulp out of the blended sauce for a thinner hot sauce. However, I love to leave all the pulp in for a thick hot sauce.

More Fermentation Recipes to Try

hatch green chiles cut in half in a mason jar with brine, cacao , garlic and onion. The contents will ferment before being blended into a sauce.

Fermented Hatch Green Chile Sauce with Cacao and Garlic

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My favorite hot sauce to make every August is fermented hatch green chile sauce. I incorporate cacao and garlic for a unique and vibrant flavor. This hot sauce goes great on tacos, burgers, burritos, and enchiladas.

  • Author: Kaitlynn Fenley
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 32 Servings
  • Category: Sauce
  • Method: Fermentation
  • Cuisine: american


  • 300 grams hatch chilies
  • 30 grams garlic
  • 50 grams white onion
  • 10 grams cacao powder
  • 28 grams sea salt
  • 400 grams water


  1. This recipe at 1x works best with a 32-ounce jar.
  2. Add the cacao powder and 1/4 of the water to a small saucepan and heat it over medium to simmer. Stir continuously until the cacao powder is dissolved. Set aside.
  3. Wash your fermentation equipment, including the jar, weight, and lid.
  4. Wash your chiles and chop them into halves or rings.
  5. Place your kitchen scale on the counter. Turn it on and set it to weigh in grams.
  6. Place a mixing bowl on your kitchen scale and tare/zero the scale.
  7. Add your chiles and garlic into the bowl, measuring out the designated amounts.
  8. Remove the bowl from your scale and set it aside. Place your empty, clean mason jar on the scale, and tare/zero the scale. Make sure your scale is still set to grams, and add the designated amount of filtered water to your mason jar.
  9. Add the peppers from your bowl, into the mason jar with water.
  10. Place a small bowl on your scale and tare/zero the scale. Weigh out the sea salt. Then add the salt to the jar of peppers and water.
  11. Place your standard mason jar lid on the jar, and secure it. Shake the jar for 2 minutes.
  12. Remove the standard mason jar lid. Place your fermentation weight in the jar, making sure to submerge all of the pepper pieces and weight fully in the liquid.
  13. Secure the jar lid to the mason jar.
  14. Ferment for 4 to 5 weeks.
  15. After fermentation, remove the fermentation weight. Strain the chiles, onion and garlic from the brine, reserving all the liquid.
  16. Add the peppers, garlic, and onion in a high-speed blender.
  17. Blend on high, slowly adding small amounts of reserved brine into the blender until it blends easy and the desired consistency is reached. You can also add vinegar to balance out the flavor.
  18. Store in an airtight container in the fridge. Separation is natural; shake to combine before using. Use a spoon to sprinkle over your food.

Did you make this recipe?

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Nutrition information is auto-calculated and estimated as close as possible. We are not responsible for any errors. We have tested the recipe for accuracy, but your results may vary.

author avatar
Kaitlynn Fenley Author, Educator, Food Microbiologist
Kaitlynn is a food microbiologist and fermentation expert teaching people how to ferment foods and drinks at home.

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Manford October 29, 2020 - 2:46 pm

I used your exact recipe and there is not enough liquid to cover my peppers??????

Kaitlynn Fenley October 30, 2020 - 9:54 am

Hey there, we were having some web/server issues, so you may have been using an incorrect version of the recipe. Sorry about that! The recipe should be correct now.

Kathryn March 28, 2021 - 8:50 pm

I am making this with ripe Serrano peppers I grew on my balcony–a double batch, so wish me luck. I noticed there are loose pepper seeds floating at the surface of the brine now that enough of the cocoa has settled that I can see them (a couple of hours). Will the seeds absorb water and lose their buoyancy or do I need to open it up and skim them off with a sterilized spoon?

Kaitlynn Fenley March 29, 2021 - 12:44 pm

Unfortunately, the seeds will remain floating. I would try and skim them out.

If you leave the seeds, you may have a yeast pellicle grow on the surface… but with the salt concentration in the recipe, it won’t be anything dangerous, just harmless yeast.

Kathryn March 30, 2021 - 1:10 am

Thank you for the prompt response! I was hoping this would be early enough in the process I wouldn’t re-introduce oxygen at the wrong time. Several pieces of roasted garlic were floating around when I opened it and I’m glad I did. I am using the Ball Fermentation Kit (because I could get it locally) and the spring-loaded potato masher probably needed a piece of cabbage under it to trap all the floaties. Except that might trap CO2 bubbles…

I think I’ll like the flavor combo when it’s done. When I was cleaning up the first day, I tasted the brine on the lid used for shaking the mixture and the hot/garlic/bitter cacao flavor was very interesting in a good way.

Allan April 27, 2022 - 1:21 pm

Hi, can you wash peppers before fermenting them. I chop my habanero or jalapeños in half and throw them in a sink full of water. This keeps the eyes from watering too much when doing several kg of peppers and as a bonus gets rid of quite a few loose seeds. I wondered if this might remove too much of the natural biome and retard fermentation? The current batch is bubbling away in the fermentation crocks but it seems a little slow. However it’s late autumn here now and nights are cool.

I also wondered if you add fresh unfermented peppers to fermented ones, (in a non cooked sauce); to blend and balance a sauce; do you run the risk of restarting fermentation since you are introducing fresh carbohydrates. I assume the addition of vinegar in the final sauce will inhibit further fermentation plus refrigeration.

Kaitlynn Fenley April 27, 2022 - 1:31 pm

Hi there!

Yes, you should always wash peppers before fermenting them. A rinse in freshwater works well. What you do to rinse and remove the seeds shouldn’t change the pepper microbiome, and fermentation should still occur. If your temperatures are cool, fermentation will be slower, but if you see bubbles, everything is fine.

You can add fresh peppers to blend into a sauce but keep the ratio of added fresh peppers low; fermentation shouldn’t “restart” if you add the vinegar and refrigerate.

Allan May 17, 2022 - 3:17 pm

Hi, say you wanted to make a hot fermented style sauce with Habanero peppers and add peach or mango to the uncooked type sauce. Could you add the fruit fresh to the fermented pepper base? How might this affect shelf life in the fridge? I assume adding no more than 10% fresh fruit addition would be fine?

Could you ferment the fruit? I assume you would do this like you do tomatoes i.e. for 48 hours only in sauerkraut brine and ACV. Then add this to the fermented peppers done for 4-5 weeks as usual.

In either situation I assume adding fruit might raise pH thus the addition of ACV to the final sauce to get it to around 3.5 might be needed?


Allan May 17, 2022 - 3:28 pm

Another thought, could I use the brine from my 4 week old pepper ferment with some ACV to ferment the fruit for 48 hours instead of sauerkraut brine?

Kaitlynn Fenley May 19, 2022 - 8:30 am

I’ve never tried it, so I’m not 100% sure! let me know how it turns out if you experiment with it.

Kaitlynn Fenley May 19, 2022 - 8:29 am

It depends on the acidity and FODMAP content of the fruit. All fruits ferment differently.

John August 23, 2022 - 5:39 pm

Wondering if you can roast the hatch chili for this recipe

Jon August 5, 2023 - 6:17 pm

Can i use unsweetend cocoa powder instead of caccao?

Kaitlynn Fenley August 8, 2023 - 9:20 am

I haven’t tried it, but I think it could work.

Stephanie September 21, 2023 - 11:06 am

Hi there, I made this a couple of years ago and really liked it. About to try it again. Wasn’t the garlic roasted before? I see this recipe calls for fresh garlic. Is there a difference in the taste? Also, would roasted garlic or fresh garlic in the ferment be lower fodmap (fructans) at the end? Super appreciate all your recipes!

Kaitlynn Fenley September 21, 2023 - 1:38 pm

I retested and rewrote the recipe this summer! You can still roast the garlic. It’s great roasted. I do not think it’s any lower fodmap roasted. cooking doesn’t decrease fodmaps. A longer fermentation would be lower fodmap though.

Julie September 22, 2023 - 4:17 pm

Wasn’t sure that i liked this salsa at first, but then i realized that it should be blended instead of processed. Into the Vitamix it went and like magic, all of the flavors came together and i am pretty happy!

Kaitlynn Fenley September 22, 2023 - 5:00 pm

ah yes! it needs heavy duty blending! Glad you like it now 🙂