Spicy Habanero Marinade

Ready to take those grilled steaks or chicken breasts to spice levels they’ve never gone before? Turn your summer barbecue into something your tongue will remember for a VERY long time. Spicy habanero marinade pairs those extra-hot chilies (100,000 to 350,000 Scoville heat units) with garlic, sherry vinegar, citrus juices, and plenty of bold spices.

Seriously, this spicy marinade recipe sits in the extreme barbecuing category. Habanero peppers are no joke hot, so get a list of brave souls who prefer “heat from the sun” levels of spice before marinating your entire meat stock in this mix. You could lessen the heat by substituting in a less spicy hot pepper variety, but who wants that?

Like this marinade? You’ll love these sauces too:

Spicy Habanero Marinade

Big heat with citrusy tang and bold spices
4.60 from 15 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 32 servings
Calories 96 kcal


  • 12 cloves garlic
  • 2 habanero peppers add a third if you're brave
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup lime juice
  • 1/3 cup orange juice


  • Using a mortar and pestle, mash the habanero peppers, garlic, turmeric, and cumin. Look for the mix to become coarsely smooth.
  • In a pan, heat up the olive oil to a medium temperature. Remove it from heat before the oil starts smoking.
  • Pour the hot oil over the pepper mash and stir it together. You will hear a sizzle as some of the mash cooks from the oil hitting it. After stirring, let the mix sit for 5 – 10 minutes.
  • Pour mix into a medium bowl and add in the lime juice, the orange juice, and the sherry vinegar. Whisk all ingredients until fully mixed.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste and let it completely cool before marinating any meat with it.


Can’t take the habanero heat? You can swap out a less pungent pepper if you’d like. Note that you will lose some of the sweetness that the habanero brings to the marinade.


Calories: 96kcalCarbohydrates: 1gProtein: 1gFat: 10gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 7gSodium: 74mgPotassium: 27mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 17IUVitamin C: 3mgCalcium: 7mgIron: 1mg
Keyword Habanero Pepper
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UPDATE NOTICE: This post was updated on April 16, 2022 to include new content.
4.60 from 15 votes (14 ratings without comment)
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5 stars
I love this sauce/marinade and would not change a thing. I always have a batch in the refrigerator. Even though habanero peppers are quite hot by themselves, the orange and lime really mellows them. They are much more flavorful than jalapeño peppers. It’s great with fish, scallops, prawns and chicken.