Hawaiian Chili Pepper Water

Listen, you won’t be reaching for Hawaiian chili pepper water as your next favorite big-bodied hot sauce. That’s not the point of this popular Hawaiian condiment. It’s simply water with chili pepper, a touch of vinegar, some ginger, a pinch of garlic, and a dash of salt.

Hawaiian chili pepper water
Hawaiian chili pepper water

So what’s the use of this beyond simple hot sauce? Hawaiian chili pepper water adds a little fire to nearly any dish, but it doesn’t overwhelmingly changing the food’s flavor. It’s a subtle taste that’s as perfect dashed on pork as it is mixed into rice or topping some fried chicken.  That versatility is why it’s a mainstay condiment on many Hawaiian restaurant and dining tables. It often sits right next to the salt and pepper.

Can’t find Hawaiian chili peppers? You can substitute in any red chili, but pequin and Thai peppers may bring the most similar heat to Hawaiian chilies. Or, for a milder flavor, use red jalapeños or red serrano peppers. We don’t recommend using green peppers in this recipe. For one, the color looks much better with red chilies. But, more importantly, the flavor of green chilies is often too bright and bitter to work well with this use case.

See it being made:

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Hawaiian chili pepper water

Hawaiian Chili Pepper Water

The simplest form of hot sauce
4.20 from 10 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Sauce
Servings 40 servings
Calories 1 kcal


  • 2 cups water
  • 2 Hawaiian chili peppers sub red jalapeño, red serrano, cayenne, pequin, or Thai – ordered by heat, destemmed and halved
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon garlic chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  • Using a mortar and pestle, mash the chili peppers, garlic, and salt to release the flavors and incorporate the tastes.
  • Transfer the pepper mash into an airtight sealable jar, then place to the side.
  • In a saucepan over high heat, combine the white vinegar and water. Bring to a boil, then turn off the heat, and allow the liquid to sit on the burner and slowly cool for approximately 10 minutes.
  • Add the liquid to the pepper mash and seal. Refrigerate overnight to allow the flavors to meld.


Calories: 1kcalCarbohydrates: 1gProtein: 1gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 59mgPotassium: 2mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 5IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 1mg
Keyword Hawaiian Chili Pepper
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UPDATE NOTICE: This post was updated on June 22, 2024 to include new content.
4.20 from 10 votes (9 ratings without comment)
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Betty Izquierdo

Brought memories of my mom, cause we always had it on the table. Ate it with taro, boiled green bananas, yuthia, potatoes and over hot white rice. We poured it over pastelles and it was the bomb.
Miss mom so much
I learned a lot from her.❤❤❤❤❤😥😥


Love Hawaiian peppers! Mahalo for sharing!


5 stars
If you use smokin’ hot Chiltepines (wild gathered from non-cultivated chile plants in Sonoran desert regions all the way up into Southern Az)….

…and lime juice plus garlic you have just made the very well regarded Aguachile or chile water of Sinaloa. This chile water is now used to marinate raw fresh shrimp for the fresh Mex resto crowd but back in the day was used to rehydrate the very tough dried carne seca made from free range Sinaloan cattle.

Gregory Anderson

Shucks, I was hoping you’d mention drinking it. Well now that’s just what I’ll do. I love the idea of having a mild condiment but in our house there isn’t much call for it. I think I’ll do lime juice though instead of the garlic for making it a thirst quencher, maybe a half&half with apple cider vinegar with the white.

Too Cool. I just love your website. Thanks for the memories, and I enjoy sharing the recipes and articles online at pinterest and through emails.