Infusing Vodka with Hot Peppers (Preserving Summer)

It is a great myth that preserving takes a long time or takes a great deal of skill.  Infusing is super easy and the results can be astounding.

To infuse Vodka with hot peppers, do the following:

  1. Place a hot pepper (whole) in a mason jar.
  2. Fill Mason jar with Vodka.
  3. Store in a cool, dark place for 3 days.
  4. Remove the pepper.  Straining is best as their could be some new solids within the jar.
  5. Say SHAZAM!

Alcohol is an ultimate preserving agent – there is no need, in this case, to water bath the jars.  You`re done that fast.

There are many uses for hot-pepper vodka, including cooking (Penne a la Spicy Vodka), consuming as a hot Martini or mixed into a fabulous Caesar.  I had a Sour Apple Martini made with pepper-infused vodka at Red Pearl Kitchen in San Diego last winter that I still dream of (it did not scorch the mouth).

A few tips:

  • Don`t be afraid of heat.  You can dilute spicy Vodka with more Vodka if you`d like to make it milder (though wait a few weeks as it could get milder over that time – some of my fruit infusions have changed for months from medicinal to fantastical).
  • You can add garlic (use lots – up to a bulb for a 1-liter jar)
  • Experiment with different hot peppers.  We ran a series on Hot Peppers earlier in the year which concluded with a review of 9 different types of dried hot peppers.  Click on wellpreservedloveshotpeppers to view that series.
  • Every Hot Pepper – including ones on the same tree – will have different heat.  The Lexicon shows the range of heat for your reference and explains further.  Either taste the pepper you place or in your vodka or take the risk – but recognize that different batches with the same number of peppers will have different heat.  If you make multiple jars you may consider mixing them for consistency.
  • Pickled Asparagus or Pickled Beans (you can use the same recipe) are awesome additions to any caesar.
  • We posted about infusing with fruit and then what to do when an infusion gets bitter.
  • You don`t need to make a liter.  Feel free to make micro small portions (i.e. 0.5 cup jars) but consider altering the portion of your peppers – there is no right or wrong other than your personal tastes.

This has to be the easiest preserving ever.  It boggles my mind that we don`t find more watering holes creating their own special concoctions like this to truly separate themselves from everyone else.  It was more common in New York and Chicago though I`ve seen very little in Toronto – if anyone has some tips to share on where to find local watering holes who do their own infusions, fire me a line!  If you`re a local bar looking to get started, we may also be able to help.

Whatever the case, I highly reccomend you playing with infusion (for a non-alcoholic version, check out our article on raspberries which includes describing how to create raspberry-infused vinegar or how to make herb-infused vinegar).

This is part of our Preserving Summer series (click the link for access to all of the articles to date)  that supports our recent article in Edible Toronto.  We welcome any and all questions, comments and your ideas!

  1. I did my first infused vodka (raspberry) a few weeks ago. Great sucess! I like the pepper idea. I know I have a bottle of vodka and I am pretty sure I have a jalapeño. Off to the kitchen!

  2. The owner of a Mexican Bar in Tokyo has been doing just that since 2004, He has made his own infusions with Tequila and Rum.

    He makes both Habanero and Jalapeno Tequila, and He uses Rum to brew Coffee, he calls it Ron Cafe. I was the unfortunate victim of one of his first Habanero Infusions, he put like 30 Habaneros in a bottle of Tequila, and I was young at the time, so I accepted the dare of drinking a whole 45ml Shot of that stuff, needless to say, it felt as though I had drank Pepper Spray! >__< lol

    He has toned down his hot pepper infusions recently so that they are drinkable. I tried one recently, and I can't help but to notice that there is a waxy/oily taste to the infused Tequila, perhaps because he does not remove the peppers from the bottle…..

    Did your Jalapeno Infusions have a waxy/oily feel to them? I think I would quite enjoy them if they didn't have the waxy/oily feel to them.

  3. Hale Street Tavern in Beverly Farms, MA has different infusions all the time. It’s a small town place doing big town things. Two months ago, they had the most wonderful “Hot and Dirty” with their own pepper infused spicy vodka. It was so spicy and so smooth. Since then, they have moved on, even though I haven’t. I think they are in holiday mode with mint infused vodka right now. Anyway, if you’re ever in the Boston area, check it out!

    • Saka,

      This place sounds amazing! We keep meaning to make a map of places to go – ahve to get on that and add this place! 🙂