Chili pepper water is a treasure of Hawaiian cuisine, alongside the delectable spam musubi, poke, and shave ice. This spicy condiment is the local answer to hot sauce and variations of chili pepper water are homemade in kitchens across the islands.


Chili peppers, the berry-fruit of the capsicum plant, originated in modern-day Bolivia and is one of the oldest cultivated crops in the Americas—many cultivars have spread across the world. Chili peppers are part of the nightshade family, including other species such as tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, and tobacco. Hawaiʻi has two types of chili peppers: the Hawaiian chili pepper and the Waialua chili pepper. The Hawaiian chili pepper is small and spicy, ranging between 50,000 and 70,000 on the Scoville scale. The Waialua chili pepper is shaped like a jalapeño but is much sweeter and matures to a beautiful vibrant red color.

While not readily available in supermarkets, Hawaiian chili peppers can be found at local farmers markets throughout Hawai‘i, from a befriended local, or here at The Farm at Hōkūala!

Currently growing at The Farm, the Hawaiian chili pepper bushes appear as though we hand-decorated for the festive season—a plethora of colorful fruits ranging from green, yellow, and orange to a bright fire-engine red can be found. When the peppers turn red, they’re ready for harvesting. The peppers will last a couple of weeks in the fridge or they are easy to dry for long-term storage.

Ingredients & Method

  • 1/2 cup local chilies
  • 1 tbsp Hawaiian Salt
  • 1/2 cup Sugar
  • 1/2 cup Water
  • 1/2 cup Rice Vinegar

How to Make:

Combine the vinegar and water. Blend the chilies, salt, and sugar in a blender with a small amount of the vinegar and water solution. Once thoroughly blended, combine all of the ingredients together and pour into a sterilized glass jar, seal, and refrigerate. Let the mixture marinate for a few days to let the flavors develop. Enjoy with your favorite meals!

Store your chili pepper water in the refrigerator – it can be stored for up to 1 year.

Level it Up:

  • Add garlic, ginger, shoyu, or Worcestershire Sauce to change up the flavor.
  • Add a few whole chili peppers to the jar as a garnish.
  • Try it as a cocktail mixer with other drinks like vodka or rum!