Red and ripe chili peppers (Flickr: aurelien)

Red and ripe chili peppers (Flickr: aurelien)

Anglophone West African loves chili more than your average African. Called ‘hot pepper’ by most, it is a must on every plate and table, even for breakfast. Everyone has their own special way of making hot pepper sauce, preparing the chili peppers in a different way.

In this version, which is particular to Liberia, the chilies are fried. For extra flavor, seasonings like peanut butter and smoked fish can be added, if you like.

This is a good sauce to serve alongside any bland-tasting rice or beans dish, as it spices things up immediately. Be forewarned: a little goes a long way!

(We have noticed that there are a lot of exclamatory sentences on this page. We feel that pepper sauce deserves fair warnings, so they stay.)

Liberian Chili Pepper Sauce

1 cup chili peppers (ideally the red ones)

2 cups white onions, sliced

1/4 cup oil

salt and/or stock cubes

1. Cut the top cap and stem off the chilies and slice them finely. Please be careful not to touch anything until after you’ve thoroughly washed your hands with soap. Capsacin oil is painful in delicate places!

2. Heat the oil in a deep saucepan or frying pan. Add the sliced chilies and onions, stirring regularly over a medium heat. The pepper sauce will make your kitchen smell spicy and fragrant, but be sure the area is well-ventilated so you don’t start coughing!

3. When the aromas from your pepper sauce calm down a bit and start smelling gentler, the sauce is ready to taste and adjust the seasonings. Don’t do this on an empty stomach!

4. At this point, you can add any number of things. We suggest salt, unless you’re set on using a stock cube.

5. You might also want to add tomato paste, broken-up smoked fish, or creamy peanut butter.


Your Liberian pepper sauce will keep in the fridge for a week or two, and is delicious on rice. Enjoy!

To learn about the noble, feisty chili pepper and use it in your African kitchen, we suggest:

Chili and Hot Pepper Recipes
About Chili and Hot Pepper

For more about how to use local vegetables in your African kitchen, check out:

Cooking with African Vegetables
About African Vegetables