Spiced Vinegar



The Puerto Rican cuisine is flavorful due to our sofrito and condiments.  However, we also prepare a spicy vinegar (hot sauce) which is placed on the table when a meal is served.   Therefore, you can drizzle the Spiced Vinegar (Vinagre/Pique) over your food for a spicy hot flavor and aroma.   In our culture, Vinagre and Pique are two interchangeable words when referring to the Spiced Vinegar.

This is a very simple recipe.  You basically soak the hot chili peppers in vinegar with herbs, spices and pineapple rinds for approximately 7 days.  The longer it soaks the hotter the Spiced Vinegar (Vinagre/Pique) will become.  In our culture, you will find many different versions of Spiced Vinegar (Vinagre/Pique), depending on your preference of ingredients or taste.

A Little Bit of Food History!

We prepare the Spiced Vinegar (Vinagre/Pique) with hot chili peppers known as ajíes caballeros (capsicum frutescens).   The ajíes caballeros are the hottest peppers native to Puerto Rico.  The Taíno Indians cultivated the ajíes caballeros.   These hot chili peppers (ajíes caballeros) stand vertically on the plant when most peppers hang down from the branches.  The plant can grow from 3 feet to 4 feet tall.  The hot chili peppers on the plant will turn yellow, then orange and a bright red color when it matures.

A picture of the hot chili peppers (ajíes caballeros) standing vertically on the branch of the plant.  

Let’s Prepare the Hot Chili Peppers (Ajíes Caballeros)!

This recipe calls for twenty (20) hot chili peppers (ajíes caballeros).  It is important to wear gloves when handling hot chili peppers (ajíes caballeros).  Rinse the hot chili peppers (ajíes caballeros) and place only 5 on a cutting board.

Gently pull the stems from the 5 hot chili peppers (ajíes caballeros).  

Cut all 5 hot chili peppers (ajíes caballeros) in half with a knife.

You also have the option of making a slit lengthwise on top of the hot chili peppers (ajíes caballeros), exposing the seeds if you do not want to cut them in halves.

Do not discard the seeds because the seeds are what gives the Spiced Vinegar (Vinagre/Pique) its hotness. 

We are Ready to Prepare the Spiced Vinegar (Vinagre/Pique)!

Add 5 peeled garlic cloves, ¼ teaspoon of oregano and ½ teaspoon of peppercorn in a glass jar.  You can add salt at this point if you so desire.

The peppercorns and salt are optional.

Place the 5 hot chili peppers (ajíes caballeros) that were cut in halves inside the jar.  

If you want your Spiced Vinegar (Vinagre/Pique) to be very spicy hot (a lot of heat – muy picante), cut a few more hot chili peppers (ajíes caballeros) in halves.  

Now you can insert the remaining 15 whole hot chili peppers (ajíes caballeros) inside the jar.

Since I am not fond of pineapples due to its tart flavor, it is omitted in this recipe.  However, this is the section where you can add ½ cup of pineapple chunks or 3 to 4 pineapple rinds.   Some individuals will boil the pineapple rinds and pour the pineapple flavored water into the jar. 

Pour ½ cup of white vinegar into the jar.

Pour enough olive oil to fill the jar – approximately ½ cup.

After filling the jar with all the ingredients, stir the ingredients until well blended.  If you place the ingredients in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid, shake the jar to mix all the ingredients well. 

Cover the jar with a lid and let stand for 7 to 10 days before using to reach full potency.  This allows the ingredients to infuse the vinegar with flavor and heat.

Let’s Drizzle the Spiced Vinegar (Vinagre/Pique) Over the Food!

Stir the Spiced Vinegar (Vinagre/Pique) before serving.  Pour the Spiced Vinegar (Vinagre/Pique) onto a small spoon.  Drizzle small amounts over your food to give it a spicy hot flavor and aroma.

Enjoy your favorite meals spicy hot with our traditional Spiced Vinegar (Vinagre/Pique)!  ¡Buen Provecho!

The meal in this picture is  White Rice and Stewed Red Kidney Beans prepared with West Indian Pumpkin  – a staple in the Puerto Rican culture.  

Click on the button below to watch my YouTube Video on How to Prepare Spiced Vinegar (Vinagre/Pique)!

This video has been removed and is currently being updated!

Recipe and Nutritional Facts!

Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy and is approximate only.  Please refer to our Nutritional Facts Disclaimer for more information.


Spiced Vinegar (Vinagre/Pique)

  • Author: Aida's Kitchen
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 72 Servings 1x


Our Spiced Vinegar (Vinagre/Pique) is prepared with our traditional hot chili peppers that are soaked in vinegar with herbs, spices and pineapple rinds for a delicious spicy hot sauce.



  • 5 Hot Chili Peppers (Ajíes Caballeros), stems removed and cut in halves
  • 15 Hot Chili Peppers (Ajíes Caballeros), stems removed
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled
  • ¼ teaspoon oregano
  • ½ teaspoon peppercorn (optional)
  • ½ cup pineapple chunks or 3 to 4 pineapple rinds (optional)
  • ½ cup white vinegar, according to your taste
  • ½ cup olive oil to 1 cup olive oil, according to your taste


  1. Rinse hot chili peppers.  Cut 5 hot chili peppers in halves.  Do not remove the seeds.
  2. In a glass jar, add the remaining ingredients.
  3. Mix all the ingredients until well blended.
  4. Cover glass jar with lid.
  5. Let stand for 7 to 10 days to reach full potency.
  6. Stir the spiced vinegar before using and drizzle small amounts over your favorite meals.


Remember the longer the spiced vinegar sits the hotter it will get.

  • Category: Condiments
  • Cuisine: Puerto Rican

Keywords: Spiced Vinegar (Vinagre/Pique)

Nutritional Facts Disclaimer


Category: Condiments, Recipes

6 Comments. Leave new

  • Hi Aida, I’ve just discovered you on You tube when I was looking up harvesting aji dulce. My husband received Habanero peppers from a coworker. I wanted to make him some pique as he’s the only one in the house that likes spicy food! Can I use them in this recipe instead of the hot chili peppers? Thank you!

    • Hi Carmona, In my video and food blogging post, I just like to inform my followers that we use the “ajíes caballeros” to prepare the Pique in Puerto Rico. However, you can definitely use any hot chili peppers of your choice to make the spiced vinegar (Pique).

  • Does this need to be refrigerated? Does it prevent Botulism? Garlic stored in oil creates it but will the vinegar prevent it ?

    • Hi Krystal, Chopped or minced garlic mixed with oil will speed the process for botulism compared to using garlic cloves. When you add vinegar (high ratio) to the oil and garlic, it will preserve the garlic and will inhibit the growth of botulism due to its high acid content. Preparing the spiced vinegar with water will definitely create the bacteria for botulism. This is why I don’t use water in my recipe. However, if you are concern about botulism, then I would recommend to refrigerate your spiced vinegar. It will keep up to four months refrigerated. Since we use the spiced vinegar within a week in my home because I make a small amount, I do not refrigerate my spiced vinegar. I am a certified food handler manager and many individuals are not aware that cooked oatmeal and cooked rice that is not refrigerated promptly after cooking can also cause botulism. In our culture, we eat a lot of rice and oatmeal. When in doubt of preserving food, always consult with a dietician or an expert in the food industry.

  • Hola Aida! As a fellow islander. I’m glad I found this recipe! I was curious if we could somehow preserve this one the full potency has been reached, by canning? I’m not sure about it because of the amount of oil, but maybe make a vinegar mix with the peppers, peppercorns, and garlic (without the oil) to can, and then when ready to use, add the oil at that point? 🤔 I’ve been thinking on that. Dejame saber que crees o si sabes de eso

    • Hi Kayla, You should always avoid canning with fats and oils because of food safety reasons unless it is commercially prepared. The oils will not safely preserve the food and will provide an environment for bacterial growth – botulism food poisoning. I understand that adding an acidic ingredient to the oil like vinegar will help prevent the growth of bacteria. This is why we can allow our pique for several weeks on the counter. However, when it comes to canning, you can only have a very small amount of oil and lots of vinegar and always make sure that you use a recipe from a tested kitchen. I think you have a good idea but I would recommend to do your own research online at various kitchen tested facilities. Remember that the unique flavor of our pique is due to the combination of all the ingredients remaining in the container for several days.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.

A Food Blog with Classic and Contemporary Authentic Puerto Rican Cuisine

Order your cookbook today!

  • 42 authentic Puerto Rican recipes
  • Cookbook written in English and Spanish
  • Each recipe contains a picture
  • Healthier version of Puerto Rican cookery