Harold’s Chicken Mild Sauce recipe: Mild hot sauces add a little bit of spice and heat to food. They are not super hot or spicy. On the Scoville scale, which measures spicy peppers, mild hot sauces are between 500 and 2,000 Scoville units. The lower the number, the less spice and heat. The Harold’s Chicken Mild Sauce is served at all Harold’s Chicken locations, though it is difficult to find it bottled in stores. Some local grocery stores in Chicago carry it.
Mild hot sauces use peppers like jalapenos, Anaheims, poblanos, and serranos. These give a mild to medium heat. You can taste other flavors, like garlic, onions, cumin, vinegar, fruit, and more. The heat does not take over the different tastes.
You can use mild hot sauces in many dishes without making them too spicy. They are good on eggs, meats, soups, stews, tacos, burritos, pizzas, sandwiches, and more. People who think boiling sauces are too much often like milder hot sauces.
Some famous mild hot sauces are Cholula Original, Tabasco Green Sauce, El Yucateco Kutbil-ik Mayan Recipe, Texas Pete Hotter Hot Sauce, and Frank’s RedHot Original Cayenne Pepper Sauce.
So mild hot sauces add a little spice and heat but still let you taste the other flavors. They kick dishes without being too hot.
During a trip to Chicago, I discovered a local favorite – Chicago Mild Sauce. This tomato-based sauce has an amazing tangy yet slightly spicy kick that quickly became one of my new favorite condiments.
This regional sauce has a bit of a cult following in the Midwest, but it can be hard to track down a bottle outside of Illinois.
Once I returned home, I tried to find Chicago Mild Sauce in my local grocery stores but had no luck. So I decided to try my hand at making my own homemade version! After some trial and error, I developed a recipe that comes pretty darn close to replicating that distinctive Chicago Mild Sauce flavor.
In this blog post, I’ll share my recipe for DIY Chicago Mild Sauce so you can enjoy this fantastic regional specialty in your own kitchen. I’ll provide step-by-step instructions, ingredient substitutes, serving suggestions, and answers to frequently asked questions about this unique hot sauce. Let’s get saucy!
Homemade Harold’s Chicken Mild Sauce Recipe
My homemade Harold’s Chicken Mild Sauce recipe stays true to the original with a tomato base and blend of spices. But I added some personal tweaks after testing several batches. The result is a sauce with nice mild heat, vinegary zing, and a wonderful robust tomato flavor.
- 3 cups white vinegar (apple cider or white distilled work well)
- 1 28oz can tomato sauce
- 1 28oz can diced tomatoes
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 1⁄4 cup tomato paste
- 1⁄4 cup brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 dried Guajillo chiles, seeded and chopped
- 3 dried ancho chiles, seeded and chopped
- 2 dried arbol chiles, seeded and chopped
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1⁄2 teaspoon black pepper
How to Make Harold’s Chicken Mild Sauce – Step-By-Step Instructions
In a large skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil. Once hot, add the diced onion and saute for 5 minutes until translucent. Add the minced garlic and saute for 1 minute more.
Add the Guajillo, ancho, and arbol chiles. Cook the peppers for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently, until they become fragrant.
Next, stir in the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, brown sugar, paprika, cumin, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Let the sauce simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it thickens up.
Remove the sauce from the heat. Carefully transfer it to a blender. Blend on high speed for 1-2 minutes until smooth.
Return the blended sauce to the skillet over low heat. Add in the vinegar and stir to combine. Let simmer for 10 more minutes.
Remove from heat and allow the sauce to cool before bottling or storing. It will thicken up more as it cools.
Transfer to bottles, jars, or storage containers. Refrigerate for up to 3 months or freeze for longer storage.
Harold’s Chicken Mild Sauce Variations and Substitutions
This Chicago Mild Sauce recipe is highly customizable to suit your tastes:
- For more heat, add extra arbol chiles or habanero pepper. For less heat, use fewer chiles or milder varieties like pasilla.
- If you want more tang, increase the vinegar. Or for less acidity, reduce the vinegar by a tablespoon or two.
- You can use regular granulated sugar instead of brown sugar. Or add a little honey for extra depth.
- Substitute red wine vinegar or champagne vinegar for a different vinegar flavor.
- For a smoother sauce, blend in an additional tablespoon of tomato paste after blending.
- Play around with spices like smoked paprika, oregano, onion powder, or chili powder.
- Swap out tomatillos for a portion of the tomatoes for a tangier flavor.
Harold’s Chicken Mild Sauce Serving Suggestions and Uses
Harold’s Chicken Mild Sauce is extremely versatile. Here are some of my favorite ways to use this flavor-packed condiment:
- Drizzle over tacos, burritos, enchiladas, and other Mexican foods
- Add to pizza, hot dogs, sausages, burgers, sandwiches
- Use as a marinade or dipping sauce for chicken, fish, veggies, etc.
- Include in soups, stews, chilis, and chowders
- Mix into any tomato-based sauce, stewed beans, etc.
- Add to deviled or scrambled eggs
- Use as a spicy vinegar for pickling vegetables
- Mix with mayo for a spicy condiment for sandwiches
- Add to boiled potatoes or potato salad
What does Harold’s Chicken Mild Sauce like?
My homemade Harold’s Chicken Mild Sauce ends up tasting very close to the few bottled Chicago Mild Sauces I’ve been lucky enough to try. It has a nice mild heat – I’d estimate it’s around 2,000 Scoville units. The jalapeños and cherry bombs provide most of the heat.
There’s a bright vinegary tang, and the tomato paste lends sweetness to balance that out. The Anaheims give more roasted, savory notes. And you get just a little garlic in the background. It’s great on pizza, eggs, tacos, sandwiches…you name it!
FAQs – Harold’s Chicken Mild Sauce Recipe
Here are answers to some common questions about my homemade Harold’s Chicken Mild Sauce:
How long does them homemade Harold’s Chicken Mild Sauce keep?
Properly stored in the refrigerator, the homemade Harold’s Chicken Mild Sauce will keep for 2-3 months. It can also be frozen for 6 months.
Can I use jarred peppers instead of dried ones?
Yes, you can substitute jarred diced peppers like piquins or jalapenos for the dried peppers. The flavor will be a bit different though.
Is fermentation required?
No, this sauce does not require fermenting or any special canning equipment.
How spicy does it end up?
I’d describe this as a mild sauce, around 2,000 Scoville units. It provides a nice kick but isn’t overly spicy.
Can I use regular tomatoes instead of diced ones?
You can, but the texture will be thinner rather than chunky. I recommend using diced.
What’s the best way to bottle the sauce?
The best way to bottle the sauce, using glass bottles or jars. Make sure to sterilize them first for the longest shelf life.
What’s the difference between Chicago Mild Sauce and other mild hot sauces?
Chicago Mild Sauce gets its unique flavor from the blend of peppers used – it’s heavy on jalapeños and cherry bombs, which provide a distinct flavor profile. Many mild sauces like Tabasco rely more heavily on cayennes. The tomato, garlic, and vinegar notes are also less pronounced in Chicago Mild Sauce, allowing the peppers to be the star.
Chicago mild sauce vs mumbo sauce – What are the differences?
while both are regional condiments with signature flavors, Chicago Mild Sauce differs from Mumbo Sauce in its tangy pepper-based taste profile and ability to add mild heat to a variety of dishes. Mumbo Sauce is sweet, thick, with very little spice, and used mostly as a dip.
Let me know in the comments if you have any other questions! I’m happy to provide tips to help you recreate this iconic Chicago specialty sauce.