Taste Test: Hot Sauce

by in Taste Test, August 14, 2012

hot sauce
With so much talk about hot sauce, we had to taste test all the popular varieties for ourselves. We got our mouths fired up for this spicy taste test. Find out who topped our list.

It’s All About Sodium
Hot sauce is the new ketchup. Dab a little on sandwiches, pizza, pasta dishes, chili, grilled meats, eggs – almost any dish. If you check out the label, you’ll notice that there’s not much nutrition information per serving—no calories, fat, saturated fat, carbs, or protein (or at least so little that it can be listed as zero by food labeling guideline). What it does have is sodium—and some brands have more than others.

The Criteria
For this taste test, we rated hot sauce based on taste, spiciness, ingredients and nutritional information—specifically sodium. We chose the original flavor for each brand and rated them on a 5-point scale (5 being the highest). Since hot sauce is typically eaten with food, we tasted each on a tortilla chip.

Although many folks shouted out Sriracha on Facebook and Twitter, we chose to stick to traditional varieties for this taste test.

Cholula Hot Sauce
Rating: 5.0
Cost: $0.45 per fluid ounce
Nutrition Info (per teaspoon): 0 calories; 28 milligrams sodium
Our Take: Imported from Mexico, this is the only brand that has 1 tablespoon listed as the serving size (others have 1 teaspoon). The pepper flavor is pretty mild, especially compared to some of the other brands; that might be because the first ingredient listed is water (then arbol and piquin peppers).

Tabasco Pepper Sauce
Rating: 4.0
Cost: $1.18 per fluid ounce
Nutrition Info (per teaspoon):  0 calories; 35 milligrams sodium
Our Take: Many of us grew up using this teeny red bottle and boy it’s still as hot as we remember. This baby has only 3 ingredients: distilled vinegar, red pepper, and salt. Alongside Cholula, it has the lowest sodium content but was by far the most expensive.

Frank’s Red Hot Original
Rating: 4.0
Cost: $0.31 per fluid ounce
Nutrition Info (per teaspoon):  0 calories; 190 milligrams sodium
Our Take: We love the innocent (yet filthy-mouthed) elderly woman on the Frank’s Red Hot Sauce commercials (check out their website if you haven’t seen them). The ingredients in this one are pretty simple — cayenne peppers, distilled vinegar, water, salt and garlic powder. The flavor is just right—not too spicy but not mild either and it’s the cheapest of the bunch. The sodium, however, is one of the highest of all brands we tested.

Texas Pete Hot Sauce
Rating: 4.0
Cost: $0.18 per fluid ounce
Nutrition Info (per teaspoon): 0 calories; 100 milligrams sodium
Our Take: Whoa, Nelly! This hot sauce has a nice kick which you feel a second after it hits your mouth. Sodium is smack in the middle of all the samples we tested and ingredients do include a few additives like xanthan gum and benzoate of soda (to preserve freshness and flavor).

Louisiana Hot Sauce   
Rating: 3.5
Cost: $0.37 per fluid ounce
Nutrition Info (per teaspoon): 0 calories; 240 milligrams sodium
Our Take: This “hot” sauce was actually on the sweeter side and the sauce itself had a thicker consistency. Ingredient list is simple: peppers, vinegar and salt but the sodium is much higher than all other brand we tested.

TELL US: What’s your favorite hot sauce?

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Comments (1,944)

  1. Kelli says:

    I'm a Tabasco fan! Always have been always will be! I have to consume very little sodium and no added junk like benzoate, so it is the ideal choice for me anyway.

  2. Kris says:

    Cholula is best! I use it on almost anything, even being pregnant. Popcorn. Mac and cheese, chili-you name it I’ve probably added Cholula to it. I highly recommend using some on buttery grits.

  3. Evelyn says:

    I was disappointed that you didn't taste test Crystal.

  4. Mennedy says:

    I agree with Evelyn, Crystal is the best!

  5. David says:

    These standard have their place on the table depending what you are using them for. But, if I am wanting to get my kicks I go for Blair's Original Death Sauce. Good heat and flavor for your eggs, chilli, etc.

    (Ingredients: Red and Orange Habaneros, Vinegar, Fresh Cayenne, Smashed Garlic, Chipotle, Lime Juice, Cilantro, Fresh Herbs
    and Spices.)

  6. Jim says:

    Dadgumit…y'all are talking hot sauce, making me think of a big pot of chili, and Summer isn't yet over!

  7. Joloka Madness says:

    Melinda's is the best hot sauce, period…it's a crime not to have included it here.

  8. Val from PA says:

    Texas Pete's is my fave… Tabasco is too watery for me…

  9. Jesse says:

    I like Tapatio

  10. cocaogirl says:

    im a franks girl :)

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