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. Jeff says:

    Well if you are a true HOT HEAD.. You would like them all. I use Tabasco on most things but Franks goes great on wings. The rest I use on different things to. I really like the first post b/c I also make my own sauce, I have peppers aging in my pantry for 3 years now. I think they are aboat ready to make sauce out of them.. I can't wait…. It can never Be to hot…:) :)

  2. Foody GG1 says:

    I guess I'm a "Chile Head"! In my fridge are Original Tabasco, Frank's, Chalula, Tapatio, Sriracha, Tabasco Chipotle, Tabasco Jalapeno, Louisiana, Crystal, Valentina Salsa Picante, and my latest find, Doc Ford's Green Flash. No Texas Pete (No more room on shelf). I use all of them since they all have a distinctive flavor and heat range which compliments whichever food I am serving at the time. I also make a few unnamed sauces, salsas and BBQ saucesfor myself and friends. All of these have to deffer to the individual's taste and the food being served. I don't have any MILLION Scoville Unit sauces. In my opinion they are for party challenges after too much refreshment! Choose which one works for you, but ocassionally, try a new one or two sauces. They might surprise you…Enjoy!

  3. Dev says:

    Best new products- Marshall's Haute Sauce – With names like Serrano Lemongrass, Red Chili Lime, and Habanero Carrot Curry you know they have layers and layers of flavor and heat. All gluten free- check out their website. No, I don't make them, just eat them.

  4. BJ OF VB says:

    I LOVE TEXAS PETE. DON'T GO ANYWHERE WITHOUT IT. SOMETIMES IF I NEED A LITTLE MORE KICK I'LL MIX SOME TABASCO WITH THE TEXAS PETE OR JUST SOME RED HOT PEPPER FLAKES AND SHAKE IT UP. BUT THE TEXAS PETE FLAVOR IS SO MUCH BETTER. *CAROLINA GIRL LOVING TEXAS PETE ON HER BARBEQUE.

  5. Val from PA says:

    Texas Pete is my favorite! I find Tabasco to be on the watery side – it just doesn’t do anything for me… Love Sriracha of course, and also use Thai Garlic Chili Paste a lot – it has great flavor and a nice kick!

  6. Roxanne says:

    I am addicted to Tapatio! It is awesome! However, I just noticed the sodium level in Tapatio is a little on the high side. I’m gonna have to try Cholula. Sriracha is great with Teriyaki sauce! Makes the BEST Firecracker chicken wings. Yum-ola!

  7. NYhermana says:

    As a Mexican, I have to ask all of you to try TAPATIO. The others are good too: Valentina, Cholula… If I want a more 'ketchupy' one – I like Siracha. If I just want to taste hot vinegar; then Tabasco or Frank's are good. Thanks!

  8. Craig says:

    How could you have a hot sauce competition and not include the best one…..CRYSTAL????????

  9. Bird Nest says:

    Love the taste of Franks best but was surprised at how high the sodium count is!

  10. amp013 says:

    Love, love, love Crystal Hot Sauce. Not too hot, great flavor.

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