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. LIZ says:

    BE NICE IF THEY TOOK SURVEYS FROM US THE CUSTOMERS.
    FOODNETWORK NEEDS TO GET IT TOGETHER, AND DO SOME
    SURVEYS ASKING US OUR PREFERENCES..OH SORRY THEY
    DON'T EVEN GET RECIPES WRITTEN UP RIGHT AT TIMES, OR
    THEY DON'T LIST THE RECIPE INGREDIENTS.

  2. Ann Marie says:

    I'm a Texas Pete hot sauce lover.Sriracha is a good one also however, I mainly like that with oriental food and Texas Pete well that goes on almost everything!!

  3. Vicky says:

    Louisiana is my favorite, 2nd Cholula, 3rd is Tabasco.

  4. Shelie B says:

    Frank's is the best! Frank's has flavor not just spice that burns your mouth up.

  5. Jeremy says:

    Cholula is a classic for me, but I'm a bigger fan of the heat and some natural sweetness.
    Tropical Pepper Co. makes a XXXXTra Hot Habanero sauce. It definitely has some bite (for your average hot sauces,) but it has an amazing flavor to boot. The sodium may be a little high, but the ingredient list is pretty simple and that's what I like.
    Sriracha used to be a favorite, but on the topic of "healthy eats," any sauce with added sugar is no longer in my diet. <insert pouty lip here>

  6. taralove says:

    I like Franks.

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