The main criteria for our hot sauce taste test were flavor, heat, and smell. What we really were looking for in a top hot sauce was one that had a good balance. Too often do we find a hot sauce that is way too spicy, but not flavorful enough, or one that tastes less like hot sauce due to the lack of, well, heat.
This hot sauce was described by one of our staff as “smoky murder,” and we think that’s a pretty accurate description. It’s made with a combination of habanero and chipotle peppers, but it tastes more like a bottle-full of the fires of hell. Another editor claimed that one dot of Da’ Bomb “scorched my whole heart,” and the truth is Da’ Bomb is just way too hot. You can’t taste anything after you have it, which isn’t exactly what a hot sauce should do. It “kills taste buds,” as one of our staff said. Seriously, approach this hot sauce with extreme caution.
This sauce fell to the bottom of the list for pretty much not tasting like a hot sauce at all. One of our staff described it as “spicy Worcestershire,” and many thought that it lacked any heat at all. The smell of it also was a little too much for some of us. We think we might use Pickapeppa for marinades, but not as a hot sauce.
Sriracha is becoming so big that everyone wants to get in on the action, but unfortunately, Kikkoman’s Sriracha did not impress. Unlike other srirachas, it was too sweet and had “heat, but not kick.” Overall the impression of it was “not bad,” which isn’t exactly a stellar recommendation. We’d say steer clear of this one for some better varieties of sriracha.
Tiger Sauce had an Asian flair that received mixed reviews among our staff. Some enjoyed it, calling it “sweet and tangy,” while others thought that it lacked the most important aspect of a hot sauce: heat. We think this sauce has a specific flavor that won’t go over well with most people, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it should be avoided entirely.
Louisiana Hot Sauce also received mixed reviews from our tasters. Even though the label on the bottle claims it’s “the perfect hot sauce,” one of our staff described it as “sour and unimpressive.” Still, there were some who defended the merit of Louisiana Hot Sauce, calling it “bright and acidic,” and claiming that “a little goes a long way.” We think this one is worth trying, but it might not completely satisfy you.
Cholula is made in and imported from Mexico, so you expect it to be good, and a lot of our tasters did like it. However, it wasn’t impressive enough to make it any higher than the middle spot. Still, there were a lot of positive reviews, including one taster who claimed he could “taste real chili peppers,” and another who liked Cholula so much that she would “slather on my nachos.” We think this hot sauce is a good starting point for those of us who are maybe new to the whole hot sauce game.
Trader Joe’s Sriracha fared much better than Kikkoman for a few reasons. The first one was flavor. Overall people seemed to enjoy the flavor of TJ’s Sriracha much more, but there were still some complaints that, although tasty, it didn’t taste exactly as a hot sauce should. In fact there were many comparisons to other condiments, like ketchup and wing sauce. Overall, though, TJ’s Sriracha is a good option for hot sauce lovers.
Tapatio pulled ahead of the pack because of a good balance of heat and flavor. One of our editors described it as having “a nice tang,” and another enjoyed the “quick build of heat” that Tapatio gave. It wasn’t so spicy that it canceled out the (stellar) flavor, but it provided enough heat to give a good burn to your tongue. We think this hot sauce is one of the best.
Tabasco ranked number three on this list, and we can see why. It was spicier than some of the other options, but still maintained all the flavor that we expect of a top hot sauce. Some of the descriptions from our tasters included “smoky,” “tangy,” and “solid.” And we agree. Tabasco is a solid hot sauce that would go well with pretty much anything, whether you want to eat it plain on tortilla chips or add it to your soups and salads. Just be sure you like a good amount of heat because Tabasco “has a strong kick to it.”
This hot sauce uses aged cayenne peppers for its kick of heat, and the flavor went over great with our tasters. Frank’s has a multi-dimensional flavor profile that works well with pretty much anything you want to put it on. One of our tasters described it as “sweet, flavorful, and not too spicy,” and clearly the others agreed. As far as heat goes, Frank’s is milder than some of the other options, but that just adds to its versatility. This is a perfect hot sauce for people who want a lot of flavor, with just a kick of mild heat.
Huy Fong Sriracha reigns supreme according to our tasters, and it seems that the rest of the world agrees, given the outcry that sprung up when we all thought that their factory would be closing down. Honestly, we’re not sure what we would do without Sriracha, seeing as we put it on pretty much everything. Our tasters were wild about this hot sauce, describing it as “sweet, zesty, and perfect” with a heat that “creeps up.” But the best part about Sriracha is its perfect balance between flavor and heat. We suggest you run out and buy the biggest bottle you can find right now.