Help Me Find a New Hot Sauce
September 10, 2014 11:19 AM   Subscribe

I'm on the hunt for a new hot sauce that is spicy/hot without getting into the over-the-top novelty sauces. Bonus points if it is affordable and versatile enough to go on everything!

Sriracha is getting boring, and it just doesn't have the same heat kick it once did. I'm looking for a good tasty hot sauce to fit in this spiciness hierarchy:

Mild: Tabasco, Cholula, Frank's
Medium: Sriracha, Dave's Gourmet
Hot: ?????????
Ridiculous: Jimmy's Intestine Destroyer Limited Batch

Needless to say I want some heat but don't want to get into the boutique gag sauces; I just want something to go on my eggs, tacos, sandwiches, etc. I guess that means that regional/local products would be out the window unless shipping is cheap.

Does anyone have any suggestions to keep my meals interesting?
posted by Willie0248 to Food & Drink (51 answers total) 39 users marked this as a favorite
 
I highly recommend Secret Aardvark sauce, which is local, but seems to show up in Whole Foods even outside the Portland area where it is made.
posted by saeculorum at 11:21 AM on September 10, 2014 [8 favorites]


Tapatio is all I need.
posted by humboldt32 at 11:25 AM on September 10, 2014 [9 favorites]


El Yucateco habenero sauce. They have a green and a red version, I prefer the green. Definitely much spicier than sriracha but will not kill you, and you can buy it in many grocery stores or on Amazon.
posted by queens86 at 11:25 AM on September 10, 2014 [11 favorites]


I've found piri piri hot sauces to be superior sriracha replacements. You probably even have a locally made one near you, unless you're in, like, Antarctica.
posted by The Bridge on the River Kai Ryssdal at 11:25 AM on September 10, 2014 [3 favorites]


Could you add a drop or two of the ridiculous to the mild or medium and shake it up real good? I only use my ridiculous stuff when I can mix it through something so it's not insane, like chili.
posted by Grither at 11:28 AM on September 10, 2014


I thoroughly enjoy Uncle Brutha's No. 10. Well, No. 9 too.
posted by General Malaise at 11:29 AM on September 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


Yellowbird Habanero Sauce IS THE THING! Austin foodies are crazed for this sauce. It's not too hot and very tasty. The shipping is kinda high but it's so worth it.

From their website: Yellowbird Sauce is an all-natural, habanero hot sauce, made with ♥ in Austin, Tx. It is the most delicious, most versatile, most satisfying condiment that will ever hit your lips!
posted by a humble nudibranch at 11:30 AM on September 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


Could also go the sambal oelek or chili garlic sauce route.
posted by General Malaise at 11:33 AM on September 10, 2014 [4 favorites]


Love, love, love Captain Thom's Dia de los Muertos. Not just hot, but smoky, flavorful, delicious.
posted by apparently at 11:34 AM on September 10, 2014


I'm a huge fan of Melinda's, which has a huge range of sauces within the same flavor profile (and other profiles as well). You can start with the Original Habanero Hot and work up to Original Habanero Extra Hot, Original Habanero XXXtra Hot, and Original Habanero XXXXtra Reserve, and then hotter as necessary. It's really delicious, not very vinegary, and adds a ton of character to your food, in a really good way.
posted by The Michael The at 11:35 AM on September 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


Winston's is SO good, lots of flavor, but the hot is hot. I especially love it on migas; it plays well with eggs. It's not super sweet, just a touch of sweetness.
posted by fiercecupcake at 11:39 AM on September 10, 2014


I love Marie Sharp's habanero. I could eat it on everything ever.
posted by futureisunwritten at 11:40 AM on September 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


Not "sauce", really, but I put it on everything: sambal. It's just ground hot peppers, no other flavorings.
posted by monospace at 11:40 AM on September 10, 2014


Personally I LOVE Maritime Madness. I have a couple of their sauces and they vary in spiciness, but all are tasty and flavourful. Nice smokey flavour. Highly HIGHLY recommended.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 11:41 AM on September 10, 2014


You might want to give Baron's a try. It is a West Indian hot sauce that is very spicy--you kind of have to titrate it into whatever you are eating with it--but the Scotch bonnets give it a really nice fruity flavor.
posted by Lycaste at 11:42 AM on September 10, 2014


Gochujang is more of a paste than a sauce, but you can mix it with things like vinegar and sesame oil to make it more sauce-based. It’s sweeter than a lot of other hot sauces, IME, if that’s your thing. But it usually falls on the lower end of the spiciness scale, so it might not be what you’re looking for. There are hotter varieties available, though.
posted by imnotasquirrel at 11:43 AM on September 10, 2014


I love Rhode Island Red Hot Sauce beyond peppers, it has tomato and carrot (and love) which makes a nice flavorful sauce.
posted by plinth at 11:43 AM on September 10, 2014


2nding Marie Sharp's habenero. Available on Amazon (and everywhere in Belize). Carrot based and just hot enough. Perfect on pizza.
posted by Flamingo at 11:44 AM on September 10, 2014


I'm a hot sauce freak, and these "indie" sauces fit nicely into your "hot" category, and they taste great.

Howler Monkey
Horsetooth
Santa Fe Seasons

I also wholly endorse Marie Sharp's and Melinda's. Both brands have sauces ranging from mild to lethal.
posted by Crotalus at 11:50 AM on September 10, 2014


I like to drink my Sriracha down to the label and fill the bottle back up with sambal oelek. NOTE: this clogs the tip.
posted by pullayup at 11:56 AM on September 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


Piri piri and sambal oelek are my sriracha replacements, FWIW.
posted by AmandaA at 11:58 AM on September 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


For a hotter sauce I usually go for Matouk's West Indian hot sauces. I think it's a scotch bonnet sauce, and is (in addition to being very hot) sweet and fruity.
posted by pullayup at 11:59 AM on September 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


I should clarify--the Matouk's in the picture I posted is actually their mildest sauce, though I would recommend trying it first--their hotter sauces (e.g. Flambeau Sauce) are too hot even for me and may be edging into your "ridiculous" category, though as far as I know they do not have added capsaicin.
posted by pullayup at 12:05 PM on September 10, 2014


Seconding Yucateco.
posted by Diablevert at 12:06 PM on September 10, 2014


Seconding Yucateco.

I do love Yucateco but I'm convinced it has some serious food coloring in it--or, at least the more common red and green varieties do. Not sure if that bothers you.
posted by pullayup at 12:11 PM on September 10, 2014


El Yucateco habenero sauce. They have a green and a red version, I prefer the green. Definitely much spicier than sriracha but will not kill you, and you can buy it in many grocery stores or on Amazon.

At least one type of El Yucateco was found to have unsafe levels of lead in it. I've avoided it ever since.

Add my name to the list for Marie Sharp's.
posted by thingamarob at 12:12 PM on September 10, 2014


My go to is Valentina Extra Hot. It's available in huge bottles in local supermarkets in my area for super cheap. Also on amazon.It's got some heat, not a crazy amount, isn't overly vinegar-y, just seems to go great with everything. Tapatio is good too.
posted by bepe at 12:15 PM on September 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


Cooks Illustrated turned me on to Heartbreaking Dawns Cauterizer, and I've never looked back.
posted by Gee Your Hair Smells Terrific at 12:22 PM on September 10, 2014


Perhaps some DIY chili oil (the linked recipe is for sichuan chili oil, but you could probably vary the chili varieties to mix up the flavor).
posted by melissasaurus at 12:33 PM on September 10, 2014


Yep. I came to say Valentina extra hot. Yum!
posted by Swisstine at 12:34 PM on September 10, 2014


Shark brand sriracha is different enough from Huy Fong's that I would recommend trying it. I like medium myself, but you would definitely want strong.
posted by O9scar at 12:34 PM on September 10, 2014


Do you have an Indian grocery store near you? Look for Maggi's Hot and Sweet Tomato Sauce. It's basically a really spicy ketchup. (You might find it at Asian stores too.)

If you're willing to try making your own, this (the red one) is my absolute favorite. Blows anything store-bought out of the water.
posted by redlines at 12:38 PM on September 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


Re Valentina brand hot sauce, when I was a teenager, we used to get these burritos from the corner store, and they had these really great hot sauces in generic squeeze bottles--hot, Slap Yo Mama, and Slap Yo Grandmama. They were delicious. Years later, I came across Valentina's extra hot only to realize I had discovered what the burrito shop had relabeled Slap Yo Grandmama. I was ecstatic.
posted by thingamarob at 12:38 PM on September 10, 2014


Non-boutique, excellent flavor...I use this one in soups, as a samosa dip and I've even used it as a french fry dip. Significant heat but not obscene. Good with roti too.
posted by SpecialSpaghettiBowl at 12:56 PM on September 10, 2014


3rding Marie Sharp's. Had it for the first time in Belize, it is now my go to hot sauce. (and I say this as someone who is so into hot sauce, that I often make my own.)
posted by anansi at 1:02 PM on September 10, 2014


Tapatio.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 1:16 PM on September 10, 2014


Blazing Saddles Habañero Hot Sauce. It's got a lovely taste profile with just enough of a bite to be hot! within reason; not a tongue-burner.

The other reason I recommend it? It doesn't have a bunch of crap/preservatives in it. I always look at the ingredients first before trying a new hot sauce - anything that doesn't stick to the real/clean food ingredients tends to be a risk. Blazing Saddles' ingredients: Habañero peppers, carrots, onions, lime juice, vinegar, garlic, salt. Just like it should be.

Also, don't be afraid to make your own at home! "Hot Sauce!: Techniques For Making Signature Hot Sauces" is a great place to start. Note that fresh, homemade sauces will have a limited shelf life. But they taste better! (Also, if you're going to go the DIY hot sauce route, I'd also recommend trying to grow your own hot peppers).
posted by nightrecordings at 1:24 PM on September 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


I love San J Szechuan Sauce. It's more than heat. It's also delicious flavor.
posted by janey47 at 1:56 PM on September 10, 2014


I'll add my recommendation for El Yucateco hot sauces. All of them have some kind of food coloring added, except for the Kutbil-ik "eXXXtra picante." Start with the red or green one, and if that's not hot enough eventually, get the Kutbil-ik. It's one of my favorites.

Habanero Tabasco is good, much hotter than regular Tabasco, and has a good habanero flavor.

Getting out of the field of traditional glass bottle hot sauces...

Gochujang, the Korean red pepper paste, has some of the aged flavor of Tabasco, since it's fermented, but much sweeter, with no vinegar. If you want ready-to-go hot sauce, you can get chogochujang in a squeeze bottle. It has the consistency of ketchup.

I really like the chili flakes in oil my local Vietnamese restaurant keeps on the table. Googling tells me it's probably "Ớt sa-tế", which you can make yourself or buy in a jar. Watch the jarred stuff for MSG if that bothers you, though.
posted by WasabiFlux at 2:49 PM on September 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


Seconding Matouk's. All Matouk sauces, in fact. Crazy hot but very flavorful. Especially wonderful in curries.
posted by bearwife at 3:01 PM on September 10, 2014


Huy Fong foods also makes a Chilli paste that has a very nice flavour. I can't remember if the one I had was the chillies and garlic one or the plain chillies, but it was great. Nice change from Sriracha (not as sweet) - not super strong, but you can always add more.
posted by jb at 4:14 PM on September 10, 2014


Came in to extol the wonders of yellowbird and see I was beaten to the punch.
It's like sriracha got way hotter and tastier all at once and is insanely great.
You won't even question the stupid shipping costs after you try it.
posted by rmless at 4:31 PM on September 10, 2014


Nthing Marie Sharp's Habenero. It comes in Hot and Extra Hot - I find the Hot just beats out the Extra in flavour terms.
posted by coleboptera at 5:12 PM on September 10, 2014


I quite like Badia Chili Sauce with Garlic. It's the only sriracha-type sauce I've tried that I prefer over Huy Fong brand.
posted by alex1965 at 6:36 PM on September 10, 2014


I also enjoy making my own hot sauces. The fermented ones have the most complex flavors. Here's an example of a fermented hot sauce recipe. I also love this (non-fermented) habanero pepper sauce, which has an unusual combination of flavors. My wife and I grow hot peppers in our garden, and I also take trips to the public market to buy them. It's fun to experiment with different recipes.
posted by alex1965 at 6:42 PM on September 10, 2014


I love San J Szechuan Sauce. It's more than heat. It's also delicious flavor.

Yup. This stuff is deeeeeeeeelish!
posted by Crotalus at 8:36 PM on September 10, 2014


My favorite, ever, in the history of everdom, is Pepper Palace's garlic parmesean hot wing sauce. .

It's got a savory after taste and I literally put this on EVERYTHING. It's also super affordable
posted by Sara_NOT_Sarah at 6:57 AM on September 11, 2014


Valentina is great- a little smoky, too.

My local southern favorite is J&J's. It's a habanero sauce that's not too hot, heavy on the fruity notes. Crazy delicious on everything, I've bought a whole case before!
posted by rock swoon has no past at 9:35 AM on September 11, 2014


Lee Kum Kee brand Sriracha is pretty widely available and far superior in flavour. I also strongly second the recommendations for Matouk's and Marie Sharp.
posted by kaspen at 3:26 PM on September 11, 2014


I love the sauces made by the All Spice Cafe. The Caribbean Spice Sauce is rather mild and very tasty and I go with the Chipotle Garlic Sauce when I want some more heat. They also have a Cayenne Habanero, as well as a Ghost Pepper sauce, but they're too much for me.
posted by Marky at 7:52 PM on September 11, 2014


Oh man- we have all of the sauces you put on your spectrum... A hot sauce obsessed household here.

Baron pepper sauce, a million times over. Along the lines of matouk's, it's a caribbean scotch bonnet sauce- hot yet flavorful, not super vinegary so versatile, and delicious.

And +1 on sambal.
posted by beignet at 9:03 PM on September 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


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