Hot sauce recommendations
August 15, 2016 2:43 AM   Subscribe

I'm a lover of hot sauce and would like to add more bottles of it to my collection.

Lately all I've been using is Sriracha—which I love—but variety is fun. I know there are hot sauces out there that are just as good as my beloved Sriracha with one of my favorites being one with chunks of banana—yes, banana, not banana peppers—that I had some years ago. But, as this was many years ago, I haven't a clue what it was called nor where it came from.

Know that I live in a small Canadian city and probably I won't be able to find anything too exotic anywhere around here. But: 1. I'm totally willing to buy online. 2. My city, though quite small, has a big Superstore that seems to have a pretty big selection of hot sauces. 3. For a small city we actually have a surprisingly large-ish amount ethnic food stores, some of which likely sell hot sauces.

Also, know that I prefer my sauces to be a bit on the thicker side and don't like them to be too heavy on the vinegar. I realize Sriracha contains vinegar, but it contains the perfect amount for my liking. As for spiciness, well, I'm not very sensitive to heat. I just ask that you rank the heat level of sauces you're to recommend just so I kinda know what I'm in for.

Anyhoo: thanks, folks. <3
posted by GlassHeart to Food & Drink (47 answers total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
Frank's RedHot, Tapatío, and of course Tabasco are famous hot sauces from the U.S. Also, not quite a sauce, but gochujang is a Korean pepper paste that's really delicious.
posted by neushoorn at 3:31 AM on August 15, 2016

Came into recommend gochujang. It's great stirred into soups or stir frys. Can you get Amazon in Canada? They usually sell them in tubs, but I would recommend the little tubes which are more hygienic to use on an occasional basis.

I think it might be too vinegary, but I love Encona hot sauce, especially on some pork belly, yummm...

Not quite a sauce, but I am also a fan of chilli infused oils - perfect for salads, cous cous, pizza, pasta... You can make your own!
posted by like_neon at 3:37 AM on August 15, 2016 [2 favorites]

Forgot one: sambal is Indonesian hot sauce that comes in many varieties, with varying levels of vinegar flavor. Sambal oelek might be a good one to start with, but it really depends on what types of flavors and levels of sweetness you like.
posted by neushoorn at 3:52 AM on August 15, 2016 [4 favorites]

I heard about these sauces here years ago, choices off and bought them online -and now you can buy them in my country! El Yucateco. (I like the green one but all of the sauces in their range that I've tasted have been scrumptious.)
posted by taff at 3:53 AM on August 15, 2016 [7 favorites]

Cholula original is my all-time favourite everyday hot sauce. It's amazingly flavourful and not too vinegary.
posted by terretu at 3:59 AM on August 15, 2016 [19 favorites]

I'm a big fan of the Jalapeno Tabasco, it's a bit milder and a lot zingier than the regular one.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 4:39 AM on August 15, 2016

Matouk's is a strong Caribbean style hot sauce with a slightly sweet aftertaste - so good!
posted by jammy at 4:49 AM on August 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

We have been loving the Cholula in the Chipotle version. Nicely smokey.
posted by Vaike at 4:51 AM on August 15, 2016 [2 favorites]

Founder's BLiS Hot Sauce is amazing. I've also been pretty happy with Gringo Bandito, which has seen wider distribution lately.
posted by youknowwhatpart at 5:00 AM on August 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

Might be at your grocery store: Cholula, Melinda's, Pickapeppa

Internet: Co-Op Hot Sauce, Yellowbird, Secret Aardvark, Entube Harissa
posted by box at 5:21 AM on August 15, 2016

I really enjoyed Brother Bru Bru's (sold by Bruce Langhorne, who inspired Bob Dylan for Mr Tambourine Man). Not too hot, and quite distinctively flavoured - with some interesting spicing, not all just heat.
posted by bifter at 5:36 AM on August 15, 2016 [2 favorites]

If you liked the banana, there's a whole world of fruity hot sauces out there -- mango and raspberry habanero are two of my favourites. Just pop whatever fruit you like best and "hot sauce" into Amazon and see what comes up.

(Also, any chance this was your hot sauce? There aren't a lot of banana ones out there, I don't think, so your odds are pretty good.)
posted by harperpitt at 5:41 AM on August 15, 2016

This youtube show, First We Feast: Hot Ones has fabulous interviews and a variety of sauces lovingly (and haltingly, with tears in eyes) described by the comedians/musicians/actors that are eating the wings ... as they get progressively hotter.

Anyway they showcase 5-10 types of sauce in each show! This is the way I prefer to learn about extreme spiciness.

Good luck!
posted by Dressed to Kill at 5:45 AM on August 15, 2016

Aji pepper sauce! Spicy and delicious, not vinegary at all. I like the yellow sauce best. Link is to the recipes, but I buy it at the store and Amazon has it. So, so good on fried yucca.
posted by pumpkinlatte at 6:21 AM on August 15, 2016 [2 favorites]

Mexican Salsa Búfalo is a classic. On the denser side of salsas (always hard to get out of the glass bottle) and not vinegary at all. Don't let the name confuse you, it tastes nothing like "buffalo wings" sauce.
posted by CrazyLemonade at 6:22 AM on August 15, 2016

I'll ride for El Yucateco Chipotle. It has some heat, some smokiness and lots of flavor. If you are having a hard time finding it you shouldn't bypass the Chipotle version of Tabasco. I think regular, generic Tabasco is boring compared to its competitors but the Chipotle version is pretty good and easily to find at least in the US.
posted by mmascolino at 6:28 AM on August 15, 2016

I think Maçarico Piri Piri sauce has a nice flavour. Shouldn't be impossible to find, I get mine from an Italian bakery (that also stocks some Portuguese products).
posted by rodlymight at 6:40 AM on August 15, 2016

I love the original Mad Dog Inferno. Super hot, but also very flavorful!
posted by sister nunchaku of love and mercy at 6:42 AM on August 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

I came to recommend the El Yucateco hot sauces as well. We like to get the Variety Pack from Amazon. I am partial to the black label habanero and the chipotle sauces, as they are very smokey and rich and on par with sriracha in heat level. My husband is fond of the red and green habaneros sacues, although they are a bit more spicey than I prefer. The jalepeno sauce is very citrus, a little more mild than the rest of them, and great with fish tacos.
posted by Suffocating Kitty at 7:00 AM on August 15, 2016

Sambal Olek mixed about half and half with soy sauce is delicious.
Chinese Chili Oil is good too, also nice mixed with soy and a little rice vinegar (I don't like vinegar but adding a bit to soy sauce makes the soy sauce more delicious).
posted by pseudostrabismus at 7:39 AM on August 15, 2016

I adore Melindas hot sauces, they're avail. in degrees of heat from hot to xxx. They are habanero sauces using carrot & lime juice instead of vinegar. Really good with both heat and flavor. I get mine in my local megagrocery store but have ordered them online when I couldn't find it locally. It is available on also.
posted by RichardHenryYarbo at 7:58 AM on August 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

I put El Yucateco green on nearly everything.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 7:59 AM on August 15, 2016 [2 favorites]

Cholula and El Yucateco (the green habenero is particularly good on eggs) are really good, but for a Sriracha substitute I'd be looking at a Malaysian/ Singaporean sort of thing. ABC Extra Hot Chilli Sauce is good, but I used to like a very similar Yeo's product I can't find at the moment. Both of them splodge out like thick mayonnaise and are less vinegary than Sriracha.
posted by hawthorne at 8:23 AM on August 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

Because you like sriracha and you like things on the thicker side, you might try this chili garlic sauce -- it is my go to when I want sriracha but thicker. Here's a Chowhound discussion of the two.
posted by *s at 8:23 AM on August 15, 2016

Huy Fong, which makes the most popular sriracha, also has 2 products in jars, Sambal Oelek and Tuong ot toi Viet Nam. The latter is a paste of hot peppers and garlic, and I would not be without it in my kitchen.

Harissa is also great stuff, a hot pepper and spice paste that comes in tins and tubes. Le Phare du Cap Bon is a Tunisian brand that you may find around.
posted by zadcat at 8:49 AM on August 15, 2016 [2 favorites]

(Unfortunately, they don't ship outside the US, but I'm still going to post this for any other hot-sauce or beet lovers reading the thread.)Our local hip[py/ster] grocery store makes my favorite hot sauce ever, Cherry Bomb Hot Sauce, which is thick and garlicky. All their pickles are good, too, and, if you like beets, their Beet Ketchup is not to be missed. (Great on french fries, egg salad, meatloaf...)
posted by BrashTech at 8:56 AM on August 15, 2016

Original Juan! So many selections! And they ship outside the US! I love 100% Pain, And I suppose they make milder sauces too. And nthing Mad Dog. Dumb labels, good sauce.
posted by good lorneing at 9:10 AM on August 15, 2016

I was going to suggest a Chinese chili garlic sauce, but *s was there first. I'll just add that there is a wide choice of brands.
posted by SemiSalt at 9:12 AM on August 15, 2016

We have a local Maine brand that I just adore called Lost Woods. I just checked and you can get it on amazon.

It's really good. It's a thicker sauce that is a little smokey and just packed full of flavour. I would say about the spice level of Siracha.

Also +1 for Cholula. I sometimes make tacos just so I have an excuse to smother them in Cholula.
posted by mayonnaises at 9:20 AM on August 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

Definitely look for the aji sauce. It's actually made from a different species than regular peppers. Great way to add some variety to your collection.
posted by gimonca at 9:41 AM on August 15, 2016

It's not all that hot, but look no further: Trappey's Indi-Pep West Indian Style Hot Pepper Sauce. Not being hot means you can douse 100% of your food in it, like ketchup.
posted by 8603 at 9:44 AM on August 15, 2016

Marie Sharp's hot sauce from Belize is AMAZING. and you can order it online.
posted by TestamentToGrace at 10:16 AM on August 15, 2016 [2 favorites]

Salsa macha; originally from Veracruz, and very hot indeed, I've been seeing it more and more throughout Mexico. Really delicious:
posted by subajestad at 10:22 AM on August 15, 2016

I love Valentina.. It's not too spicy, loads of delicious flavor.
posted by Fig at 10:36 AM on August 15, 2016

TestamentToGrace: "Marie Sharp's hot sauce from Belize is AMAZING. and you can order it online."

+1 for Marie Sharp's. It has a mainly carrot base so it has a different flavor profile than a lot of the vinegar-based hot sauces.
posted by mhum at 12:51 PM on August 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

Fighting a cold so I don't have the attention span for a rundown with lots of details, but I did want to drop my 2¢ with my standard go-to lineup that I always keep on hand (in addition to the constant rotation of new stuff I'm trying): basically, Melinda's anything, El Yucateco anything, and Brother Bru Bru's. I adore them all, and for different reasons because they scratch different hot-sauce itches, but they're all pretty much always great.
posted by traveler_ at 12:52 PM on August 15, 2016 [2 favorites]

GEMINI CROW is local hot sauce company that ships worldwide.
posted by TwilightKid at 1:10 PM on August 15, 2016

Oh man, I love hot sauce. Like people upthread said, Cholula and El Yucateco are both excellent and available online and at most any Latino market.

Melinda's makes some really good stuff if you like your sauce really hot (I recommend the red savina.)

Last month I got a bottle of West indian hot sauce that was really citrusy and vinegar-y with a nice heat that I really really liked. I can't remember the exact name but it was similar to this. Yellow scotch bonnet hot sauces like that are def worth seeking out for a nice little change of pace from the green and red hot sauces that dominate the North American markets.
posted by joechip at 3:07 PM on August 15, 2016

Get yourself some Secret Aardvark, post-haste. It's not the spiciest hot sauce out there, but it has some decent kick to it and it's absolutely delicious.
posted by CrystalDave at 3:20 PM on August 15, 2016

Another vote for Marie Sharp's sauces (Hot or Fiery Hot) as well as Cholula Original. I also really like Blair's Golden Death sauce - it has the nicest taste and it's one of their mildest (i.e. still really quite hot). I always have bottles of all three of those in the house.
posted by coleboptera at 5:00 PM on August 15, 2016

Seconding Secret Aardvark. If you go for heat alone, you can go your whole life without tasting the fruitiness of habanero, but the Aardvark crew really nail the combination of flavor and a nice moderate heat. Terrific stuff.
posted by Sunburnt at 9:25 PM on August 15, 2016

I came here just to say Brother Bru Bru's and am pleased somebody beat me to it. And +1 to sambal as an ideal Sriracha replacement.
posted by thetortoise at 11:08 PM on August 15, 2016

Response by poster: So glad I made this thread. Thanks so much for the recommendations, folks!

So far I've tracked down various of your suggestions online, and for decent prices:

Blair's (think I'll just go with just Blair's Death for now.)
Brother Bru Bru's (I think I'll say 'fuck it' and get all three. Mr. Tambourine is one of my all-time favourite songs; that alone makes me want to buy it.)
Cholula (I think I'll be going with the original and chipotle.)
El Yucateco (my sister actually buys this stuff and we often use it on pizza when we get together. I love it but somehow have never thought to buy a bottle of my own. I think I'll get a bottle of the green, one of the chipotle and one of the black label.)
Marie Sharp's (not yet sure which I'll get . . . there's such a huge variety.)
Melinda's (I think for now I'll just get a bottle of the original.)
Secret Aardvark (for now I'll just get their original hot sauce as their other two seem to be marinades. BTW, you can buy this stuff directly from the Secret Aardvark website which actually ends up being cheaper than buying it off Amazon. And, thankfully, they seem to ship worldwide. Anyway, the name, bottle and story behind the name 'Secret Aardvark' alone makes me want to buy it.)

Will be making two separate online orders for these either late this month or early next month. In the meantime I'll be hitting up physical stores in my location that might carry some of them.

Again: thanks!
posted by GlassHeart at 12:04 AM on August 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

I was thinking more about this last night, and had another suggestion.

I've been getting a subscription box every month since Christmas from a company called The Spicery (in the UK). It's the 'Friday Night Curry Discoverer' box, and is basically a set of spices to make an unusual multi-course meal. It's been absolutely awesome so far - highly recommended - but one of the interesting things is that there is nearly always the spices and recipe for a hot sauce or chutney of some sort to accompany the meal.

Some of them have been really unusual and interesting - two in particular worth noting if you felt like looking up a recipe online and making your own.

First one that sprang to mind is Mazavaroo, which is Mauritian and strongly flavoured with fresh lemons.

The second is Belacan, which is Burmese / Malaysian, contains dried shrimp and is used in the box meal to dress a radish and cucumber salad.

(Can't testify to the recipes - first links I found on Google. The recipe cards in the subscription box come as hard copies).
posted by bifter at 2:48 AM on August 16, 2016

Maritime Madness is my current go-to hot sauce brand (aside from generic sriracha and and Frank's). My MIL bought me a bottle for Christmas two years ago and they've been a mainstay ever since. Their Maritime Madness habenero hot sauce is REALLY hot (as in, you put just a couple drops on your taco, not a few big splashes like I would with Frank's) but has a really kick ass flavour and I find myself turning to that bottle before any of my other hot sauces for the past couple of years. A little goes a long way, and yet I still somehow go through a bottle or two a year. It also isn't big on vinegar, and it has a nice viscosity, not runny but not gloopy either. It is fregging perfect this stuff. Highly HIGHLY recommended.

You can order it online, they are sold in all sorts of "local products" stores all over the maritimes, they have booths in a lot of large craft fairs in the maritimes, but I have found it showing up more and more in stores. I don't know if superstore carries it but I'd check them and Sobey's. I half remember seeing some of them in the "natural" food section in one of them. I know it is carried in our local Scoop 'n Save and I think it is carried in Bulk Barn too, though it may be a regional thing. I mean, it is Canadian and called "Maritime Madness" and I live in Canada in the maritimes so it isn't a big stretch to be able to easily find it here. I have no idea where you are, so YMMV.

And I swear to mercy I have no affiliation with the people who make this stuff. I just legitimately love their product.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 5:23 AM on August 16, 2016

FWIW, I found Cholulua and the Huy Fong hot sauces at a St. John's branch of Atlantic Superstore, despite the fact that many Newfoundlanders are afraid of anything spicier than black pepper flakes. If there's any sort of an international food shop in your area, they'd likely have options as well.
posted by peppermind at 6:38 AM on August 16, 2016

I'm a fan of sweet with my hot, so both of these recommendations are on the sweeter side:
Nando's Peri Peri Sauce. They're a restaurant (which I haven't gotten a chance to eat at yet, come on, this is New York!), but I really do like their sauces. They range from mild to very hot. I haven't had the mild or medium, but I do like the hot and very hot.

Grace Green Scotch Bonnet Sauce and Grace Scotch Bonnet Sauce. I adore these and found myself braving the heat this weekend just to get more. They are spicy, but I don't think they're truly as hot as you'd expect from Scotch Bonnets. The green sauces is pretty thing, the yellow is thick, with pulp in it. My local supermarket stopped carrying the green sauce to my disappointment. I'm not a fan of the Caribbean Curry Sauce, but enough people are that I could still get it at the local supermarket.
posted by Hactar at 2:23 PM on August 16, 2016

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