Gringo Bandito is a hot sauce with a certain punk rock attitude. That’s no surprise to anyone, as it is the brainchild of Dexter Holland, the lead vocalist of the rock band The Offspring. Launched in 2004, it’s a product of Holland’s Californian upbringing, and yes, in case you’re wondering, that’s him on the label.
The idea was to deliver a Mexican-style hot sauce that delivered more on complex flavors than on brain-blowing heat, so it could enhance, rather than destroy, everything you put it on.
While it launched with the original red hot sauce about which we’re concerned here, since 2004, the Gringo Bandito range has been growing, and now includes both a green hot sauce, a spicy yellow variety featuring Scotch bonnet and habanero, and a super-hot variety, as well as ten annual special reserve recipe sauces.
But what about the standard, original, trailblazing Gringo Bandito sauce?
Interesting. Unlike some of the single-pepper hot sauces with which most of the US will be familiar, there’s a lot going on in the Gringo Bandito hot sauce. There’s far more than just a single aged chili as the source of the heat here.
Red Fresno chillies, yellow chili peppers, habaneros, dried chillies, and achiote all combine to give the sauce its distinctive flavor profile. Of the ingredients, the achiote contributes the most unusual not to the profile, a nutty vibe with a black pepper kick.
So what you get from Holland’s Gringo Bandito hot sauce is something that has a lot of layered flavors, and plenty of heat potential, even if in combination, it never gets anywhere close to the Scoville-bomb of its raw chillies.
What’s Gringo Bandito hot sauce good for?
Having said it has a multi-layered flavor profile, it won’t surprise you to learn you can use Gringo Bandito for most anything you like. Given its chili profile, it’s especially suited to all Mexican food – add it to a burrito or splash it on your nachos, and you’ll have a happy time.
That complexity of flavors means it stands up to the likes of meats and meat preparations really well, too. Add a little Gringo Bandito to a burger and your tongue is dancing happy.
- Vinegar on the first taste
- Combination of peppers give you a spiky, fruity vibe
- Surprising prominence of a black pepper note from the achiote
How To Use It
- All kinds of Mexican food made extra sense with this sauce on
- Stands up to meaty flavors well – burgers, steaks, wings
- Versatile enough to use as an everyday condiment, and makes most things better
Gringo Bandito Hot Sauce Buying Guide
Scoville, spice, and flavor
Like some of the better-selling hot sauces on the market, Gringo Bandito packs a chili punch which, if left alone, would be pretty damn respectable in bringing the Scoville Heat Units – but then blends and dilutes them down so they’re a much more friendly, everyday proposition.
Fresno peppers can register anything from 2500-10,000 SHU. Habaneros between 100,000-300,000. But this is no punk rock machismo test – this is a sauce that’s based on giving you sackfuls of flavor to enhance your day, not sending you to the ER with a scorched tongue and deep-fried nerve endings. The whole thing comes in at 820 SHU.
Before you say it, sure, that’s hotter than everything from a Frank’s really misnamed RedHot to a Texas Pete Original.
But this is a deeply intelligent 820 SHU we’re talking about. It doesn’t run straight up your spine and blow your head off, but neither does it die away in a hurry. This thing will build, and this thing will linger. It’s kind of like a cognac of hot sauces, in as much as you’ll savor it more with every mouthful you take. It’s by no means priced like a cognac, it’s priced to let you use it as a condiment. But it’s cleverer, more complex, and more enjoyable than most similar condiments by quite some way.
Where to get Gringo Bandito hot sauce
One of the troublesome things about launching a relatively new brand in the American hot sauce market is that distribution deals can be painfully slow in coming. So much so for Gringo Bandito that its website still announces a new distributor on its news feed. So we’re not about to tell you Gringo Bandito is in any sense as easy to find as the likes of Tabasco, Crystal, Texas Pete or the other usual suspects.
You can buy direct from the Gringo Bandito website, or more wishlist/repeat ordering ease, Amazon stocks Gringo Bandito Hot Sauce, and with a little Prime-clicking, can get you covering your food in Gringo Bandito before you can say “Pretty Fly For A White Guy.”
Gringo Bandito hot sauce consistency
Gringo Bandito is a kind of half-and-half deal when it comes to thickening. On the one hand, it uses Xanthan Gum to thicken it, like many of the more popular Louisiana-style sauces with which Americans are familiar.
But it also has enough ingredients – onions, dried chillies etc, to give the sauce more of a salsa vibe, which of course plays into its use in Mexican dishes, and livens up any meat dishes you care to name.
Is Gringo Bandito hot sauce worth buying?
Oh, heck yeah.
The reasons for buying Gringo Bandito add up to quite a list. Obviously, if you’re an Offspring/Dexter Holland fan, you’re going to need to try it just for sheer punk rock curiosity.
But as a sauce it’s actually far better than that novelty curiosity suggests. There’s an impressive intelligence behind the blending and layering of flavors here, and a chili kick which is bigger and better than some of the grab-and-go sauces on the lower end of the market, but never punches so hard it becomes a speciality or a test of mental toughness.
It’s aiming for delicious flavor that you’ll want to put on almost anything, and it actually achieves that, so you get a good chili build, an impressive chili linger, but flavor, flavor, flavor all day long, whatever you add it to.
It can be hard to recommend a hot sauce that you probably have to go online to guarantee getting hold of, when there are so many available in the sauce aisle of your local grocery store. Gringo Bandito is one that it’s worth going the extra online mile for – it’s the taste of intelligent hot sauce, and you’re not going to want to miss it.