Old Bay seasoning has been defining what tastes good for lots of Americans since 1939, and since 1990, has been manufactured by McCormick & Co of Baltimore, Maryland.
When McCormick bought the brand, it maintained the packaging, the recipe, everything. Sometimes, when you get something dead right, you don’t mess with it.
Now, Old Bay makes a hot sauce. Whoever said we couldn’t have nice things? Bring ’em to us right here, so we can laugh and point and laugh some more.
Nice things are right here, and right now.
What’s Old Bay hot sauce good for?
Sorry, that’s the sound of your taste buds responding to Old Bay hot sauce.
Zing!, you notice, rather Kablooey!
This is a hot sauce that won’t blow up your face and leave you swearing to live a better life. It’s a hot sauce that actually tastes of something.
Of zing, firstly – it has a pronounced vinegar note when you first taste it, so it feels like what hot sauce is kinda supposed to be: a condiment, rather than a nuclear devastation area. The distilled vinegar in the recipe will hit you at the front of your tongue.
It’s not that kind of nuclear hot sauce, because weirdly enough, Old Bay wants you to have a nice life, and to use as much of its hot sauce as you can, so you buy more on a regular basis.
This is not for keeping in a refrigerated safe and using to test your Scoville mettle. It’s for putting on food to add a cheery, life-enhancing zing with a grin.
So – just vinegar, then?
No, but that’s the first note, the one that wakes you up to the pleasure of eating.
You get a hit of heat from the aged cayenne pepper, mellowing to a warmth, and a surprisingly tomato-sharp note in the mix between the vinegar and the taste of whatever you’ve sauced, so if you want a flavor profile and you want to still enjoy the taste of your food, this is a good mix – zing, heat, warmth, tomato, food.
That’s never going to excite the hardcore hot sauce extremophiles, but if you just want something that will enhance your food, Old Bay hot sauce has been more or less designed for you.
- Not especially hot – like Old Bay seasoning bought a sports car
- Zingy first note – distilled vinegar wakes up your mouth
- First heat, then warmth from aged cayenne pepper
- Stronger tomato note than some
- Doesn’t obscure the flavor of whatever you put it on
How To Use It
- If you follow Old Bay’s advice, it’s best in soups and chili
- Honestly though, because it’s flavor-forward, you can use it on anything you want – fried chicken has a new friend, for sure
- The stronger tomato note makes it a strong base for the Bloody Mary you deserve
Scoville, spice, and flavor
When Old Bay first announced it was going to release a hot sauce, the internet exploded. People could not wait to see what an Old Bay hot sauce would be like.
Turns out, it would be damn good and tasty – but it’s not about to blow your socks off and make your feet explode. Flavor is the key to Old Bay hot sauce, rather than a Scoville count that makes you cry tears of pain.
What are you looking at? Between 10-50,000 Scoville Heat Units – around the same as Tabasco or cayenne pepper – which makes sense, given the aged cayenne in the recipe.
If you want a hot sauce that gives you a bit of bite but doesn’t melt your teeth in the process, you’re going to be comfortable and grinning with Old Bay hot sauce.With a first taste of distilled vinegar, mellowing into heat, then warmth with a tomato-strong profile and a touch of familiar Old Bay celery seed in the mix, it’s a sauce that’s actually a sauce, letting you enjoy whatever you put it on, just a little bit more.
Where to get Old Bay hot sauce
Unlike on launch, when it made some taster samples available online and people melted the website trying to get hold of it, Old Bay hot sauce is now available in your three-dimensional grocery store.
Or if you’re more of an online shopper by nature, Amazon will now sell you Old Bay hot sauce in everything from a single 5 fluid ounce bottle all the way up to a frankly magnificent 64 fluid ounce pouring bottle.
Did we mention we can have nice things now?
Old Bay hot sauce consistency
OK, so we know about the flavor – vinegar, heat, warmth, tomato, food. What sort of consistency are you looking at with Old Bay hot sauce?
It’s mostly a thickened liquid sauce, unencumbered by chunks. That means it has a versatility that some of the hotter hot sauces won’t match.
Dip it, pour it, puddle it and smear it, it leans more towards the consistency of sweet chili sauce than it does towards the jaw-stiffening salsa-like consistency of some hotter sauces.
The idea behind this sauce is that you use it freely, frequently, and often, so it's not about to put much in the way of your doing that.
Is Old Bay hot sauce worth buying?
Bottom line, that depends on who you are, and what you want to get out of your hot sauce experience.
If you don’t count it as a hot sauce till your eyes roll back, your tongue turns black and your spine tries to beat you to death for your foolishness… this is not the hot sauce you’re looking for.
In fact, it’s not even in the same galaxy as the hot sauce you’re looking for.
If, on the other hand, you’re the kind of hot sauce fiend who likes the zing, the heat, the bite of a hot sauce but also wants to be able to, say, taste the food you’ve paid for, and just possibly still speak in coherent sentences, Old Bay has a little something that might well put a great big hot sauce-eating grin on your face.
If you want a hot sauce that tastes both familiar and new, with just enough challenge but way more flavor, Old Bay hot sauce could well be the way to go at your next cook-out, your next bag of tortilla chips, or even your next Bloody Mary.