I was always curious about, like how does hot sauce work? Growing up I used to wonder if I touched it was it hot? - Lil Yachty
Sometimes it doesn’t matter how hot the chicken wings are, how many spices are included in a burger, or how many peppers are on a pizza, whatever you’re dining on just isn’t hot enough.
You don’t have to have a fireproof mouth or asbestos-lined taste buds to appreciate the boost in heat and flavor that a good hot sauce can add to anything and everything.
We don’t remember the last time that we ate anything without adding a dab or two (that’s right, we watch ‘Hot Ones’ too, it’s an invaluable learning aid for hot sauce fans all over the world) of sauce to it to push whatever we were putting in our mouths over the edge and guide us up the taste escalator to heat heaven.
The populist notion that a hot sauce relies solely on intensity and scorching fervor to create its own legend and should only be consumed by the brave and foolhardy is an urban myth perpetuated by foodie thrillseekers and the culinary challenges that have become part of the DNA of restaurants and diners all over the nation.
Of course, there are some sauces that have been purposely created to test the limits of human endurance to their absolute limit, but for the most part, they are few and far between.
A good hot sauce combines heat and flavor in equal measure and has been carefully crafted to amplify the essence of whatever dish it’s enhancing to exaggerate and augment the pleasure of the eating, and dining experience.
We’ve spent years endlessly searching for the perfect hot sauce for that single condiment that would allow us to dispense with all of its competitors, and rely solely on it for the rest of our days on Earth.
Given our years of collective experience, we might be forced to concede that such a consummate sauce does not exist, or if it does, we are yet to discover it.
However, in all of our years of dedicated devotion to the vagaries and whims of hot sauce, we have compiled a list of the sauces that make our tongues tingle and mouths water when we think about them, and so we’re going to share the list of our favorite hot sauces with you.
They’re not in any particular order, there is no number one, but there is a hottest mythological leviathan on the list. We believe in flavor and heat in equal measure, and by the time you’ve tried all of these hot sauces, you will too…
OUR TOP PICK
OUR TOP PICK
We know that we said that the sauce wasn't just about the hot, but we’re going to start with one of the most surprising additions to any culinary cannon, and that’s Mad Dog 357.
This crazy sauce packs three hundred and fifty-seven thousand SHU’s (Scoville Heat Units) of heat with a similar level of flavor and combines all of the sweet taste of habaneros with the fire-drenched tang of cayenne in a single knock out punch.
It’s an ideal way to raise burgers and pizzas to the next level of heat-based insanity, and a drop or two can increase the flavor of any chili to an intensity that you never could have dreamed was possible.
The only question is, are you brave enough to try more than a couple of drops?
The only thing that we love as much as hot sauce is coffee, and Queen Majesty has combined both of our favorite things in one handy bottle.
One of Queen Majesty’s hottest sauces that’s created using one of their most inventive recipes, the rich, deep coffee aftertaste elevates the natural habanero flavor of the sauce, which makes it perfect for those late afternoon summer barbecues and cookouts that linger long after sunset.
One of the most surprising things, and the one that really caught us off guard about this sauce, is how well it works with fries and chips, and how one small dip can leave a lifelong impression that you’ll be hard-pressed to forget.
No, you’re not seeing things, Tabasco did make our list of the hot sauces that exemplify the idea of what a great sauce can, and should be.
It isn’t particularly fiery, and as it sits somewhere around the seven thousand Scoville’s mark it isn’t any hotter than the average habanero pepper is.
But that’s exactly the point, as this Tabasco sauce is all about condensing the flavor of the Habanero pepper into a sauce and doing that in a way that only Tabasco could.
The original Tabasco base sauce is given a kick in the pants by the addition of the habanero flavor and makes this an everyday hot sauce that everyone can enjoy. It’s not about heat, it’s just about taste.
We know, it seems as though we’re focusing solely on habanero-based sauces, but that’s mainly because the pepper produces a reliable, flavor-filled heat base that it’s hard for any sauce maker to ignore.
And in this case, we’re glad that Dawson’s didn’t ignore it, as it adds a subtle warmth to this rich creamy mushroom sauce that’s infused with garlic and onion that lightly massages your taste buds when it’s used to liberally coat any plain pasta dish.
Let’s put it this way: when we cook spaghetti, the only seasoning that we use when we serve it is this sauce.
We came for the name, but we stayed for the sauce, as despite our fears that its moniker might cast a shadow that the sauce couldn’t compete with, Dragon’s Blood far exceeded our expectations and made believers out of us the first time we tasted it.
Its medium heat and bright, fruit flavor make it perfect for cheeseburgers, as it cuts straight through the dairy without overpowering it and complements the whole rather than being the standout additional ingredient.
Besides, there isn’t a gamer or geek drawing breath who could ever resist the brand name, so it’s a good job that the hot sauce is as tasty as its name is cool.
There are good hot sauces, there are great hot sauces and then there’s Lucky Dog Brown Label Hot Sauce which brings all sorts of unexpected taste surprises to the party and makes every meal a celebration to be cherished and remembered.
One of our steak sauces of choice, the fruit-rich pear, and fig flavors add a delicate sweetness to the Scotch Bonnet Chili and mustard that slowly, but surely bring the heat to after the initial taste tsunami of the sauce has begun to calm down and dissipate.
It’s a wonderfully tangy treat that you’ll keep returning to time after time.
A wholesome, natural sauce that was created to flood your body with a rush of endorphins and make every nerve ending tingle with joy, Yellowbird Habanero Hot Sauce is just the tonic that you’ll need to transform dreary burgers, hot dogs, and bland sandwiches into a taste sensation.
This Texas-based sauce was made to keep it real and it pushes the Hanabenero flavor to the forefront of the sauce while building on a solid backbone of onions, carrots, and zingy citrus, that almost wipes your pallet clean after every mouthful and begs to you yo take another.
Even though their name is ripe and ready for a hundred dirty jokes and could be used as the foundation for endless innuendos, Dirty Dick’s hot sauce is a fruit-laden, flavor-filled explosion that unlocks another hidden level of taste with every mouthful that you take.
Having won more awards than even Dick can remember, this sauce is a favorite among the upper echelons of the capsaicin fans as it not only brings the heat, but it does it in a way that can light up virtually anything that you can cook with a grill.
As long as you’ve got a bottle of Dirty Dicks close by, happy hour will never be far away.
If you’re not careful with this hot sauce, you might start wishing for the end times, as every single bottle contains sixteen ghost chili pods which is enough heat to make even the most dedicated chili fanatic go weak at the knees.
Clocking in at an eye-watering half a million Scoville Units, the subtle Habanero fruit laced undercurrent soon gives away to the unremitting, and unrelenting burn of the ghost chilis, which is oddly addictive and while it isn’t a hot sauce that you’ll break out on weekly basis, it’s nice to sample every now and then to remind yourself how powerful nature and the desire to reach new plateaus of forbidden flavor can be.
A tangy burn that reminds your mouth that sometimes heat and flavor are the same thing, this zingy little hot sauce from North of the border is an ideal accompaniment for chicken wings.
Part maple-infused barbecue taste and part merciless pepper-based heat, this sweet, delicious sauce from Pepper North is, much like the stars from which it takes its name, a thing of wonder and mystery that’ll make your toes twitch and your hairs stand on end with every chicken coated bite.
The most legendary, thanks to the power of the internet, hot sauce on the face of the planet, Last Dab from First We Feast is the sauce that has overpowered multiple celebrities on their YouTube show and is the perfect accompaniment for brats and franks and sausages of all shapes and sizes.
Made with three different varieties of Pepper X, the hottest pepper in the world, hidden underneath the heat and fire of this sauce is a delightful and natural fruit sweetness that whips the smoky flavor of any sausage into shape.
Be warned, this sauce bites, so take care when trying it.
When you just want the burn to be a thing that fades into the background and the natural smoky flavor of chipotle to come to the fore, the only choice on anyone’s list should be this generation's-old sauce.
This mainstay of our hit sauce calendar is made from an old family recipe and is all about flavor, flavor, and even more flavor.
An incredibly mild hot sauce that’s designed to enhance the flavor of any dish for any pallet, if there’s a meat or a vegetable out there in the world whose taste can’t be improved by Cholula, we haven’t crossed paths with it yet.
This hot sauce not only goes with everything, it also makes everything taste good.
What do you get when you combine the best Caribbean peppers (we’re talking Scotch Bonnet gorgeousness) with garlic, a secret spice combination, and rum?
Why, you get Pirates Lantern, a rich, deep sauce that’ll make steak stand up and dance, and puts the little h in heat, and liberally sprinkles your taste buds with a warmth that it isn’t unwelcome or too powerful. It was made to bring a taste of Baja to mainland America and that’s exactly what it does.
Described by more than one happy hot sauce fan as being deliciously painful, Seafire Gourmet’s Reaper Hot Sauce is an electrified barbecue sauce, that turns the heat up to ten and delivers maximum flavor along with a minimal burn.
If you’re firing up your grill and want a sauce that will inspire your pallet as well as setting it on slightly on fire, then invest wisely and don’t fear the Reaper.
Another sauce that wears the Hot Ones name with pride, this condiment combines apricots and habaneros to create a sweet, fruit sauce that’ll warm you from the tips of your toes to your eyebrows, and depending on the level of heat that you’re used to, might even cause you to blow off a little steam.
The ideal way to give burritos some more punching power and to add some more heat to all of your favorite TexMex dishes, this gorgeous medium hot sauce from the new home of hot sauces will help you to reach for the pinnacle of sauce nirvana
The second entry from Dawson’s on our list, this hot sauce takes the hot part of its name quite literally and serves up a sweet, tangy flavor with a bite that you won’t forget in a hurry.
While Dawson’s say that it goes well with everything, and we’re forced to agree, if you try it with pizza, trust us, you’ll never want to use another sauce with your favorite Italian delicacy ever again.
Yes, it really is that good.
Last but by no means least, is this taste sensation that’s guaranteed to turn any meal into a flavor-filled paradise.
Tropical spices, lime juice, and yellow chiles bring a colorful, fruity heat to anything that you can, and will grill and while it’s hot, Carnival isn’t too hot and sits right in the middle of the comfort zone.
In other words, it’s almost perfect.