The 10 Best Hot Sauces

Updated April 21, 2018 by Melissa Harr

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We spent 38 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top selections for this wiki. From the sublime to the ridiculously fiery, our selection of hot sauces offers a great way for the creative cook to add a spicy kick to any dish. But be careful, as a few of these options aren't your grandfather's condiments. In some cases, one small drop is enough to add significant heat to an entire meal. Don't say we didn't warn you. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best hot sauce on Amazon.

10. Ass Kickin' Pure

The Ass Kickin' Pure contains the planet's hottest commercially-grown habanero – the Red Savina – which means this is some serious stuff. In fact, it’s approximately 75 times hotter than a jalapeño pepper, which is no small feat.
  • half a million scoville unit rating
  • stylish packaging makes a good gift
  • thick and comes out slowly
Brand Ass Kickin'
Model pending
Weight 10.4 ounces
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

9. Professor Phardtpounders Colon Cleaner

If you can get past its sophomoric name, Professor Phardtpounders Colon Cleaner is actually a high quality take on traditional Caribbean-style, mustard-based condiments. It has a stated heat level of 8, which tastes toasty without overwhelming your senses.
  • an effective conversation starter
  • complements most meats well
  • name may offend some people
Brand Sauce Crafters Direct
Model pending
Weight 1.2 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

8. Tabasco Pepper Sauce

Sometimes, the right choice is a reliable old standby, and that's Tabasco Pepper Sauce. In this case, you’ll receive a whole gallon of the good stuff for a reasonable price, which will allow you to slather it on everything from eggs to brisket.
  • ideal size for restaurants or cafes
  • made with high-grain natural vinegar
  • highly popular since 1868
Brand TABASCO brand
Model 6138
Weight 12.3 pounds
Rating 3.7 / 5.0

7. Satan's Blood Chile Extract

Rated at an astounding 800,000 Scoville units, the Satan's Blood Chile Extract may be better kept as a collectible than actually ingested. This one must be generously diluted before you consider consuming it, unless you really do want emergency medical attention.
  • red wine vinegar base
  • award-winning packaging
  • works best as additive not condiment
Brand Sauce Makers
Model pending
Weight 0.8 ounces
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

6. Cholula Variety 5-Pack

Containing some of the most popular products in this category, the Cholula Variety 5-Pack belongs in the kitchen of every cook who loves preparing Mexican and Southwestern style meals. You can't go wrong with this classic brand.
  • appealing range of flavors in pack
  • contains mild and hot options
  • easy-to-store compact bottles
Brand Cholula
Model pending
Weight 3.7 pounds
Rating 4.4 / 5.0

5. The Famous Marie Sharp's

Made with a distinguishing carrot-based mixture that strives for a delicious balance of heat and flavor, The Famous Marie Sharp's aims to enhance the taste of your dish without knocking you off your feet. It’s smooth with just enough of a kick.
  • appetizing creamy texture
  • comes in pack of 2
  • may be too carroty for some
Brand Marie Sharp's
Model pending
Weight 2.8 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

4. Gringo Bandito Red

The Gringo Bandito Red was a first place Scovie Best-Tasting Award winner , so you can surely count on it as being something special. This one is a medium heat option suitable for cooking or for pouring directly onto your food.
  • developed by punk rock musician
  • made in california
  • reminds some of taco bell sauce
Brand Gringo Bandito
Model pending
Weight 5.7 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

3. Secret Aardvark Habanero

With the Secret Aardvark Habanero, you can expect a tasty blend of Tex-Mex and Caribbean flavors boosted with a pleasing heat. While it works well for Mexican cuisine and barbecue, it’s also a good additive to a marinade or some mayo for a sandwich.
  • all-natural vegan product
  • fully recyclable bottle
  • from a family-run plant in oregon
Brand Secret Aardvark
Model LEPUSMRYC20488
Weight 10.1 ounces
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

2. Dave's Gourmet Ghost Pepper Jolokia

Dave's Gourmet Ghost Pepper Jolokia is hot enough that it commands respect, but not so painful that it can’t claim a spot on your table daily. It comes across as slightly fruity and will make an excellent addition to your next batch of wings.
  • intense creeping heat
  • good for mixing with dips and sauces
  • easy to pour slowly
Brand Dave's Gourmet
Model pending
Weight 13.6 ounces
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

1. Huy Fong Sriracha

If you haven’t tasted Huy Fong Sriracha by now, there’s not a lot we can do for you. One of the world’s most beloved condiments, it graces tables from Asia to America and far beyond, and it’s compatible with a wide variety of cuisines.
  • nice value for 17 ounces
  • made from fresh jalapeno chilis
  • no artificial coloring
Brand Huy Fong
Model HF-SRI-17-1
Weight 1.2 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

A Brief History Of Bottled Hot Sauce

Commercially bottled hot sauce made its first appearance in the United States in 1807, and the first recipe was made from the cayenne pepper. J. McCollick & Company created a bird chili pepper-based hot sauce sometime between 1840 and 1860. It is believed 1849 was the year of the first tabasco chili crop, but it wasn't until 1860 that a tabasco-based hot sauce was made.

In 1860, Edmund McIlhenny, a tabasco farmer, created a tabasco-based hot sauce. In his first batch he produced 350 bottles, which he sent out to wholesales as samples. In just a few weeks he received orders for thousands of bottles. McIlhenny's farm was located in Avery Island, Louisiana, and it wasn't long before the tabasco flavor became synonymous with Louisiana. It is currently the defining flavor in Louisiana hot sauces. Of the many early hot sauce companies from the mid-1800s, Tabasco is the only one still in existence.

The early 1920s was a period of rapid expansion for the hot sauce industry with many well known brands coming to market. Between 1918 and 1928, La Victoria Salsa Brava, Crystal, and Bruce Food were founded. The Great Depression put a hold on the hot sauce industry and for a time there were very few innovations. By the time America had recovered in the 1940s, hot sauce makers were back at it. In 1941, La Victoria released red taco sauce, green taco sauce, and enchilada sauce. Then in 1947, Pace Foods was founded and launched their picante sauce out of a liquor store in San Antonio, Texas.

There were other regions making hot sauce at the time, most notably the Caribbean, but these areas had very few large scale manufacturers. Instead, recipes were handed down from generation to generation and they were made in small batches for local communities. Pickapeppa of Jamaica is one of the few exceptions.

The Hottest Sauces In The World

In today's world, being the hottest hot sauce comes with a badge of honor, as is true for the person crazy enough to consume it. Technically the hottest hot sauce currently on the planet is Blair's 16 Million Reserve, which isn't actually a true hot sauce, but rather a pure capsaicin extract. It measures a stunning 16 million Scoville units, which is the scale used to measure exactly how spicy a pepper or hot sauce is.

The spiciest hot sauce available that isn't a pure pepper extract is CaJohns Get Bitten Black Mamba, which is rated at 6 million Scoville units. To put these numbers into perspective, the standard Tabasco sauce we are all familiar with is rated at between 2,500 and 5,000 Scoville units, with their hotter habanero-based hot sauce rated at a touch over 7,000 Scoville units. The very popular Sriracha hot sauce measures at just 1,000 to 2,500 Scoville units.

Many of the ridiculously spicy hot sauces that are rated in the hundreds of thousands or millions of Scoville units are designed to be a food additive and not poured directly onto food before consumption. Think of them like adding a couple of really hot Thai bird peppers or a touch of chopped habanero to a bowl of chili or a salsa. If you are looking to kick it up a notch with some really hot chicken wings, but would rather not completely burn off your taste buds, consider trying a hot sauce in the 20,000 to 50,000 Scoville unit range before moving on to anything hotter.

Tips For Making Great Hot Sauces

Making a great homemade hot sauce is all about balance. The goal is to balance the flavors, so that they can all be enjoyed without one ingredient overpowering the other. While making hot sauce at home is relatively easy, it takes some trial and error to master the proportions. Luckily hot sauce ingredients are relatively inexpensive, so don't be afraid to experiment.

The three basic components of any hot sauce are fresh chilies, vinegar, and salt. After that, the sky is the limit. It is often a good idea to add additional aromatics like carrots, onions, and celery to give it a more refined taste and add layers of flavor. If you are going for more of a sweet and spicy style hot sauce, consider adding some sugar or ketchup. This will also help to thicken the mixture as it cooks down.

If you prefer a fresher hot sauce with a Caribbean flare, try adding some citrus fruits like lemons or oranges. If you choose to go this route, don't cook the citrus as this can make it bitter and also cause it to lose some of its bright citrus flavor. Instead either cook the chilies and other ingredients and add the citrus at the end after cooking, or just make a fresh, completely raw hot sauce. This may turn out to be quite a treat as you won't often find raw hot sauces in the store.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, always make your hot sauce in a well ventilated kitchen. Cooking down chilies can cause your eyes to tear and your throat to burn. Don't forget, pepper spray is little more than extracted pepper oils. Cooking a big batch of hot sauce in an unventilated kitchen can cause you to feel like you've just been hit with a stream of it dead in the face.

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Last updated on April 21, 2018 by Melissa Harr

Melissa is a writer, editor, and EFL educator from the U.S. She's worked in the field since earning her B.A. in 2012, during which time she's judged fiction contests, taught English in Asia, and authored e-courses about arts and crafts. In her free time, she likes to make stuff out of sticks and string.

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