The 10 Best Hot Sauces

Updated May 27, 2017 by Sam Kraft

10 Best Hot Sauces
Best High-End
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We spent 36 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top selections for this wiki. From the sublime to the ridiculously hot, our selection of hot sauces offers a great way for the creative cook to add a spicy kick to any dish. But be careful, a few of these options aren’t your grandfather’s hot sauce. 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. 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 hot sauces. 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 Mad Dog 357
Model pending
Weight 15.2 ounces
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

9. Zombie Cajun Set

The Zombie Cajun Set gourmet basket serves as an amusing gift for the hot sauce lover or the zombie culture enthusiast. Not only does it come with cleverly named sauces, but you’ll receive a zombie-themed book as part of the package as well.
  • all are gluten-free
  • 4 different flavors in kit
  • spice rating scale is misleading
Brand Zombie Cajun
Model zcgb4
Weight 2.7 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

8. Ass Kickin’ Pure

The Ass Kickin’ Pure contains the planet's hottest commercially-grown habanero – the Red Savina – which means this is some seriously hot 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 4.4 / 5.0

7. Tabasco Pepper Sauce

Sometimes you have to choose the 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 14.1 pounds
Rating 3.7 / 5.0

6. Sauce Maker’s Satan's Blood

Rated at an astounding 800,000 Scoville units, the Sauce Maker’s Satan's Blood may be better kept as a collectible than actually ingested. This sauce must be wildly diluted before you consider consuming it, unless you actually want emergency medical attention.
  • made with chili extract and vinegar
  • award-winning packaging
  • lasts for an extremely long time
Brand Sauce Makers
Model pending
Weight 0.8 ounces
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

5. Gringo Bandito Red

The Gringo Bandito Red was a first place Scovie award winner for best-tasting hot sauce, so you can count on it being something special. It's a medium heat option, suitable for cooking or for pouring directly onto your food.
  • developed by punk rock musician
  • made in california
  • certified frustration-free packaging
Brand Gringo Bandito
Model pending
Weight 5.7 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

4. Marie Sharp’s Sauce

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

3. Cholula Variety 4-Pack

Containing one of the most widely used hot sauces of the modern age, the Cholula Variety 4-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 2.9 pounds
Rating 4.4 / 5.0

2. Huy Fong Sriracha

If you haven’t tasted the 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 4.7 / 5.0

1. The Source Hot Sauce

The Source Hot Sauce should probably be classified as a weapon of war rather than a culinary item. This mighty condiment is rated at 7.1 million Scoville units and comes with a liability release printed on the bottle, so use it exceedingly sparingly. Enough said.
  • ideal for brave gourmands
  • comes in a refined 1-ounce bottle
  • can spice up 100 pots of chili
Brand The Source
Model pending
Weight 4.8 ounces
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

A Brief History Of Bottled Hot Sauce

Commercially bottled hot sauce made its first appearance in the United States in 1807, and its first recipe was made 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 Lousiana. 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 May 27, 2017 by Sam Kraft

Sam is a marketing/communications professional and freelance writer who resides in Chicago, IL and is perpetually celebrating the Cubs’ 2016 World Series victory.

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