Taste Test: Hot Sauce

By , Toby Amidor, Food Network’s Healthy Eats
With so much talk about hot sauce, we had to taste test all the popular varieties for ourselves. We got our mouths fired up for this spicy taste test. Find out who topped our list.

It’s All About Sodium
Hot sauce is the new ketchup. Dab a little on sandwiches, pizza, pasta dishes, chili, grilled meats, eggs – almost any dish. If you check out the label, you’ll notice that there’s not much nutrition information per serving—no calories, fat, saturated fat, carbs, or protein (or at least so little that it can be listed as zero by food labeling guideline). What it does have is sodium—and some brands have more than others. 

The Criteria
For this taste test, we rated hot sauce based on taste, spiciness, ingredients and nutritional information—specifically sodium. We chose the original flavor for each brand and rated them on a 5-point scale (5 being the highest). Since hot sauce is typically eaten with food, we tasted each on a tortilla chip.

Although many folks shouted out Sriracha on Facebook and Twitter, we chose to stick to traditional varieties for this taste test.

Cholula Hot Sauce

Rating: 5.0
Cost: $0.45 per fluid ounce
Nutrition Info (per teaspoon): 0 calories; 28 milligrams sodium
Our Take: Imported from Mexico, this is the only brand that has 1 tablespoon listed as the serving size (others have 1 teaspoon). The pepper flavor is pretty mild, especially compared to some of the other brands; that might be because the first ingredient listed is water (then arbol and piquin peppers).

Tabasco Pepper Sauce
Rating: 4.0
Cost: $1.18 per fluid ounce
Nutrition Info (per teaspoon):  0 calories; 35 milligrams sodium
Our Take: Many of us grew up using this teeny red bottle and boy it’s still as hot as we remember. This baby has only 3 ingredients: distilled vinegar, red pepper, and salt. Alongside Cholula, it has the lowest sodium content but was by far the most expensive.

Frank’s Red Hot Original
Rating: 4.0
Cost: $0.31 per fluid ounce
Nutrition Info (per teaspoon):  0 calories; 190 milligrams sodium
Our Take: We love the innocent (yet filthy-mouthed) elderly woman on the Frank’s Red Hot Sauce commercials (check out their website if you haven’t seen them). The ingredients in this one are pretty simple — cayenne peppers, distilled vinegar, water, salt and garlic powder. The flavor is just right—not too spicy but not mild either and it’s the cheapest of the bunch. The sodium, however, is one of the highest of all brands we tested.

Click here for more Hot Sauce Test Taste from Food Network.

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What’s your favorite hot sauce?

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They didn't include Sriracha because they just did a whole blog post on it. :) It would be kinda unfair to include it again! Report
I'm A Louisiana Fan Since Birth! lol The BIG Bottle Is In My Pantry. I Don't Use A Lot of It Because of the Sodium. Report
I'm in love with Frank's Red Hot Sweet Chili sauce. 2 Tbsp = 70 Cal. 460 g sodium (kind of high but I don't use it that often). The ingredients are Water, Sugar, Red Chili Peppers, Salt, Garlic, Modified Food Starch and Acetic Acid. It is a great tasting sauce Report
//cough cough// Sriracha *is* a traditional hot sauce.

I agree with JIMSGIRL73 in that it depends on what you make as to what sauce you should use. Tabasco has always been one of my staples, along with "Rooster Sauce" (aka Sriracha). Report
There are EIGHT bottles of hot sauce in our fridge. We use it like other people use ketchup. Report
Crystal Report
My favorite is Taste of Thai...spicy, yet very flavorful. Unfortunately, it has become impossible to find. If anyone knows where to get it, please let me know! Report
They all taste different so it's hard to really compare them against one another. We use Sriracha and Franks Red Hot in our house. They are totally different and are used for different purposes. Report
Crystal is my favorite!!! Report
Am I alone in thinking that different hot sauces work for different foods? :)
I have all the above, plus sriracha, Valentina (regular & extra hot), rooster sauce (like a chunky sriracha), green Tobasco, and, from time to time, Texas Pete. Now that I list it all out, maybe I'm a fanatic. Report
Sriracha is magnificent to spice up a dish or just lend a bit of kick. One of my favourite combinations so far: adding sriracha and a dash of olive oil to popcorn for a really tasty treat. Report
Haven't tried Sriracha... yet. But personally I think Franks is the best to marinade chicken in. Followed shortly after by Green Tobasco. Report
It's gotta be Crystal! Report
Hands down, Cholula is the best hot sauce. Report
Thanks for the blog! I'm a wimp when it comes to hot sauce and salt is a killer for me due to high blood pressure, so the descriptions and ratings are a great guide for me. Report
Good article. Sad you didn't include Sriracha because it is the only hot sauce we use in our house. Report
sriracha is my to go to hot sauce.
Bronco Bob's chipotle roasted raspberry goes on my salads. Report
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