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 are all great, depending on what you are eating them with. Report
Cholula is tops. A waitress once told me the secret ingredient was a little bit of garlic! Report
Cholula is the best. Report
Valentina. Imported from Mexico. It's the best! Doesn't have vinegar taste like the rest of them. My first husband got me hooked on it. Ha Report
Sriracha! Sriracha! Sriracha! That's the hot sauce I would use if I could eat anything spicy without dying, lol. Report
I'm from Trinidad (caribbean) so i make my own.We have many varieties of peppers ranging in heat. Some i've used are bird, scotch bonnnet, 7 pod and scorpion. Scorpion is the hottest(not for the faint hearted!)
A simple recipe is pepper(single variety or combo depending on heat required),salt, garlic,lime juice and a little hot water to blend. You can use either a food processor or a blender.
For all those peeps out there who love really HOT sauce, try one made in Trinidad or Jamaica. Report
Tabasco. I use it when I cook. Report
Cholula and Tapatio here. Try it on mango slices! Report
I do love a good hot sauce to give some kick to a meal. Tabasco is a reliable go-to, but, I've used most of the others at various times and they're good too. There are plenty of new combinations and flavor excursions available now in hot sauces. Try something new and enjoy. Report
Frank's Original or Buffalo are the BEST!! Tabasco comes in at a close 2nd. Report
As far as I'm concerned, there is no hot sauce other than Sriracha. All hail the flaming rooster! Report
Our hand's down favorite is Frank's Original....nice heat, spicy flavor...just right!! Report
Cholulah! I love this stuff and usually carry a mini bottle with me. My favorite is their original with the lime my 2nd choice! To me the others don't hold a flame anywhere near! Report
My favorite is Tabasco Chipotle Sauce.....love the smokey taste! Report
It's gotta be Matouk's, a Trinidad hot sauce that is Wonderful! Report
I love them all! My husband tries to run by that aisle in the store because I want to try every kind there is. Report
Tapatio - 100% hands down favorite in this house. Report
Siracha is found in most stores Asian foods section.
The pepper I like is the one that makes the habenero something for baby's to eat. I'm talking about the Ghost Pepper. Habenero = 800k heat units, GP = 1.8 million heat units. Nice!!! Report
oh, Frank's Red Hot! I really do put that *stuff* on everything...haha. well...not everything, but I do use it pretty frequently. Costco sells a double pack of bottles too so it's even cheaper than listed here. Report
I love mostly all hot sauces. I have never heard of sriracha. I don't know if they sell it, in my neck of the woods. (Canada). I would love to try it. I will look for it. Thanks Report
I don't do spicy and hot, major stomach problems for me.
However, a couple of drops Tabasco in DH's ratatouille, beans, or other mix keeps him happy.
And if the mix is for us both, a drop less Tabasco, and a pinch of sugar or 1/2 teaspoon red currant jelly (jam without the bits if fruit in it) or apple and rowan jelly. That wee bit of sweetness makes a difference to the spice effect in my gut! Report
Oh man!! I love Frank's Red Hot. The highest sodium of them all?? So sad now :( Report
I love Crystal and sirracha, I use Valentina's Salsa Picantelike ketchup when I have tater tots :) Report
Franks, it's a buffalo standard. :) Report
Valentina is my favorite but is not listed here. Two or three ingredients - red pepper and water and possibly salt. All you need! Report
Cholula is my favorite. I love it much hotter, but I have found that the milder stuff has better overall taste. Same goes for salsa. Cant seem to get the "heat" with the better taste. Report
FRANK'S Red Hot Original for me. ::it used to be called Frank's Louisiana Red Hot Sauce. ::::: Report
I usually buy the cheaper store brand, and never thought to look at the sodium since I use a few drops at a time. However, since I am on a campaign to keep my daily sodium levels under 2000 mgs., I will be searching out Cholula, since it is the hot I want when I reach for the hot sauce, not the salty.
I tried the Sriracha last week and was very disappointed--way to sweet for my taste. Report
Texas Pete is my favorite. I LOVE it on salmon! Report
My favorite is Tabasco Chipotle Sauce. I don't like the original. Report
We love hot sauce so much in our household we call it "love juice." ;) Report
I am in LOVE with Cholula! I really like spicy food, but hate the vinegar taste that comes with Tabasco (although the green one, salsa verde I think, is ok in a pinch). Crystal and Frank's are good too, but Cholula will always be number one in my book! Report
I prefer Siracha--it doesn't taste like vinegar. If not that I make my own, red chilies, garlic, and a little olive oil. That way there is no sodium :-) Report
LOVE Cholula. I bought it the first time at a local shop known as a Hot Sauce store - they have hundreds of brands. Now I buy it in the large bottle. Report
I like the Habanero variety of Tabasco sauce. It's hotter than the regular type so I can use less for the same spice (or just as much if I feel like some catch-your-hair-on-fire chicken!) Report
Another vote for Tapatio! Report
Tapatio is our hands down favorite!!! Report
Love red hot!!!! Report
I don't like hot sauce I tend to use Ancho chili powder it is more milder.
my husband like the Hot sauce, and I know i would not buy Frank's Hot Sauce
due to the fact I would not buy anything from a company that has a
Filthy-mouthed person in their commercials. My mom uses a little Texas Pete whenever she makes buffalo wings because i like them mild. Report
There's this Mexican hot sauce called Valentina. It's the only hot sauce I buy! I think it has the best flavor. I love it, and use it on just about anything, Report
I'm a wimp when it comes to most hot sauces. The only one I can eat is Tapitio. I like to mix it with sour cream or ranch. Yum!! Report
Louisiana hot sauce for me Report
Tapatio gets my vote -- it's hard to get in Canada but I love it. Report
I can't tolerate hot sauce now; but my mom make a homemade hot sauce with gentlemen pepper. The name sound funny; but is a little red pellet. That little thing is very hot. The sauce is: gentlemen peppers, vinegar, olive oil and lemon. It is not so gentlemanly. Report
I love Srihacha "Rooster" Sauce! Report
I love them all -- sodium schmodium is what i say when it comes to hot sauce - I adore it! Report
I don't use salt very often because I use Frank's Hot Sauce on everything including my baked potato. To me it is the best tasting of them all.
Tapatio is mother's milk for we East LA Chican@s. Always on the table, in the restaurant, at your Grandma's - anywhere there are people of Mexican decent... Report
Louisiana habenero variety of hot sauce is by far my favorite. Report
I wish they didn't have so much sodium . Report
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