The Best Hot Sauces & How To Make Homemade Hot Sauce

A Brief History of Hot Sauce

These days, hot sauce is a huge hit in many homes worldwide, and its popularity is growing daily. But it’s not new. It has ancient roots, with the Mayans and Aztecs who used spicy condiments made from chilli peppers to flavor their food.

Hot sauce bottles 3

The use of chili peppers spread globally following Christopher Columbus’s voyages in the late 15th century when he introduced them to Europe. As these peppers traveled continents, diverse cultures developed their distinct chilli sauces, such as Sriracha in Asia, piri piri in Africa, and habanero chilli pepper sauces in the Caribbean.

This spicy condiment comes in different heat levelsmeasured by the Scoville scale. It can be very mild or super-hot, testing your taste buds and heat tolerance to the limit!

Types of Hot Pepper Sauce

Several types of sauce are available, including traditional hot pepper sauce, smoked chilli sauce, fruit-based chilli sauce, hot sauce with a vinegar base, and those with a mustard base. Let’s dig into them below and ensure you buy hot sauces you’ll love.

Traditional hot sauce

Traditional hot pepper sauce has a simple recipe made from chili peppers, vinegar, and salt. This mix gives it a sharp taste that many people love. Some folks also ferment it to add an extra kick of flavor.

We find this type of hot pepper sauce in Mexican cuisine often. Brands like Cholula and Valentina are known for their traditional sauces. 

Smoked hot sauce

Smoked hot chilli pepper sauce is full of flavor and uses peppers that have been dried and smoked. The smoking process gives these sauces a deep, rich flavor.

One brand, Cholula, uses arbol pepper to make its famous sauce. These peppers give it a slightly smokey taste

As Halloween approaches, why not try this Fermented and Smoked Hot Sauce with Pumpkin! I experimented with it a couple of years ago, and it turned out to be a great hot sauce with loads of flavor.

Fruit-based hot sauce

Fruit-based chilli sauces provide a tantalizing balance of sweetness, acidity, and heat. While many small-batch producers and local artisans experiment with fruit infusions, some of the more well-known brands or notable sauces that feature fruits prominently include:

  • Marie Sharp’s: Known for their Belizean-style chilli pepper sauces that often combine habanero peppers with various fruits, such as mango, grapefruit, or pineapple.
  • Melinda’s: This brand offers a range of sauces where fruits like mango are combined with habaneros to create a sweet-heat profile.
  • Adoboloco: A Hawaiian brand that combines the island flavors with heat, offering sauces like their Pineapple Habanero.

Click the links above to find out what I thought of some of the flavors.

Types of hot sauce

Hot sauce with a vinegar base

Commonly associated with the Louisiana style, vinegar-based sauces meld chili peppers with vinegar and salt. Characterized by their thin consistency, tangy flavor, and a hint of salt, brands like Tabasco have popularized this base in their original hot sauces and other signature sauces.

To craft distinct flavors, I play with various kinds of vinegar in my culinary ventures, such as distilled vinegar, apple cider vinegar, and white wine vinegar. These sauces are my go-to for eggs and chicken wings and make versatile additions to other sauces. And trust me, a serving of oysters would not be as tasty without a dash of Tabasco!

Mustard-based hot chili sauce

Caribbean-inspired dishes often feature hot chili sauces with a mustard foundation.

Bajan pepper sauce is a notable example, blending mustard with Scotch bonnet peppers for a fiery touch. These mustard-based sauces are a staple in the British Virgin Islands, offering a burst of heat and a distinctive yellow color.

The World’s Favorite Hot Sauce Brands

Tabasco, Frank’s RedHot, Cholula, Sriracha, and Valentina are popular hot pepper sauce brands chili heads enjoy worldwide.

Tabasco

People around the world have enjoyed Tabasco sauce for many years. Created by Edmund McIlhenny, it’s made with Tabasco peppers, vinegar, and salt.

The Tabasco company, which produces the sauce, is located in Louisiana and has a 25 percent market share in the global hot sauce industry. There are currently nine flavors of Tabasco available, including the Original, Green Jalapeno Sauce, Habanero, Scorpion and Chipotle Pepper.

Tabasco Pepper Sauce

Frank’s RedHot

Frank’s RedHot is a famous brand that has been around for 100 years. Made from various cayenne peppers, it has a unique and tangy flavor. The Original blend of Frank’s RedHot ranks low on the Scoville scale, making it a family favorite.

Cholula

Crafted predominantly from arbol and piquin peppers and enhanced with local spices, Cholula’s name pays homage to North America’s most ancient inhabited city, Cholula, Mexico. 

In a strategic move in 2020, McCormick & Company bought Cholula for $800 million, subsequently broadening its assortment with salsas and other novel products.

Sriracha

Sriracha sauce stands out as a beloved hot sauce, characterized by its chili peppers, vinegar, garlic, sugar, and salt blend. 

Over recent years, its popularity in the US has surged. Huy Fong Foods is celebrated for its rendition of Sriracha, although multiple brands offer their interpretations. An interesting twist is the ChilliChump Sriracha, which dials up the heat.

The buzz around Sriracha and Huy Fong Foods recently intensified due to a sauce shortage. We’ve shared an article with a DIY Sriracha recipe for enthusiasts so you can craft your spin on this favorite.

Valentina

Valentina originated in Mexico. It is the best-selling hot sauce in Mexico and is gaining popularity in the United States.

Valentina falls under the category of traditional hot sauces, making it one of the go-to choices for people who enjoy authentic Mexican flavors. Valentina also offers an extra hot and black-label version for those who prefer even more heat.

I’ve reviewed Valentina Black Label sauce in my ChilliChump Checking Out Chilli Sauces series – Take a look by clicking the link below:

Homemade Hot Sauce Recipe Ingredients

These sauces vary in flavor and heat level depending on their ingredients. Common ingredients in hot chilli pepper sauce include peppers (jalapeno, habanero, cayenne, etc.), vinegar, salt and water (brine), garlic, and onions.

Hot Sauce Ingredients

Peppers (jalapeno, habanero, cayenne, etc.)

Jalapeno, habanero, and red cayenne peppers are commonly used in chilli sauce. These peppers contain capsaicin, which is the compound that gives the sauce its heat. Jalapenos are milder compared to habaneros and cayenne peppers.

Habanero chili peppers come in different colors as they ripen, such as orange, red, white, brown, and pink. So, the type of pepper used will determine the spiciness you can expect when making or choosing a hot pepper sauce. Check out my guide, ‘How to Grow the Best Habanero Peppers.’

Vinegar

Vinegar is used frequently in hot sauce recipes. It serves as a natural preservative and helps enhance the sauce’s flavor. Many traditional hot sauces include vinegar as one of their main ingredients.

Vinegar gives hot pepper sauce its tangy and acidic taste. It also plays an essential role in achieving the right consistency for the sauce, ensuring it’s not too thick or too watery.

Salt

Salt is often found in hot chilli pepper sauce. It adds flavor and enhances the taste of the other ingredients. However, it’s important to note that these sauces can be high in sodium.

Just one teaspoon of hot pepper sauce contains around 124 milligrams of sodium. This might be a concern for people who have high blood pressure or are on a low-sodium diet. So, while enjoying the spicy kick, it’s also essential to be mindful of your salt intake.

Garlic

Garlic is a critical ingredient in many recipes because it pairs well with hot peppers and vinegar. It adds a flavorful punch to the sauce and complements the heat of the peppers.

Whether you’re making traditional or fruit-based sauces, adding garlic can take your creation to the next level. Its intense flavor adds depth and complexity, making it a popular choice among hot sauce lovers.

Onions

Onions are often caramelized or cooked during the sauce-making process, adding a sweet and savory flavor to the final product.

Onions, garlic, and carrots are flavor enhancers in homemade hot pepper sauce recipes. They add depth and richness to the overall taste profile of the sauce. 

Chili Pepper Hot Sauce Scoville Scale

The Scoville Scale categorizes chillies and chilli pepper sauces based on their heat levels, ranging from mild to extreme.

Mild hot sauces (0-1,000 Scoville Heat Units)

Mild sauces have a Scoville rating of 0-1,000 SHU. They are not too spicy and are perfect for those who enjoy the taste without too much heat. Some famous mild sauces include Sriracha and Tabasco.

These mild options can add flavor and a touch of spice to various dishes without overpowering other flavors. So, if you want a little kick without burning your tongue, try out these milder options!

Moderate hot sauces (1,000-10,000 SHU)

Moderate sauces have a Scoville rating between 1,000 and 10,000 SHU. These sauces provide a noticeable level of heat without being overwhelmingly spicy. Some examples include Cholula, with its Scoville rating of around 3,600 SHU, and Sriracha, which falls within the range of 1,000 to 2,500 SHU on the Scoville scale.

Hot sauce vinegar based

Louisiana Style Sauce is another moderate option with a Scoville rating of approximately 450 SHU. Add flavor and a pleasant kick to your favorite dishes with moderate sauces without being too intense.

Hot hot sauces (10,000-100,000 SHU)

Hot sauces have a Scoville Heat Unit (SHU) rating between 10,000 and 100,000. These sauces are pretty spicy and will kick your taste buds. One example of a pepper that falls within this range is the Datil pepper, which rates at 50,000 to 100,000 SHU.

So, these sauces are perfect for adding a scorching kick to your dishes!

Extreme hot sauces (over 100,000 SHU)

Extreme sauces are not for the faint of heart. These sauces have a Scoville Heat Unit (SHU) rating of over 100,000, which means they pack quite a punch. One example is Blair’s 6 A.M., which has an impressive 16,000,000 SHU rating! These sauces are made with some of the hottest peppers in the world, such as ghost peppers and Carolina reapers.

They provide a thrilling and intense experience for those who love spicy foods and want to push their heat tolerance to the limit. Just remember to use extreme caution when handling and consuming them!

Health Benefits of Hot Sauce

Hot pepper sauce adds a kick to your favorite dishes and offers some surprising health benefits. From boosting metabolism to reducing inflammation, learn more about how this spicy condiment can spice up your life in the best way possible!

Below is a brief overview, but for more information, watch 9 Incredible Health Facts About Chilli Peppers

Boosts metabolism

Hot sauce has a special ingredient called capsaicin, which can boost metabolism. This means it can help your body burn more calories and potentially aid in weight loss. When you eat hot sauce, capsaicin causes a temporary increase in your body temperature, leading to increased calorie burning.

Aids in digestion

Hot chilli sauce can help with digestion. It contains capsaicin, which can increase digestive fluids in the stomach and improve the overall digestion process. Vinegar in hot sauce also plays a role by stimulating the production of digestive juices.

These effects can aid in relieving gas, bloating, and other common digestive issues. However, it’s important to note that eating very spicy foods could worsen symptoms for people with acid reflux or irritable bowel syndrome.

Contains antioxidants

Hot sauce brings more than just heat to the table; it’s a source of beneficial antioxidants. The ingredients in hot sauce, especially chili peppers, are packed with antioxidants such as carotenoids, flavonoids, and phenolic compounds. Moreover, these peppers are abundant in vitamins C, A, B, and E.

May reduce inflammation

Hot chilli pepper sauce could serve as a potential anti-inflammatory agent. The key lies in an ingredient called capsaicin found in peppers. Capsaicin aids in reducing inflammation by promoting the release of endorphins, our body’s natural pain relievers.

Hot Sauce and Culinary Uses

These sauces are not just about adding heat to your meals; it also enhances the flavor of other foods. When you drizzle one of these sauces over your favorite dishes, it ignites your taste buds and adds a spicy kick.

Hot sauce recipes

Discover creative ways to incorporate a spicy sauce into your culinary creations and unlock a new world of flavor. 

Condiment for burgers and sandwiches

Hot chilli pepper sauce is a popular condiment for burgers and sandwiches. It adds a spicy kick to your favorite sandwich or burger, bringing out the flavors in every bite. Whether you prefer traditional hot sauces like Tabasco or Frank’s RedHot or more unique options like Sriracha or Cholula, there are plenty of choices to suit your taste buds.

Marinade for meats and seafood

Marinading meats and seafood with hot pepper sauce adds flavor and helps to tenderize the meat. The acidity of the vinegar in hot sauce breaks down proteins, making the meat more tender and juicy.

Ingredient in spicy soups and stews

When used in soups and stews, hot pepper sauce brings heat, depth of flavor, and an extra layer of excitement.

Whether it’s a classic chili con carne or a flavorful curry, adding hot sauce can elevate your soup or stew to new levels of deliciousness. The spiciness from the hot sauce blends with other ingredients, creating a well-balanced and satisfying meal.

Enhancement for pizza and pasta dishes

Whether you prefer a traditional hot chilli pepper sauce or something more unique like truffle hot sauce, it can take your favorite Italian dishes to the next level.

Drizzle some heat on top of your pizzas for an extra punch of heat, or mix it into your pasta sauces for added depth and complexity. It’s all about finding the right balance and experimenting with different flavors to create a culinary masterpiece that suits your taste buds.

Flavor-booster for dips and dressings

Hot pepper sauce can add a splash of heat and be a fantastic flavor booster for dips and dressings. Its thick consistency makes it perfect as a base or mix-in for fiery sauces, especially when craving that extra kick of flavor.

So grab your favorite sauce bottle and spice up your culinary creations!

Hot Sauce Storage and Shelf Life

Hot sauce can last for quite some time if you store it properly. Most hot sauces have a decent shelf life because they contain vinegar and chili peppers, which act as natural preservatives.

Unopened hot sauce can last for up to two years. However, checking the label for storage instructions is essential because some hot sauces may need refrigeration.

Tabasco hot sauce is aged up to three years and reportedly has a shelf life of five years. 

Your homemade hot sauce can last 2-3 months with proper pasteurization and refrigeration. Add vinegar, salt, and sugar as natural preservatives to ensure your homemade hot sauce lasts longer.

Always store your hot sauce in a cool, dark place to maintain its quality and flavor over time. Remember to check the bottle’s expiration date or recommended use-by date before using it in your favorite dishes!

Conclusion

In conclusion, hot sauce is a versatile and popular condiment that adds heat and flavor to various dishes. With its wide range of types, tastes, and spice levels, there’s a hot sauce for everyone.

Whether you prefer the traditional tangy taste or enjoy experimenting with unique fruit-based varieties, hot sauce will surely add an exciting kick to your meals. So take a look at my hot sauce reviews, try some different brands and flavors for yourself to find your favorite!

Hot Sauce FAQs

1. What is the Best Hot Sauce to Use?

The best hot sauce may vary based on personal taste; some prefer medium hot, while others prefer scorching. Popular choices include Sriracha, Habanero, and the original Tabasco. For some hot sauce inspiration before shopping, go to ChilliChump Checking Out Chilli Sauce

2. Where Can I Buy Famous Shop Hot Sauces?

You can shop for popular and bestselling bottles of hot sauces in grocery stores or online shops that offer a curated selection.

3. Can we Use Jalapeno Peppers for Making Homemade Hot Sauce?

Yes! Jalapeños, habaneros, or even banana peppers are great for making your homegrown hot sauce with a fruity flavor. Here’s one recipe: Tangy, Spicy Green Chilli Sauce Recipe.

4. How to Make a Homemade Hot Sauce Spicier?

During the fermentation process, add spicier chili peppers such as Serrano peppers or Thai chilies to make the homemade sauce hotter. You can also leave in the seeds and membrane when making your sauce, where the capsaicin is concentrated.

5. Can I Cook Using My Favorite Hot Sauce?

Absolutely! You can use your favorite sauce on buffalo wings or tacos; it will add extra spice and unique flavor to your food!

6. Ferment v Cooked Hot Sauce – How Long Does Homemade Fermented Hot Sauce Last?

There are two main ways to make hot sauce: fermenting and cooking. Fermented sauces let ingredients like chili peppers ferment over time, giving a rich flavor and added probiotics. Cooked sauces are made by boiling ingredients for a quick, ready-to-use result. If refrigerated, fermented sauces tend to last longer, up to a year, while cooked sauces might last a few months. Since homemade sauces lack preservatives, always check for spoilage before consuming.

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