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Hot Sauce 101 – The Top Eight Hot Sauces in the U.S. and How to {Really} Enjoy Them.

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Hot Sauce 101 – The Top Eight Hot Sauces in the U.S. and How to {Really} Enjoy Them.

{Disclaimer: This is the opinion of a hot sauce aficionado and self-proclaimed spice-o-holic. 30 years of experience in the hot sauce tasting industry went into determining the accuracy of this post.}

Hot Sauce 101 - Azúcar & Spice

Hot Sauce 101

Although most wine enthusiasts would frown upon it, you could probably pair a filet mignon with a glass of Chardonay. But why would you do that, when you could have a much more pleasant taste experience by drinking a Cabernet Sauvignon instead? You might be asking yourself: What does wine have to do with hot sauce? After years of extensive research I’ve found that the best way to enjoy a flavorful hot sauce is to pair it with the right foods. And while you could put the same hot sauce on chicken that you would put on your eggs, your meal experience wouldn’t be as tasty. Like wine, the flavor options in hot sauces are endless, so how do you know which one to pick? Well, that would depend on what you’re gonna eat.

At any given time I might have between four and seven of these hot sauces in my kitchen. The flavor, texture and ingredients used in each one makes them unique not just in flavor, but like love, they’re created to be experienced with the right partner. If you’re on the fence about spicy foods, want to try something new or consider yourself a fellow hot sauce expert, you’ll enjoy my personal guide to the best eight hot sauces in the United States and the perfect foods to pair them with! Believe it or not, it’s a complicated process that has taken me years to perfect and now I share my secrets with you…

* Not listed in any particular ranking order.

# 1 Cholula

If Cholula Hot Sauce was a woman she would be sexy and confident. Sexy because she packs intense flavor and confident because its perfect consistency helps it hold on to any food. FACT: The term Cholula is derived from the pre-Hispanic word “Chollollan” meaning “the place of the retreat.”

DELICIOUS ON: Fresh sliced watermelon, mango, jicama, cucumbers, zucchini.

EVEN BETTER ON: Mac n’ cheese, fetuccine alfredo or any white sauce pasta dish.

Cholula - Azúcar & Spice

Cholula hot sauce – Azúcar & Spice


# 2 Sriracha

The main ingredients are sun ripen chilies and garlic, ground into a smooth paste, giving this hot sauce a tangy-sort-of-sweet taste. Also I’m a big fan of the squeeze bottle and the slim nozzle makes it easy to deliver just the right amount of spice. Named after the coastal city of Si Racha, in the Chonburi Province of Eastern Thailand, according to wikipedia.

DELICIOUS ON: Thai food of course, but also chicken soup, vegetable soup, Vietnamese pho, sushi and ramen noodles.


Photo Credit: barron via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: barron via Compfight cc


# 3 Tapatío

{Pronounced “Tah-pah-tee-o} Slightly saltier and with a runnier consistency than Cholula. This authentic chili flavor hot sauce will leave you wanting to kiss the macho charro on the label. By the way, “Tapatío” is what we call a person originally from the mexican city of Guadalajara, Jalisco.

DELICIOUS ON: Pizza, quesadillas, hot dogs, refried beans, burritos and meat tacos.

EVEN BETTER ON: Anything with chorizo.


Tapatío hot sauce


# 4 Uncle Brutha’s No. 9

A twist on the traditional mexican Salsa Verde. The main ingredients are serrano peppers, garlic and ginger giving this sauce its smoky fiery kick. Born and raised in one of my favorite cities, Washington DC. This sauce will liven up your life and brunch, just like a true home-grown DC gentleman.

DELICIOUS ON: Eggs, hash browns, roasted potatoes, sausage gravy or cheesy grits.


No.9 - Azúcar & Spice

AllSauce No.9 – Azúcar & Spice


# 5 Frank’s Red Hot

“Frank’s Red Hot Sauce your majesty I put that $%*! on everything!” That’s one of my favorite ad campaigns. This bad boy is tangy and probably the least spicy in this list. I like the runny consistency because it makes a great base for chicken wing sauce. FACT: This is the hot sauce used in the original Buffalo wings recipe created in Buffalo, NY back in 1964.

DELICIOUS ON:  Chicken wings, fried chicken, baked chicken, grilled chicken…anything with chicken. But also burgers and most meaty dishes.

EVEN BETTER ON: White sauce pizzas… trust me!

Photo Credit: marcgelinas via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: marcgelinas via Compfight cc


# 6 Tabasco Chipotle

I call this the neglected southern bell of the Tabasco family. This often under-appreciated Louisiana lady is perfectly smoky with a tangy after taste, and much more tolerable than her naughty older sister Red (see below).

DELICIOUS ON: Pork or beef ribs, grilled or fried chicken, burgers and chili.

EVEN BETTER ON: Chili cheese fries (with sour cream on top)…yum!

Tabasco Chipotle

Tabasco Chipotle


# 7 Tabasco Original Red

You already know this Louisiana bell is the HOTTEST and will make you sweat just like the summers she grew up in.

DELICIOUS ON: Bloody Marys, micheladas, fish and baked potatoes.

EVEN BETTER ON: Chicken noodle soup, just a few drops will open up your sinuses during a bad cold.

Photo Credit: kenny_lex via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: kenny_lex via Compfight cc


# 8 Valentina

The mexican God mother of hot sauces. The original Valentina is not very hot but has a very unique taste and that’s what makes it such a tradition in mexican households and street food carts.

DELICIOUS ON: Fresh out-of-the-fryer potato chips, cheddar cheese ruffles, cheetos, popcorn or any shrimp cocktail.

EVEN BETTER ON: This old school mexican party appetizer: Sliced cold hot dogs with a splash of lime juice, Worcestershire sauce and valentina… it’s an acquired taste 😉

Valentina - Azúcar & Spice

Valentina hot sauce

So tell me, what’s your favorite hot sauce?


About Maribel

Bilingual digital media and marketing pro | blogger| foodie | fashionista | philanthropist #NotTheCoolGirl

7 responses »

  1. Great read! Cheetos?! You really do put that $%*! on everything! 🙂

  2. Sriracha, is my fave! I put it on everything, even on yogurt! Way hotter than any Tabasco sauce but not crazy hot like some of the reduced or concentrated kinds so I can spread it on sandwiches, use it like catchup on brats, burgers & dogs.

    • Wow, on yogurt? That’s a fantastic idea! I can’t believe I didn’t think of that before. Thanks for sharing, I’m definitely going to be trying that soon. 🙂

  3. Pingback: Tatoos and Hot Sauce | Fabulous 50's

  4. Pingback: How to Buy Hot Sauce |

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