Did I really make a grocery store trip if I didn’t hawk over the hot sauce display at least once?
I am a self-certified, proud hot sauce lover and expert. It’s one of my most favorite condiments. Hell, I even follow the Reddit thread of r/hotsauce. While this article will rank commercial hot sauces, I strongly advise you to support artisanal hot sauce brands.
Personal favorite. In fact, there’s a nearly empty 12oz glass bottle of the ‘Original’ sitting in my kitchen cabinet as I type this. Cholula distinguishes itself with its wooden cap and exceptional taste. There are six flavors, with ‘Chili Garlic’ usually being my flavor of choice. While the headquarters are based in Jersey, the product itself is made in Mexico. Cholula is able to blend smoky and tangy flavours without trying to burn your mouth off. Brb, gonna go and cut up a cucumber into coins because I’m craving Cholula now. 11/10
2. Frank’s Red Hot
I put that shit on everything. There’s a reason why that’s Franks’ slogan. It’s a super versatile hot sauce that can make anything have a Buffalo-wing flavor (even if you don’t use their creamy Buffalo flavor sauce). This is no coincidence: legend has it that when Buffalo Wings were invented, they used Frank’s on them. Despite cayenne being its primary ingredient, it’s not super hot. Currently, the sauce is produced in Missouri and continues to stain the faces of wing eaters internationally. 9/10.
3. Sriracha (Huy Fong Foods)
Sriracha is the thicc baddie of the hot sauce world, and is frequently incorporated into Thai and Vietnamese dishes. It’s less of a runny sauce and more of a chili paste, with a little more tang and sweetness (which is excellent on fruits such as pineapple or mango). While the Huy Fong Foods version of this sauce is usually the most easily available, if you ever see a similar-looking bottle with a yellow cap and the brand name “Roland,” I recommend that one more. 9/10
4. Texas Pete
If you’ve ever taken a trip to the southeast, you might’ve seen baby bottles of these sold in gas stations. It’s hard to miss that cute red cowboy logo. The sauce is super vinegary, to the point where it might make your lips pucker up like lemons do. Fans will tell you to put it on fries or chicken. I would probably put it back on the shelf. 4/10
Tabasco has been making hot sauce for 150+ years, with over a dozen flavors in the lineup. The flavors are distinct from one another, so if you don’t like ‘Original,’ you might like ‘Chipotle’ or ‘Green Jalapeno.’ Protip: go to your nearest Chipotle to try multiple flavors, as they usually have different Tabasco bottles set out. They’re not the epitome of hot sauce, but they do the job. 6/10
Laura Ilioaei is a third-year english and communication studies major who always keeps hot sauce in their bag. You can reach them at firstname.lastname@example.org. Art by Carolyn Langer.