Hot sauce is one of those staple condiments, right beside ketchup and mustard. It adds a kick to otherwise bland foods and adds an extra flavor profile that delights your taste buds.
There's no real limit to where you can add spice, be it hot dogs, your breakfast scrambled eggs, mac and cheese, and really, too many options to list. But the wrong hot sauce can ruin a dish, adding too much unnecessary flavor or even too much heat to really enjoy your meal. See which hot sauces were named the best, and which were the worst!
This Mexican-style hot sauce was created in California and has a red pepper flavor that allows the sauce to go with a variety of dishes, from tacos, pizza, chicken, pasta, and much more.
Sitting at 3,000 SHU or Scoville heat units, the sauce isn't overpowering but offers just enough heat to liven up your meal.
Worst: Frank's RedHot Original sauce
Frank's Red Hot is a regular addition to Buffalo sauce, so it's no surprise that this is what many people think of when tasting the sauce.
A very mild sauce sitting at only 450 SHU, the sauce adds more of that characteristic tangy vinegar flavor that doesn't work with all dishes. It also has a high sodium content which means you can't necessarily add more without risking adding too much salt to your meal.
Best: El Yucateco Chile Habanero - Red Salsa
El Yucateco's Chile Habanero classic red salsa manages to dilute the spicy habanero pepper into a delicious hot sauce that imparts habanero flavoring into your dishes.
Because of this, the sauce pairs best with tacos but fits alongside nachos and pizza. At 5,790 SHU, the sauce has noticeable heat without being overpowering.
Worst: Valentina - Red Label
Valentina has a noticeable sweet chili flavor that is tangy and mild. It comes in on 900 SHU for the red label bottle (that is, the classic yellow bottle), offering more flavor than heat, which might be disappointing to spice aficionados.
But due to its watery consistency, Valentina works best mixed in with marinades rather than poured over dishes.
Best: Cholula Hot Sauce
Another classic Mexican hot sauce, Cholula hot sauce manages to combine spicy, sweet and citrus with a smoky twist. It pairs best with Mexican dishes, although it does a well-rounded flavor that works with many dishes, including pizza, eggs, rice, etc.
The sauce carries heat, with a rating of 1,000 SHU, it manages to perfectly combine spice and flavor.
Worst: Louisiana Brand Hot Sauce
Louisiana Brand Hot Sauce is another sauce that's strong on the vinegar, and mild in heat. At 450 SHU, anyone using this sauce will have to add a lot more of the sauce in order to get any noticeable heat.
And with the primary flavors being vinegar and cayenne pepper, the flavor and lack of heat don't make this sauce particularly noteworthy.
Best: Tabasco Original Red Sauce
Tabasco hot sauce is a Louisiana-style hot sauce that is a staple across American restaurants. The heat in this sauce is encapsulated by vinegar and comes in around 2,500 SHU, sure to fit in with everyone's heat preferences.
The sauce also has a low sodium content, so you can add as much heat as you need without the extra salt.
Worst: El Yucateco Black Label Reserve Chile Habenero
This black habanero sauce from El Yucateco is made from charred habanero peppers, offering a smokey flavor. Many find the smokey flavor to be overwhelming rather than subtle.
Because of this, the sauce doesn't pair easily with many dishes, and can easily overpower them, and with a SHU rating of 9,285, the smokiness and heat of the sauce won't appeal to everyone.
Best: Huy Fong Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce
An iconic hot sauce, Huy Fong's Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce is spicy with strong flavors. The chili peppers combine with the strong garlic notes to create a sweet and tangy flavor that can be added to many dishes but especially pairs well with Asian dishes.
At 2,200 SHU, the sauce offers a medium heat with all the flavor.
Worst: Satan's Blood Hot Sauce
Satan's Blood Hot Sauce is not necessarily a sauce, but more of a chili pepper extract with red wine vinegar. The "sauce" is so hot that it leaves your skin feeling like it's burning upon contact.
At 800,000 SHU, it can't be eaten by itself, and the flavor itself leaves much to be desired.
Best: Grace Scotch Bonnet Sauce (Hot)
Grace Scotch Bonnet Sauce is a Jamaican hot sauce that combines the taste of Scotch Bonnet peppers with cane vinegar and cane sugar, adding a tropical hint to this hot sauce.
With medium heat and an undisclosed SHU rating, this sauce packs a flavor that pairs well with pizza but especially complements foods with jerk seasoning and other traditional Caribbean dishes.
Worst: Da Bomb Beyond Insanity Hot Sauce
Da Bomb Insanity Sauce has featured on various lists as one of the hottest sauces out there, with 135,600 SHU. And unfortunately, the flavor doesn't make up for the heat.
Described by some as having a chemical aftertaste, the sauce has strong citrus notes that overpower the peppers in the sauce. When added to food, these flavors can ruin an otherwise delicious meal.
Best: Dave's Insanity Sauce
Compared to most of the super-hot sauces on this list, Dave's Insanity Sauce actually did try to build on the flavors while still providing intense heat. Coming in at 180,000 SHU, this is definitely a sauce to use sparingly.
With tomato paste and hints of garlic, the sauce can complement foods since you'll likely only add a drop or two in order to add flavor but not heat.
Worst: Texas Pete Original Hot Sauce
Texas Pete Original Hot Sauce is a straightforward hot sauce with no frills - unless you count the high sodium in the bottle.
With a watery consistency, the hot sauce is also on the very end of mild with around 400 SHU.
Best: Truff Hotter Sauce
The hottest version of the Truff Hot Sauce brand, combining black truffle and black truffle powder concentrate with Jalapeño peppers and red habanero powder.
The sauce has a sweet character to it, which, along with the medium heat at 5,000 SHU, suggests that it would pair nicely with pizzas, pasta, salads, and meats.
Worst: Taco Bell Hot Sauce
Taco Bell's hot sauce has a distinct flavor that's recognizable right off the bat, with typical Tex-Mex flavorings of cumin, garlic, chili powder, and onion powder. The Fire sauce has 500 SHU, with the hotter Diablo at an undisclosed rating.
But the biggest problem with the Taco Bell hot sauces? The number of additives that make up the ingredient list.
Best: Secret Aardvark Habanero Hot Sauce
The flavor in Secret Aardvark Habanero Hot Sauce features roasted tomatoes, habanero pepper, spices, and a SHU rating of 5,000.
Well balanced with flavor and heat, the hot sauce works well on a variety of dishes, from pizza to burgers, and even as a dipping sauce for fries.
Worst: Trappey’s Red Devil Cayenne Pepper Sauce
Despite being marketed as a super-hot sauce, Trappey's Red Devil Cayenne Pepper Sauce offers a mild take on the hot cayenne pepper, sitting at around 1,000 SHU.
This suggests that the other ingredients in the sauce dilute the pepper by a considerable amount. Other than the lower-than-expected heat, the sauce is also high in sodium.
Best: Casa Firelli
Casa Firelli hot sauce is made especially for pizza. The Italian company created the hot sauce with a gentler kick and complex flavors to enhance pizza without overpowering.
It's also worth adding to pasta dishes, burgers, and more.
Worst: Crystal Hot Sauce
Crystal Hot Sauce shares many characteristics with other Louisiana-style hot sauces, with the key difference being the flavor of pepper mash taking on a more prominent role. The heat is more on the mild side sitting at roughly 2,000 SHU.
The biggest issue with Crystal Hot Sauce, though, is the high sodium levels. With a mediocre flavor profile in addition to the high sodium, this makes the sauce a pass.
Best: Hot Ones “The Classic” Hot Sauce
Hot Ones "The Classic" Hot Sauce, has an interesting array of flavors packed in the bottle, with chile de árbol as its chosen pepper, giving a maple-like taste to the sauce, and garlic.
The sauce is a mild to medium heat, at 1,500 SHU, allowing it to be enjoyed by many, and offering an overall pleasant eating experience that won't leave your taste buds on fire.