Hot Sauces That Are Actually Worthy Of Your Pantry Space

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Everyone has a favorite hot sauce, one they're willing to throw the gauntlet down over. It's this passion that makes investigating the hot sauce scene so much fun. Open up a friend's kitchen cabinet, and you're likely to see at least a few bottles of various hot sauces — start snooping in everyone's kitchen, and you'll start to see a few repeat bottles. While, ideally, there is always room for more hot sauce in your life, and lots of people love to make their own hot sauce at home, which blends deserve prime real estate in your pantry? 


We scoured the internet, visited specialty shops, and suffered heartburn from tasting so much delicious, fiery hot sauce and came up with this list. You can buy many of these hot sauces at your local grocery store, but some are from small-batch gourmet companies or only made outside of the United States. From Caribbean style to Louisiana style and everything in between, these sauces will make any pantry a hot place to be. You can read more about how we chose these hot sauces at the end of the article. 

El Yucateco Chile Habanero Hot Sauce

El Yucateco bills its habanero sauces as the best-selling in the United States, with good reason: The brand's Chile Habanero Hot Sauce is flavorful, versatile, and has the perfect amount of kick. The company started in 1968, when Priamo Gamboa began selling homemade hot sauce in Yucatán. By the mid-'70s, Yucateco had begun to sell its hot sauces in the United States. In fact, it was the first company from Mexico to sell hot sauce in the U.S., essentially opening the door for so many other incredible sauces to make their way to American pantries.


With red habanero peppers, tomatoes, and select spices and seasonings, El Yucateco's Chile Habanero Hot Sauce is excellent to use on just about any dish that needs a flavor boost, from fried eggs to fried chicken. As one reviewer on Amazon enthused: "I mean what can you say about this legend. Brings the heat without sacrificing flavor ... just the best! So if ya don't know, now ya know!"

Hot Ones Los Calientes Verde

Lots of people have more than one sauce featured on hit show "Hot Ones" in their pantry — but if you had to choose one, what would it be? Folks would probably say Los Calientes Verde. This green sauce is overwhelmingly popular, and we can see why. This is a bright, fresh-tasting hot sauce that can be used on basically anything. The spice is mild, but the flavors keep you coming back. With a smoky blend of serrano and habanero peppers, fruits such as apricot, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, and other spices, this sauce reigns on best-of lists. 


Made by Karma Sauce in Rochester, New York, Los Calientes Verde was a joint creation between Brooklyn hot sauce store Heatonist and Karma owner Gene Olczak. Heatonist, which helps curate sauces for "Hot Ones," sent Olczak a description of the kind of sauce needed, and they worked together until the right flavor came out. Gordon Ramsay, who made a delightfully profanity-laden appearance on Season 8, Episode 1, really enjoyed this sauce: "That's quite nice. I like that," he said. "It's quite zesty."

Huy Fong Foods Sriracha

When Huy Fong Foods' beloved Sriracha sauce disappeared for a few months, the sorrow was palpable. People scrambled to try and replace this staple with other sriracha sauces, with varying degrees of success. Bottles were even being sold for upwards of $150 on eBay, demonstrating the lengths folks were willing to go to acquire their favorite hot sauce. 


Sriracha is a chili sauce that originated in Thailand, but Huy Fong Foods Sriracha was created in 1980 by a Vietnamese immigrant named David Tran. Over the years, the sauce has become so popular that you can find its image on T-shirts, tote bags, and coffee mugs. In 2012, over 20 million bottles were sold. The sauce is an ingredient in many recipes and can be combined with condiments like mayonnaise. With red chilies, garlic, and vinegar, it has a slight sweetness and tang. 

Now that Huy Fong Foods Sriracha is back (with some controversy — there is debate on whether or not it still remains the same garlicky, spicy, saucy condiment or if the taste has changed), don't be surprised to find that your friends are stockpiling it in their cabinets just in case. 


Cholula Original Hot Sauce

If you're having eggs for breakfast, there'd better be a bottle of Cholula nearby. Cholula has a lingering heat but is really pleasant and mildly garlicky. This Mexican company uses árbol and piquin peppers and other spices to make a tangy, complex-tasting sauce for everyday use — and brunch would not be the same without it. 


Made in Jalisco, Mexico, from a century-old recipe, Cholula's name comes from an ancient Aztec city with a sad backstory. According to history, Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés arrived in Mexico during the early 16th century and visited Cholula after being invited by Aztec emperor Montezuma. The invitation was actually part of an ambush plan, but Cortés was warned in advance. He orchestrated a bloodbath and destroyed much of the city. Today, though, people come from all over to marvel at Cholula's archaeological park and volcanoes — and we can enjoy the hot sauce anytime.

A regular on "best of" lists, Cholula impresses everyone from hot sauce newbies to aficionados used to gourmet batches and brands that burn their faces off. It's not always about intense heat, folks — it's about the blending of flavors and balance, and this hot sauce succeeds on both of those fronts. One Amazon reviewer called Cholula the "Beyoncé of condiments, but with a fiery twist."


Spicy Caribbee Fuego

Have you been dying to spend some time in beautiful Puerto Rico? Do you like hot sauce? Here's a happy solution: Book a plane ticket to San Juan and head on over to Spicy Caribbee's store. Okay, yes, most of us are not living the jet-set life — luckily, you can order Spicy Caribbee's incredible hot sauces online. And you should. This hot sauce is not very well known, but those who have had it are fans for life. The company, which has been crafting hot sauces since 1988, offers a few different varieties, but Fuego is the best. 


Owners Nereida and Mark Williams have traveled all over the Caribbean and studied the region's cuisine's unique combination of Indian, French, Dutch, Spanish, English, and Latin influences. Fuego is made with scotch bonnet peppers, tamarind, and lime. Tourists who happen upon the shop while wandering Old San Juan quickly become converts of this unique, spicy, and balanced sauce — and when they go back home, they look forward to hot sauce delivery day.

Angry Goat Pepper Company Dreams of Calypso

With a combination of scotch bonnet peppers, mustard, tropical fruit, carrot, and other Caribbean-style flavors, Angry Goat Pepper Company's Dreams of Calypso is a hot sauce with distinct flavor and balance. If you want more heat, you can try Dreams of Calypso Private Reserve, which is made with blazing seven-pot yellow peppers. The mustard comes across in this sauce, which makes it an interesting and, dare we say, necessary addition to a spice pantry that might lean heavily toward habanero sauces.


Customers rave about how flavorful Dreams of Calypso is when used with pork, rice, and beans. "Initially, fruit and peppery to the taste, then hit you with a wave of moderate heat on the tongue and back of the throat, finishes with a wonderful bouquet of calypso flavored aromas," one reviewer wrote. "This was one of the most flavorful hot sauces I've ever had," said another. We agree! 

Torchbearer Headless Horseradish Sauce

Horseradish is often the unsung hero of many dishes, so it's good to have a hot sauce that respects this humble root vegetable and puts it forward. Headless Horseradish has a thick texture that makes it great for sandwiches or steak. The flavor is smoky, mustardy, and zesty with notes of garlic. Made with ghost peppers, this sauce is a hot one. "A unique and surprisingly versatile sauce from the sauce geniuses over at Torchbearer. Very hot, yet bursting with flavor," enthused one reviewer on Heatonist


There are plenty of horseradish condiments around, so you might be wondering why horseradish isn't typically a dominant ingredient when creating a hot sauce. The allyl isothiocyante that makes horseradish spicy is potent for a short amount of time, and then the spiciness disappears. This is also similar to the feeling you get when eating wasabi. The heat from peppers, on the other hand, comes from capsaicin, which lingers. The combination of horseradish and ghost pepper is why Headless Horseradish is the best of both worlds. Slather it on a reuben and discover the magic. 

Trader Joe's Italian Bomba Hot Pepper Sauce

The Calabria region of Southern Italy is known for its spice-forward cuisine, and one of the star ingredients is the Calabrian chili pepper. Calabrian chilis are similar to other varieties of chili pepper that grow across the globe, but they have a unique quality due to the Mediterranean climate they grow in, enjoying temperate weather with little rain during the summer and lots of sunlight. Additionally, the soil's acidity and the type of fertilizer used also provide a distinct growing environment. There are three main kinds of Calabrian chili pepper: skinny and pointy (sigaretta), cone-shaped (naso di cane), and round (carasella). 


This brings us to Trader Joe's. No, you don't have to go to an Italian specialty store to purchase Italian hot sauce. Trader's Joe's Italian Bomba Hot Pepper Sauce is a brilliant, bright, zesty, and mild condiment, and it features a bit of fermented funk, to boot. You can mix this versatile condiment into sauces and pestos, put a dollop on a cheese board, use it on sandwiches, and slather it on your eggs. 

Yellowbird Habanero Hot Sauce

Yellowbird hot sauces have become one of America's most popular choices for spice — with good reason. All of the brand's offerings are excellent, and fans also love the company's commitment to using organic ingredients. Even as the company has grown, Yellowbird Foods has continued to work directly with farmers. Based in Austin, Texas, Yellowbird first debuted its sauces at a local farmer's market in 2013 — now you can find its products at many grocery stores and kitchen cabinets.


Yellowbird's Habanero flavor is a bright, smooth hot sauce that uses tangerines to achieve a balance of fruitiness and spice. Hot sauce aficionados call this sauce versatile and put it on basically everything from pizza to tacos. "This hot sauce can truly go on anything," said one reviewer on Amazon. "It has a lovely sweetness to it. The fact that it's made with organic foods is just icing on the cake."

Crystal Hot Sauce Original

Louisiana-style hot sauces often seem like they're in a unique category of their own. Their flavor profile is more vinegary, their consistency is thinner, their heat level is not scorching, and they are saltier. While there are lots of vinegar-based "Louisiana-style" hot sauces out there — and people can get temperamental about their preferred brands — Crystal consistently comes up as a fan favorite, even among high-profile restaurant celebrities. David Chang, known for his Momofuku chain, said on a Reddit "ask me anything" thread that his preferred brand of hot sauce is Crystal. 


Made from long cayenne peppers, Crystal hot sauce is salty, tart, and not too hot. What sets it apart from many other hot sauces is that the entire cayenne pepper is used, seeds and all, in production. A neat bit of lore? The company was founded in 1923 by Alvin Baumer, who supposedly discovered the recipe in a drawer in an old factory. 

Big Red's God's Wrath Ghost Pepper Sauce

Big Red's Hot Sauce is owned and operated by Paul Ford and his family. Ford grew up in Philadelphia, the son of a U.S. Marines pilot. When Ford's father passed away, it was the beginning of a difficult time in the then-13-year-old's life. He started to get into trouble, but after seeing friends end up in prison, he experienced a wake-up call. Today, Ford makes hot sauce — and accumulates awards, like best wing sauce at the Houston Hot Sauce Festival. 


This popular and relatively new small-batch business from Arizona draws rave reviews. Many of Big Red's sauces are on the hotter side, and God's Wrath uses ghost peppers, one of the hottest peppers in the world. But this hot sauce isn't just for incinerating your mouth — there are great flavors here, like tomato, garlic, rosemary, smoked sea salt, and other spices. In fact, God's Wrath has won people's choice awards eight times.

Aama ko Achar Dalla Pickle In Oil

Nepal really knows heat — and Aama ko Achar's Dalla Pickle In Oil is a wonderful addition to your spice collection. While not exactly a sauce, this offering of hot cherry pepper, sunflower oil, salt, and spices adds heat and complexity to South Asian dishes like momos, dal bhat, chatamari, and thukpa. You can also use it on rice, meats, in sandwiches — anything, really. It's rich, flavorful, and brings a good amount of heat.


Nepalese, Tibetan, and Bhutanese food has long been popular in places like Jackson Heights in Queens, but now more people in the U.S. are discovering these particular regional cuisines and embracing their use of spices like garlic, fenugreek, turmeric, cumin, and hot sauces like those from Aama ko Achar. Aside from Dalla Pickle In Oil, you can also order Dalla & Garlic Paste Pickle, Hot Mango Pickle, Dalla Lime Pickle, and others. 

Queen Majesty Red Habanero & Black Coffee Hot Sauce

You might be used to having coffee in the morning with eggs doused in your favorite hot sauce. But coffee as a tasting note in your hot sauce? Hear us — and hundreds of others — out. Queen Majesty is a Queens, New York-based hot sauce company that's become fairly well-known for its creative combinations. Its Red Habanero & Black Coffee Hot Sauce brings two well-loved breakfast items together in a truly complementary way. 


Made with red habaneros, red bell peppers, garlic, ginger, and coffee-infused vinegar, this hot sauce is earthy, dark, and spicy. "This quickly became our favorite hot sauce ever. It's incredibly versatile: amazing on eggs, delicious on wings, good to dip nuggets in even. The coffee shines through in a delicious way, and it is perfectly spicy with a decent kick," said one reviewer on Amazon. Fans of Queen Majesty's line also rave about its Scotch Bonnet & Ginger and Jalapeno, Tequila & Lime options. 

Bravado Spice Árbol Chili & Garlic

If you're a fan of Bravado Spice Co, you might have wondered where its Crimson Hot Sauce went. Well, as the company states in an Instagram post, Árbol Chili & Garlic is its "elevated twin" — or, in other words, an updated version of that fabulous sauce. Described by the website as a "fresh spin on a classic hot sauce with a blend of smokey árbol chilies, garlic, ripe red jalapeños, and a touch of cumin," Árbol Chili & Garlic is a great everyday sauce and a must-have for your pantry. Reviewers agree: "The combination of hot peppers, garlic, and a zing from the lime juice creates a wonderful flavor profile," said one user on Amazon


The company is always pushing the envelope in terms of combining unusual flavors. If you are interested in Bravado's more creative blends, check out Ghost Pepper & Blueberry Sauce, Aka Miso Ghost Reaper Sauce, and Black Garlic Carolina Reaper Hot Sauce. 

Valentina Mexican Hot Sauce

Founded in 1960 in Mexico, Valentina is a picante sauce that is mild but mighty. Made with chili peppers, vinegar, salt, and spices, this sauce is thick in consistency, with mild heat and a roasted flavor. You can really douse food in this stuff, from burritos to omelets to roasted potatoes. And the price point is unbeatable, with 34-ounce bottles going for a bit over $3 at Walmart, for example. 


Though this hot sauce is modest, don't let that fool you. Valentina inspires devotion: "Robust chili flavor, followed by a warm smoky mouth hug. It was ... pleasant. I had more. Then I poured some onto my hand, and had it straight. I glanced, eyes wide, across the table to the Mrs and said 'damn. I just found my favorite hot sauce,'" rhapsodized one Valentina fan on Amazon. If you want more heat, Valentina also makes a spicier version called Valentina Black Label Hot Sauce.


There are so many fantastic hot sauces out there — it's hard to choose the best! We consulted hot sauce fans, visited hot sauce shops, read reviews and best-of lists, and burned our mouths to bring you this list. We also made sure to emphasize diversity by providing both supermarket favorites and up-and-coming small-batch makers with growing reputations. Lastly, every good hot sauce pantry should contain a variety of flavors, not just focus on one pepper. So we looked for much-loved hot sauces from across cultures and geographical locations, paying attention to spices used and unique ingredients.