In the realm of table manners, it’s often considered impolite to season your food before your first bite. This is because in the atmosphere of business dinners, such an act may inadvertently demonstrate stubbornness or refusal to acknowledge and remedy bad habits. However true as this may be, we think it’s safe to say this article isn’t for the white table cloth dinner crowd. I mean, we certainly wouldn’t ask a prospective client if they would like some Professor Phardtpounders Colon Cleaner Hot Sauce with their Chicken al Mattone.
No, instead these are the hot sauces for fans of both the spice and all-around balance of heat and flavor, ranging from a comfortable tang to ‘slap ya momma’ hot that would turn any meal into a tear-inducing state of euphoria. These are the sauces to kick up the heat, or add some much-needed flavor to your mother-in-law’s bland green bean casserole. And just like any good condiment, versatility is key. We wanted to include sauces that work on both eggs benedict and seafood paella – where the same bottle not only brings the heat but also compliments the dish, not overpowering it. And while the big players like Cholula, Sriracha, Tapatio, Valentina may continue to rule to roost -they are delicious of course- we also wanted to bring you a list full of sauces you can’t find at the nearest grocery store, because like any smaller batch product, great care is taken in its execution and delivery. Who knew that hot sauce could be so important? So, for your palate pleasure, let us bring you the 10 best hot sauces we found that are sure to show your tastebuds a good time.
Slap Ya Mama Cajun Pepper Sauce
From the famed Slap Ya Mama brand comes a delicious Cajun Hot Sauce straight from Louisiana. It delivers a blast of cajun flavor to any food but with a bit more heat for all those hotheads out there. There’s no MSG, and it’s chock-full of all natural ingredients such as aged pepper mash, vinegar and salt, red pepper and garlic. Slap Ya Mama also boasts a two-year shelf life making it easy to add some NOLA flair whenever the craving slaps you in the face.
Secret Aardvark Habanero Hot Sauce
Established in Portland in 2004 Secret Aardvark Trading Co. was founded to bring together the varietal flavors of the world. And what began as a couple friends selling homemade hot sauce at the local farmer’s market has since sprung into the scene with notoriety. Their Habanero Hot Sauce, for instance, is a blend of Caribbean and Tex-Mex styles fused together with roasted tomatoes and habanero peppers. So tasty, they literally tell you to “dump on everything,” and you know what, we just may.
Dave’s Gourmet Insanity Sauce
Nothing like an original. Offering a range of spicy sauces and foods that range from deliciously mild to fiery hot, Dave’s Gourmet is well known across the legion of palate wreckers for their quality products. Their original Insanity Sauce however really does the trick. Made with red habanero peppers, hot pepper extract, and red chilies you’re bound to be engulfed in flames with this hot sauce. And thanks for a bit of cane vinegar, garlic, and vegetable oil it’s not all heat and no flavor.
The Pepper Plant Original California Style
The sauce that made The Pepper Plant famous in the first place. Based out of California this is a mild to hot palate booster, perfect for any meal that needs a bit of a kick. It’s a great option for tacos, eggs, potatoes or whatever food you enjoy because just like the weather, The Pepper Plant wanted to craft a California-style hot sauce that was enjoyable year-round.
Professor Phardtpounders Colon Cleaner
Despite what you may assume about this spicy sauce, it’s surprisingly sweet and spicy with a bit of sour characteristics to boot. Don’t get us wrong, however, the sauce still packs quite a punch thanks to its habanero and Scotch bonnet pepper composition. However, there’s a slight dijon mustard flavor that works quite well with most dishes, due to its Caribbean mustard hot sauce style. Regardless, when the Professor is in, you’re certainly in for a delicious meal.
Melindas Naga Jolokia
Melinda’s is well known across the spicy space as a leader in both innovative and traditional sauces. Their inspiration comes from the flavor center of New Orleans, where African, Caribbean and European cuisines fuse together creating crazy creole hub we all know and love. As for the Naga Jolokia sauce, in particular, prepare for the heat. It’s made with one of the hottest chilis in the world, grown in the Northeastern region of India and boasting 1,041,427 Scoville Units. What Melinda’s does, however, is try to compliment the heat with a bit of carrots, papayas, lime juice and passion fruit to ease the pain. Nevertheless, this is a hot one for sure.
Mad Dog 357
In case you’re wondering where the named came from, 357 denotes a Scoville rating of 350,000, which is 43 times hotter than a Jalapeño. Cleary Mad Dog isn’t for the faint of heart, blended with Cayenne peppers, Habanero peppers, and straight pepper extract that’s on the same scale as a ghost chili pepper. Needless to say, we recommend proceeding with caution here.
Dirty Dicks Hot Sauce
Recently winning the First Place Screaming Mimi award at the New York City Hot Sauce Expo, this Vermont-based hot sauce is perfect for fans of bold and spicy flavor. Hosting a marriage of habanero peppers, mangoes, pineapple, bananas and brown sugar, Dirty Dicks offers a delectable balance of sweet and heat that’s no doubt going to enhance your dish, whether it’s for cooking or dipping.
From Dexter Holland, lead singer of the Offspring, comes a Mexican-style hot sauce for the gringo palate. It’s great for tacos, pizza, wings, and burritos and comes in either a Rojo or Verde option depending on your desired level of heat. Gringo Bandito also recently won first place at the Scovie Awards for best tasting hot sauce, coming a long way from their earlier bootstrapped roots.
Marie Sharp’s Habanero Pepper Sauce
As a proud product of Belize, Marie Sharp’s boasts both heat and sweet thanks to its habanero pepper composition alongside a blend of tropical jams, jellies, and fruit squashes. This sauce, in particular, was designed specifically for the Mexican market, along with serious pepper lovers. It has a unique carrot-based recipe that helps the flavor profile but will still pack a punch if you’re not careful.