Whether you’re into mild or super-spicy varieties, Louisiana- or Buffalo-style, standard supermarket brands or artisanal options — or all of the above! — hot sauce is a condiment that many of us simply can’t live without. From kicking your wings up a notch, to elevating your eggs, to making a Bloody Mary just spicy (or smoky) enough, there’s little that a dash of the stuff can’t improve.
We chatted with hot sauce experts and — based on their recommendations, editor favorites and top-selling products — rounded up some of the best options you can find online. And if you’re feeling adventurous and ready to experiment with making your own hot sauce? We’ve got some suggestions for that as well.
If you’re new to the hot sauce game, perhaps you may not know where to start, or what types of the beloved condiment pair best with certain foods. In that case, you’re in the right place. And if you consider yourself a hot sauce aficionado, looking for new bottles and interesting flavors to add to your collection, this roundup is for you too. Let’s fire things up.
Best crowd-pleasing hot sauce
While tolerance for heat and personal flavor preferences obviously run the gamut, if you’re hosting a party and seeking a hot sauce that’s likely to appeal to a wide range of palates — or just looking for a staple to stock your fridge with — there are some solid options to choose from that should hit the mark.
“Tabasco sauce was the standard across the country for over a century, and its vinegar and fermented red pepper flavor is still a classic,” says Robb Walsh, three-time Beard Award winner and author of “The Hot Sauce Cookbook.” “But these days, Huy Fong’s sriracha hot chili sauce is enormously popular. Thick, slightly sweet and not terribly hot, it comes out of its squeeze bottle like ketchup, and that’s part of its appeal. My teenagers like to decorate individual french fries with a streak of sriracha.”
Already stocked up on Tabasco and sriracha and looking for something a little more under the radar? Steve Seabury, owner of High River Sauces and founder of the annual NYC Hot Sauce Expo, is a fan of Hoff’s hot sauce, an award-winning brand that carries a range of flavors and types — from BBQ to cold-brew-infused — as well as Gator Hammock Gator Sauce and Cajohns Firehouse hot sauce. He touts all of these as great “introduction” hot sauces to kick up whatever you’re drizzling them on, noting that “any three of these sauces will make any meal that much better.”
Tabasco Sauce Variety 4-Pack ($11.95; amazon.com)
Sample four popular flavors of the ubiquitous hot sauce with this variety pack featuring 2-ounce bottles of classic pepper, garlic pepper, green pepper and habanero. Or buy a few large 12-ounce bottles of the original flavor (prices vary; target.com) if you always find yourself reaching for this old standby.
Perfect when paired with everything from stir-frys to french fries, this slightly sweet, not terribly hot option is pretty much a household name by this point, for good reason. And if you can’t bear to be without your sriracha when you’re away from home, these keychains ($13.99; amazon.com) will make sure you’re never hot sauceless on the go.
Mean Green — Hoff’s Green Jalapeño Hot Sauce ($14.99; amazon.com)
Seabury is a fan of Hoff’s whole line of hot sauces, but this flavor, made with green jalapeños and lemongrass, provides a summery kick that works well on pretty much everything from breakfast tacos to seafood.
Gator Hammock Hot Sauce ($10.25; amazon.com)
With a medium heat level, Gator Hammock is beloved by its fans for its balanced peppery, slightly garlicky flavor that lends itself well to being a versatile hot sauce. You can also find it as a three-pack ($21.74; amazon.com).
Cajohns Firehouse Hot Sauce ($6.95; sonoranspice.com)
Another one of Seabury’s favorite hot sauces, Cajohns Firehouse is a multi-award-winning option made with cayenne, chile caribe and habanero peppers that makes for a great everyday hot sauce.
Best hot sauce for wings
Much like peanut butter and jelly, wings and hot sauce are a match made in culinary heaven. “For chicken wings, I love the traditional Buffalo-style wing sauces, but I am also a fan of sweet heat on my chicken,” Seabury says. “Any fruit-based hot sauce goes great with chicken wings.”
“The classic hot sauce for wings is Frank’s RedHot, long a regional favorite in upstate New York,” says Walsh. “The original Buffalo chicken wings from the Anchor Bar were tossed in a sauce made of nothing more than melted butter and Frank’s RedHot. Frank’s now sells a ’wing sauce’ in addition to its hot pepper sauce.”
Frank’s RedHot Buffalo Wings Sauce ($4.12; amazon.com)
There’s nothing more classic than pairing the original Frank’s RedHot ($1.36; amazon.com) with your wings, though the brand also makes this spicier version for those with a more daring palate. Made with a dairy-free, natural flavor that mimics the flavor profile of butter, this hot sauce is also an excellent choice for dipping or drizzling on a burger or veggies. And if you’re ready to get serious about your Frank’s fandom, you can buy it by the gallon ($11.98; amazon.com).
Try Me Tiger Sauce, 6-Pack ($11.94; amazon.com)
Walsh recommends the sweet-and-sour, cayenne pepper Tiger Sauce as a classic complement to both grilled shrimp and Asian chicken wings. With a medium level of spice, it’s sure to be a crowd favorite.
Torchbearer Son of Zombie Wing Sauce ($9.99; amazon.com)
If you’re looking for something fiery with a more complex flavor profile, this bottle is calling your name. Made with honey, onions, molasses and oregano, this ghost pepper- and habanero-based sauce will delight any hot sauce aficionado. As one reviewer puts it, “It’s a solid but not overwhelming heat.”
Heartbeat Hot Sauce Pineapple Habanero ($11.95; amazon.com)
If a fruity vibe is up your alley, this small-batch, vegan hot sauce made with pineapple, yellow peppers, onions and habanero will brighten up your wings — and just about anything else — in the most delicious way. The brand also makes plenty of other flavorful options, including this three-pack ($27.95; amazon.com) that includes a blueberry habanero variety.
Best habanero hot sauce
The habanero pepper’s heat, aroma and slightly fruity and floral flavor make it a super-popular base for hot sauces that pair well with a variety of dishes. (And if you’re looking to add some excitement to your dessert, Walsh recommends fresh apricot, honey and habanero sauce as an amazing ice cream topping.)
Melinda’s Mango Habanero Hot Pepper Sauce ($5.99; amazon.com)
This well-rounded, medium-heat option blends habaneros with mangoes for a refreshing take on your average hot sauce.
Yellowbird Habanero Hot Sauce ($7.99; amazon.com)
Great on eggs, rice bowls and more, this top-rated hot sauce marries flavors of habanero, carrots and citrus with a spiciness level that’s just right.
LBI Love Potion Extra Garlic Hot Sauce ($13.95; amazon.com)
Garlic enthusiasts rejoice: The perfect hot sauce for you is just a click away. Made with aged red habaneros, carrots, onions and garlic, you’ll likely find yourself reaching for this bottle of LBI Love Potion at every meal.
Best hot sauce for tacos
While pretty much any of the hot sauces on this list would pair well with your tacos, Walsh notes that in general, “Mexican pepper sauces like Tapatio from Guadalajara and the original Cholula hot sauce from Chalapa are great on tacos. The original Cholula gets its distinctive flavor from chile de arbol peppers.”
Also great as a versatile everyday hot sauce, the red pepper-based Tapatio is a stellar choice for kicking up your tacos a few notches. This three-pack comes with a silicone basting brush as well.
Cholula Original Hot Sauce, 6-Pack ($19.99; amazon.com)
We’re big fans of Cholula’s balanced flavor — one that seems to be a hit with both hot sauce snobs and novices alike — and, of course, its charming signature wooden cap. Stock up with this six-pack or a variety pack ($21.87; amazon.com) featuring its chipotle, chili lime, chili garlic and green pepper flavors.
Best extra-hot hot sauce
If living on the edge is your scene and you enjoy the occasional battle with your food, there are plenty of fiery hot sauces on the market made with what are known as the “extreme” peppers: ghost, scorpion and reaper. The key, though, is finding the ones that marry heat with flavor and don’t just set your mouth on fire for the fun of it. “Caribbean pepper sauces like Matouk’s made with habaneros, tropical fruit and mustard are tasty super-hot classics,” says Walsh. “I am interested in great flavors — I don’t have much interest in novelty sauces that attempt to set new records on the Scoville scale.”
Matouk’s Calypso Sauce (prices vary; instacart.com)
Blending Scotch bonnet peppers with mustard, Matouk’s Calypso Sauce is an addictive, tangy Caribbean-style hot sauce that will more than satisfy fans of heat no matter what it’s used on.
High River Sauces Thunder Juice Tequila-Infused Hot Sauce ($12.95; amazon.com)
This award-winning sauce made by Seabury’s own hot sauce brand, High River Sauces, uses tequila-infused peppers and Long Island peaches and blueberries to create a flavor-packed sauce that, as he puts it, “will crush your soul, but you will be asking for more because it tastes so damn good.”
Best hot sauce for Bloody Marys
Bloody Marys and oysters go hand in hand, and Seabury notes that both “are great with an additional splash of any Louisiana-style hot sauce, but I love a chipotle-style hot sauce for that extra flavor explosion. Bloody Marys and oysters taste amazing with that hint of smoky flavor.”
Walsh recommends a classic Tabasco because of its “vinegar tang” and says, “It’s long been a favorite for oysters on the half shell where the vinegar flavor works perfectly. (Think of the French oyster sauce called mignonette, made with vinegar, black pepper and shallots.)”
Crystal Louisiana’s Pure Hot Sauce (prices vary; target.com)
A quintessential Louisiana hot sauce, Crystal has a rather simple profile, combining aged red cayenne peppers with vinegar for the perfect amount of heat and flavor for seasoning just about everything.
Cholula Chipotle Hot Sauce (prices vary; target.com)
You simply can’t go wrong drizzling this chipotle-flavored Cholula hot sauce wherever you want to add a dash of smokiness.
Best unique hot sauce
Looking for something a little different? From strawberries to cold brew to horseradish, there’s pretty much a hot sauce for every flavor combo imaginable.
Wake Up Call — Hoff’s Sweet & Spicy Hot Sauce With Cold Brew Coffee ($19.83; amazon.com)
Can’t decide whether you love your coffee or your hot sauce more? You don’t have to choose between the two with the umami-rich Wake Up Call, made with red jalapeño and habanero peppers along with cold brew and curry powder. (Some reviewers even call it the best hot sauce they’ve ever had.)
Fat Cat Strawberry Serrano Hot Sauce ($7.99; amazon.com)
When you think “hot sauce,” you may not immediately think “strawberries,” but this strawberry serrano blend is the perfect addition to ice cream and savory dishes alike. “Adding any fruit-based hot sauce to any dessert is unexpected and also amazing,” Seabury says. “It’s such a mind warp. Your body/mind doesn’t expect the heat eating your favorite after-dinner treat. But once you try it you can never go back.” It also makes for a fabulous dipping sauce for things like spring rolls.
Mike’s Hot Honey ($9.49; amazon.com)
There’s a reason why this honey infused with chiles has gained somewhat of a cult following over the years: It’s the perfect blend of sweetness and heat, and can be used to jazz up everything from pizza to salads to ice cream to cocktails. (We also love drizzling a little bit into our cup of tea.) If you need further convincing, see for reference its nearly 10,000 positive customer reviews.
Torchbearer Sauces Smokey Horseradish Sauce ($11.96; amazon.com)
If you’re a fan of anything horseradish and love smoky sauces, you might want to have a few bottles of this addictive, rather mild-spicy sauce in your pantry. (One customer gives it a “maybe a 3/10 on the heat scale,” and we agree.) Thick in consistency, it works well as a dipping sauce or even on a sandwich, bratwurst or salad.
Best hot sauce gifts
For the hot sauce devotee, nothing makes a better gift than, well, more hot sauce! Below are some options for a range of budgets and tastes.
Global Hot Sauce Gift Box ($45; uncommongoods.com)
This set of five bottles provides the hot sauce lover with a variety of flavors from around the world, including ones inspired by Northeast and Southern India, Ethiopia, the American South and Chesapeake Bay.
Hot Sauce of the Month Club (starting at $13.99 a month; cratejoy.com)
Surprise the hot sauce enthusiast in your life with a new bottle of artisan hot sauce on their doorstep every month or quarter. Choose from spice levels and one-bottle or three-bottle plans.
The Scorchin’ Hot Box (starting at $12.95 a month; cratejoy.com)
For lovers of all things spicy, the Scorchin’ Hot Box subscription features an assortment of hot sauces and fiery snacks delivered monthly, with five box options to choose from.
Truff Hot Sauce Variety Pack ($69.99; truffhotsauce.com)
For a more high-end experience, Truff hot sauce incorporates the flavors of white and black truffle in this three-pack of gourmet hot sauces that comes in very giftable packaging.
Tips for making your own hot sauce
If you’re ready to take your devotion for the hot stuff to the next level and experiment with creating your own, there are plenty of options and resources for novices, from cookbooks to DIY kits. “When I first started making hot sauce at home, I used peppers that I could get easily and were budget-friendly,” explains Seabury. “Every grocery store has jalapeños and habaneros. These peppers taste great and will complement a number of ingredients that you want to incorporate into a sauce.” He recommends starting with your favorite flavors and then trying to find the perfect heat level for your preference.
“September is the month to make hot sauce,” adds Walsh, since “all kinds of chile are ripe. The secret of all great chile sauces is fermentation. Start with bright red cayennes for Louisiana-style sauces or red jalapeños to make homemade sriracha.”
’The Hot Sauce Cookbook: Turn Up the Heat With 60+ Pepper Sauce Recipes’ by Robb Walsh (starting at $8.99; amazon.com)
Walsh’s book provides recipes for tons of pepper sauces and salsas — including riffs on classics like Frank’s RedHot and sriracha — plus recipes for spicy dishes. Peppered (no pun intended) with historical facts, this book is both instructional and interesting.
’Fiery Ferments: 70 Stimulating Recipes for Hot Sauces, Spicy Chutneys, Kimchis With Kick, and Other Blazing Fermented Condiments’ by Kirsten K. Shockey and Christopher Shockey (staring at $10.49; amazon.com)
If you’re a fiend for fermented goods, this cookbook for all skill levels features recipes for hot sauces, mustards, pickles, chutneys, relishes and kimchis from around the world, along with other foods, snacks and drinks.
Make Your Own Hot Sauce Kit ($40; uncommongoods.com)
This kit simplifies things if starting from scratch seems too overwhelming. It includes cayenne, ancho, curry and chili spice packs as well as peppers, vinegars and garlic, plus six bottles and customizable labels.
Hot Sauce Kit ($54.95; amazon.com)
Another DIY option, this highly rated kit comes with peppers (including the super-spicy ghost pepper), vinegar, spice packets, bottles, pH strips, recipes cards and more.