There is no condiment that invites as much debate as hot sauce. Pardon the expression, but it can get pretty heated. To say it’s simply a matter of preference downplays how seriously people take their hot sauce. Hot sauce fans don’t have “preferences.” Preferences are for weaker condiments. Hot sauce enthusiasts will stake their entire identities on the Cholula/Tapatio divide. But with so many options out there, it can be hard to find the one that’s best for you if you’re not already totally immersed in hot sauce culture. Or maybe you already are a hot sauce connoisseur who is looking to expand your palette and subject it to a new, fresh hell.
One of the major factors in choosing a hot sauce is the heat level, which is measured in Scoville Heat Units (SHU), or Scovilles for short. The bell pepper is 0 Scovilles, and the Carolina reaper is somewhere in the 1.5 million SHU to over 2 million SHU range. Between that range is a bunch of peppers, including the ever-popular habanero, which is 150,000 SHU. But if heat was the only factor to consider, there wouldn’t be as many hot sauces are there are. There’s a ton of variety in how peppers taste, and producers put a bunch of other ingredients like mustard, vinegar, and fruit, which all affect factors like sweetness and tartness. Plus, consistency-wise, hot sauces can range from as liquidy as soy sauce, to as dense as ketchup. Like with any ingredient, you’ll want to tailor your choice to the food you’re eating.
If you’re looking to try hot sauces that aren’t as widely available at grocery stores, check out one of these options on Amazon. They include some truly dangerously hot picks, as well as sweet options that offer a little kick. Try one, or buy them all and line them up, “Hot Ones”-style.