We Found the Best Hot Sauce Brands in Our Test Kitchen’s Hottest Test Ever

Seventeen hot sauce brands were put to the test. Find out which our Test Kitchen experts recommend.

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Test Kitchen Preferred The Best Hot Sauce TkpClaire Krieger/Taste of Home

When you’re craving a little extra heat in your dishes, the easiest way to bump up the flavor and the spice is with a dash or two of hot sauce. The right amount can take simple recipes to the next level (our spicy shrimp with rice is a real knock-out!).

But not all hot sauces are created equal. You never know if you’re going to end up with the ideal balance of heat and flavor when you pick a bottle off the shelf. What if it’s too vinegary? What if there’s not enough flavor? Not enough heat? That’s where the Taste of Home Test Kitchen comes in.

Finding the Best Hot Sauce

Our team of experts put 17 hot sauces to the test in our hottest and most daring test ever. Our culinary and editorial teams judged all of the sauces according to these standards:

  • Flavor: What are the flavors in the hot sauce? What type of spice and peppers are prominent?
  • Balance of heat: Is the hot sauce just hot? Are there other flavors to give the heat some complexity?
  • Consistency: Is the hot sauce runny, thick or somewhere in-between?

Our Test Kitchen-Preferred Hot Sauce Brands

This test was a real scorcher, but in the end we feel like we found three great sauces perfect for adding that little something extra to any savory dish.

Best Hot Sauce for Heat Lovers: Ghost Scream

Ghost Scream Hot Sauce 5.5Via amazon.com

For a hot sauce that’s more than just hot, we can’t recommend Ghost Scream enough. This spicy sauce offered us plenty of heat—courtesy of fresh ghost peppers—along with great flavor and spice. The formula boasts red wine vinegar, fresh garlic, red peppers and an array of spices to give this sauce that perfect balance of heat and flavor. Our Test Kitchen also ranked this product highly for its nice consistency—no watery sauce here!

And if you love ghost peppers, try a few dashes of this hot sauce in our recipe for ghost pepper cornbread.

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Best Everyday Hot Sauce: Cholula

Cholula Hot Sauce, Original, 5 ozVia amazon.com

For an all-purpose hot sauce that you can find at any grocery store, our Test Kitchen recommends Cholula. This wood-corked bottle probably looks familiar to fans of spice. What our culinary experts really enjoyed about Cholula was its nice depth of flavor—cumin, garlic, chili and vinegar all contribute to this hot sauce’s signature taste. Cholula definitely gives your favorite foods a bit of kick, but it’s not overly spicy. This familiar sauce is a good one to keep on hand since it’s easy to find at the supermarket and it’s typically a people-pleaser.

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Best Nontraditional Hot Sauce: Yellowbird Jalapeño Condiment

Jalapeño Hot Sauce by Yellowbird | Plant-Based, Gluten Free, Non-GMO | Homegrown in Austin | 9.8 ozVia amazon.com

Another brand worth stocking in your cupboard: Yellowbird Jalapeño Condiment. This sauce has a strong garlic flavor with a nice, lingering heat. It also has a bit of sweetness—via carrots and a hint of lime juice—that helped to balance out the spicy jalapeño flavor. Yellowbird’s hot sauce also had a unique consistency: It’s definitely more of a condiment (think Sriracha or ketchup) than a traditional hot sauce.

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What to Make with Hot Sauce

While hot sauce is great as a condiment—over eggs on Sunday morning or a dash to add even more kick to Taco Tuesday—it can really help add zip to so many recipes. In fact, hot sauce is a major component of many Buffalo sauces. But don’t stop with just wings! Check out all these tasty recipes with hot sauce.

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Lisa Kaminski
Lisa is a former Taste of Home editor and passionate baker. During her tenure, she poured her love of all things sweet (and sometimes savory) into Bakeable, Taste of Home's baking club. Lisa also dedicated her career here to finding and testing the best ingredients, kitchen gear and home products for our Test Kitchen-Preferred program. At home, you'll find her working on embroidery and other crafts.