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

Our Test Kitchen is heating up! We tried 17 brands of hot sauce. Find out which claimed the title of Best Loved Brand.

About Best Loved Brands

When you’re looking for the absolute best, grocery shopping can be quite the ordeal—dozens of brands, hundreds of choices. From biscuits to brownies, pasta sauce to potato chips, it can be hard to know which options will make your recipes better than ever. That’s where Taste of Home comes in. Our culinary and editorial experts put 100+ products to the test. After undergoing a thorough review, our Best Loved Brands emerged. Find out which brands you should be shopping for.

Finding the Best Hot Sauce

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 right 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. 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 these sauces according to these standards:

  • Flavor
  • Balance of heat

This test was a real scorcher but in the end, we feel like we found three great—all slightly different—sauces perfect for adding that little something extra to any savory dish. Let’s check out the top three!

Ghost Scream via amazon.com

First Place: Ghost Scream

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!

$8.00 for a 5.5-oz. bottle; available at select grocers nationwide and online at GhostScream.com.

Second Place: Yellowbird

Another brand worth stocking in your cupboard: Yellowbird Jalapeño Condiment. This sauce had a strong garlic flavor with a nice, lingering heat. This sauce also had 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—definitely more of a condiment-style (think Sriracha or ketchup) than a traditional hot sauce.

$5.69 for a 9.8-oz. bottle; available at select grocers.

Third Place: Cholula

For a good, 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 it’s 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 is a great standard to keep on hand.

$2.99 for a 5-oz. bottle; available at grocers nationwide and on Amazon.

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.

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Let’s not forget about that spicy shrimp and rice dish. Just look how easy it is to make (just use one skillet!).

We hope this test helps you heat things up in the kitchen! Find other favorites on our Best Loved Brands list. If you’re interested in homemade hot sauce, learn how to make hot sauce.

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Lisa Kaminski
Lisa is an associate editor at Taste of Home where she gets to embrace her passion for baking. She pours this love of all things sweet (and sometimes savory) into Bakeable, Taste of Home's baking club. At home, you'll find her working on embroidery and other crafts.