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Jan 17, 2001 07:30 AM

hot sauce in a bottle - favorites?

  • s

I am fond of Melinda's (use the medium-hot and mango the most), Mad Cat and El Yucateco; also lurking in my collection are bottles of Walkerswood Scotch Bonnet, Trappey's, Tuong ot Toi Viet-Nam chili garlic sauce and of course Tabasco. I have never tried Dave's... any opinions? What are your favorites, and where do you find them?

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  1. j
    Josh Mittleman

    Depends what you're looking for. Dave's is useful only if you have trained yourself to handle nearly pure capsacin. To most people, it has no flavor and is just pure pain.

    I mostly use Bruce's Hot Sauces at home, red and green. I find them well-balanced and very flavorful, and I prefer them to Tabasco. I also like Chipotle del Sol, a really good embodiment of chipotle flavor.

    10 Replies
    1. re: Josh Mittleman

      Absolute #1:

      D.L. Jardine's Blazing Saddle. It's hot, but not too hot, and really flavourful.

      Dave's is good, but >REALLY< hot, and only suitable for using a drop at a time mixed in with lots of something mild (which actually can yield very tasty results, but is easy to OD).


      1. re: Adam

        Dave's is a brand beloved by employees of hot sauce stores, who live for the moment when some blowhard chilehead loads up a chip, takes a bite, and practically goes into cardiac arrest. It has no practical culinary use.

        1. re: Pepper

          Sheesh. Tell me about it. Within 30 minutes of my first "sample," I had it coming out both ends.

          1. re: Erik M.

            It's pretty much just liquid cruelty. My occasionally impish boyfriend goaded me into trying it one night. Even after he just barely dipped a toothpick into the bottle and then wiped it nearly clean, one small touch of it to my tongue had me weeping and screeching in, uh tongues for about five minutes. It's my new benchmark for heat pain.

            Before that--anyone ever had that seemingly innocuous stuffed pepper at Meskerem? It really should come with a side of fire extinguisher.


          2. re: Pepper

            This is how little culinary value Dave's has:

            The recommended way to taste the stuff is to dip a toothpick in the bottle. touch the toothpick to another surface, and then touch that surface with the tip of your tongue.

            1. re: Bob W.

              cholula is one of the best in terms of flavor, but call me cheap--where I live it's almost four bucks a bottle--that seems a little steep to me. Dave's is on the same plane as that lab-extracted joke stuff, pure capsacin in a bottle. Okay, I get the point, but that's STUPID!! Especially the way they put special instructions and warnings on the labels. Gimme a break! That stuff is just hype--it's for "foodies" to pull out of the cupboard at dinner parties, and with pretentious reverance and hushed tones, "wow" their dinner guests with stories of it's legendary potency and danger. Tobasco can't be beat. But strained, pureed canned chipotles in adobo mixed with a little ketchup and balsamic vinegar is good eatin too.

              1. re: libby furr

                Steam about 8 ounces of seeded and cored habaneros until quite soft. Put in the blender with just enough water to allow them to purée into a smooth blend. Put through a fine sieve, add plenty of salt and vinegar or lime juice to taste (if you dare). Thin to a shaker bottle consistency, and use to refill your empty hot sauce bottle. Keeps a week or more, depending on how much salt and vinegar you want to add. Store any excess in the freezer.

                1. re: libby furr

                  Cholula is the brand all of the mexicans working in the kitchen prefer. I like Tapito. We use Dave's...but sparingly.

                  My very favorite hot "chili sauce/paste" is Sambal Oelek. Love it!

            2. re: Adam

              My #1: Jardine's Texas Champagne. The smoothest, tastiest I've ever had. I buy it by the cases.
              I also use Cholula and just found that I prefer Frank's Regular to it because of less of a vinegar bite. Frank's is also pretty mild!

            3. re: Josh Mittleman

              pain or cruelty aside.....Dave's puts out some mighty fine insanity popcorn and hot nuts....which are to die for IMHO

            4. I have one that I think is called Dr. Brown's Puka Puka sauce that's nice when you want a little sweet with the habaneros. The Barbados mustard-based ones with some things. Sometimes I also use the salt-water based ones, like the Portuguese piri-piri (sp?) stuff.

              I like Melinda's too, but the XXX or XXXX version. I also like (cringe) the green Tabasco for the flavor on things that I might mix mild green chilis into.

              1. I am quite fond of Cholula, a Mexican hot sauce, which is readily available at grocery stores and is easily recognized by the round wooden cap on the bottle. Not particularly hot (about the same as Tabasco), but quite flavorful.

                As for Dave's, I found (when I tried it several years ago) that it had a bitter edge to it that spoiled the flavor of food even when the heat level was just right.

                - VF

                4 Replies
                1. re: VF

                  I second the Cholula nomination. "Discovered" it in Tucson, and much to my surprise it's relatively easily available in NY.


                  1. re: weinhen

                    CHOLULA! I'm trhinking of ordering a case of it thru their website. Those little five oz. bottles just don't cut it.

                    1. re: bolivianita

                      Buy two of the big bottles at Costco for about $6. It is great stuff.

                  2. re: VF

                    Cholula is great. It's easy to find, and is very versatile. The combination of arbol and piquin chiles that is used is perfect for me. I wish it were just a touch spicier, but often combine it with fresh chiles for more heat, so it isn't a big deal since really love it for the flavor. I keep trying new hot sauces and am getting to the point where I might stop trying them, because I never seem to like any of them more than the old standby. Between this and Huy Fong sriracha, I really don't need any other hot sauces on hand.

                  3. I like Tapatio ( , which is distributed here in Jersey and is somewhat on the smokey side. Mild so you can use a lot of it.

                    Blair's habenero-based Death Sauce ( is also pretty killer, as is their dry rub, Death Rain. But primarily as an additive to salsas and other sauces. Same goes for Daves Insanity. You cant use it straight.

                    I also like good ol Tabasco brand, but specifically the green stuff.

                    In the summer, I make my own hot sauce from home grown hot peppers. Its incredibly easy to make.

                    you need:

                    fresh chiles (cayenne, habenero, jalapeno, whatever) for heat
                    dried chiles (ancho, pasillo, etc) for smokiness
                    regular white vinegar


                    other spices to experiment

                    Get a pan and cook the chiles for a little while (3 minutes maybe) in some vinegar. Dont get too close to it, cause the fumes will seriously clean out our sinuses, no joke.

                    Put the chiles cooked in the vinegar in a blender or food processor, add salt and pepper to taste. Blend it up to a fine liquid.

                    That is a basic Louisiana hot sauce. For green hot sauce simply use the unripe cayennes instead.

                    Modifications on this basic sauce are the addition of garlic and other spices as well as fruits and fruit juices (mango is a cool one to use) to fit your taste and personality. To add smokiness, re-hydrate the dried chiles and blend that up into the mixture.

                    To make this sauce into a jerk sauce, you simply add molasses plus jamaican allspice. To make it into a barbeque sauce you can add tomato paste.


                    6 Replies
                    1. re: Jason Perlow

                      A fond memory of travel:

                      In a small Chinese town in Guizhou [spelling?] province, in the courtyard behind some buildings, someone roasting red peppers in a huge wok. Smell was a bit like popcorn, but more like hot, rich pepper sauce. Powerful, made you choke if you got too close.

                      The next morning, in the same spot: a dead, skinned dog hanging from the rafter beams.

                      1. re: Jason Perlow

                        I make my own too - seeded jalapenos, garlic, kosher salt and lime zest and juice - put it in a blender and puree. Fantastic. Stores for several months - is great in sandwiches and bloodymarys.

                        1. re: Jason Perlow

                          Thanks Jason - I'd like to try it, sounds good. Don't have a garden now, but I've grown the little Thai bird chilies in a pot before, and the peppers in the recipe I can find...
                          I used to bring my garden herbs inside for the winter but they always gave it up by January.

                          1. re: Jason Perlow

                            I too, agree that tapation is the best all purpose hot sauce (to be augmented with tamazula)

                            I wondered if anyone besides me has noticed the simliarity between the spice mix of tapatio and Arthur Bryants' barbecue sauce (Of course Bryants lacking the heat and with a little more spice mixture)?

                            1. re: Jason Perlow
                              Forest R. Johnson

                              I want to make my own hot sauce, but I don't want the harsh vinegar flavor or aroma. I want a ever so slight hint. The reason being; I want to make a sauce for my own Hot Wing Sauce. Thus, the vinegar to me really kills the over all flavor of the sauces heat and the chicken as well. How much vinegar is best for such a quest?

                              1. re: Forest R. Johnson

                                There's been a couple threads on making hot sauce (maybe search 'habanero') on the home cooking board

                            2. m
                              Mike Benedetti

                              When I am not going for heat, I use Frank's, which is
                              about 1/10 the heat of Tabasco and has a nice flavor.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Mike Benedetti

                                Hot tip (pun intended) for Frank's fans (I am one too). They sometimes have 50-cent coupons in the Sunday coupon inserts. If your local market doubles coupons, you can get Frank's to pay you for getting an 8 ounce bottle.