HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >


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?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  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).

      Link: http://www.jardinefoods.com/

      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 (www.tapatiohotsauce.com) , 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 (www.deathsauce.com) 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.

                              2. a
                                Alexandra Eisler

                                Ok, full disclosure, I used to work for this company, but Thai Kitchen Spicy Thai Chili Sauce is a sirracha-style sauce with both heat and flavor. (I've seen it made in Bangkok and I still eat it, if that helps). Try Fairway, Dean and Deluca, Gourmet Garage or direct from TK.

                                And just in time for Super Bowl, how about a batch of Cardassian Death Dip? Mix equal parts (1 cup) Hellman's, cream cheese and sour cream, add a few tablespoons chopped cilantro and green onion or chives, a tablespoon of grated onion, salt and pepper to taste and enough Spicy Thai Chili Sauce to make your sinuses clear. Goes well with Ruffles.

                                Here's a link:

                                Link: http://www.thaikitchen.com

                                6 Replies
                                1. re: Alexandra Eisler
                                  Jason &quot;SRIRACHA!&quot; Perlow

                                  Interesting. I too, am a big fan of Sriracha. I use it primarily in Vietnamese noodle soups though.

                                  The brand I like is Tuong Ot Sriracha manufactured by Huy Fong foods (www.huyfong.com) which is in a big, clear 28 oz squeezable plastic bottle and has a big white outline of a rooster festooned on it. Virtually every Vietnamese restaurant I have ever been to uses this very brand.

                                  You can order all their thai/vietnamese/indonesian sauces from their web site -- linked below.

                                  Link: http://www.huyfong.com

                                  Image: http://www.huyfong.com/images/srirach...

                                  1. re: Jason &quot;SRIRACHA!&quot; Perlow

                                    If you want to buy a real bargain in hot sauce, order
                                    Huy Fong's sample pack for $7.00 (not including shipping.

                                    It includes:

                                    1) A 17 ounce bottle of Sriracha
                                    2) Two 8oz bottles of Sambal Oelek (a chunker, ground chili version of Sriracha, better for cooking)
                                    3) Two 80z bottles of Fresh Chili Garlic Sauce (like #2 but with lots of garlic in it)

                                    you can also get a pack for $7 which includes two Srirachas and one of each of the other two.

                                    I just ordered one of those and 6 bottles of their Sate Pepper sauce myself.

                                    1. re: Jason &quot;SRIRACHA!&quot; Perlow

                                      "The brand I like is Tuong Ot Sriracha"

                                      Are there other brands of "it"? I was under the impression that Sriracha was part of the name. It is, after all, a suburb of Bangkok. You're the first person I've heard using it as a generic term. Is there really a "sriracha sauce" per se?

                                      1. re: Bob Wu

                                        Huy Fong's Sriracha sauce is produced in the United States, the owner of the company is Vietnamese and you frequently find it in Vietnamese restaurants and is a common condiment for Pho. I dont think that many Vietnamese goods are imported into this country but I know there are Thai branded ones as well.

                                        Sriracha is a province of Thailand though, isnt it?

                                        I wish we could get down to the bottom of the origin of this sauce.

                                    2. re: Alexandra Eisler

                                      "And just in time for Super Bowl, how about a batch of Cardassian Death Dip?"

                                      Why Cardassian? Wouldnt it be the Vulcan Death Dip (a la vulcan death grip) cause its primarily vegetarian? And isnt vulcan food supposed to be spicy?

                                      Although, would tend to explain why those Cardie bastards have such long necks and why their skin is corpse-grey.

                                      1. re: Jason Perlow
                                        Alexandra Eisler


                                        Vulcan Death Dip has such a nice ring. But you know they wouldn't eat anything that unhealthy. It wouldn't be logical.

                                        sorry I couldn't resist... ;)

                                        Cardassian, because, after a few bites, your arteries sieze, restricting the blood flow and turning one's complexion reptilian grey.

                                    3. Pick A Peppa sauce is a sentimental favorite of mine. In grade school, my best friend's mother would pour a bunch of it over a block of Philly Cream Cheese and serve it to us with Triscuits at snack time.

                                      1. For something really hot, Melinda's XXX is one of my favorites. But there are a lot of other Caribbean style sauces out there.

                                        For something different -- a little smokey and not as hot -- try Dat'il Do It Sauce. It's made from Datil peppers, allegedly found only around St. Augustine Florida. This stuff is so good you will start eating it from the bottle. No joke.

                                        As for a hot sauce source, I know I have posted about Peppers in Rehoboth Beach Delaware. They have thousands of sauces, including some made specially for them and some with hilarious "adult" names and labels.

                                        They have a web site: www.peppers.com. Order a catalog; you will not believe the sauces they have found.

                                        Peppers started as an adjunct to a popular restaurant in Dewey Beach Del., called the Starboard that is known for its bloody mary bar. The store finally outgrew the little shack in the Starboard parking lot in which it was located and it's now in a spacious storefront up Route 1 in the outlet mall. When you visit there are usually at least 20 sauces available for tasting.

                                        Link: http://www.peppers.com

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: Bob W.

                                          www.peppers.com has a great selection, but be careful ordering from the web site if you'd like to order a gift for someone else. Phone in your order or e-mail it instead. For a Christmas present for my Dad this year I ordered about 17 different kinds of hot things from Peppers (sauces, bloody mary mix, jelly beans, jalapeno jelly, marinade, salsa, nuts, etc.), but the web site didn't have any option for the shipment to go to a third party. I completed my order, called the store twice (first time left a message, second time got a person and explained where the shipment should be sent to). Despite all that, they still wound up shipping the package to *me* and were a little petulant when I called last week to have the package redirected.

                                          Peppers' selection is great, but exercise caution if you're ordering a gift for someone.

                                          Deb H.

                                          1. re: Bob W.

                                            The store by the restaurant is still there, actually, along with the one on Route 1. (Or it was as of last summer anyway.)

                                          2. One of my favorites is a Jamacian hot sauce called Busha Brownes Pukka hot Pepper Sauce. It has scotch Bonnet peppers but unlike it's cousins with the macho names, this one has flavor as well as capsacin. It's widely available these days.

                                            1. I like "Inner Beauty Original Hot Sauce." I also use some of the Hoboken Eddie's sauces, available at least on the East Coast -- I avoid the ones with raspberry or apricot jams as the primary ingredients, as they can be sweet and cloying, but the Mean Green and simple Hot Sauce are great. I seldom go through a whole bottle of anything, but I use these down to the last dredge.

                                              1. If you're interested in taste-testing hot sauces, a trip to the Bayou Restaurant on Gramatan Avenue in Mt. Vernon would be worthwhile. They have a hot sauce collection that must run over 100 bottles and includes all kinds of kooky stuff like super hot concoctions packaged in skulls and coffins. They also have pure lab capsicum, the stuff that puts the hot in peppers. I don't recommend trying it (I did -- a dab at the end of a bar stirrer will numb your entire mouth; also, if you try it and don't wash your hands before using the bathroom, you'll probably wish you were dead.)BTW, the food is good and reasonably priced ($10-15 an entree) and name blues artists performer there regularly.

                                                1. My favorite for flavor is Bufalo Chipotle sauce. Wonderful hot smokey taste. Mixed with red wine and worcestershire it is a wonderful steak marinade. I don't know if it's available outside the Southwest, but it is a product of Herdez.

                                                  1. old thread, but it deserves attention!! hot sauces rule!

                                                    i love anything datil and anything smoked. (ie chipotle) if you love hot peppers/sauces and you've never tried datil, you must try it!

                                                    also, lately i've had a fascination with the piri piri stuff.

                                                    gator hammock sauce is great on wings.

                                                    brother bru bru is another tasty concoction.

                                                    FYI, i am from st augustine and while datils were evidently brought over by the minorcans and are grown and used extensively in st johns county, you CAN grow them in any place where peppers thrive.

                                                    1. Is Scorned Woman still around? I have way too many different sauces right now (most already mentioned) but something in this thread made me think of it.

                                                      3 Replies
                                                      1. re: coll

                                                        it's still around, i have some in my fridge right now.

                                                        you know, looking at all the hot sauces taking up door space in my fridge, i was thinking that it would be a great idea for hot sauce makers to start making a lot more sample sized products -- use smaller bottles and people could sample more product.

                                                        1. re: hitachino

                                                          heh. That, or get themselves (and customers!) to the Fiery Foods Show. It's a heat experience, lemme tell ya! Hundreds of hot sauce (and salsa, hot jam, hot nuts, candy, rubs, BBQ, etc.) purveyors, all with samples, and of course, tons of those goofy bottles someone mentioned. Just make sure to bring some chocolate for when someone sneaks you a dab of habanero or Dave's Insanity :) It's in Albuquerque every February. I don't have a fave, but use several for different things. I came here to see if anybody mentioned what one is usually used with the butter for buffalo wings. Anyone know? Franks?

                                                          1. re: juster

                                                            I think Crystal and Franks are commonly used with wings.


                                                      2. Easy -

                                                        Sriacha - use on anything Asian

                                                        Tapatio - use on anything Latin

                                                        El Yucateco - Salsa Kutbil-ik de - their Mayan recipe without artificial coloring - freakin' on fire!

                                                        Tabasco - an old favorite - need we say more?

                                                        And - agreed - extract sauces...ala Daves Insanity....Cr*p!

                                                        1. Cholula and Frank's usually get put on the table for at least one of our three meals each day.

                                                          1. I know this is an old post but I am on a bottled hot sauce kick right now. I love, love love the D L Jardines Habanero Sauce (which i have to order off their website). Also am a big fan of Emeril's Green but it is getting hard to find, to me it has a little more flavor than the grn Tabasco. I have also been using the Smoked Chipotle Tabasco alot, adds a great flavor to baked beans!

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: twisterp

                                                              We keep both red and green Tabasco, along with Cholula, Panola and Louisiana so we can have different flavors with different foods.

                                                            2. I like Sriracha on sandwiches and in soups - sometimes on eggs. Habanero Tabasco is good too. I keep ground Hanbaneros around for when I'm just looking for some heat.

                                                              1. Asian food -- Siracha
                                                                Creole food/general -- Tabasco
                                                                Mexican food -- La Victoria Salsa Brava or Red Salsa Jalepena

                                                                1. still Pico Pica, though it isn't vinegar based

                                                                  1. How is it that this post has been going for 8 years and no one has said Texas Pete?!?! Am I the only idiot that loves this stuff!? I'm also a big fan of Siracha and Tapatio, but for everyday hot sauce, Texas Pete is my go to.

                                                                    1. I love me some hot sauce!

                                                                      Sriracha - for Asian dishes, sandwiches

                                                                      Frank's - great on wings

                                                                      Cholula - all purpose

                                                                      Tabasco, and more recently, Tabasco Chipotle

                                                                      mmm, mmm...

                                                                      1. -El Yucateca Green (Mexican section/stores); great on eggs

                                                                        -Kitten's Big Banana (can't find locally, had at Bub City/Chicago); great on fried seafood

                                                                        -Chile Garlic Sauce in the clear jar with the green cap and rooster (Asian shops; http://importfood.com/sahf1802.html);
                                                                        Sriracha is the blended version with the squeeze cap; I can eat these on/in most things, favourite being roast chicken dipped into a dollap, sometimes mixed with some mushroom soy sauce; Sambal Oelek is a sweet version which I don't care for

                                                                        -Cholula (anywhere): basic sauce for Mexican foods, as is

                                                                        -Tapatio (Mexican stores


                                                                        -Dumb A** (can't find locally; had on crab cakes in Baltimore at the same bar I tried DogfishHead for the first time)

                                                                        -Any of the Baron's sauces from St. Lucia; can't find stateside, fortunately we purchased 6 bottles to take home; these are wonderful habanero-based sauces which are smooth in addition to hot. On vacation we would dip the plantain chips into a shot glass with Barons which had a thin layer of olive oil on top. Sounds odd, but it tasted incredible.

                                                                        -Texas Pete (Tabasco chiles in vinagre): I keep forgetting to pick up a jar of this when I visit SC; I've tried making my own, but it's not as good. Perfect on fried chicken or okra cooked in any style

                                                                        Not a huge fan of Tabasco, as it's too vinegary for me (seemingly contradictory, considering Texas Pete).

                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                        1. re: Caralien

                                                                          After a lot of smoother, more sophisticated hot mamas I just can't go back to vulgar Tabasco!

                                                                          1. re: Scargod

                                                                            It's always embarrassing mentioning some of my favourites. Kitten's Big Banana? Dumb A**?

                                                                            But they're good. I can't wait for March and our next visit to the VA coast to have some fry fry with local sauces. mmm

                                                                          2. re: Caralien

                                                                            505 Green Chile Salsa


                                                                            El Yacateca Green,

                                                                            Goya Salsita

                                                                            Lao Go Ma red chile paste


                                                                            And Korean Sunchang Goochujang

                                                                          3. Crystal Hot Sauce. Do other hot sauces even exist?