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Jun 21, 2011 11:30 AM

Tabasco substitute?

Hi all,
does anyone have a suggestion for a Tabasco substitute? I find it just too vinegary for my taste. It seems to be hot for just the sake of being hot, not flavourful. Louisiana hot sauce isn't much better.
Obviously it is just me, but...

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  1. El Yucateco hot sauces, red and green, are not vinegar based but they are plenty hot. Cholula sauce is vinegar based but it doesn't taste vinegary the way Tabasco does. I like Cholula for every day use because it is very flavorful but not excessively hot.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Veggo

      Cholula fer sure, not only because it's less vinegary but because it uses the same piquin chilis that I buy dry (when I can find them) and add to my kick-ass chili. Very flavorful and just the right amount of heat.

      1. re: mucho gordo

        I just picked up the Cholula Chili Garlic and was presently surprised at the dept of flavor. My new Bloody Mary seasoning.

          1. re: mucho gordo

            With my chili,cheese,bean,avocado dip?

    2. Huy Fong Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce, maybe? Cholula is a very good brand as well. Especially their garlic hot sauce. Roland makes a somewhat subdued chili sauce. If you have any Mexican, Caribbean or Asian neighborhoods where you are, check out the grocery stores. They should have a huge variety of hot and/or spicy sauces.

      7 Replies
        1. re: ChiliDude


          and if you happen to have a Trader Joe's nearby, try their jalapeno hot sauce - not vinegary at all.

            1. re: LulusMom

              Also a vote for Cholula. The chili garlic variety is also a nice change.

              1. re: jmckee

                Cholula has a more well rounded heat

                1. re: sbs401

                  I say try Cholula and Sriracha. I agree that Tobasco seems hot for the sake of being hot. Cholula isn't as hot and has tons of flavor, pretty low on sodium as far as hot sauces go. Srirach is a bit hotter, but has a nice flavor

        2. Frank's Red Hot is vinegar based but it has more body and flavor than Tabasco. I also like a brand called Yucatan Sunshine that is made of habanero and carrot - it still has some vinegar, but there is a certain sweetness from the carrot as well.

          2 Replies
          1. re: biondanonima

            Cooks Illustrated did a taste test of hot sauces and came to a similar conclusion about Tabasco as the OP describes:

            "Tasters said the searing heat masked any other flavor in the sauce, and most found the thin, watery body to be unappealing. "Bitter, like pepper skin," said one taster. When sprinkled over a variety of breakfast staples, some tasters enjoyed Tabasco's spicier edge. One taster labeled Tabasco as an "ingredient" rather than a sauce. Our recommendation is to use Tabasco for its heat, and that's all."

            And in fact, Frank's Red Hot came out the winner:
            "Frank's RedHot Original Hot Sauce

            "Tasters liked Frank's "bright" and "tangy" notes and potent heat when sprinkled atop a portion of steamed white rice. The full, tomatoey complexity and "luxurious" body of Frank's was also a high point for many tasters. One taster put it succinctly: "Tabasco is an ingredient, while Frank's is a condiment."

            Mr Taster

            1. re: Mr Taster

              I don't always agree with Cook's Illustrated, but in this case I've come to the same conclusion. I find that I use Tabasco solely as an ingredient in certain marinades and sauces, and NEVER put it on food directly. Too vinegary, not enough flavor. For hot sauce as a condiment I stick mostly to Melinda's XXXtra Hot Habanero.

          2. Since I use chile products on a daily basis, I suggest that you find a source of ground chile (notice the spelling) powder which is from a dried variety of capsicum. I'm not citing chili powder off of the supermarket shelf because it also contains salt, cumin, and Mediterranean oregano, and besides that, it usually is too mild. Using ground chile powder avoids having to deal with vinegar, or you can add a quantity of vinegar that suits you.

            One source that I have used is Pendery's out of Fort Worth, TX or access their online catalog at

            5 Replies
            1. re: ChiliDude

              Except the question was for a sauce. Not ground chile. Which is an entirely different product and in the hands of somebody seeking a sauce might cause the excess heat the OP wishes to avoid.

              1. re: jmckee

                But it avoids the use of too much vinegar, and there is control of the amount of vinegar desired.

                1. re: ChiliDude

                  So suggest a SAUCE that isn't too vinegary rather than a different product altogether from what the OP requested.

                  1. re: jmckee

                    I make my own sauces using fresh chiles so I guess that I'm not in a position to advise others about commercial sauces. I have a few bottles of commercial hot sauces that were given to me by friends, but I most often use a sauce of my own creation. My suggestion was to have Godslamb think ahead the next time a recipe calls for a hot sauce, and prepare one from scratch. By creating a hot sauce from individual ingredients one can control the amount of vinegar and salt. I grow chiles of several cultivars which include habaneros and ghost peppers (Bhut Jolokia). Any cultivar of lesser potency is too tame for me.

                    The problem that you are having with my suggestion may be due to my belonging to the "What if...?" school cooking specializing in "Cuisine Impromptu." It is rare that I use a recipe as written for a particular dish because I become creative, and that usually works out well. Recipes are just guidelines to me, but not chiseled in stone.

                2. re: jmckee

                  @jmckee you say the question was for a sauce, but it wasn't, it was "... a suggestion for a Tabasco substitute." A substitute is anything used in place of another thing, such as ground chile and vinegar as suggested by ChiliDude. This way the person might use far less vinegar than Tobasco uses thereby avoiding the "too vinegary for my taste" issue.

              2. If you like that general flavor profile, I would recommend Crystal or Frank's, which are both less acidic but still have that red pepper/vinegar flavor you find in Tabasco.

                4 Replies
                1. re: inaplasticcup

                  I find the green/jalapeno tabasco is much more flavourful than the basic red, with slightly less heat.I put that sh@t on everything :-D

                  1. re: petek

                    DIdn't think about that one. I'd have to agree. It doesn't run you over with vinegar like the red can.

                    1. re: petek

                      also the chipotle variety is very nice, with a hint of smoke.

                    2. re: inaplasticcup

                      Even in New Orleans, very few people actually cook with tabasco, almost everyone uses crystal to cook with. Im a huge crystal fan, its got great flavor but not to much heat. I could probably drink it to be honest, its really low on the heat scale.