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Tabasco substitute?

Godslamb Jun 21, 2011 11:30 AM

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...

  1. Veggo Jun 21, 2011 11:45 AM

    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
      mucho gordo Aug 10, 2011 10:21 AM

      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
        Duppie Aug 10, 2011 10:33 AM

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

        1. re: Duppie
          mucho gordo Aug 10, 2011 10:42 AM

          Make it 2; I'll join you

          1. re: mucho gordo
            Duppie Aug 10, 2011 11:26 AM

            With my chili,cheese,bean,avocado dip?

            1. re: Duppie
              mucho gordo Aug 10, 2011 02:31 PM

              That works for me.

    2. David11238 Jun 21, 2011 11:47 AM

      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: David11238
        ChiliDude Jun 21, 2011 12:48 PM

        I second the motion about Cholula!

        1. re: ChiliDude
          goodhealthgourmet Jun 21, 2011 01:26 PM


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

          1. re: goodhealthgourmet
            LulusMom Jun 21, 2011 01:39 PM

            another vote for Cholula.

            1. re: LulusMom
              jmckee Jul 1, 2011 08:59 AM

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

              1. re: jmckee
                sbs401 Aug 2, 2011 08:38 AM

                Cholula has a more well rounded heat

                1. re: sbs401
                  Rick Aug 8, 2011 11:49 AM

                  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. re: ChiliDude
            Candy Jun 21, 2011 03:00 PM

            Count me in on the Sirracha

        2. biondanonima Jun 21, 2011 12:17 PM

          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
            Mr Taster Aug 2, 2011 09:23 AM

            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
              BobB Aug 10, 2011 06:22 AM

              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. c
            ChiliDude Jun 21, 2011 12:46 PM

            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 www.penderys.com.

            5 Replies
            1. re: ChiliDude
              jmckee Jul 1, 2011 09:00 AM

              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
                ChiliDude Jul 4, 2011 12:10 PM

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

                1. re: ChiliDude
                  jmckee Jul 5, 2011 07:35 AM

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

                  1. re: jmckee
                    ChiliDude Jul 5, 2011 10:06 AM

                    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
                  CrimsonCrow Jul 21, 2011 10:13 AM

                  @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. inaplasticcup Jun 21, 2011 01:19 PM

                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
                  petek Jun 21, 2011 01:25 PM

                  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
                    inaplasticcup Jun 21, 2011 01:36 PM

                    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
                      LulusMom Jun 21, 2011 01:40 PM

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

                    2. re: inaplasticcup
                      twyst Jun 21, 2011 11:54 PM

                      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.

                    3. Duppie Jun 21, 2011 01:40 PM

                      Let me see if I understand your dilemma. You would like a hot sauce that is not as vinegary and hot as Tobasco, something hot but not overwhelmingly vinegary or a sauce that is flavorful and not as hot as Tobasco ?

                      1. r
                        ricepad Jun 21, 2011 01:46 PM

                        Agree 100% about Tabasco...way too vinegary. I like Cholula, Tapatio, or Bufalo. Bufalo makes a really tasty chipotle sauce, but it can be hard to find.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: ricepad
                          Godslamb Jun 21, 2011 01:56 PM

                          Especially in Canada. I have never heard of any of these things you mention, or anyone else, except the Frank's sauce. I am not a big hot sauce fan (can't handle too much heat), but when I do use hot sauce (only in a recipe) I want flavour, not heat for heat sake. Wow...sometimes I even amaze myself as to how convoluted my posts can be! I know what I mean, but the follow through explanations lack! Ha ha

                          1. re: Godslamb
                            westaust Jun 22, 2011 08:52 AM

                            I don't know where you live in Canada, but i've seen Cholula and Bufalo sauce often, even at some grocery stores (some loblaws among others carries bufalo)

                            1. re: westaust
                              Godslamb Jun 22, 2011 01:55 PM

                              I live in Alberta. To be honest, I rarely use hot sauce for anything, but I have a recipe that calls for some, and I thought it would be a good opportunity to find a substitute.

                        2. C. Hamster Jun 21, 2011 02:14 PM

                          Maybe it's the xanthan gum, but Cholula has a cloudy dull taste to me.

                          I prefer Crystal over Tabasco for the everyday big bottle of cayenne sauce.

                          The are a zillion others out there, too. I live Yucatan Shunshire and Iguana for flavor.

                          I also make my own which is very easy to do.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: C. Hamster
                            goodhealthgourmet Jun 21, 2011 02:39 PM

                            i love Iguana.

                            1. re: C. Hamster
                              Uncle Bob Jun 22, 2011 12:50 PM

                              Me too.....I find Cholula, Tapatio, and others of that genre to be like red Mississippi River Water.....Muddy!

                            2. g
                              gilintx Jun 21, 2011 11:49 PM

                              I'm also a fan of Cholula, but you might be interested in salsa Buffalo, which is Mexican. Not as vinegary, somewhat thicker, and not all that hot, particularly if you get the original and not the green or chipotle.

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: gilintx
                                ricepad Jun 22, 2011 11:44 AM

                                Just picking a nit: it's "Bufalo", not "Buffalo".

                                1. re: ricepad
                                  gilintx Jun 30, 2011 10:12 PM

                                  Yes, it is. My bad. :-)

                                2. re: gilintx
                                  Godslamb Jun 22, 2011 01:56 PM

                                  Salsa Bufalo? Is it like salsa? (Seems like a dumb question) If I am using it in a recipe that calls for hot sauce, will it work? I mean, it is thick like salsa or chunky as opposed to thin Tabasco.

                                  1. re: Godslamb
                                    goodhealthgourmet Jun 22, 2011 03:09 PM

                                    "salsa" just means spicy sauce. it's the same thin, smooth consistency as all the others.

                                3. KaimukiMan Jun 22, 2011 12:40 AM

                                  If you are having trouble finding a good hot sauce, and if you have trouble finding good ground chili pepper powder, see if you can get some chipotle in adobo. Put that in your blender, makes a good hot sauce when there is nothing else around.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: KaimukiMan
                                    pine time Jun 22, 2011 08:21 AM

                                    KaimukiMan, that's exactly what Mr. Pine and I do, except that we add a few shakes of crushed red pepper to the chipotle in adobo.

                                  2. c
                                    CDouglas Jun 22, 2011 08:28 AM

                                    I favor Crystal and Texas Pete over Tabasco but both are much more mild.

                                    Valentina makes a great hot sauce as well.

                                    If you are looking for really great taste along with the heat you should explore Marie Sharp's hot sauces. They are truly exceptional.

                                    1. LorenM Jun 22, 2011 12:24 PM

                                      Depends on what I am using it for. For wings I like Frank's Red Hot (cayenne pepper sauce). For eggs and a lot of Mexican dishes, I like Cholula. For po' boys, gumbo and other cajun foods, I like Louisiana Supreme or Crystal's.

                                      1. greygarious Jun 22, 2011 02:16 PM

                                        I can tolerate only a very little level of chili heat so I am not at all particular about recipes calling for various types of hot seasoning. I have a jar of chili powder and one of red pepper flakes. I use either, depending on what I am making. No sriracha or any other hot chili sauce will ever cross my threshhold.

                                        1. David11238 Jun 26, 2011 07:17 AM

                                          This may meet your criteria; Golden Fleece Chilly Sauce No 3. And yes, they spell it c-h-i-l-l-y. It's a hot, but not that hot, sweet pepper sauce. Sweet peppers, hot peppers, garlic & tomatoes. No vinegar listed. I found this at the Taste of Georgia (as in former Soviet bloc) bakery. The sauces range in heat from 1 to 6. 1 being the mildest. It tastes pretty good. It has a prominent sweet pepper taste though. So if you have a Russian or Georgian section of town, or friends from there, you may want to check it out.
                                          A contact on the label is listed as "golden_fleece1@yahoo.com".

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: David11238
                                            Godslamb Jun 26, 2011 07:28 AM

                                            Wow thanks. Thos sounds like what I am after. However, I keep forgetting to mention I live in Alb ertaCanada, so it is highly unlikely I will find this sauce. I never heard of a "Russian or Georgian" section of town. I live in a big city, but it is difficult to find 1/8 of the stuff that you people have access to in the States. But if by some chance I can find this, I will!

                                            1. re: Godslamb
                                              David11238 Jun 26, 2011 07:38 AM

                                              Where are you in Alberta? I remember running into some Russian expats in Calgary. I believe Edmonton has a Russian niche as well.



                                              1. re: David11238
                                                Godslamb Jun 26, 2011 12:03 PM

                                                Well, farm out! Who knew? I knew the internet was good for something. LOL
                                                Thank you, I will check these out.

                                          2. ipsedixit Jun 30, 2011 10:30 PM

                                            Wasabi powder mixed with some ketchup?

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: ipsedixit
                                              inaplasticcup Jul 1, 2011 06:44 AM

                                              Cocktail sauce! :)

                                              1. re: inaplasticcup
                                                ipsedixit Jul 1, 2011 09:55 AM

                                                Cocktail sauce with wasabi!

                                                1. re: ipsedixit
                                                  Tripeler Jul 1, 2011 10:45 PM

                                                  That would be awful. The wasabi would really screw up with all the sugar in the ketchup.

                                            2. t
                                              TuteTibiImperes Jul 1, 2011 07:04 PM

                                              I enjoy Tabasco, and I love vinegar, but I do sometimes prefer a thicker cayenne sauce for certain applications. I prefer Texas Pete to Franks or Crystal, but that may be because it has a more pronounced tangy vinegar flavor which you are trying to avoid.

                                              Tabasco has a unique flavor profile that makes it worth keeping around. Since Tabasco is made from aged peppers, there are fermented/cured flavor notes in Tabasco that aren't present in other hot sauces.

                                              1. KaimukiMan Jul 1, 2011 08:30 PM

                                                because of the way tabasco is made, some hot sauce afficionados feel it doesn't have the depth of flavor that other sauces have, or as someone said... hot just for hot.

                                                1. l
                                                  LADave Jul 25, 2011 02:01 PM

                                                  You can put fresh red chilis through a food processor with some salt and let them ferment a couple days. Once fermentation is well underway you can move them into the fridge to slow things down. This has a finite shelf life and eventually goes moldy, so you need to make it in batches small enough to use up in time. Chilis have enough sugars or carbos to ferment. Fermentation adds some sourness but it's more subtle than a vinegar-based sauce.

                                                  I especially liked Fresno chiles made this way, but you should experiment with other varieties depending on how much heat you want. If fresh chiles are hard to come by, I'd try dried chiles plus water.

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: LADave
                                                    AmyH Aug 2, 2011 08:57 AM

                                                    Sounds very similar to what's described in this thread:

                                                    1. re: AmyH
                                                      LADave Aug 2, 2011 09:20 AM

                                                      Exactly. Excellent writeup and expansion of the concept. Just chiles and salt. Fermentation adds to the flavor profile. 99 Cents Only stores sometimes have Fresno chiles and they work very well.

                                                      Mine didn't last for "months" however. Maybe it would last better in 8oz or pint canning jars used in succession so mold has limited time to develop between first re-opening each jar and using it up.

                                                  2. t
                                                    tj442x Aug 1, 2011 02:45 PM

                                                    <3 tapatio

                                                    1. bushwickgirl Aug 4, 2011 12:41 AM

                                                      1. Crystal Louisiana
                                                      2. Frank's Red Hot
                                                      3. Cholula
                                                      4. El Yucateco, prefer the green
                                                      5. Sriracha

                                                      This list doesn't necessarily indicate an order of preference, just frequency of use, depending upon cuisine.

                                                      Notice Tabasco is not on my list. although there is an aging bottle in my fridge.

                                                      5 Replies
                                                      1. re: bushwickgirl
                                                        tj442x Aug 8, 2011 11:30 AM

                                                        You fridge tabasco?

                                                        I always consider whether or not certain sauces belong in the fridge. Sometimes the srirachi, etc go there, but the tabasco and tapatio never do.

                                                        1. re: tj442x
                                                          bushwickgirl Aug 9, 2011 02:05 PM

                                                          I do, but read on.

                                                          All of my hot sauces reside on the fridge door, more because I have limited cabinet space and more fridge space, but it's also just a mindless habit I have. I don't think hot sauces need to be refrigerated at all, but they do keep their color longer, say, if you buy a gallon of Crystal and take a good 2 years to use it up. Plus I make my own hot sauce some years, and definitely keep that in the fridge.

                                                          1. re: tj442x
                                                            KaimukiMan Aug 9, 2011 08:50 PM

                                                            I also keep my sauces in the fridge. I think its a warm climate habit. I just put any opened food in the fridge. It keeps longer, it keeps the bugs away (not that they go after hot sauce) and I don't have to remember what goes where, its just in the fridge. Even Worcestershire and soy sauce go in my fridge.

                                                            1. re: KaimukiMan
                                                              bushwickgirl Aug 10, 2011 12:38 PM

                                                              "Worcestershire and soy sauce go in my fridge."

                                                              We're joined at the hip.

                                                              1. re: bushwickgirl
                                                                Duppie Aug 10, 2011 12:47 PM

                                                                Ketchup,mustard,home made pepper sauces but the rest brave the elements like the rest of us.

                                                        2. m
                                                          mmarston Aug 15, 2011 01:49 PM

                                                          Cholula Chili Lime! hard to find in stores. Can be found online.
                                                          Also Goya Salsita in various flavors

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