Ranking The 10 Best Grocery Store Hot Sauces

Ranking The 10 Best Grocery Store Hot Sauces

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Hot sauce is the elixir of life.

This is not just a matter of opinion, but a matter of scientific fact: peppers (regardless of Scoville intensity) contain an ingredient called capsaicin that is a natural stimulant, releasing all sorts of pleasurable endorphins into the brain.

Back in college, I had a psychology professor who declared that, physiologically and psychologically, peppers and hot sauces are sort of like food cocaine: In addition to making you feel like a million bucks, they speed up heart rate and metabolism.

There’s a good reason why once you go down the spicy hot sauce rabbit hole, you’re addicted for life. And loving that piquant burn-of-the-mouth? It makes you more of a man, according to science.

I am a big aficionado of hot sauces, so I threw together a power ranking of the widely available ones you can buy at a grocery store. These are the best mass-produced hot sauces money can buy for under $5, according to… Me. No one else, just me.

I’ve tried them all, many times, including for lunch when I doused Cholula all over a steak burrito bowl from Chipotle.

Please note that I didn’t include all the small label sauces you get at specialty stores and boutiques; I have an entire arsenal of sauces like Scorned Woman and Dave’s Insanity Sauce, but for the sake of a broad conversation, we’ll exclude these since most grocery stores don’t carry them.

Taste is subjective, so I’m sure your power-ranking of best hot sauces is quite different from mine.

10. Tabasco

Why it rules: Because 85% of the time you ask for hot sauce in a restaurant, they hand you this. Every kitchen has a bottle… or five. Plus the little mini bottles can be stashed pretty much anywhere for hot sauce on the go.

9. Sriracha

Why it rules: Because it’s the Heineken of hot sauces. Not everyone likes it, but if you do, you really like it. Does wonders on pizza.

8. Texas Pete

Why it rules: Because a cup of chili wouldn’t taste the same without it.

7. Franks Red Hot

Why it rules: Because it’s the City of Buffalo in a bottle.

6. Tabasco Chipotle

Why it rules: Because the sacred area next to the soda fountain inside every Chipotle restaurant is heaven on earth.

5. Louisiana Hot Sauce Original

Why it rules: Because it tastes like someone wrung smokey pepper oils out of the beards of Duck Dynasty cast members. Put it in a Bloody Mary with a lot of horseradish and thank me later.

4. Tapatio

Why it rules: Because they make awesome little packets for emergency hot sauce situations.

3. Trappey’s Red Devil Sauce

Why it rules: Because it’s the Natty Light of hot sauces; Always the cheapest on the shelf and always does the job.

2. Cholula

Why it rules: Because it’s made by José Cuervo, actually packs heat, and comes with Papa John’s when you ask for it. Also: Garlic. All of the garlic. What it can do to scrambled eggs is magical.

1. Crystals

Why it’s the best hot sauce you can buy: Because it’s a pepper sauce first. Unlike Tabasco and others on this list, there’s more pepper than there is vinegar in a bottle of Crystals.

Also, you can generously apply a quarter of a bottle to pretty much anything and it tastes amazing. No bowl of soup is the same without it.

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Runners Up:

Secret Aardvark Habanero Hot Sauce

Tobasco and/or Cholula Green Pepper Sauce

Walkerswood Jerk Sauce

Yucateco

Brandon Wenerd avatar
BroBible's publisher and a founding partner, circa 2009. Brandon is based in Los Angeles, where he oversees BroBible's partnership team and other business development activities. He still loves to write and create content, including subjects related to internet culture, food, live music, Phish, the Grateful Dead, Philly sports, and adventures of all kinds. Email: brandon@brobible.com