Best Grocery Store Hot Sauce Brands, Ranked

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Hot sauce might be the perfect food. The condiment section in grocery stores has ballooned in the last couple of decades to accommodate a range of spicy sauces. We've taken on the impossible task of taste testing and ranking the best grocery store hot sauce brands to determine what deserves to be in your pantry collection.

For hot sauce lovers, ranking can be a joy and a burden. While each country or region puts its spin on what can be considered an umbrella category of hot sauce, we decided to rank widely available spicy condiments (but we sadly had to leave varieties like sambal oelek, Sichuan chili crisp, and Malaysian hot oil for another time). Many of these brands also offer different sauces with miscellaneous peppers. We aimed to select standard varieties from what was available at our local grocery store or for delivery.

For uniformity, we used one of our favorite unsalted Mexican-style tortilla chips as a sauce vehicle that would avoid altering the flavor. Then, we dabbed and dabbed again. Each grocery store hot sauce received a 1-to-5 ranking for flavor, heat, usability, and balance. Since the sizes ranged from 2oz.-to-17oz, we also considered the bottle's value for the price. The price per bottle ranged from $1 to $17. But, hotter or more expensive doesn't mean better. So, while we didn't find many true stinkers, this ranking list found a few unexpected gems.

20. Red Devil

Of all the grocery store hot sauces we tried, Red Devil is the mildest with the least amount of complexity. The Louisiana-based Red Devil started in 1898 using fresh peppers that are cold-packed in distilled vinegar to retain their color. As such, this hot sauce leads with a tang of distilled vinegar. Aged cayenne offers the majority of the flavor, which is rather slim. We have to be honest — as hot sauce lovers, this was a bit of a disappointment. The cayenne sauce has two thickening agents, but despite the additives, it's still a thin sauce that's low in flavor. Red Devil is high on salt, so it would make a decent addition to a soup or sauce for a hint of something extra. But overall, it's pretty boring. 

Do we recommend running out and adding it to your hot sauce collection? We wouldn't say that exactly. Is this better than other grocery store hot sauces? No, not really. Red Devil might do in a pinch, but we're ranking it rather low on this list.

19. Texas Pete's

We have to admit, Texas Pete's hot sauce surprised us with the level of mild heat behind its logo featuring a cowboy in a cattleman crease and spurs. Texas Pete's has been surprising many more tasters, we can imagine, since its origins in 1929. This is a traditional take on a thin, vinegar-forward red sauce with a pepper flavor. The North Carolina family named this sauce after Texas because they wanted to evoke the idea of heat but didn't want to borrow from South of the Border — at least according to the website, which we found reads, at best, out of touch rather than endearing brand lore. 

The bottle recommends slathering this grocery store hot sauce on Buffalo-style chicken wings (sorry, Frank's RedHot, but not sorry). The medium heat from the "secret blend" of peppers is something we can get behind with this sauce. Despite the secrecy, we think the peppers taste mostly like cayenne, which is on par with other budget sauces.

18. Melinda's

Melinda's is a Texas-based brand offering a decent range of mild to extra hot sauces. The brand's website doesn't offer much information about who runs this food company, but we've been a fan of this brand for a while. SFGate reveals that its freelance writer buys this brand in bulk. We'll let the sauce do the talking.

Melinda's Louisiana Red Cayenne Hot Sauce is a reliable standby for a tangy sauce with a heavy flavor of vinegar. Its mild to medium heat will make mild lovers feel like they are playing on the wild side without pushing very far. Plenty of vinegar and salt upfront makes for a less balanced Louisiana-style hot sauce than we'd prefer. Melinda's Cayenne also isn't full-bodied with flavor. Instead, we found that salt (coming in at 160 milligrams per teaspoon), white vinegar, and cane vinegar are ideal ingredients for a simple sauce on empanadas or scrambled eggs. The ingredient list does mention garlic powder, but we didn't notice garlic as a major flavor note. The salt and vinegar were leading this show. But, honestly, it's still a sold hot sauce for a Louisiana-style by way of Texas.

17. Tabasco

Tabasco is an OG hot sauce that's been made by McIlhenny Co. since 1868. Tabasco sauce is made with only three ingredients: distilled vinegar, red peppers, and salt from Avery Island, Louisiana. It provides decent heat and funk and is one of the thinnest sauces on this list. The good news is none of those attributes are negatives for this name-brand pepper sauce. Today, the hot sauce is labeled in over 36 languages, says its site, and is a staple in many pantries for its ability to add the right amount of heat to a litany of savory dishes.

The original Tabasco offers an unexpected medium heat paired with a smokiness that lingers in the tongue from its namesake red pepper. Tabasco features a Scoville rating of 2500-5000, which means it's pretty tame. But, we did appreciate how the heat remains well beyond Melinda's or Red Devil. It also has more of a complex flavor due to fermenting for up to three years in oak barrels, the website notes. Tabasco's signature funk isn't our favorite, however, and even though it's been a while since we sampled, our affinity hasn't developed over time. 

This brand gets bonus points for its simplicity and disregard for thickening agents like xanthan gum, which explains its run-away nature. But, it's not entirely disappointing by itself and certainly would thrive as an addition to soup, a Bloody Mary, or fresh oysters. Is it our favorite? Not really. Is it still a hot sauce classic? Absolutely.

16. Frank's RedHot

Some hot sauces gain a lot of notoriety, and we know that Frank's RedHot original hot sauce has a cult following. This is the brand that claims to have been used by the same New York bar that invented Buffalo Wings in 1964. It's also a brand that loves to be cheeky and drench its sauce on "anything" — at least, according to its expletive-laden tagline.

The ground pepper-adjacent flavor of cayenne is paired with a bunch of vinegar in this grocery store staple. This sauce is thin but not runny, and also has a good balance thanks to a mild heat with a slight kick. The tangy flavor leans heavily on distilled vinegar and salt — ideal for juicy hot wings. The recipe also doesn't have added salt or preservatives. Compared to others on this list, the salt content is near the top of the list at 190 milligrams. We can see this grocery store hot sauce as the perfect slather on rich eggs benny and more than a few shakes into a Bloody Mary. Not the worst, but Frank's isn't top of our list.

15. Louisiana

This is by far the cheapest grocery store hot sauce on our ranking: We found this bottle of Louisiana sauce on sale for $1. We also found this Louisiana-style sauce also tops this list for the most salt per serving with 200 milligrams per teaspoon. This original formula stays true to its tagline: "One drop does it," and we agree that one drop is plenty. Although, we might be more generous with this one since the vinegar is balanced and the medium spice really rounds out the flavor. The sauce does have a formidable heat for a mild-to-medium-hot sauce, which many can't say on this list. We also applaud the three-ingredient formula: aged peppers, distilled vinegar, and (plenty) of salt. 

The Louisiana Hot Sauce brand started in 1928 in New Iberia, Louisiana. The original formula benefits from aged peppers that are fermented and offer a bit of roasted flavor. It's not boring, that's for sure. This hot sauce stands out for its heat and simplicity (and did we mention the salt?), but you can also find habanero, chipotle, red chili, and jalapeño hot sauces from its large range of pepper products. 

14. Siete Hot Sauce

This grocery store hot sauce has plenty of ingredients that feel very complementary to other foods you might find on a Whole Foods Market shelf. You'll find apple cider vinegar listed as the second ingredient in the Siete Traditional Hot Sauce, and it tastes like apple cider vinegar is the second ingredient. It's surprising, but not necessarily in a bad way. The sharp tang is met with solid mild-to-medium heat from jalapeño and puya peppers — one of the few on this list that tickled the throat a bit. For its tasty heat, this hot sauce gets bumped up on this ranking.

Unexpectedly, the ingredient list also includes golden beets, chia seeds, and flax seeds (we assume for thickness?), and oregano. We also applaud the inclusion of the sweet citrus of an orange peel. However, all of those additional, surprise ingredients are a bit overpowered by the ACV. Sure, we can taste the beets and orange on the second or third try for a rounder, overall flavor. But, it's still a flavor that underwhelms in terms of complexity. It's not bad, it's just not close to being the best hot sauce in the ranking.

This Texas-based hot sauce also gives us pause for the price tag over $5 price tag for the 5-ounce bottle at our local store. But, this hot sauce is a staple at a store nicknamed "whole paycheck," so what can you expect?

13. Cholula

If you've visited a brunch spot, then you've likely encountered a bottle of Cholula holding down the table. It's a crowd-pleaser as a budget grocery store hot sauce that feels like a step up from other entry-level sauces. We've also been known to request Cholula instead of Tabasco at a breakfast joint, and already had a bottle lying around for this ranking. Still, we found it's not as balanced as some of the other sauces on this ranking for a couple of reasons.

Cholula is a thin hot sauce that has a pleasant lingering heat from arbol and piquin peppers, which are apparent from the first taste. Chiles de Arbol, according to Chili Pepper Madness, are the iconic thin red peppers that look like the chili emoji. The heat does linger in a pleasant way, and the vinegar rounds out the taste and is complemented by a decent flavor of garlic powder and spices. The salt isn't as overpowering as previous rankings, but if you're throwing this on your omelet then you can skip the extra shake of sodium. The heat is on the mild-to-medium side, so it's a great starter hot sauce and would make an excellent addition to a spicy Bloody Mary.

12. Tapatío

The Tapatío Salsa Picante is another introductory sauce for people looking to explore hot sauce beyond the bottle of Tabasco that they always seem to have lying around. Tapatío's heat is rather mild but leaves a bit of spice on the tip of the tongue as an after-bite reminder. It's also rather neck-to-neck for its ranking with other budget grocery store hot sauces. We appreciate the balanced complexity of the salt, spices, and garlic, making this a notable contender against other vinegar-forward hot sauces. We love a bit of tang without the need to overpower the sauce.

This California-based company has a recipe that caters to a palate that enjoys a fuller flavor of peppers. We suspect the deeper red of this sauce also speaks to red peppers being the second on the ingredient list. Tapatío is versatile, but we would best pair this hot sauce with ceviche, barbacoa tacos, guacamole, or pizza. Would this hot sauce also pair well with sushi? Somehow that feels like the perfect pairing for the Golden State brand.

11. Firelli Hot Sauce

This Italian hot sauce has us stumped. Is there heat in the Firelli Hot Sauce? Despite what the inflamed figure on this robin's egg blue label might suggest, not really. The roasted red peppers add more of an earthiness, and the Calabrian peppers don't contribute much of a burn. Is it sweet? Well, yes, but that is thanks to the distinct flavors of wood and dried fruit from the balsamic vinaigrette. The balsamic lends a sharpness along with apple vinegar and lemon juice. But, the umami flavor of dried porcini mushrooms throws our taste buds off. Multiple dabs later, we still aren't sure if this is brilliant or just bizarre. Maybe both?

Firelli Hot Sauce hails from Parma, Italy, says its site, and lays claim to being the country's premier hot sauce for pizza. We agree this complex sauce is perfect for a Neapolitan pizza for one. Will we buy this again? No idea. But, it's one complex mesh of flavors that we can't stop sampling to try to come up with an answer. Perhaps, that's telling enough.

10. Crystal

Crystal Hot Sauce might just be the quintessential Louisiana hot sauce brand (don't come for us, Tabasco!). Snoop Dogg and David Chang both name Crystal their favorite hot sauce. But, we are ashamed to say this is the first time we've tried this celebrity hot sauce favorite. Whether it's a new brand or your childhood favorite, Crystal produces 4.5 million gallons per year for over 30 countries. And we are glad to add this Southern hot sauce to the roster. Have we mentioned how hard this ranking business is with so many great options?

Crystal Hot Sauce started in New Orleans in 1923 thanks to a recipe the founder is said to have stumbled upon, (via its website). That recipe works as a mild hot sauce that balances aged cayenne pepper with distilled vinegar. The salt also doesn't overpower the flavor like some other Louisiana styles on this ranking, but it still contains a sizable 110 milligrams. The Crystal company uses the whole cayenne pepper, including the skins and seeds, to obtain its reddish-orange hue. We love a seed-to-stem moment! The family-owned brand also doesn't add preservatives.

No, it's not the heat that you should be after in this hot sauce. Instead, this sauce is more about adding the perfect flavor to fried fish, chicken and rice, gumbo, or a spicy paloma cocktail.

9. El Yucateco

El Yucateco is a Mexican brand known for making balanced sauces with plenty of heat thanks to recipes with habanero peppers. Although the grocery store hot sauce brand has expanded into jalapeño and chipotle varieties, its habanero hot sauces are the hallmark of the brand. The XXXtra Hot Kutbil-ik Mayan-style sauce is 90% habanero pepper, notes 62 CBS Detriot, and says El Yucateco's hottest sauce reaches 11,600 on the Scoville scale. Ouch. Because we choose life (and need our stomachs to last through many hot sauces), the red chile habanero made it on this hot sauce ranking list with a 5,790 Scoville rating.

We found the red habanero to be a sleeper heat. Unlike other mild sauces on this list, habaneros offer a pleasant burn that spreads across the palate to the lips. Fortunately, the heat is balanced with a full-bodied flavor thanks to the smoke of the habanero paired with the addition of tomato, salt, and spices. We recommend this as a nice step up from entry-level hot sauces like Texas Pete's or Tabasco.

We could do without the Red 40 food coloring, seeing this is the only grocery store hot sauce that felt the need to deepen its color with artificial dye. All the same, El Yucateco is a worthy addition to our roster of heat-forward hot sauces with a real burn.

8. Huy Fong Sriracha

The rise in popularity of Sriracha by Huy Fong Foods in the United States is similar in some ways to the rise of La Croix sparkling water. Both have names with a global appeal while being U.S.-based and manufactured. Some people don't know La Croix originated in Wisconsin, not France, and Sriracha operates out of Los Angeles County. Neither are exactly what we would call "health foods," but both are popular for capturing the zeitgeist and delivering original takes on what are now pantry staples.

Fortune reports the owner of the brand, a Vietnamese refugee who moved to California, calls his recipe an "American Sriracha" that is based on a Thai style. Call it what you want, but this Sriracha has seen success globally, including in Asia. Instacart even named Sriracha a game-changing sauce for American palates, and the nation's most-purchased hot sauce.

But does Huy Fong Foods Sriracha stand up to the hype? After all these years, we have to say, this grocery store hot sauce still delivers a slow burn and complex flavor, especially when compared to the simplicity of the Louisiana styles on this ranking. Yes, we could do without the thickeners and preservatives. But, even complaints of the 70 milligrams of salt per serving aren't close to the highest on our ranking. Hands down, this mild sauce knocks it out of the park. We love to add it to ramen, burgers, dumplings, and, really, anything.

7. Valentina Salsa Picante

We have arrived at one solid Mexican picante sauce. Valentina did not disappoint with its mild-to-medium heat that builds on the tongue with its vinegar pairing. Not only is Valentina a great value for the price (actually, it's the best value on this ranking at $2 for 12.5 ounces), this picante sauce is simple but packs a roasted flavor and a balanced salt level. Now, we might be biased. Many Los Angeles residents might be able to envision this red-capped bottle at their favorite low-key taco spot. Its yellow label is bound to be familiar. Plus, Valentina tastes primed for ceviche.

The blend of water, chili peppers, vinegar, salt, and spices has a distinct roasted flavor matched with the pop of vinegar. It's not a showy sauce but develops nicely for one of the best budget-friendly grocery store hot sauces we tried. We would use this sauce for hash browns, fish or carnitas tacos, avocado toast, or a Bloody Mary. Would we also support this as an addition to hard-boiled eggs as the brand suggests? Yes, we would.

6. Truff

We read online reviews that complained about the meek heat in the original Truff hot sauce, so we grabbed a hotter variety. We have to admit: It's pretty good. The heat doesn't burn but does leave a bit of a tingle on the outsides of the tongue. The black truffle isn't overpowering or intrusive, at least compared to Firelli's, another hot sauce on this list with porcini mushrooms. Perhaps the balance is due to the red habanero powder and red chili peppers, which create a fiery cohesion with the truffle, vinegar, garlic, salt, and agave nectar. Overall, it's a surprisingly palatable mix. Is it maybe winning bonus points because there are so few sauces on this list with real heat? A decent probability. Do we stand by its place on this ranking? Yes, we do. 

The real question is, is Truff worth the price tag? Depends on who you ask. Oprah recommends Truff as one of her favorite things. We found a 6-ounce bottle for around $17 on the shelf at Whole Foods. Other stores in the area listed the price as $22, and the white truffle variety costs significantly more. Would we recommend it? Sure, especially if you want to show off with some friends and do a taste test of your own. 

5. Bushwick Kitchen

Okay, we have to admit, as evidenced by the picture, this grocery store hot sauce has been in our fridge for a minute. Bushwick Kitchen is a Brooklyn-based operation that is available in Whole Foods and online, and we've used this sauce on many homemade dishes. The brand considers Weak Knees to be their spiciest sauce, but it's a mild heat at best. Still, we are fans of the balanced flavor and the sheer usability of this sauce that elevate it above plain Sriracha. What happens when you combine the roasted heat of red chiles, the umami of fermented soybeans, and the vinegar of Sriracha? You get a tangy, sweet, and roasted flavor of Weak Knees Gochujang Sriracha. We can appreciate this Korean and Thai-inspired hybrid for its ability to blend the best of two excellent hot sauces.

We are looking forward to making the BK Michelada with this tangy, sweet sauce: tomato juice, lime juice, Worcestershire sauce, and a crisp lager. After all, we love pairing spicy food with one of our favorite beers. And we love gochujang with sriracha. 

4. Yellowbird

Yellowbird is a reliable hot sauce geared toward contemporary heat lovers. The Austin, Texas-based brand built a reputation for its carrot-based recipes. Because the classic orange Yellowbird Habanero hot sauce is so ubiquitous, we brought in the serrano version for something new to test out in this ranking. Unlike the habanero, the serrano version isn't going to scorch your tastebuds. We would actually prefer it if it brought a little more bite. However, it did not disappoint.

The green sauce mixes serranos and habaneros for a mild heat with a bit of sweetness. thanks to the addition of organic carrots and organic cane sugar. Serrano offers a bit of surprise heat but nothing that will cause a lingering burn. The flavor is balanced with earthy cucumbers and the tang of distilled vinegar. It's a solid grocery store hot sauce that can really go on anything. Yellowbird is fresh and crisp from the addition of lime concentrate. Sure, this serrano sauce might not unseat the classic Yellowbird Habanero, but it's a great addition to any hot sauce collection.

3. Nando's Peri-Peri Sauce

Nando's Peri-Peri Sauce Medium is a welcome departure from all the cayenne peppers on this list (though we do love cayenne spice). This orange sauce might be more thought of like a marinade or a topper for a sandwich than our tortilla chip testing process. But, African Bird's Eye chilli, otherwise known as peri-peri, is mixed with green chili and cayenne offering a really pleasant heat in a well-balanced sauce. The vinegar and onion puree paired with lemon and garlic results in warmth and brightness. We needed multiple dabs of this hot sauce.

The peri-peri pepper is grown in Africa and can create heat up to 175,000 Scoville units on the pepper scale, says Hot Sauce Fever. The pepper also acts as a natural preservative. The brand skips any artificial ingredients in this hot sauce. Marinating chicken for up to 24 hours with this peri-peri sauce is also how this brand creates its signature dishes in restaurants. According to Nando's social media, this sauce would also pair well with sushi, skewers, avocado salad, and scrambled eggs. 

2. Secret Aardvark

We love the Secret Aardvark hot sauce. The Portland-based brand makes a mouth-watering Caribbean and Tex-Mex hybrid sauce with habanero as the main pepper. Sure, Portland producing one of the best grocery store hot sauces on this list seems a little unexpected to us, too. But, the Secret Aardvark red hot sauce was even featured on the popular interview show, "Hot Ones," to assist in melting the face off of your favorite celebrity. Since the red habanero is internet famous, we brought the Serrabanero Green Hot Sauce to the table.

This habanero and serrano pepper hybrid is paired with green tomatoes and tomatillos. This is also the only hot sauce on this ranking list made with cilantro and turmeric. In addition to distilled vinegar, this sauce adds a tang with organic apple cider vinegar — one that isn't off-putting like others on this list. We found this sauce to be balanced, fresh, and full of citrus. It's also a bit sweet and leaves a slight burn on the tongue to remind us of these peppers well after we're done chewing. This is the type of hot sauce that would work perfectly on top of a slice of vegan pizza — we tried it with a kale and mushroom pie.

1. Three Mountains Brand

The popular Thai sauce known as sriracha has proven to be more successful with every turn. Case in point, yellow sriracha chili sauce by Three Mountains Brand is hands down one of the best grocery store hot sauces on this ranking list. This non-GMO sauce offers a solid heat on the first bite that lingers on the tip of the tongue. That medium punch of heat blends into sweetness — and, we'll admit, it verges on too sweet — from coconut sugar. But, that's also what makes "American sriracha" by Huy Fong Foods so good. The garlic and vinegar round out the flavor that is so usable we have used this sauce repeatedly before we even finished the taste test. 

Although we enjoy Huy Fong Foods' take on sriracha and have long used BK's Gochujang Sriracha, this sauce uses a more complex Thai burapa chilis, notes Pepper Scale, hailing from a small farm in Sriracha, Thailand. That's right, Sriracha is the Tequila, Champagne, or Burgundy of hot sauce.

Tasty Chomps says as early as 2019 this sauce was a scarce commodity on shelves in the United States. Now, you can Amazon Prime this deliciousness straight to your doorstep. The future is here, folks. And it brings with it a better hot sauce. Trust us, you'll want to pour this on everything.