Hot Sauce Taste Test
Jonny Grave | Aug 29, 2017 | 9:00AM |

Somewhere along the way in our history as humans, we discovered the ability to season our food. It came slowly at first, as most things do with our species, likely occurring by accident, and almost certainly taking place over several generations. We probably started with combining one kind of fruit with another, or maybe wrapping meat in a certain kind of leaf to impart a flavor into the flesh. It wasn’t long after that someone discovered the bright green, yellow, red, or purple things growing off a skinny vine makes a tongue feel like it’s on fire. Spicy food has been with us for awhile.

Flash forward a few thousand years, and now there’s a million kinds of hot sauce. Do you like yours hot as hell, or prickly and flavorful? Should the consistency be chunky or runny? Vinegar or smoke? How about blending some fruit in with the peppers? How about blending peppers with other peppers? It’s pretty easy to get lost in the world of hot sauces.

We here at BYT aren’t about to let you go helpless, though– we got our hands on an unreasonably large selection of hot sauces, then tried them all. Rather, Jeb tried them all. Most of us tried ten or so.

The scoring scale is simple enough: Letter grade (A-F)for taste, numbered scale (10-1) for heat. We tried the ordinary staples, delicious new flavors, kitschy gift-set bullshit, and genuinely painful blends from the pros. This was easily the best way to spend an afternoon, however painful or cramp-inducing it may have been. Luckily, there was beer. It doesn’t always help the heat, but it does kill the desire to tap out.

If you’ve ever been curious about trying a super arcane hot sauce, or you’ve always been turned off by a well-known brand and you want validation, this taste test should help you.

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If you’re considering playing along at home, we strongly consider you have a phone nearby to call paramedics as needed.

Hot Sauce Taste Test-5

MARISSA RUBENSTEIN’S HOMEMADE HOT SAUCE

Cale Jr. Unique flavor with a robust, but not completely debilitating, kick. A kettle potato chip was probably not the correct base, would try again with meat if I was feeling feisty. Rating could change either way on further use. B/8

Linsay Deming: Spicy, strong habanero flavor but slightly sweet. A/8

Nicholas Karlin: That’s hot. I think it has some citrus. But it’s hottt. Starting to worry why I volunteered to also join the taste test. B/6

Kaylee Dugan: Nice and bright with a little vinegar kick. This one sneaks up on you. B/6

Jeb Gavin: Slow burn with citrusy, smoky flavor. A/5

Marissa Rubenstein: Good on… everything. Obviously have a huge bias here, but I promise it is pretty good for a vinegar based sauce. A/10

SWEET BABY RAY’S HOT SAUCE

Kaylee Dugan: Unlike their BBQ sauce this is incredibly unremarkable. D/3

Haywood Turnipseed Jr.: Clean, Comforting, Tangy, Vinegary: Hot sauce like I know!!! I’m still mad at Ghost Pepper!! A/7

Jeb Gavin: Boring vinegar, neither sweet nor suitable for babies. F/1

Brandon Wetherbee: A bit too vinegary. Stick with Crystal. C/2

BACON HOT SAUCE

Cale Jr.: The bottle says it goes great with everything. #FakeNews C/4

Jeb Gavin: Smoke and vinegar but no bacon. F/0

Kaylee Dugan: It’s definitely smoke and it’s definitely bad. C/1

MELINDA’S NAGA JOLOKIA SAUCE

Linsay Deming: Contains naga joloka peppers which kind of taste like habaneros. Melinda looks sweet but she’s a spicy hot biatch C/8

Brandon Wetherbee: Eh. too hot but just hot. No pop. No reason to exist. C/8

Kaylee Dugan: SLOW. BURN. B/5

Jeb Gavin : Nothing but vinegar and heat and nonsense. D/7

DAVE’S SCORPION PEPPER HOT SAUCE

Kaylee Dugan: Am I crying? I feel like I’m crying. B/7

Nicholas Karlin: Took me 10 minutes to stop crying to write this. Don’t eat scorpions or anything with “scorpion” in the title. (..Illegible scribbling and tear drops on paper) D/9

Marissa Rubenstein: This is delicious! Definitely very scorpion pepper forward. I have a pretty high spice tolerance and this is kind of making me grab the water. Would be good on grilled veggies. A/10

Jeb Gavin: Quicker burn, more dull, doesn’t last as long, thankfully. D/7

Brandon Wetherbee: Who is this for? Good for…? C/9

Hot02

TRADER JOE’S GREEN DRAGON HOT SAUCE

Kaylee Dugan: I think the scorpion sauce is still affecting me, but hot damn is this stuff delicious. A/2

Linsay Deming: Nice Tang from tomatillos. Add to chicken or pork for choke verde taco filling. A/2

Jeb Gavin: Herbaceous, tomatillos and citrus. Like cheap alt-Bloody Mary mix. C/0

TRADER JOE’S JALAPENO PEPPER HOT SAUCE

Haywood Turnipseed Jr.: Like ‘Devil’s Revenge’, Hot, tangy, tasty, and thick; I get the heat and can still feel my taste-buds. This is Hot Sauce!!! A/9

CHOLULA CHIPOTLE HOT SAUCE

Marissa Rubenstein: This is delicious! I love all things chipotle in general and this doesn’t let me down. Grab a burrito- dump half a bottle of this on there, and enjoy. A/3

Jeb Gavin: Some smoke, even more vinegar. D/0

Kaylee Dugan: Would eat on absolutely all of the fruit. A/1

TRADER JOE’S YUZU HOT SAUCE

Brandon Wetherbee: Maybe good on a grill? Nice on chicken. B/3

Kaylee Dugan: I’m slathering this on every piece of meat I eat for the rest of my life. A/2

Jeb Gavin: Heat comes on slow, good citrus notes right up front. B/3

BLAIR’S MEGA DEATH SAUCE

Linsay Deming: Do not eat if you have acid reflux or just want to have a good day. One tsp in a pot of chili would be about the most I’d do. D/10

Jeb Gavin: Spicy vinegar. D/7

Brandon Wetherbee: It knows what it is but it’s not good for anything. Maybe good on deep fried fair food? Corn dogs? It’s too overwhelming but the warning makes it clear. B/10

Kaylee Dugan: I’m numb. The beer made it worse. My body hurts. C/9

Hot Sauce Taste Test-147

ASS BLASTER HOT SAUCE

Marissa Rubenstein: I’m now so into rating everything I just started rating the yucca fry from Chicken & Whiskey I am now eating. This is a disgusting yellow color and tastes like straight acid. I mean what you imagine straight acid might taste like. It burbles and circles and is turning my hand red. F/4

Cale Jr.: Aptly named in that it smells and tastes like Beelzebub’s gaping bung hole and is unpleasant in every way, yet oddly failed to live up to its name the next morning. F/8

Linsay Deming: Ass was not blasted. Jury’s out til tomorrow on that. C/9

Jeb Gavin: Less heat than “from Hell” but dull vinegar taste all the same. F/5 

Kaylee Dugan: Throw it away. F/4

DAVE’S GHOST PEPPER HOT SAUCE

Haywood Turnipseed Jr. It’s Too Hot!!! Like a Coolio song!!! This should be called ‘sinus cleanser’!!! I rubbed my eye two hours later and still almost out it out!!! D/10

Cale Jr.: Like Satan jizzed on a Flamin’ Hot Cheeto and then crushed it in my eye. Not for human consumption. The spot on my hand I used to taste got a rash and burned into the night. F/10

Marissa Rubenstein: I feel like ghost pepper hot sauces are heavy on the spice, but light on flavor. I mean yes things can get super spicy, but I prefer a hot sauce that takes you on a taste bud adventure. D/9

Kaylee Dugan: I expected much worse. The good thing about trying Mega Death is that I’ll probably never taste anything ever again. D/6

Jeb Gavin: Burns forever for no damn reason, lingers long after even the suspicion of taste is gone. D/9

Brandon Wetherbee: Mistake. F/10

Hot08

ARIZONA GUNSLINGER HABANERO PEPPER SAUCE

Kaylee Dugan: It’s fine. It’s all fine. C/3

FRANK’S RED HOT ORIGINAL HOT SAUCE

Jeb Gavin: Like tasting Western New York vomit. F/0

Nicholas Karlin: Basic and Tasty. That old Lady is right. Put it on everything. B/2

Marissa Rubenstein: Someone just reminded our editor that he forgot to bring tums. My stomach hates me, Franks Red Hot is a great hot sauce. B/6

BADIA LOUISIANA CAJUN CHILI SAUCE

Nicholas Karlin: Tangy and probably good with wings. If you don’t like super hot and enjoy the taste of food, this is for you. C/2

Jeb Gavin: Vinegar nonsense. They should know better. F/0

Brandon Wetherbee: Too hot before it fades to just OK. Meant for meat. C/4

Hot18

TIGER SAUCE ORIGINAL

Jeb Gavin: A good sweet/bitter/smoky balance, but no where near enough heat. B/1

Nicholas Karlin: Not terrible. Very low heat. Maybe use on something you suck at cooking so it tastes better. C/1

Brandon Wetherbee: Too sweet but not horrible. Too wear for a soup? Too oily? C/3

SLAP YA MAMA CAJUN PEPPER SAUCE

Haywood Turnipseed Jr.: It didn’t make me want to slap my Mama, which I would never do anyway, so good on them. Ghost Pepper made me wanna fight myself!!! B/6

Marissa Rubenstein: This stuff is delicious. It’s a perfect wing sauce (seitan wings for days please!) It reminds me of the hooters wing sauce, when I used to work there I used to convince the cooks to give me fries with hot sauce for lunch, this would taste amazing on fries. 4/A

Nicholas Karlin: Great pepper sauce and easily edible. I’d also just put this on everything. If you enjoy Franks Red Hot, you’ll like this too. B/3

Jeb Gavin: Guavaish and salty, but finishes sweet. C/0

Brandon Wetherbee: If you like vinegar based sauce with a punch, here you go. B/5

PICKAPEPPA SAUCE

Haywood Turnipseed Jr.: This was the 1st sauce that I tasted after ‘Ghost Pepper’; it was very comforting. Taste like A1 steak sauce. B/6

Brandon Wetherbee: New favorite hot sauce!!! Want it on everything. A/3

Nicholas Karlin: By far the best I’ve had but I don’t think this is hot sauce. Almost like A-1 steak sauce. Should I like this then? A/3

Linsay Deming: I’m not as into this as everyone else. Has a fresh flavor. Would be good on meat. B/6

Marissa Rubenstein: Ew is this molasses? Barely any spice with a weird syrup-y consistency. F/2

Jeb Gavin: Like a proto-mole, sweet, smoky, raisin-y. A/2

HOT SAUCE FROM HELL DEVIL’S REVENGE

Nicholas Karlin: Bad with beer. Long burn. Bad at everything. I only taste sand now. F/6 (The worst fucking F ever)

Jeb Gavin: A sledgehammer of heat, but dull as hell. No flavor. F/7

Haywood Turnipseed Jr.: IT’s LIT!! Hot Tangy, & Tasty!! B/7

SONTAVA! HABANERO XX HOT SAUCE

Brandon Wetherbee: Will use again on meat. Really good discovery. B/7

Linsay Deming: Delicious. Tangy and bright. Brandon was right, great on chicken. A/6

Nicholas Karlin: Still sucks after having Dave’s Scorpion, but I think this is good. I put it on chicken and I think I like hot sauce again. B/4

Jeb Gavin: Bright, mild sweetness. B/6

IGUANA DEUCES HABANERO PEPPER SAUCE

Cale Jr.: Akin to sweetly caressing a sexy lady iguana in heat. Note: I used to own an iguana in high school and was awkward around girls. A/3

Linsay Deming: Sweet and tangy. Love the carrot flavor. A/4

Marissa Rubenstein: Is this curry? Not all that spicy, I love curries, and I love hot curries, I just wouldn’t use a curry-ish sauce as a hot sauce. Maybe I’m not making sense. The hotness has gotten to me, we are all high on capsaicin. F/4

Nicholas Karlin: Tangy and easy to have. I want to eat wings all day with this. Beer tastes good again now too. B/1

Haywood Turnipseed Jr.: I think I might try this on w/ shrimp and grits, or on eggs. B/5

Jeb Gavin: Fruity! B/2

HOT MAPLE SMOKEY HABANERO

Linsay Deming: Would be good on grilled meat. B/6

FORMOSA JALAPENO HOT SAUCE

Jeb Gavin: Creamy, bland dream of jalapenos. F/1

Linsay Deming: Same. A/3

HOT SAUCE BY GEORGE!

Brandon Wetherbee: Not for me but not not for me. Very good on everything sampled (chicken, yuca fries, chips, melon). Almost like a BBQ sauce. A/2

Marissa Rubenstein: A little bit chipotle forward, it’s an interesting combination of tastes, I would buy it. B/5

Haywood Turnipseed Jr.: Hot sauce with a barbecue flavor; Smokey almost, like it was made for grilling. A/7

Linsay Deming: Smoky and slightly tangy. Would be a great addition to BBQ sauce. B/1

Jeb Gavin: Slightly sweet, mesquite smoke flavor. C/0

Hot09

GOYA SALSA PICANTE

Hot Sauce Taste Test-13

Linsay Deming: My fave kind of hot sauce. Vinegary and the tiniest bit smokey. A/6

Jeb Gavin: F/0

CRYSTAL HOT SAUCE

Jeb Gavin: No flavor score given, cannot savage due to nostalgia. 0

Linsay Deming: Good to know this and the Goya are nearly identical. Great on wonderland fries or in jambalaya or gumbo. A/6

TRADER JOE’S SRIRACHA

Hot Sauce Taste Test-43

Linsay Deming: Subpar. Ingredients not fully blended. Choke chunks in sugar water. D/1

Jeb Gavin: Sweet as hell. More like a bland sweet and sour sauce. C/0

KIM KIM

Marissa Rubenstein: Pretty much your standard korean hot sauce, I realize if you didn’t grow up in Annandale VA you might not know what that tastes like, sorry, change your childhood. Our drunk food was Yechon. B/1

Haywood Turnipseed Jr.: Very Sweet; its good but not what I consider hot sauce. Maybe good for sweet ‘n sour chicken. C/4

Brandon Wetherbee: Lovely. It knows what it is. Will definitely use on Korean food, just a bit too sweet. B/2

Jeb Gavin: A dull gochujang. D/2

Hot Sauce Taste Test-127

HARRIS TEETER SRIRACHA

Brandon Wetherbee: A little too sweet but a fine Sriracha substitute. B/3

Jeb Gavin: Boring vinegar. F/1

HARRIS TEETER HOT SAUCE

Marissa Rubenstein: Surprisingly delightful! A good solid hot sauce. Would pair nicely with any weeknight meals, you can also pour it into the eyes of your ex and revel in their misery. Wait what. B/8

CHOLULA GREEN PEPPER HOT SAUCE

Jeb Gavin: Like tomatoes boiled in windex, with a hint of garlic extract. F/0

Brandon Wetherbee: Very good but not memorable. Good on chicken. Will definitely purchase and try on eggs. B/3

FORMOSA HABANERO HOT SAUCE

Brandon Wetherbee: Pleasant, would like to add to any protein. B/4

Jeb Gavin: Creamy, but not terrible. Closer to yellow sauce from a Peruvian chicken joint. C/2

Hot Sauce Taste Test-4

ARIZONA COWBOY JALAPENO HOT SAUCE

Hot Sauce Taste Test-11

Marissa Rubenstein: Delightfully smoky at the beginning, pretty enjoyable but no pleasant after burn. B/4

Jeb Gavin: Light enough that it wasn’t horrible, but not by any stretch good. D/1

TRADER JOE’S HABANERO HOT SAUCE

Hot Sauce Taste Test-107

Marissa Rubenstein: Delightfully spicy, a little tropical tasting? But, I feel like I use the word offensive so much in these things, but there is something in the aftertaste that my taste buds are personally offended by, and it is not a pleasant experience. B/8

TABASCO CHIPOTLE PEPPER SAUCE

Hot Sauce Taste Test-33

Marissa Rubenstein: This was always my go-to when eating at the actual restaurant called Chipotle, and I thought I would try it to compare it to the Cholula. I think the Cholula wins for sure. Much more flavorful. C/2

Jeb Gavin: Mix with coffee grounds, pack in lip like dip to stay awake. Otherwise avoid. F/2

From this point on, Jeb was the only one with a strong enough stomach to continue reviewing. God bless him.

SIMPLE TRUTH ORGANIC JALAPENO HOT SAUCE

Feh. Quote me on that. Wait, no, that’s a lot of these. D/2

FORMOSA CHIPOTLE HOT SAUCE

Creamy, low smoke notes, otherwise dull and gunky. F/2

CHOLULA ORIGINAL HOT SAUCE

Hot Sauce Taste Test-86

Like tomatoes boiled in windex. F/0

SIMPLE TRUTH ORGANIC CHIPOTLE PEPPER HOT SAUCE

Hot Sauce Taste Test-29

A bland, smoky flavor. D/1

Hot Sauce Taste Test-120

TEXAS PETE ORIGINAL HOT SAUCE

Hot Sauce Taste Test-52

The very definition of the vinegar blahs. D/1

VALENTINA HOT SAUCE

Old, tinned tomato paste left out in the sun. F/0

TAPATIO HOT SAUCE

Grainy vinegar. F/0

LA VICTORIA HOT SAUCE

 More tomato sauce-ish, almost arrabiata-like. C/2

Hot14

GOYA SALSITA

Green vinegar. D/0

SRIRACHA HOT CHILI SAUCE

Needs rock sugar and fish sauce to be good. Always doctor your cock sauce. C/2

SPONTANEOUS COMBUSTION HOT SAUCE

Cumin-y, vinegary garbage. F/6

HABANERO HOT SAUCE FROM HELL

Smoked vinegary garbage. F/5

NANDO’S PERI-PERI EXTRA HOT

Either I’d gone tongue blind at this point, or this bottle was off. D/4

Hot Sauce Taste Test-1

ARIZONA GUNSLINGER JALAPENO PEPPER SAUCE

Flat. D/2

ARIZONA GUNSLINGER GREEN JALAPENO PEPPER SAUCE

Runny and flat. F/0

ARIZONA GUNSLINGER HABANERO PEPPER SAUCE

Hot Sauce Taste Test-9

Not even smoked vinegar, just vinegar. F/0

ARIZONA GUNSLINGER HABANERO AND MANGO PEPPER SAUCE

Sweet and bright, which is kind of surprising. Mixed well with By George. C/3

CHICKEN AND WHISKEY’S INTI PICANTE SPICY SAUCE

Creamy pimento hot sauce. Great on their chicken and yucca. B/3

BEFORE

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AFTER

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