Hot sauce is as essential a condiment as ketchup, mustard, or mayo. Not only does it heat up anything it touches, but the vinegar and pepper flavors often work to liven up other flavors in the dish you’re eating. At the very least, hot sauce makes us feel good on a biological level, thanks to the capsaicin you’ll find in any hot sauce.
Not all hot sauces are created equal, however. Some are just too hot, created as a novelty more than anything while others do not have a balanced flavor that allows for equal parts heat and deliciousness.
Below, check out the 9 best hot sauces you can buy right now (which is faster than the other option, making your own). They range in type of pepper and heat level, so there’s a little something for everyone.
Tabasco Raspberry Chipotle
If there is a dessert hot sauce, this is it. While most of us know Tabasco from their iconic hot sauce, their Raspberry Chipotle is no sleeper. Smoky like their original Chipotle sauce, the raspberry adds a level of sweetness that, when combined, is reminiscent of a bar of find dark chocolate.
Ghost Scream Vindaloo Curry
Ghost Scream’s hot sauces ain’t nothing to f*ck with. No matter which type you buy, you are sure to get a flavorful and hot as hell sauce. Their Vindaloo Curry sauce is made with scorpion peppers, curry powder, and coconut oil making it the perfect addition to many Indian or Caribbean dishes. Pretty viscous, be careful with this one. Too much and you’ll be breathing yellow fire long after you’ve finished eating.
Kumana Avocado Hot Sauce
Avocado toast might prevent us from buying houses, but avocado hot sauce gives us everything we want from the alligator pear and then some. Somewhat creamy and with just enough of a kick, this hot sauce by Kumana will liven up any taco plate out there. Or better yet, seek out some Venezuelan food, where the avocado hot sauce is a staple.
Moore’s Spicy Mustard Hot Sauce
Don’t go into this one expecting yellow mustard simply mixed with hot sauce. One of the many hot sauces made by Moore’s Marinades & Sauces, this sauce is more about accentuating flavors than it is burning your taste buds off. Cayenne peppers give it is heat, while turmeric and mustard bring a deeper flavor to a host of dishes. It can easily act as a dipping sauce as much as something you douse a sandwich with.
Crystal Hot Sauce
An underrated classic, Crystal is a Louisiana classic. Produced sine 1923, Crystal is a bit softer in terms of heat than the other Louisiana staple, Tabasco, but to some is more flavorful. This is an everyday hot sauce if we’ve ever seen one and is great on everything. Literally.
Wuju Original Hot Sauce
A sweet and tropical take on hot sauce, Wuju’s hot sauces are made with mango and habanero peppers, which create sweet, somewhat mild heat from the moment it hits your lips until after you’ve swallowed your bite of food. The pepper notes mix well with the mango on a variety of dishes. If you want to amp it up, you can check out their extra hot version of the sauce.
Torchbearer Slaughter Sauce
This sauce makes the list because not only is it tasty, but it has an awesome name that matches a certain member of The Manual’s staff. Make with habanero peppers, this sauce is known for its slow burn. What starts out somewhat sweet heats up quickly, lasting for a good bit after you’ve swallowed. Torchbearer makes a variety of sauces, but this one ranks at the top for us.
Huy Fong Sambal Oelek
Sambal, and Indonesian chili sauce or paste, is a staple in cuisines all over Southeast Asia. Made from a variety of peppers (as well as other ingredients), you’re likely to find some kind of sambal just about everywhere. Sambal Oelek is one type of sambal, which uses raw chilis that are ground into a paste (ulek is the word for the crushing and twisting motion used). If the Huy Fong logo looks familiar, it’s because they also produce Sriracha (though our money is on sambal any day of the week).
Secret Aardvark Habanero Sauce
Taking the title of “Coolest Hot Sauce Name,” Secret Aardvark is more than just a cool-sounding name. Blending Tex-Mex and Caribbean flavors, Secret Aardvark’s sauce highlights the heat of habanero peppers by using the sweet and smoky flavor of roasted tomatoes. This sauce works better as a marinade to us, because we love when the flavor is allowed time to penetrate a cut of meat.