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The Ultimate Hot Sauce Guide

It’s time to turn up the heat! Hot sauce, also known as chilli sauce or pepper sauce, is a condiment based on one key ingredient – chilli. It can elevate your Mexican dishes (or in fact any cuisine) to a lip-tingling new level, or be used as a condiment to add a fiery kick to everything from your tacos to avocado on toast!  

But firstly before you start shaking the fire out of the bottle - know your limits – be realistic on how much heat you can handle. Check out our chilli peppers 101 blog which gives you the low down on each type of chilli on the Scoville Scale, so you know what you’re dealing with.

For all you heat seekers who want to spice things up in the kitchen, it can be confusing with so many different varieties and regional variations available. So, let’s help you with our ultimate guide.

Louisiana-Style - most commonly known as Tabasco or Red Hot, can be used either as a condiment or a cooking ingredient. It’s essentially made of three components - chilli peppers, vinegar and salt – and its versatility and relative mildness for a hot sauce makes it a great 'starter' sauce!

Where to use it:

  • meat marinades
  • mixed into dips
  • a sauce base for stir-frys, noodle bowls
  • sprinkled over eggs, pizza, tacos and burgers
  • Buffalo wings

Picante – these Mexican and South American style hot sauces are smooth salsa-like consistency using little to no vinegar. They’re typically made from a combination of chipotle, habanero, jalapeno and pequin chillies. Valentina and El Yucateco are two popular Picante hot sauces you will find in grocery markets.

Where to use it:

  • soups and stews
  • taco dip (or just plain tacos)
  • Spanish rice
  • drizzle over eggs, potatoes or roasted veggies

Sriracha
This Asian style of hot sauce is a thick sauce consisting of chillis, vinegar and ingredients such as lemongrass and sugar. It's very versatile in spicing up your dishes.

Where to use it:

  • mixed into rice or noodle dishes
  • glaze for wings
  • soup
  • drizzled over dishes such as mac and cheese to omelettes
  • mixed with mayo it makes a delicious spread on sandwiches or dip for French fries

Chili Garlic Sauce:
This is like siracha in flavour but with a slightly chunkier texture. It has visible pepper seeds, is marginally spicier and gives a great punch of garlic. It typically contains hot red chilli peppers, garlic, white vinegar and a pinch of salt. Although a great condiment, chilli garlic sauce is best used in cooking.

Where to use it:

  • mixed into dips
  • stirred into soups or stir-frys and other Asian inspired dishes
  • tuna sandwiches!

Harissa:
Originating in the Middle East and Northern Africa, this hot sauce contains ingredients such as coriander, cardamom, cumin, caraway, garlic and cherries, as well as the staple chilis and vinegar. It's a thick paste that you'll find in a jar or canned.  

Where to use it:

  • stirred into plain hummus
  • spicy dip for fries (when mixed with ketchup)
  • stews
  • spicy pizza sauce!

Red/Green Chili Sauce:
Like Picante style hot sauce, this popular red/green chilli sauce from New Mexico is made using a variety of peppers (Hatch, Pueblo, or Rio Grande, typically), plus onion, garlic, cumin, chicken stock and sometimes a little flour to thicken. Red sauces are generally sweeter because the peppers are allowed to ripen longer on the vine. 

Where to use it:

  • enchiladas and burritos
  • huevos rancheros
  • eggs
  • potatoes
  • tamales

Chili Oil
This Asian hot sauce is a staple at any Chinese restaurant. Consisting of ground dried chillies, ground Sichuan peppercorns, and spices like garlic, star anise and paprika soaked in vegetable or sesame oil, it has an incredible kick. This dark red, flecked oil is commonly used in spicy Sichuan cuisine.

Where to use it:

  • sauce in stir-fries
  • condiment for dumplings and noodles
  • spicy dishes from pho and ramen
  • tasty meats and seafood

Gochujang
This thick, sticky paste used in Korean cooking, has a unique sweet, spicy and a fermented flavour that is very concentrated. This is due to its combination of red chilli powder, sticky rice, fermented soybean powder, malt barley powder and salt.

Where to use it:

  • meat marinade (especially in traditional Korean bibimbap)
  • sauces for noodles
  • stirred into soups and stews

Caribbean
With popular native chillis including the Scotch Bonnet and the Trinidad Scorpion peppers, there are also many flavourful Caribbean-style hot sauces. Combining these chillis with fruits, green onions, cilantro, and other vegetables create thick and fiery hot sauces.

Where to use it:

  • chicken
  • pork tacos
  • fish

With so many delicious and flavourful hot sauces available, it’s all about what fires-up your taste buds. Try lots of different varieties and see what you enjoy - and doesn’t give you too much pain! Check out our range of hot sauces at La Mexicana and turn up the heat in your kitchen!

The Ultimate Hot Sauce Guide