The Best & Worst Hot Sauces—Ranked!
If you like to carry around your own bottle of hot sauce in your bag when you dine out, there's no judgment here. Hey, some like it hot! Plus, this condiment is a proven way to speed up metabolism. They say variety is the spice of life, but when it comes to hot sauce, this isn't necessarily true. Certain brands are much more dedicated to bringing you a kick without kicking nutrition to the curb.
Hot sauce is a weird one because the health differences do not come in the form of calories or carbs; instead, it is all about sodium content and the ingredient list that so often gets overlooked. When we're dealing with packaged foods like hot sauce, we know we're going to find a bunch of artificial ingredients we don't recognize.
There's good news, though: Some brands manage to rise above and bring you natural, blazing spicy flavor. So, if you have the hots for these fiery sauces, we're turning up the heat on your favorite brands. Read on to find out which ones will scorch your taste buds without derailing your health goals. And for more, don't miss these 21 Best Healthy Cooking Hacks of All Time!
How we ranked them
When you look at the nutrition label on any hot sauce, you're bound to find 0s everywhere. 0 calories, 0 carbs, 0 fiber. You get the picture. Hot sauce is (hopefully) made with a few, simple, low-calorie ingredients that have a negligible impact on the nutrition facts at such a low serving size (1 teaspoon).
However, as we said, there are two red flags that do make an appearance on the label: sodium and artificial ingredients. We ranked the best and worst supermarket hot sauces based on these two factors.
Still, it's important to keep in mind that this article comes from a zoomed-in standpoint. Theoretically, you're not eating hot sauce in massive quantities at any given meal. In moderation, the bad brands won't kill you! But the whole Eat This, Not That! lifestyle is about making small, easy swaps for overall good health.
Think about it: If you eat a certain hot sauce that is high in sodium and additives every day, over time you may see some adverse effects. Conversely, if you swap out that hot sauce for one of our faves, you avoid these negatives. It's as easy as that—just like steering clear of these unhealthiest foods on the planet.
The worst hot sauces at the store
El Yucateco Red Habanero Hot Sauce
Sodium: 90 mg
Ingredients: water, habanero pepper, tomato, salt, spices, acetic acid, xanthan gum, citric acid, colored with fruit juice, sodium benzoate
We appreciate El Yucateco's low sodium count, but we're not huge fans of the ingredient list. Xanthan gum, which is also found in oat milk, is a stabilizer that could cause bloating. But if you're hot and heavy for El Yucateco and can't resist its savory spice, pair it with one of these healthy chicken recipes to at least get some nutrition and belly-filling protein.
Sodium: 92 mg
Ingredients: vinegar, aged peppers (peppers, salt, vinegar), water, xanthan gum, and benzoate of soda
Texas Pete is one of the most popular hot sauces in the United States, and we're not happy about it. Texas Pete is just fraud all around. Harsh, we know. But this hot sauce doesn't even come from Texas! What's more? This North Carolina-born condiment contains artificial ingredients. Add on a 92-milligram sodium count, and this is one not-so-awesome sauce.
Sodium: 110 mg
Ingredients: water, red peppers, salt, spices, garlic, acetic acid, xanthan gum, sodium benzoate
If you've been paying attention, you probably know what's coming. We're slowly creeping up the sodium-additive scale, and Tapatío takes it to the next level. Feel free to drop Tapatío like it's hot. Each serving contains 110 milligrams of sodium; there are much better options out there.
Sodium: 115 mg
Ingredients: distilled vinegar (vinegar and water), red peppers, salt, guar gum, xanthan gum, ascorbic acid, red #40
Trappey's is part of Louisiana's rich hot sauce history, but it sure doesn't make the Southern state proud. In fact, Trappey's is kind of a hot mess. This sauce is high in sodium and additives like the other sauces, but it's much milder. If a hot sauce doesn't even give you something of a kick, what's the point? Feel free to give this condiment the cold shoulder.
Sodium: 125 mg
Ingredients: distilled white vinegar, aged cayenne pepper, aged tabasco pepper, salt, xanthan gum
You may recognize Goya as the brand that sells beans in the canned food aisle. Goya is actually a complete Spanish food brand, selling everything from rice to fruit juice. We think they should probably stick to the beans. (Hat tip to the power food, which is a great source of fiber!) Goya hot sauce, on the other hand, has high sodium and additives. We have no problem saying sayonara to this sauce.
Sodium: 200 mg
Ingredients: aged peppers, vinegar, salt
Louisiana hot sauce is exactly what it sounds like: born and raised in Louisiana and brewed in the traditional style with peppers, vinegar, and salt. Their slogan is "not too hot, not too mild," but we think they should add "way too salty." This hot sauce rings in at 200 milligrams of sodium, the highest sodium count of all the condiments on this list. Because increased salt intake increases blood pressure and increases your risk of heart disease, we just can't condone this condiment. However, it does have one redeeming factor: Louisiana was the first bottled hot sauce to be sold commercially. Without it, we might not have the hot sauces we know and love today.
Huy Fong Sriracha
Sodium: 80 mg
Ingredients: chili, sugar, salt, garlic, distilled vinegar, potassium sorbate, sodium bisulfate, xanthan gum
Ahh, it's finally here. But we bet it's not where you expected it to be. We know we're breaking hearts across the nation by ranking Sriracha the #3 worst hot sauce for your health, but this foodie favorite has some not-so-favorable ingredients. This is the only hot sauce on our list that has a sugar content and a calorie count. Simple carbs like refined sugars spike your blood sugar, ultimately causing you to store the extra sugar as fat. Hey, we love Sriracha—and Sriracha-flavored everything—as much as the next person, but this is definitely one to eat in moderation.
La Victoria Salsa Brava
Sodium: 60 mg
Ingredients: water, tomato paste, red jalapeño peppers, onions, modified food starch, salt, distilled vinegar, spices, citric acid, garlic, sodium benzoate
We're not fans of the modified food starch found in the recipe. With so many other hot sauces on the shelf, there's no reason to splash processed carbs on your food. Leave behind the La Victoria!
The #1 worst hot sauce is…Taco Bell
Sodium: 30 mg
Ingredients: water, tomato purée, vinegar, jalapeño peppers, salt, chili pepper, dried onions, spices, xanthan gum, sodium benzoate, potassium chloride, maltodextrin, yeast extract, datem, natural flavor
You might be wondering how a hot sauce with just 30 milligrams of sodium ended up at #1. Well, just check out that ingredient list. It looks like a novel written in a foreign language. But trust us—that's not Spanish. The only thing those ingredients can be translated to is health consequences. We're not really surprised, though, because Taco Bell is notorious for selling fattening foods that are rife with additives. There is nothing real about this sauce, so we are pleading with you to feel the burn from somewhere else and kick this condiment to the curb.
The good hot sauces, ranked from better to best
Dave's Insanity Sauce
Sodium: 55 mg
Ingredients: hot peppers, tomato paste, hot pepper extract, salt, cane vinegar, onions, xanthan gum, garlic, citric acid, spices
Dave's Gourmet is known for creating a hot sauce that is too hot to handle. Dave invented his hot sauce to mess with drunk patrons who entered his Maryland burrito joint at late night hours. However, his plan backfired, and people instead came in droves to try the sauce that made their eyes tear up and their taste buds tingle. We love this story and the hot sauce's low sodium count. Still, this hot sauce does contain xanthan gum and citric acid, an additive linked to stomach pain, nausea, and vomiting. That's why it's ranked as what is essentially the worst of the best.
Sodium: 110 mg
Ingredients: water, peppers (arbol & piquin), salt, vinegar, garlic powder, spices, xanthan gum
You probably recognize this one from your weekly trip to Chipotle. Cholula offers a distinctly Mexican flavor that spices up your dish in a unique way. We're big fans of its (relatively) low sodium count but could do without the artificial xanthan gum.
Sodium: 135 mg
Ingredients: aged red cayenne peppers, distilled vinegar, salt
Cuisines around the world have been using chili peppers to spice up their foods for centuries. In America, hot sauce didn't get its start until the 1800s, when Louisiana started churning out hot sauce brands left and right. Crystal was one of the originals, and we like how they've stayed true to their roots since day one by using simple, wholesome ingredients like cayenne pepper, distilled vinegar, and salt—that's it! However, again, we're just a little salty about the sodium content.
Sodium: 190 mg
Ingredients: aged cayenne red peppers, vinegar, water, salt, garlic powder
You have Frank to thank for buffalo wings. Seriously. In 1964, buffalo wing sauce was concocted in Buffalo, New York, with Frank's RedHot sauce as the main ingredient. With all-natural ingredients, we'd fully endorse Frank's if it weren't for the 190 milligrams of sodium. Ignoring sodium content is on our list of things making you fat, so this is one hot sauce we're not quite ready to take under our wing.
Sodium: 64 mg
Ingredients: water, chili peppers, vinegar, salt, spices, sodium benzoate
Valentina Salsa Picante is on the right track. This product comes straight from Mexico, offering you a low-sodium, authentic spice. They are so close to getting a gold star from us—if only they didn't use sodium benzoate, a preservative that can be converted to benzene, a known carcinogen. Now, we know you're probably not dumping an entire bottle of hot sauce on your food (or maybe you are!), but why not get the same kick, risk-free?
Sodium: 25 mg
Ingredients: tomato purée (tomato paste, water), jalapeño, butternut squash, carrots, garlic powder, distilled vinegar, onion powder, spinach, salt, cayenne pepper
If you're a Sriracha lover, you're probably in denial about the ingredients on the bottle. Sodium, artificial ingredients, and sugar? How can something that tastes so good, be so bad? Thankfully, Veracha offers the same sweet and spicy flavor as Sriracha, minus the artificial ingredients. This hot sauce comes from a company called True Made Food that we're absolutely obsessed with. They put healthy, all-natural twists on all your favorite sauces from ketchup to BBQ sauce. This recipe eliminates artificial ingredients and actually adds in nutritional powerhouses like squash, carrots, and spinach. So, not only is your metabolism revving, but you're filling up on quality calories that will help you feel fuller and lose weight in the long run.
Grace Hot Pepper Sauce
Sodium: 80 mg
Ingredients: peppers (capsicum), water, vinegar, salt
Grace hot sauce comes from Jamaica to give you some island flavor that's hard to resist. With just 80 milligrams of sodium and no artificial ingredients, this is one red hot chili pepper we're all about. The ingredient list is short and sweet—well, spicy—which is exactly what a hot sauce ingredient list should be! Pair it with a savory quinoa bowl for the ultimate fat-torching meal.
Sodium: 35 mg
Ingredients: distilled vinegar, red pepper, salt
Tabasco is America's pride and joy of hot sauce. It's difficult to find a restaurant that doesn't have Tabasco on the table or a Bloody Mary recipe that doesn't call for a dash or two. Tabasco has a distinct vinegary flavor—probably because that's the first ingredient on the list and probably because it's one of just three ingredients. As with the Grace hot pepper sauce, we like the simple, wholesome ingredients. But Tabasco edges Grace out by an inch because it only has 35 milligrams of sodium.
The #1 best hot sauce is…Melinda's Original Habanero Hot Sauce
Sodium: 80 mg
Ingredients: habanero pepper mash (water, habanero pepper), carrots, onion, lime juice, vinegar, salt, garlic, citric acid, xanthan gum
Low sodium? No artificial ingredients? Added superfoods? No wonder Melinda's is our No. 1 choice for supermarket hot sauce. Melinda's is made with fresh carrots, a vegetable that improves vision, boosts immunity, improves skin health, reduces cholesterol, and more. Plus, those carrots are paired with garlic (a natural metabolism booster) and lime (a natural body detoxifier). If you can't tell already, we are all hot and bothered by this hot sauce!
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