There's little in the world of savory edible delights that I won't ruin by smothering hot sauce all over it. I've preferred a spicy pepper smear for my fried foods over regular tomato ketchup for as long as I can remember. Recent viral sensations like ghost chili challenges or the Hot Ones YouTube show have brought small-batch handcrafted hot sauces to the forefront of social media over the years and I was not immune to infection. I was gifted with a Hot Ones subscription to their monthly box of sauces a couple Christmases ago and I finally cancelled it after collecting over 30 bottles of various sauces. Let's take a look at some of the standout favorites that took my tastebuds for a ride.
Last Dab Chili de Arbol Edition - Hot Ones by Heatonist
This sauce was part of a flip-flop box that had a bottle of Hot Ones' "The Classic" made with their spiciest pepper ever, Pepper X, and a bottle of "The Last Dab" made with relatively painless chili de arbol. "The Classic" is usually the first sauce in their YouTube show line-up and "The Last Dab" is typically the final challenge. Usually the Last Dab is extremely painful to ingest but the flavor profile is actually quite excellent. This version takes that same flavor profile and brings the heat down to a level that anyone could enjoy. That Pepper X version of "The Classic"? Yeah, it's only for the most die-hard of spice heads.
Scotch Bonnet Mustard Hot Sauce - Double Take Salsa Co.
Finally, a hot sauce for hot dogs! This sauce was extremely yellow when the bottle was full, but it was so delicious, it emptied quickly. Double Take Salsa Co. eschews the typical tomato or pepper base for this sauce and opts for deli mustard instead and the resulting sauce is wonderful. This was used on quite a few bratwurst and burgers, with the scotch bonnet peppers providing a healthy kick to the senses. This was one of the first sauces that we depleted and have yet to restock. This sauce is all about flavor first and heat second, just like the label states.
Shaquanda's Spicier Smoke - Shaquanda Will Feed You
This sauce from Brooklyn, NY by way of Barbados has a flavor profile that is so tough to explain but also so tough to stop using on everything! It has almost a dill pickle kind of flavor but the main ingredient is a roasted red pepper combination that adds a unique twist. Combined with mustard powder, turmeric, and smoked paprika; this sauce was one of my favorites to drench naked crispy chicken wings. It has a slow pour and a fascinating taste, two attributes that give any sauce my attention.
Lucky Dog Black Label Special Reserve - Lucky Dog Hot Sauce
This hot sauce was created exclusively for Heatonist to use in its subscription box and I'm glad I was a subscriber when it went out. This sauce has a beautiful bouquet of flavors including apple, fig, lime, and a hint of garlic. It uses mostly jalapeno and scorpion peppers but there's just a dash of ghost chili powder to really kick it up a notch. This is one of those put-it-on-everything sauces, especially good on eggs or pizza. This one might be a little spicy for the most casual of spice heads, but any experienced hot sauce lover would be right at home with this bottle.
Birdseye Charred Chive Dulse - Marshall's Haute Sauce
Another exclusive sauce, this was made for Heatonist's fifth anniversary. Hailing from Portland, Oregon, this sauce screams hipster and I loved every drop. Birdseye peppers and dulse seaweed aren't the most common basis for a hot sauce but they do some work here. The extensive list of ingredients has seemingly something for everyone; white miso, pineapple, roasted garlic, coriander seed, ginger, and black sesame are just a few that caught my eye. This sauce has the perfect flavor profile for pairing with Asian cuisines but I put a lot of it on hot wings.
Tamaulipeka Sweet Tamarind & Smoky Chile Hot Sauce - Cantina Royal
This is the only bottle pictured with sauce still in it because I recently bought three replacements for the empty that I had saved. This sauce is that good. The only hot sauce more complex than the hipster sauce from Marshall's, Tamaulipeka has a sweet, spicy, and slightly smoky flavor that accents chicken, pork, or fish in just the right way. The corn oil base and tamarind concentrate make this sauce an undeniable Mexican food pairing but I enjoy it on just about everything else. It might just be the best hot sauce I've ever had and I despise tamarind by itself. The fruit does nothing for me, and I especially dislike tamarind candy, but this hot sauce gets prime placement in my refrigerator door.
What are your favorite hot sauces? For mass market stuff, Frank's Red Hot and Texas Pete have always been a go-to for me. What sauce do you use everyday? Post your picks in the comments, let's get spicy!