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Is Tabasco's New Sriracha Any Good?

May 29, 2014

Photo credit: Tabasco

Huy Fong Foods, which produces the iconic sriracha hot sauce emblazoned with a strutting rooster, can breathe a sigh of relief. The local city council, which had been collecting complaints about unseemly odors emanating from the company’s Irwindale, California factory, has officially dropped its public-nuisance order and lawsuit against it.

But Huy Fong Foods may have another headache on the horizon: Tabasco’s new sriracha, which the company quietly launched earlier this year. Sriracha hails from Thailand, and although it tends to feature a slightly different recipe stateside, the name typically refers to a sauce containing “chilies which are ground into a paste before being preserved in vinegar, salt, and garlic.” So Huy Fong Foods doesn’t own the name “sriracha.” 

We snagged a bottle of the saucy new contender to see if Huy Fong has anything to be worried about.

At first glance, Tabasco’s version is much smoother and more viscous than Huy Fong’s. Tiny flecks of pulverized chili peppers are visible in Huy Fong’s vibrantly red sauce, whereas Tabasco’s sriracha is a homogeneous, rust-colored red purée that could easily be confused for barbecue sauce.

But taste is where it counts, and taste-wise, Huy Fong’s sriracha blows Tabasco’s out of the water. The Huy Fong sauce has a more balanced flavor—sweet with a slight acidic tang, with a spiciness that intensifies on the finish. Tabasco’s version is much heavier on the vinegar (not surprising for Tabasco), and its heat is all up front.

The nail in the coffin: Tabasco’s stuff is twice as expensive as Huy Fong’s,  at $4.99 for a 15-ounce bottle.

That said, Tabasco’s sriracha would work in a pinch. Because any hot sauce is better than no hot sauce.