The 18 Best Hot Sauces for Wings, Tacos and Everything in Between

·15 min read

Of all the food trends of 2021—from jarcuterie to boozy kombucha—Americans’ insatiable thirst for all things spicy is perhaps the most apparent. According to Pinterest Predicts, the site’s annual trend forecast, spicy is the new umami, and those who can take the heat have been getting their fix with jalapeño pepper jelly, hot honey and, of course, hot sauce. It’s a condiment as crucial to the pantry as ketchup nowadays, so we took the liberty of sampling a *ton* from brands big and small to narrow down the best hot sauces out there.

To find them, we (and our spice-loving staff) rated them by value, aesthetics and packaging, quality and ingredients, flavor and heat (as in the quality of the heat and how it complements the sauce’s flavor—not how hot it is). Read on for our favorites for wings, tacos and beyond.

RELATED: The 15 Best BBQ Sauces You Can Buy at the Grocery Store

Our Picks for the Best Hot Sauce at a Glance:

Scroll down for in-depth reviews of each.

1. 718 Heat Factory Sweet Heat

Best mild

  • Value: 18/20

  • Aesthetics and Packaging: 18/20

  • Quality and Ingredients: 20/20

  • Flavor: 17/20

  • Heat: 16/20

TOTAL: 89/100

718 exclusively uses fresh, natural ingredients that are rich in nutrients and antioxidants and free of artificial preservatives and additives. Its base boasts apple cider and distilled vinegars and spicy habanero peppers. Pineapple cuts through the dry, vinegary heat and shines brightest with its tropical acidity. Mango offers just the right dose of sweetness to the bottle, so the final product is impeccably balanced and palatable. It tastes good on everything from eggs and pizza to tofu and veggies, and it’s prime for pairing with Asian, Latin and Caribbean dishes. Backend engineer Christina Chiu loves adding a few dashes of Sweet Heat to pho, as well as 718’s Herbal Alchemy hot sauce to empanadas.

Buy it ($7)

2. Adoboloco Hawaiian Chili Pepper Water

Best medium

  • Value: 17/20

  • Aesthetics and Packaging: 20/20

  • Quality and Ingredients: 19/20

  • Flavor: 17/20

  • Heat: 18/20

TOTAL: 91/100

The result of a homeschool garden project in Maui, Hawaii, Adoboloco has been slinging hot sauces since 2011. Hawaiian Chili Pepper Water is a traditional Hawaiian condiment that’s used at just about every meal. Food editor Katherine Gillen loves it for its vinegary brightness, floral notes and middle-of-the-road heat: “It’s not so spicy that the flavor is overwhelmed, and you still get a lot of fruity, peppery notes with the kick,” she says. It’s made with nothing but apple cider vinegar, chili peppers, sea salt and garlic, so it’s versatile enough to go on basically any dish you can imagine.

$12 at Amazon

3. Dirty Dick’s Hot Pepper Sauce with a Tropical Twist

Best hot

  • Value: 18/20

  • Aesthetics and Packaging: 20/20

  • Quality and Ingredients: 19/20

  • Flavor: 18/20

  • Heat: 18/20

TOTAL: 93/100

Dirty Dick's award-winning red bottle is bursting with habanero heat, along with freshly ground spices and tropical fruit like mango, pineapple and banana. The produce, brown sugar and tomatoes together create a sticky, caramelized flavor and a thicker consistency that works well with chicken wings, barbecue, Thai food and tacos. Its scent will remind of you of sweet, peppery barbecue sauce, but don’t be fooled: The sinus-clearing heat sneaks up on you.

$9 at Amazon

4. High River Sauces Foo Foo Mama Choo Carolina Reaper Sauce

Best extra hot

  • Value: 18/20

  • Aesthetics and Packaging: 20/20

  • Quality and Ingredients: 18/20

  • Flavor: 17/20

  • Heat: 17/20

TOTAL: 90/100

Made with Smoking Ed’s Carolina Reaper peppers, aka the hottest pepper on the planet, Foo Foo Mama Choo is not for the faint of heart. While its heat is tamed by fresh ginger and roasted red peppers, it’s still positively scorching. Expect your throat to dry and your mouth to salivate after just a drop or two. The heat distracts a bit from the flavor, but not the smoky, acidic, slightly sweet aroma. The ingredients aren’t as simple as some others on the list, boasting brown sugar, garlic, soy sauce, ginger root, tomato juice and fire-roasted tomatoes. But you’ll be grateful for every addition once you give it a taste, trust. Add it to pizza, pasta, eggs or noodle dishes.

$8 at Amazon

5. Crystal Hot Sauce

Best Louisiana-style hot sauce

  • Value: 20/20

  • Aesthetics and Packaging: 19/20

  • Quality and Ingredients: 17/20

  • Flavor: 19/20

  • Heat: 19/20

TOTAL: 94/100

Introducing NOLA in a bottle. Crystal is beloved in Louisiana and beyond for its deep, vinegary flavor and silky consistency. The sauce is made with aged red Cayenne peppers, and Crystal uses every part from the skins to the seeds to achieve a richer texture. With distilled vinegar, salt and xanthan gum (for thickening) as the only other ingredients, the sauce stays impressively low priced for its quality. It has just the right amount of heat that lets the ingredients take centerstage. Combine it with melted butter to create hot wing sauce, shake it onto boiled crawfish, mix it into crab dip or gumbo or use it to spice up your go-to mac and cheese recipe. (We’re suckers for the spill-proof spout on the large bottles, BTW.)

$11/32-ounce bottle at Amazon

6. Cholula Jalapeño and Poblano Green Pepper Sauce

Best green hot sauce

  • Value: 19/20

  • Aesthetics and Packaging: 20/20

  • Quality and Ingredients: 17/20

  • Flavor: 19/20

  • Heat: 16/20

TOTAL: 91/100

Bright jalapeños and sweet, vegetal poblanos unite in Cholula’s green pepper sauce for a tangy, robust condiment that we’d honestly sip straight from the bottle. It’s super flavorful with just a teensy bit of heat and sweetness. Dash it onto crispy fish tacos, grilled seafood, burgers, fried chicken, nachos, chilaquiles or beans and rice. You could also use it to up the heat in queso dip, salsa or guacamole. If you prefer your salsa verde on the vinegary side, go for Tabasco’s green pepper variety instead.

$16/three-pack at Amazon

7. Yellowbird Sauce Blue Agave Sriracha

Best sriracha

  • Value: 20/20

  • Aesthetics and Packaging: 20/20

  • Quality and Ingredients: 20/20

  • Flavor: 19/20

  • Heat: 16/20

TOTAL: 95/100

Yellowbird’s Austin-made sauces are crafted from non-GMO ingredients that you’ll be proud to put on your food. Their sriracha uses red jalapeños for heat, organic blue agave nectar for sweetness, organic distilled vinegar, garlic and salt, plus two surprise ingredients that offer a ton of freshness and brightness to the sauce: tangerine juice and lime juice. It’s equal parts acidic and sweet at the front, yet mildly spicy (we wouldn’t mind a little more heat, TBH) and garlicky at the end. Drizzle it over ramen, pizza, fried rice, stir-fries or sandwiches, or mix it into mayo for an all-purpose spicy spread.

$8 at Amazon

8. Karma Sauce Holé Molé

Best mole-style hot sauce

  • Value: 18/20

  • Aesthetics and Packaging: 19/20

  • Quality and Ingredients: 20/20

  • Flavor: 18/20

  • Heat: 18/20

TOTAL: 93/100

For the uninitiated, mole is a traditional Mexican marinade and sauce that can be made in a wide variety of ways. The most famous type stateside is arguably mole poblano, which hails from Puebla and stars mulato peppers, sugar and cocoa (or Mexican chocolate). It’s beloved for its deep flavor and complex sweetness. Holé Molé is an ode to traditional mole poblano that leans on modern ingredients to achieve a uniquely new flavor with a surprisingly intense kick. Habanero, guajillo and ancho chiles are sweetened with panela sugar, blackberry juice, mulberry molasses, plum concentrate and pure chocolate. A mélange of warm spices like cumin, cinnamon, black pepper and cardamom add nuance to the one-of-a-kind condiment. It’s ideal for Mexican dishes like carnitas and huevos rancheros, as well as chicken, eggs, pizza or guacamole. It’s also thick enough to double as a marinade.

Buy it ($9)

9. Nando’s Garlic Peri-Peri

Best peri-peri sauce

  • Value: 17/20

  • Aesthetics and Packaging: 18/20

  • Quality and Ingredients: 18/20

  • Flavor: 19/20

  • Heat: 19/20

TOTAL: 90/100

This flavorful pick packs a garlicky punch, tantalizing tang and medium heat in every drop. Peri-peri (also called piri-piri), or African bird’s eye chili, is a pepper native to Africa. After Portugal colonized territories in Southern Africa, the pepper made its way to Europe and became the star of a popular chicken dish. Nando’s garlic iteration of peri-peri sauce is not only bold and versatile, but free of artificial colors, flavors, preservatives and GMOs. Its white vinegar base is spruced up with lots of onion, garlic, African bird’s eye and serrano chilis, spices and a touch of lemon to curb the heat. It also contains a few stabilizers for texture and storage. Associate SEO editor Stephanie Sengwe has been on the Nando’s wave since childhood. “I was introduced to peri-peri sauce at a young age, so the flavor has just stuck to my palate,” she says. “I usually use [Nando’s] to marinate chicken before roasting or barbecuing, but it’s also great just for dipping if you need that extra oomph!”

$10 at Amazon

10. Truff Hot Sauce

Best flavored hot sauce

  • Value: 16/20

  • Aesthetics and Packaging: 19/20

  • Quality and Ingredients: 19/20

  • Flavor: 17/20

  • Heat: 16/20

TOTAL: 87/100

Pop the bottle open and you’ll be immediately entranced by the refined aroma of earthy, almost chocolatey black winter truffles. Not only do the shrooms make their way into Truff’s signature red chili-garlic blend, but the sauce also gets a dose of black truffle-infused olive oil for good measure. Other ingredients include vinegar, organic sugar and organic agave nectar. It’s nicely balanced, though we wish it was a little less hot so the truffles’ flavor could come through a bit more. But we’d definitely still slather it onto pizza, quesadillas, omelets, shrimp and meat.

$18 at Amazon

11. Marie Sharp’s Pure Mango Habanero Pepper Sauce

Best fruity hot sauce

  • Value: 19/20

  • Aesthetics and Packaging: 19/20

  • Quality and Ingredients: 20/20

  • Flavor: 17/20

  • Heat: 17/20

TOTAL: 92/100

Freshly pulped mango meets sharp fresh garlic, hand-chopped white onion and yellow habanero peppers to create a tropical hot sauce for the books. Fruit vinegar, fresh-squeezed Key lime juice and Belizean sea salt offer it unique, citrusy nuance. Sweet with a slight kick, Marie Sharp’s mango number is prime for seafood, salad dressings, tacos, cheese boards and Latin and Caribbean dishes across the board. We’re also betting it’s a killer addition to shrimp or chicken marinade, as well as salsa or guacamole.

$13/two-pack at Amazon

12. Frank’s RedHot Original Cayenne Pepper Sauce

Best for wings

  • Value: 19/20

  • Aesthetics and Packaging: 20/20

  • Quality and Ingredients: 19/20

  • Flavor: 19/20

  • Heat: 16/20

TOTAL: 93/100

If you’re on the hunt for a versatile, medium heat hot sauce that you can shake onto literally anything, look no further than this blend of aged cayenne peppers, distilled vinegar, salt and garlic powder. Its simple ingredients deliver a clean, sour heat that can complement just about any dish. “Frank’s is my dependable, go-to hot sauce…no matter what time of day it is or what dish I’m eating,” says editorial assistant Stephanie Meraz. “Frank’s has incredibly balanced flavor to heat ratio, where they both have their shining moments and neither one overpowers the other.” Mix it with melted butter for the easiest (and most delicious) Buffalo-style wing sauce of all time.

$11/two-pack at Amazon

13. Valentina Salsa Picante

Best for tacos

  • Value: 20/20

  • Aesthetics and Packaging: 20/20

  • Quality and Ingredients: 17/20

  • Flavor: 18/20

  • Heat: 17/20

TOTAL: 92/100

When you think of big-brand Mexican hot sauces, Tapatío and Cholula are likely the first to come to mind. But we’d argue that Valentina is severely underrated, since it has balanced, vinegary heat and a luxurious, silky texture that enhances everything from tacos to eggs. “What I love most about Valentina is the texture,” says senior editor of branded content Kelsey Paine. “It’s a bit thicker and adds substance to your dish [instead of] just disappearing into the fold. And while it’s not necessarily very spicy, it adds a depth of flavor to whatever you add it to.” Kelsey’s recommendation? Have it on the side of a Mexican lager with lime and chile salt (or better yet, Tajín) for a cheater’s michelada. To save a few cents more, go with Tapatío Salsa Picante.

$10 at Amazon

14. Hoff & Pepper Smoken Ghost Hot Sauce

Best for breakfast

  • Value: 17/20

  • Aesthetics and Packaging: 19/20

  • Quality and Ingredients: 20/20

  • Flavor: 17/20

  • Heat: 18/20

TOTAL: 91/100

Podcast video producer Steve Long takes his hot sauce seriously (we’d expect nothing less from someone who can nosh on Thai chile peppers whole and demolished the phall curry challenge at Brick Lane Curry House in NYC). Of all the bottles in his pantry, Hoff’s Smoken Ghost has become his go-to for breakfast sandwiches, avocado toast—even egg salad. Four types of Tennessee chiles (red jalapeño, habanero, chipotle and ghost pepper) give it a creeping heat and smoky flavor.

$15 at Amazon

15. Queen Majesty Scotch Bonnet and Ginger Hot Sauce

Best for ramen

  • Value: 17/20

  • Aesthetics and Packaging: 19/20

  • Quality and Ingredients: 20/20

  • Flavor: 17/20

  • Heat: 17/20

TOTAL: 90/100

This award-winning sauce possesses all the vibrancy of ginger root and lemon juice, as well as the slow-burning heat of slightly sweet, fruity Scotch bonnet peppers. Sweet onions and extra-virgin olive oil help mellow this Queen Majesty sauce’s spiciness a bit, but its heat never leaves the spotlight. Its aroma is bright and citrusy, while ginger takes over on the tongue. Drizzle it onto soups, rice dishes, noodle dishes, dumplings or vegetables, or add it to a citrusy salad dressing.

$14 at Amazon

16. Shark Bite Mustard

Best for sandwiches

  • Value: 19/20

  • Aesthetics and Packaging: 19/20

  • Quality and Ingredients: 18/20

  • Flavor: 19/20

  • Heat: 17/20

TOTAL: 92/100

If you’ve always considered yourself a mustard person (and ketchup vastly overrated), we’re about to change your condiment shelf forever. Captain Mowatt’s red chile-infused yellow mustard is equal parts zesty, spicy and garlicky. The heat is mild but can’t be ignored; the peppers play off mustard’s natural spice beautifully. “This hybrid brings together the bright, tangy flavors of yellow mustard with traditional hot sauce ingredients like chile peppers and garlic,” says senior social strategy and trends editor Michaela Magliochetti. “I love drizzling it onto veggie sausages and mixing it into chickpea or tuna salad.” Our suggestion? Use it any time you’d reach for standard mustard, like for flavored mayo spreads or aiolis, sandwiches, soft pretzels or hot dogs.

Buy it ($9)

17. Clark + Hopkins Oaxaca Hot Sauce

Best for marinades

  • Value: 19/20

  • Aesthetics and Packaging: 18/20

  • Quality and Ingredients: 20/20

  • Flavor: 18/20

  • Heat: 17/20

TOTAL: 92/100

We love the whole spicy cocoa thing way too much to not feature another mole-inspired hot sauce. A base of apple cider vinegar, three types of fresh peppers (habanero, serrano and chipotle) and dried chiles pairs with tomato, lime juice, mezcal and Mexican chocolate for a smoky condiment loaded with authentic flavor. It’s unexpectedly spicy with notes of cocoa and tomato. Clark + Hopkins Oaxaca is not only beyond flavorful, but also thick enough to double as a marinade for baked chicken or wings. It’s also great for slathering over tacos, tamales, deli meats (especially smoked turkey) and fried chicken sandwiches. Don’t sleep on Clark + Hopkins Assam, either. It boasts strong flavors of ginger, tamarind and mustard seed, making it a great companion for noodle dishes and Indian dishes, like biryani and samosas.

Buy it ($8)

18. Blair’s Original Death Sauce with Chipotle

Best for cocktails

  • Value: 18/20

  • Aesthetics and Packaging: 19/20

  • Quality and Ingredients: 18/20

  • Flavor: 18/20

  • Heat: 17/20

TOTAL: 90/100

Ripe habaneros. Hot cayenne chiles. Sticky chipotle. Zingy Key lime juice. Smashed garlic. Blair’s Original Death Sauce with chipotle is proof that simplicity can be delicious. Cilantro, carrots and tomato paste boost its fruity and herbaceous qualities. It’s free of preservatives and artificial ingredients to boot. “I love it because it’s more flavor-forward than heat, but without the heat, it [wouldn’t be] as flavorful either,” says influencer relationship manager Justin Novello. “I use it to make sauces for hamburgers, hot dogs and dips and on wings. I’d say it isn’t as good for tacos or Mexican food, but solid for bar food and drink mixes.”

Buy it ($10)

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The PureWow100 is a scale our editors use to vet new products and services, so you know what’s worth the spend—and what’s total hype. Learn more about our process here.

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