McIlhenny Company

We tried them all so you don’t have to.

Max Bonem
July 27, 2017

These are very spicy times we live in, thanks in part to the vast selection of hot sauce available at just about every grocery store, market and bodega in the country. While the options for hot sauce have never been more varied, Tabasco is one brand that has been spicing up our foods for over 150 years.

These days, though, Tabasco has moved way beyond their original flavor and they now offer 12 different hot sauces, with two new flavors added just recently. We decided to subject our tongues to a hot sauce gauntlet and try all 12 so we could decide once and for all which Tabasco flavor reigns supreme. Here are Tabasco’s 12 hot sauces ranked.

12. Raspberry Chipotle

This is a case of math gone wrong. One would think that since both of these flavors are great by themselves that they would work together. Unfortunately, the raspberry chipotle combination ends up in that netherworld of not being sweet or hot enough for our taste.

11.  Scorpion

For those only seeking the extreme burn that hot sauce is capable of, Tabasco’s new Scorpion flavor is for you. This sauce is blindingly hot and even just a few drops will send you searching for a glass of milk and a prayer.

10. Sriracha

We all love Sriracha, but Tabasco’s take on this southeast Asian staple was just a little too sweet and it lacks the depth of flavor found in similar sauces. Just like we’d be dubious of Huy Fong Foods making a Louisiana-style hot sauce, Tabasco's Sriracha seems like a stretch.

9. Buffalo

In a pinch, Tabasco’s Buffalo sauce could be used to sauce up a dozen wings. However, its surprising heat left us panting a little more than we expected. Mixing it with butter might be the best route rather than using it by itself the next time you’re getting your wings on.

8. Habanero

If it wasn’t for the Scorpion sauce, Habanero would have been deemed the hottest of the dozen. Instead, this sauce was almost timid in comparison. It has a nice pepperiness and is still fairly hot, but lacks the in-your-face heat that we’ve come to expect from Habanero sauces.

7. Green Pepper

Ah yes, Green Pepper Tabasco, the sauce that was always readily available at Chipotle. It stands out more for its color than it's flavor, which is fine, but not particularly exciting.

6. Sweet and Spicy

Tabasco’ Sweet and Spicy seems, in some ways, like a response to the Raspberry Chipotle flavor—Tabasco took the best parts of that experiment and distilled it into a new sauce. A little bit of kick and a little sweetness, Sweet and Spicy is a great gateway hot sauce for heat-seeking newbs.

5. Roasted Pepper

Tabasco’s other new flavor, Roasted Pepper, is as close to a proper barbecue sauce as Tabasco veers. It’s thicker than other hot sauces and has a rich, sweet and smoky flavor to it. The Roasted Pepper would be especially good for a grill marinade or to toss wings with (sorry, Buffalo Tabasco).

4. Original

Sometimes, you just want your favorite band to play the hits. That's the case with Tabasco Original. It’s reliable, as expected and, as one of Food & Wine staffer put it, “it’s old faithful and should be in everyone’s kitchen.” We couldn’t agree more.

3. Family Reserve

Tabasco Family Reserve is the “small batch whiskey” version of Tabasco. It’s smoother and more mellow than the original, while still possessing a hit of heat on the backend. This might not be your new everyday hot sauce, but just like with a vintage Scotch, Family Reserve is great for special occasions and celebrations.

2. Garlic Pepper

Do you love garlic? Not like garlic, but seriously, do you love it? If that’s the case, then Tabasco’s Garlic Pepper is for you. While there is, of course, a peppery component to the sauce as well, this is in-your-face garlic madness that actually adds a nice savory component that's missing from some of the sweeter and more vinegary hot sauces. 

1. Chipotle

There was once a prophecy of a hot sauce that would come to rule the world. It went something like this:

One sauce to rule them all, one sauce to find them,
One sauce to bring them all and in the hotness bind them,
In the Land of Avery Island where the peppers lie. 

Tabasco’s Chipotle flavor is the sauce of power, the one sauce that truly does rule them all. It’s smoky, sweet, full-bodied and provides enough flavor that even the heat heads can appreciate it. During our taste test it was called, “the champ,” defined as “the absolute best,” and described simply as, “damn.” In the end, there is only Chipotle sauce and we are all witnesses to its greatness.