Our Editors Tasted the Most Popular Store-Bought Hot Sauces ⁠— These Were the Best

Our editors tasted nine hot sauce brands to find out which is best for wings, Bloody Marys, and more.

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The Best Hot Sauces

Matt Taylor-Gross

Chances are, you have a bottle or two of hot sauce in your refrigerator. If you don’t, consider yourself put on notice. That little bottle of fermented chilies packs a big punch. We all know that hot sauce is great to serve alongside any kind of eggs, on bean and cheese tostadas, on sandwiches, and with avocado toast, but there are many more ways this versatile condiment can add a little extra zing to your cooking and eating.

First, you should understand that there’s more to hot sauce than just heat and vinegar, and the flavor profile of the hot sauce you are using will come through in your cooking. Tangy, vinegar-forward hot sauces are a wonderful way to brighten and warm up a soup or stew. Sauces with a fruity, sweeter profile can bring balance to deeply savory dishes or add depth to a salad dressing. You may even choose a fruit-forward sauce to pair with a chocolate dessert. With all the hot sauces out there, we encourage you to experiment and try different flavor profiles that will broaden how you cook.

There are thousands of variations of hot sauce in the marketplace. To help get you started on your hot sauce journey, our editors performed a masked taste test of nine brands found at most grocery stores. Hot sauce taste testing is not for the faint of heart (or palate); we sampled these sauces along with a big stack of quesadillas. The hot sauce was poured into numbered containers and the testers rated them and gave comments. Here’s what we decided: 

Best for Buffalo Wings: Frank's RedHot Sauce

When it comes to Buffalo Wings, you cannot beat the original. The wing is famous for a reason and that reason is Frank’s RedHot Sauce. It’s bright, tangy, and — aside from wings — will go great with just about anything that needs a bright lift.

Even our testers could not be fooled by the masked test. Their palates let them know immediately that they were tasting the Buffalo wing classic. One tester called this sauce, “a classic,” adding, “you can’t go wrong with this for chicken, sandwiches — buffalo forever”.

To buy: $3.26 at Amazon or Walmart

Best All-Purpose Hot Sauce: It’s a Tie!

We had a tie when it came to the best. Each of the next 3 hot sauces seemed to have a distinct flavor profile that pulled on the preferences of the individual testers. The reviews were mixed but mostly favorable and had around the same number of points. What I learned from this part of the test, is that it really depends on the palate of the tester. There are no wrong answers.


Tang flavors do not appeal to every palate and sometimes you just need something a bit sweet to balance out your food. For those looking for a fruit-forward flavor profile, reach for Cholula. One commenter said, “Fruity heat, nicely sweet but not cloying. Building but pleasant tingly heat. Would eat scrambled eggs, tacos…anything!” 

To buy: $4.29 at Amazon, Thrive Market, or Target


For those looking for a roasted flavor profile that is not too fruity, hot, or spicy, Tapatio is for you. It plays well as an all-purpose, anytime hot sauce. 

One tester remarked, “This had a nice depth to it that made it almost seem roasted, it’s definitely less about the spice and more about the flavor and would probably be a good complement to mains as opposed to a lot of the others, which I envision more with snacks.”

To buy: $2.98 at Amazon, Target, or Walmart


If you are looking for a chili-forward flavor profile that is not too sweet or tangy, medium in heat, and well-balanced with depth, check out Melinda’s. One commenter recalled, “Lightly smoky, with a nice vegetal dried chili flavor, with some raisin-y notes coming through.” 

To buy: $9.99 at Amazon

Best for Bloody Marys: Old Bay Hot Sauce

This sauce is for the celery lovers out there. Old Bay Hot Sauce has a zap of celery seed that intrigued our celery-loving testers. While that flavor wasn’t for everybody, some editors mentioned that this would be a great sauce to liven up a Bloody Mary or Shrimp Boil. One commented: “This feels like it has a large blast of celery right up front, but luckily, I really love celery! I'm imagining a Bloody Mary situation.”

To buy: $4.19 at Amazon, Target, or Walmart

Best Overall: Texas Pete

The hot sauce brand with the most favorable reviews across the board is Texas Pete, which actually happens to be from the great state of North Carolina. This hot sauce received no negative reviews and garnered many positive comments about the overall flavor and versatility of the sauce. One editor noted, “This sauce had the best flavor and almost tasted fresh even though it’s very clearly not. I think it’s a good standard hot sauce that would go well with most things, perfect in a pinch or when you want to add some kick to a dish.” Another editor added, “There's a great overall dimensionality to this sauce. Starts with a light sting that gives way to a pleasant sweetness. I’m feeling this for breakfast foods.” 

To buy: $1.99 at Amazon or Target

Honorable Mention: Zatarain’s Cajun Hot Sauce

While it didn’t win our best overall category for the most favorable reviews, Zatarain’s Cajun Hot Sauce had the most 5-star reviews of all the submissions. Our testers had some really nice things to say about this brand. One commenter thought that it would be a good substitute for Buffalo wings, noting that it might be better than Frank’s RedHot, “I think this one might actually be better; it just seems to have more of a depth to it that makes it taste a little bit more premium.” Another editor gave it accolades as a great anytime sauce, noting, “This is a little black dress. Hits all of the buttons: tangy, sweet, salty. I'd pair this with just about anything.” 

To buy: $14.95 at Walmart or Amazon

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