From Smoky to Scorching: Our Food Editors Share Their Favorite Hot Sauces
Plus how we use them.
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Hot sauces are catching fire, from crowded caddies in restaurants to shops that stock hundreds of them. They all contain peppers and salt, but different chiles and spices yield a range of flavors—and flame ratings. Our food editors share their smoky-to-scorching favorites.
Simple and Versatile
Food and entertaining director Sarah Carey is a fan of Huy Fong Sambal Oelek, ($3 for 18 oz., target.com), a chili paste. "I spoon it over eggs, roasted vegetables, and the classic—dumplings," she says.
Earthy and Tangy
While she loves all the hot sauces here, Senior food editor Lauryn Tyrell picks Poor Devil Pepper Co. Mountain Mama ($7 for 5 oz., poordevilpepperco.com) as her favorite hot sauce: "It's lacto-fermented, meaning there is no addition of vinegar. All the delicious tang is produced naturally by letting the peppers and salt hang out and ferment (like pickles), which preserves a lot of the nutrients and makes it probiotic," she says. "We have it on breakfast tacos or rice bowls, usually with garlicky sautéed greens, cooked beans, and whatever else is in the fridge. No matter how humble the dish, the hot sauce perks it up and makes everyone more excited about eating it."
Classic and Caliente
Assistant food editor Riley Wofford revs up meals with Cholula Original ($4 for 5 oz., target.com). "Cholula was pretty much the end all be all when I was growing up. I remember it just kind of sitting on our dining table at all times." She'll pour half a bottle into a pot of chili for a vinegary kick that doesn't overpower. "We ate a lot of Tex Mex (growing up in Texas) so we would put it on pretty much everything—enchiladas, eggs, beans, quesadillas, everything!"
Bold and Blazing
"I've liked spicy food from a young age and always been drawn to chile peppers in particular for their complex flavor," says deputy food editor Greg Lofts. At home he has collection of hot sauces, ranging from mild and vinegary to bold and smoky to fiery hot habanero, but El Yucateco Chile Habanero ($2 for 8 oz., target.com) is his got-to. "It's delicious on pasta in place of red-pepper flakes, in a grilled-cheese sandwich, or stirred into chicken soup."
Peppery and Mild
"I grew up in a household with absolutely zero heat, so I'm pretty sensitive to it," says food editor at large Shira Bocar. She likes the subtlety of Heartbeat Jalapeño ($12 for 6 oz., heartbeathotsauce.com). "It's mild and full bodied—almost creamy. Great flavor. And I don't break into a sweat or get a runny nose! The drizzle has lime, cilantro, and garlic—a dream match for rice and beans, rotisserie chicken, corn, or our Vegetarian Gumbo."
Bonus: Martha's Pick
Our founder likes Truff hot sauce ($18 for 6 oz., truffhotsauce.com), a red-chile-pepper base infused with black truffle, agave nectar, and cumin.