11 Unexpected Foods That Taste Delicious With Hot Sauce, From Ice Cream to Apples

Maritza Abreu, the founder of Pisqueya, a Latina-owned small-batch hot sauce and spice brand, shares why you need to try this condiment on an array of sweet and savory snacks.

There's a reason why hot sauce is one of our favorite condiments: You can put it on just about anything. You already know that it pairs perfectly with chicken wings, but it makes a great addition to less obvious snacks and foods—both sweet and savory, says Maritza Abreu, the founder of Pisqueya, a Caribbean-inspired hot sauce, adobo seasoning, and barbecue sauce brand. Through her business, Abreu aims to close the gap in the global food market with goods that properly represent Dominican Republic cuisine, as she uses her own family pique recipe and all-natural peppers imported from the country's mountains.

Abreu says that the first step to pairing any unexpected food with hot sauce is to choose the right flavor. "When thinking of lighter dishes and foods like fruit and fish, you want something to bring out the brightness instead of drowning or overpowering it," says Abreu. "In this case, a lighter and high-acidity hot sauce (either citrus- or vinegar-based) would work well, like a green or fruit-based hot sauce."

Watermelon with chili powder and hot sauce
carlosrojas20 / GETTY IMAGES

For richer foods (think cream, cheese, stews, and beans), pair with a hotter, bold, and smoky sauce, as this adds dimension to these dishes. "I love a good, red fermented hot sauce with anything creamy, or cheese and something smoky when it's a dish being cooked, like beans and stews," says Abreu. "If I'm going to be cooking down the hot sauce, I like to look for hot sauce with more flavors and spices that will cook down and bloom in the dish. For this, a spicy jerk sauce is something I love to add."

Before experimenting with food pairings, "pay attention to your heat tolerance and always try the hot sauce before adding it to a dish," says Abreu. Here are some of the unexpected foods she suggests trying (and enjoying!) with hot sauce.

pisqueya smoky hot sauce next to pizza
Courtesy of Pisqueya


Both creamy and cheesy, pizza is the perfect base for hot sauce. "The richness of the cream stands up well to the heat, and the acidity in hot sauce helps balance the sweetness of the tomato sauce," says Abreu. "The spiciness enhances the flavors of the toppings."

Try this: Abreu recommends the hot sauce of your choosing with a meat-lovers pie or a pizza with pickled and roasted vegetables.

Ice Cream

Who said you couldn't have hot sauce for dessert? This condiment can customize classic ice cream flavors. "Try adding an oil or fruit-based hot sauce to plain vanilla-flavored ice cream for a unique flavorful twist to a sweet treat," says Abreu. "Look for a hot sauce with simple ingredients—like a straight chili crunch or fermented sauce—or something that incorporates fruit, like mango habanero." The cold, sweet treat will serve as the perfect contrast to the spicy topping.

Try this: Try classic vanilla if you want to experiment with different hot sauces and ice cream. If you're dairy-free, you can also top mango, pineapple, or coconut sorbet with mango or passion fruit hot sauce, says Abreu.


Create a sweet and spicy food combination with hot sauce and fruit. Abreu loves citrus, like orange and pomelo, in addition to bright fruits, like green mango or green apple.

Try this: There are a variety of pairings that make for a spicy and fruity snack. Consider a signature sweet fruit, like mango. If you want more of a crisp, tart option, consider green apples. And for a refreshing bite, try watermelon with hot sauce.


Move over spicy chips: Hot sauce-coated popcorn is about to become your new favorite snack. "The buttery popcorn and crisp crunch is the perfect vehicle for bold flavor and savory heat," says Abreu. This snack will make you smile, too: "The capsaicin molecules active in chili peppers cause the pituitary gland to release endorphins, otherwise known as the happy chemical," she says.

Try this: When putting this easy-to-make snack together, consider pairing hot sauce with either a classic butter or cheddar cheese popcorn, explains Abreu.


Need to add flavor to a side dish or bowl base? Drizzle some hot sauce over quinoa, which tends to be more mild on your taste buds."Adding a quality hot sauce to your cooked quinoa is a healthy and easy way to add extra flavor," says Abreu. Note: Quinoa easily absorbs ingredients, so be mindful when dowsing this grain with hot sauce.

Try this: Abreu loves hot sauce paired with quinoa salad that has either Brussels sprouts or roasted cabbage. Try making Shaved Brussels Sprout, Meyer Lemon, and Quinoa Salad or Quinoa Salad with Kale and Napa Cabbage—and top both with some hot sauce.

Salad Dressing

Give your salad a hint of heat with a custom salad dressing. "Adding hot sauce to your homemade vinaigrette is an easy way to jazz up your greens," says Abreu. "You can do the obvious and punch up a creamy ranch or blue cheese dressing with a nice red hot sauce, or use a sweet heat-based sauce (like a habanero sauce) for a vinegar-based or mustard-based sauce with notes of acid and fruity heat."

Try this: Abreu's suggestion is to blend a ranch or blue cheese with a red hot sauce. Also consider making a lime avocado dressing with some green salsa or adding a fruit-based hot sauce to a vinegar and oil mixture.


Planning your next charcuterie board? Consider topping a hard cheese with some Caribbean pepper-based hot sauce. "My favorite way to enjoy cheese and hot sauce is to drizzle a few drops on top of halloumi, Dominican-fried cheese, or cheddar," says Abreu, noting you can also add the condiment to a grilled cheese sandwich.

Try this: So many cheeses, from cheddar to Monterey jack, pair well with hot sauce. You can also make your own spicy queso: Consider melting American cheese before mixing in some of the hot stuff.


Jazz up the flavor of beans with a habanero or scotch bonnet-based hot sauce, as these contain savory heat that complement this type of protein-rich dish, says Abreu. "Add it to the pot or mix into a bean salad for a big oomph of flavor," she says.

Try this: Try out a variety of bean dishes and types with hot sauce: "Pork and beans is a rich dish that holds up well to hot sauce, but Cuban beans are also delicious with some heat, [as are] some creamy white cannellini beans," says Abreu.

pisqueya medium buzz hot sauce next to salmon and rice dish
Courtesy of Pisqueya


Since fish is usually a lighter protein, you can give it more dimension with hot sauce, whether it's baked, flaky salmon or raw, rich tuna, says Abreu. "Hot sauces with hints of acidity and fruit are my favorite to pair with seafood and add to the tropical vibes that most feel when they eat fish," she says.

Try this: "Aside from the classic fish taco, try taking salmon and adding a red, bold hot sauce with some mayo," says Abreu. She recommends plating this over rice for a hearty, flavorful meal.


Eggs, while nutritious and delicious, need some help in the flavor department. "The vibrancy of hot sauce is an easy way to add bold flavor to otherwise bland eggs," says Abreu. The condiment can spice up an egg-based breakfast dish, too: "If you're trying shakshuka for breakfast, a smoky, red sauce adds some complexity to an umami-packed tomato sauce," she says.

Try this: Whether you make anything from chilaquiles or shakshuka to scrambled eggs or boiled eggs, hot sauce will give your meal more vibrancy and flavor.

Meat Stews

Stews naturally work in a variety of ingredients, from tender meats to seasonal vegetables. Hot sauce makes a great addition, particularly a smoky habanero or scotch bonnet-based hot sauce. "The complexity of this vegetable-smoky-fruit pepper flavor is perfect for enhancing the savory notes of your stew," says Abreu, adding that adding hot sauce is tradition with Caribbean stews. "Add the sauce at the beginning of the cooking process to extract new and different flavors as it cooks down, or top the rich stew with hot sauce right before eating to add a hint of acid, brightness, and heat."

Try this: Consider Abreu's favorite ways to use hot sauce for meat-based stews and dishes: "Upgrade your classic beef stew with hot sauce, or try making Ropa Vieja (a Cuban classic), Pollo Asado, Sancocho, curries, or short ribs."

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