A bit tangy, sometimes sweet, and often incorporating lime juice, green sauces are the white wine to their red counterparts. Green sauces are often made with jalapeno peppers, which are notoriously a little bitter and tangy. Some green sauces will take that flavor and run with it by incorporating lime juice, vinegar, and salt whereas others will balance the jalapeno flavor by adding something sweet like sugar or a fruit. I like to compare green sauces to white wine for a number of reasons, but mainly because they also pair well with white meats, such as chicken, fish, or pork whereas red hot sauces are ideal for red meats, like burgers, beef tacos, steak, etc.
Other types of green peppers may pop up in these sauces as well (e.g., poblanos or even serranos in the hotter green sauces). However, like jalapenos, they usually keep the heat level in the mild to medium range. You can get hotter green sauces, but most greens won’t have you breathing fire unless they incorporate hotter peppers or pepper extract. That’s why most of the sauces on this list are in the Mild to Medium category. Also keep in mind that a mild hot sauce is not akin to a mild salsa you might find at a restaurant chain. Mild does not equal zero, so even mild hot sauces have some kind of tingle to them. But any of these would make a great starting point for someone ready to dip their toe into the pool of spicy heat for the first time.
If You Like Light, Tangy Flavors, Slightly Bittersweet, Try A Green Hot Sauce
9. Dave’s Hurtin’ Jalapeno Hot Sauce (Mild)
Don’t let the name scare you off! Yes, this is from the same mastermind behind Dave’s Insanity Hot Sauce, but his jalapeno one won’t put too much of a Hurtin’ on you. This is a standard green sauce with jalapenos, salt, vinegar, and lime juice, but they’ve also incorporated a bit of cayenne as well as chayote, which has a light and crisp flavor—kind of cucumber-y. (Here’s a recipe using chayote if you’re curious.) The leek and coriander also add a bit more dimension to this sauce’s flavor. It’s just really tasty and low heat. This is great on pretty much anything, especially fish tacos.
10. Mad Dog Green Amigo Hot Sauce (Medium)
This is another one that I think maximizes the jalapeno flavor. Again with the vinegar, lime juice, and salt like the Dave’s one, but Mad Dog also adds cilantro, onions, and garlic for theirs. They recommend using this sauce straight-up as a dip or to marinade meat, fish, or poultry, but I’ve found it also complements eggs really well. You can really complete an omelet made with cheese, tomatoes, fresh bell peppers, maybe a few jalapenos, by pouring the Mad Dog Green Amigo on when you’re ready to eat.
11. Bravado Spice Co. Jalapeno & Green Apple Hot Sauce (Mild)
Now we’re starting to move more towards the sweeter end of the green sauce spectrum. I like Bravado Spice Co.’s Jalapeno & Green Apple because the pairing of jalapenos and green apples is unexpected and perfect at the same time. The Granny Smith apples are a little tart, which actually complements the tangy flavor of the jalapenos and poblanos nicely. This one is good in poultry dishes, but really shines when served with shrimp or fish. Put this on a shrimp taco, and you’re in heaven. Again, this is a more unique type of green sauce, but maybe that’s another reason why it would be a great introduction to green hot sauces.
12. Heartbreaking Dawn’s Jalapeno Pineapple Hot Sauce (Mild)
This is my best-of-both-worlds’ sauce. As you may have figured out by now, I’m a big fan of fruity hot sauces as well as green hot sauces, and although this one may not QUITE be green in color, I’m including it here because it uses jalapenos and green habaneros. And because it’s been my favorite for a long time. Heartbreaking Dawn’s Jalapeno Pineapple has pineapple and jalapenos (of course) as well as lime juice, a bit of red habanero, and just the right amount of sugar. It’s just awesome and I love it so much!
I wanted to add Blair’s Jalapeno Death to this list, but I’m not sure if that would be a good one for beginners yet. It is hot, although not insanely hot, but it’s also super yummy with its key lime juice, agave tequila, etc. So I’ll just put that name out there and you can decide for yourself if you’re ready to try it yet. I’ll wrap up my list with the best “classic” hot sauce flavors next week in Part 4 of "15 Gateway Hot Sauces That Will Get You Hooked." Thanks for reading!