Whether you’re a seasoned chilehead or just starting to get an appetite for spicy foods, I’ve created this list as an introductory guide to the world of hot sauce from A to Z. Everything listed here holds some significance in the realm of all things hot and spicy. So if you’re ready to dive into the Spicy Life, let’s go!
"Ass" is potentially the most-used word when it comes to naming a hot sauce. There is Ass in the Tub, Ass Reaper, Ass Blaster, Hog's Ass, Dumb Ass, Ass Kickin', Jack Ass and more. Perhaps this is in reference to the second round of pain one feels after ingesting their favorite hot sauce.
Belize is home to Marie Sharp, who is the namesake and creator of Marie Sharp's Habanero Pepper Sauces. Marie Sharp cultivated the red Habanero pepper, which is arguably the most commonly used Habanero pepper today. She cross-bred a yellow Habanero with a Jamaican Red to achieve the red Habanero that she is known for today.
C: Carolina Reaper Pepper
Grown by Smokin' Ed Currie, this pepper currently holds the Guinness World Record for hottest chilli pepper, with an average rating of 1,569,300 Scoville heat units. The hottest individual Carolina Reaper was recorded at 2.2 million Scoville heat units.
Dave's Insanity Sauce first came out around 1993 and was one of the first hot sauces to be made with pure pepper extract (capsaicin). Dave’s Insanity Sauce was infamously banned from the National Fiery Food Show and remains one of the most well-known and hottest sauces around today.
E: Edmund McIlhenny
Edmund McIlhenny started selling Tabasco Brand Pepper Sauce in 1868. Today, when people think of hot sauce, Tabasco inevitably comes to mind. Made with Tabasco peppers, this sauce is mild enough to show up on the table of most restaurants in the United States.
F: First We Feast
The YouTube channel where you can watch Hot Ones, the show with hot questions and even hotter wings. Host Sean Evans interviews celebrities while they eat chicken wings that progressively get hotter and while answering questions. If you aren't already watching this show, you should be.
G: Ghost Pepper
The Ghost Pepper, also known as the Bhut Jolokia or Naga Jolokia, was on record as the world's hottest pepper from 2007 to 2011. It averages between 855,000 and 1,041,427 Scoville heat units.
H: Hall of Fame
The Hot Sauce Hall of Fame is an elite group of individuals that are voted on by members of the hot sauce industry. Each year's inductees are announced at the NYC Hot Sauce Expo, where they are presented with a red blazer and commemorative ring. Previous inductees include Wilbur Scoville, John "CaJohn" Hard, Marie Sharp, and Dave Hirschkop of Dave's Insanity.
I: Irazu Volcanic Pepper Sauce
Irazu Volcanic Pepper Sauces are made in Costa Rica and distributed by us here at Hot Sauce Depot in Texas. The brand gets its name from the Irazu volcano in Costa Rica, which is located near to where the peppers are grown. Irazu produces the Unholy Trinity hot sauce.
J: Jalapeno Pepper
The Jalapeno pepper, arguably the most popular spicy pepper in cooking, clocks in at between 2500 to 10,000 Scoville units. Some hot sauce charts use the spiciness of a Jalapeno pepper to demonstrate how hot their sauce is (i.e., five times hotter than a Jalapeno, 10 times hotter than a Jalapeno, etc.).
K: 1032 K Hot Sauce
In 2016, GE partnered with High River Sauces to create a limited edition hot sauce called 1032 K, which represents the highest temperature matter can withstand before it begins to break down. They only made 1000 bottles of this sauce, and it contains Carolina Reaper and Trinidad Moruga Scorpion Peppers.
Louisiana is the heart of cajun food in the United States, which is why there's an entire genre of hot sauce named after it. Louisiana-style sauces are typically heavy on the vinegar and contain some type of red chili pepper, such as Cayenne or Tabasco.
Milk has long been known to be a great cure for neutralizing the burn after eating something spicy. This can extend into pretty much any dairy product, including ice cream, cream cheese, and sour cream. It works because milk contains something called casein, which is a compound that binds with the capsaicin oil and then washes it away.
Napkins provide NO relief if you get hot sauce on your skin. You'll first want to try hand sanitizer because it contains alcohol, which will react with the capsacin oil. Next, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water. Then use one more round of hand sanitizer, and you should be good to go.
O: Original Death Sauce
Blair's Original Death Sauce originated in 1989 when Blair Lazar was bartending at the Jersey shore and came up with the idea of making a dish called "Wings of Death." It took off in popularity and led Blair to start his own line of hot sauces, which are now legendary.
P: Pepper Extract
Pepper extracts, also known as capsaicin or Capsicum, is the component in a hot chile pepper that gives it its spiciness. This irritant, which is similar in texture to an oil, invokes a burning sensation when it comes into contact with your skin, mouth, eyes--pretty much any tissue in the human body.
In Chemistry, Q is the symbol for heat. Is was first used in 1834 by French Engineer Benoit-Paul-Émile Clapeyron to signify "the absolute quantity of heat". Blair's Extreme Foods has a small line of products called "Heat" that uses the Q on the label.
R: Rogue Hot Sauce
High River Sauces' Rogue Hot Sauce is a unique blend of blood orange, apples, and pears--plus Morgua Scorpion and Ghost Peppers. This gnarly combination of sweet and extreme heat is delicious without the addition of pepper extract.
S: Scoville Scale
The Scoville scale measures a pepper's spiciness based on the concentration of capsaicin, which is a kind of oil or liquid that gives peppers their heat. The spiciness is measured in Scoville heat units (commonly known as SHU) and was named after Wilbur Scoville, who was the American pharmicist who standardized the Scoville scale.
T: The Source
Although it's technically called the Source Hot Sauce, this is really more of an extract. This 7.1 million SHU sauce is hotter than most pepper sprays, which range between 2 million and 5.3 million Scoville units. This is not an everyday table sauce, and its $100 price tag reflects that.
U: Unholy Trinity by Irazu
The Unholy Trinity by Irazu is potentially the hottest sauce on the market today that does not contain pure pepper extract. It combines three of the world's hottest pepper types: Carolina Reaper, Moruga Scorpion, and Ghost Pepper.
Vinegar is a popular ingredient in hot sauce because it acts as a preservative for the natural peppers while keeping true to the flavor and aroma of the peppers.
Most people use hot wing sauce on their chicken wings with a sprinkle of hot sauce for added kick. Some wing restaurants will add pure pepper extract to the wing sauce they use for their hottest wing challenges. Hot wings and hot sauce simply go hand in hand.
X: Xanthan Gum
Many hot sauces have xanthan gum listed as an ingredient, which is a natural thickening agent that also can prevent ingredients from separating. Not all xanthan gum is vegan. Some are derived from plants and some are derived from fermenting whey, which is a by-product of dairy.
Y: Yellow Habanero
Yellow is the natural color of Habanero peppers. In 1978, Marie Sharp cross-polinated the yellow Habanero with a Jamaican Red, which resulted in the red Habanero that has become the standard color of the pepper today.
Z: Z Nothing Beyond by CaJohn's Fiery Foods
CaJohn's Z Nothing Beyond hot sauce is made with Habanero peppers and 4-million SHU pepper extract, this hot sauce also features papaya, guava, pineapple, banana, passion fruit, tomatoes and mustard for extreme heat and unique flavor.