10/15/2014 02:23 pm ET Updated Dec 15, 2014

The Best Hot Sauce: The Official Epicurious Taste Test


by Gabriella Vigoreaux

These days, it seems like there are a million hot sauces on the market. In honor of Epicurious' deep dive into spicy content (all week long -- check out some of our favorite stories, right here), we selected more than 20 Tex-Mex hot sauces in hopes of pin-pointing the ultimate all-purpose hot sauce (that we could keep at our desks and put on everything).

What we found is that, across the board, our hot sauce preferences lean towards a blend of smoky, spicy, and vinegary flavors. Our editors voted, and decided that the heat shouldn't overwhelm whatever food you're putting it on -- and that it should layer, with the spiciness building with every dash you shake out.

Whether you like a couple drops on your eggs in the mornings or you're the full-blown masochist type who enjoys a good cry with every meal, read on for our official Epicurious hot sauce taste test results.

Method to Our Madness:

Sauces were ranked on a scale of 1 to 5 for flavor, spiciness, and afterburn. Additional hot sauce superlatives like "best overall" and "best for the wimps" were noted by editors. We used Tostitos as a hot sauce vehicle and ate Greek yogurt in between to temper the burn.

The Results?

BEST OVERALL: Cholula Original Hot Sauce

There are spicier sauces, yes, and there are more flavorful sauces too, but Cholula is the one that we want to put on everything. There's nothing this go-to sauce wouldn't make better. One tester said, "I want to eat this on my huevos every day." Enough said.

Best Red Pepper Sauce: Cholula Original Hot Sauce, again!

Best Green Pepper Sauce: Forge Verde Sauce

This tangy green sauce is made from jalapenos and poblanos. It's zesty and peppery, but not in a way that makes it taste like you're licking a Hint of Lime Tostito. Forge's verde sauce is exactly what we look for in a green sauce, and what it lacks in spiciness it makes up for in flavor.

Best Other Pepper Sauce: Henry Family Farm's Yellow Fatali African Habanero

"I'm crying but I want more?" This tester's comment sums up this sauce perfectly. Not only was it ranked in the top-two for spiciness, but it actually had flavor, unlike the other tongue-numbing varieties. The heat is immediate, beginning with your first whiff as you open the bottle. The sauce manages to be fruity and a little sweet right before that afterburn comes back to bite ya.

Best for the wimps: A tie between Crystal Hot Sauce and CaJohn's Chipotle-Habanero Sauce

Crystal may be a tabletop classic for other reasons, but its definitely not spicy. It's vinegary and mild and reminded us a bit of Tabasco.

The sweet, molasses heavy Chipotle Habanero Sauce is also perfect for the spice-intolerant. While we wouldn't consider it a hot sauce (the taste is more similar to barbecue) we still want to slather it all over some ribs.

Spiciest: CaJohn's El Chupacabra

Everyone's reaction to this sauce was the same. "This isn't that spicy, what are you talking about?" Then BAM, everyone is on the floor crying. Okay, not really but this sauce is no joke. It's thicker than others, which caused us to dollop more onto our Tostito, regrettably. The afterburn is intense, and why wouldn't it be with an ingredient list boasting both Scotch bonnet and Trindad scorpion peppers.

Best Flavor: Cholula Original Hot Sauce

Some things need not be messed with. Cholula is one of those things.

That concludes our results! Check out the following online stores for fulfilling all your hot sauce needs. Now if youll excuse us, some of us are still trying to regain the feeling in our faces.

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Know Thy Pits and Sauces: A guide to barbecue, state by state
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