How We Do Our Hot Sauce Reviews

Liz AdamsBefore you start to look at the different hot sauce reviews on this site, there’s something you need to know…

Everyone is different, and not everyone will agree on which hot sauces they like and which they dislike.

Shocking right? As a result, the amazing flavor and enjoyment you derive from a particular hot sauce might taste horrible to someone else.

It’s not just your taste buds, it’s your aversion (or acceptance) of spiciness and heat from the peppers.

You’ve seen it… how one person flinches at the mere suggestion of jalapenos… and another is calling for more heat and biting into a ghost pepper! (Not recommended by the way).

Those people who love heat are often called “Chili heads”!

As a result, every hot sauce will have a different taste to different people.

Even so, we think there is some value in trying all the different hot sauces out there, and trying to decide which ones are worth your hard-earned money, and which aren’t.

Although it’s not an exact science, and everyone has different tastes, there are definitely some hot sauces out there that are better than others.

And that’s exactly what we’re going to try and figure out on!

Our Hot Sauce Review Process

With every hot sauce we test, we follow a very particular set of procedures.

First we buy every product we test… so no free “gifts” from manufacturers!

This keeps our review process honest… and it explains why we have hundreds of bottles of hot sauce stashed in every nook and cranny of the kitchen.

While we will look to manufacturers for ingredient lists and Scoville “heat” ratings… when it comes to the actual taste testings, we do it ourselves.

Here’s how…

First we put 1 tablespoon of the hot sauce on a plate.

This gives us an opportunity to take a close look at it and to see what it smells like.

We examine it for color, texture, and viscosity (how thick it is).

At that time, we also take a toothpick and dip it into the hot sauce.

This is the first taste we get of the sauce… now I know what you’re thinking… why a toothpick?

If we use a spoonful of hot sauce, we’d blow out our tastebuds every once in a while. And if the sauce is super spicy, it might burn us out.

Taking just a little bit of sauce on a toothpick allows us to taste the best of every sauce and really experience its depth.

In the first test, we also check the ingredient list.

To be honest, a lot of hot sauces have some crazy ingredients. We like to look for hot sauces that include a lot of ingredients we recognize!

But that’s not the only test we do…

The second test is cooking with the hot sauce.

Yep, we toss ½ cup of cubed chicken in a pan and add the hot sauce after the chicken is done cooking. This simulates the most popular use of hot sauce in a food application- hot wings!

Remember, on Superbowl Sunday alone, billions of wings are cooked and consumed, and the vast majority of those are tossed in some type of hot sauce!

So we cook up ½ cup chicken with 1 tsp canola oil. Once the chicken is done cooking, we remove the pan from the heat and immediately add 1 tablespoon hot sauce and toss/stir for 30 seconds.

Then we do another tasting.

The heat of the pan and the chicken does a number of things… it exposes good and bad hot sauces alike.

It lets you experience the sauce after it’s cooked a bit, which can add more complexity to simple sauces… or destroy the taste of a poorly made sauce.

While we’re tasting the different hot sauces, we keep notes on what we experience… the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Then we rate every hot sauce based on a number of criteria…

What We Look For In Every Hot Sauce

Here’s a quick rundown of what we’re looking for in every hot sauce we review.

Hot Sauce Test Part One – Uncooked

1) Overall Appearance
2) Thickness – Viscosity
3) Color
4) Smell
5) Spice Level
6) Depth of Flavor
7) Toothpick Taste Test (Overall)
8) Ingredients

Hot Sauce Test Part Two – Cooked

1) Cooked Taste Test (Overall)
2) Color
3) Smell
4) Spice Level
5) Depth of Flavor

That’s 13 different points we use to rate every hot sauce. We like to think we’re some of the most thorough hot sauce “testers” on the planet!

What We DON’T Review In A Hot Sauce…

You know what’s crazy?  When people review a hot sauce and they judge a hot sauce by its packaging and name.  Isn’t that funny!?!

Seriously, does the hot sauce taste change based on the look of the bottle or the label… or the name!  I don’t think so… and you know I’m right.

We love cute packaging and a great name as much as the next guy, but the actual hot sauce is what matters.

So, make sure to avoid those hot sauce review sites that judge a sauce based solely on how the label or the bottle looks!

The Overall Hot Sauce Review Rating And What It Means

Once we review a hot sauce… once we’ve tested it on the toothpick, and cooked with the chicken… we all get together and compare notes.

Then we write-up our opinions, and assign a rating between 1 and 5. One being the worst (don’t bother wasting your money) to 5 stars (stock up by the caseload)!

Five stars is the rating we give the best hot sauces we find!

Keep in mind, we occasionally re-review the various hot sauces. Sometimes the ratings will change.

So make sure to visit the site frequently.

How To Use Our Site To Find The Best Hot Sauce

Every time we review a new hot sauce, we update our rankings.

If you’re looking for a list of The 10 Best Hot Sauces, it can be found here.

For those hot sauces that don’t make the top ten list, we post those reviews here…  Hot Sauce Reviews.

We’re always on the lookout for new hot sauces… and we’ll continue reviewing and updating our list.

And be sure to shoot us an email if you find a hot sauce you want us to review!