Last Updated on August 23, 2022 by Chris Whitehair
Our Top 18 Best Tasting Sauces from Hot Ones
A-list celebrities from all walks of the entertainment industry have toughed it out to see if they can make it to “The Last Dab”!
Even more impressive than the list of celebrities that have appeared on the show are the actual hot sauces themselves.
Craft hot sauce makers whose sauces have made the cut have seen their popularities skyrocket thanks to their inclusions.
Throughout the 18 seasons of the show, I thought it would be fun to gather my top 18 best Hot Ones sauces to share to the world.
MY RANKING CRITERIA
1. FLAVOR FIRST. I can’t stress this enough. Yes, heat level is a selling point of the show with the later-round hot sauces, but I’m looking for what tastes best overall.
2. Characteristics. Is the sauce unique? How versatile is it? If it’s a sauce that with a popular flavor profile such as a garlic hot sauce, what makes this one better than other sauces of that nature?
3. I left out the “grocery store brands”. These particular sauces were featured mostly in the first couple seasons of the show. We could argue back and forth whether these constitute as being grocery store brands or not, but for the sake of this blog, I did not consider the following for this ranking:
Huy Fong Foods Sriracha
Valentina (Black Label)
4. There is no limit to the amount of times brands can appear on the list if they’ve had different sauces on different seasons.
5. There are no restrictions to the amount of sauces that can appear due to their season.
6. This list is presented in alphabetical order, by brand name. There was absolutely no way I could get these ranked from 18 to 1. I would probably change the list weekly if not daily in that scenario.
7. Since starting my business and being involved in the hot sauce community, I have gotten to know quite a few makers personally, some of whom are on this list. Any personal or business relationships I have with any makers had no bearing whatsoever on my choices. This is my completely honest take that ultimately comes down to my first criteria, flavor.
With all that said, it’s time to take a look at what are my favorites from “the show with hot questions, and even hotter wings!”
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Use on any hot sauce listed in this blog (Top 18 and Honorable Mention) and see if you can handle the heat better than your favorite celebrity!
Scoville Units: 2,300
Season 8 (#2)
For all of you verde style hot sauce fans, Hippy Dippy Green is a unique twist with its addition of avocado and kiwi. This is a great one to use on any Mexican dish and also a unique addition to eggs. Creamy and refreshing. Perfect for when you’re looking for a hot sauce while mellowing out.
Scoville Units: 116,000
Season 10 (#7)
I remember vividly the first time I tried this sauce – I was at the Karma Sauce factory here in my hometown of Rochester, NY and they keep a fridge of what has to be 100 or more hot sauces. I went through a gauntlet of tastings that day and Aka Miso is the one I still remember most from that day. The flavor (and then of course heat) just hit my tongue in harmony and I asked for a second taste! You can’t put a list together of the best Hot Ones sauces without this one on it.
Scoville Units: 625,000
Season 7 (#9)
If you want the overall package – great flavor, insane heat and awesome label artwork – Exhorresco wins. Coming in at a whopping 625,000 Scoville Heat Units, this one is no joke and you must use extreme caution when using it. You’ll find no extract here and you get the sweetness from the agave nectar and apple cider vinegar.
Scoville Units: 7,900
Season 7 (#3)
The best onion hot sauce available on the market, period. Fantastic for onion lovers who don’t actually want the flavor of the onion to overpower their food, but rather have its subtle hints of sweet and smokiness compliment their dish. Versatility is what you get with this hot sauce, however, fans of this gem say the absolute must-use for it is on your scrambled eggs.
Scoville Units: 14,300
Season 11 (#3)
I’m thrilled that Hot Ones went international and found a lot of makers that normally wouldn’t have had an opportunity like this. You’re not going to find the Bongo Chilli anywhere else on this list and really in any other hot sauce out there and that’s because the Bongo Chilli is native to the island of Fiji. I tell folks that this is the hot sauce you’ll want to use to graduate from mild level to medium level heat. Use this one on your next sandwich and thank me later!
Scoville Units: 12,400
Season 12 (#3)
This is one of the few hot sauces I was familiar with before its appearance on the show so I was thrilled when it was announced (any of the Fresco Sauces are worthy by the way). I just love the orange color to this sauce. A garlicky blend of chipotle and orange habanero peppers with a hint of sweetness. Another every day hot sauce that you can use on everything.
Scoville Units: 12,200
Season 10 (#3)
From our friends up North comes a real gem for all the fruit-based hot sauce lovers out there. While pineapple is the first ingredient, this one does pack some heat! Known for their collaborations, Heartbeat joined up with Sleeping Giant Brewery and mixed in their award winning Beaver Duck session IPA into this to make a bright and savory sauce.
Scoville Units: 72,000
Season 15 (#6)
This epic hot sauce is LOADED with an incredible mix of ingredients. An all-star trio of Carolina Reaper, Ghost Pepper, and Anaheim pepper anchor this meal-changer with its fire-roasted tomato base, creamy coconut milk, garam masala spice (and so much more), making this one a must-have the next time you’re craving a curry.
Scoville Units: 25,300
Season 8 (#4)
If you can’t make your way to Barbados, the next best way to experience the “flavor reminiscent of the West Indies” is Cheeba Gold. This best Hot Ones sauces list would’ve been incomplete without a mustard-based concoction. A mix of sweet peaches, curry and scotch bonnets with just enough heat to let your tongue tingle.
Scoville Units: 69,000
Season 14 (#6)
It should come to no surprise to hardcore hot sauce enthusiasts that High River Sauces makes the best Hot Ones sauces list twice! We love the original Tears of the Sun and their Private Reserve amps up the heat with its unique hybrid Peach Ghost Scorpion Peppers and mix of vibrant papaya, peaches, pineapple and mangos.
Hot Ones Los Calientes Hot Sauce
Scoville Units: 36,000
Seasons 6-9 (#5), Seasons 10, 16, 18 (#4)
You couldn’t include a list of the best Hot Ones sauces without including “Los Cal”. In fact, most would say it is the best Hot Ones hot sauce overall. A solid, right in the middle heat hot sauce that has a touch of sweetness, tartness and smokiness. Cal-Mex at its finest, pairs great with everything.
Hot Ones Los Calientes Rojo Hot Sauce
Scoville Units: 49,000
Seasons 11-14, 17 (#5)
If the original Los Calientes is A New Hope, Los Calientes Rojo is The Empire Strikes Back. Hotter than the original Los Calientes, this version utilizes applewood smoked red jalapeños in addition to habaneros. I feel apricot is an under-appreciated fruit and flavor (I love a good apricot flavored beer) so I’m glad such a big-time sauce features it. Hardcore fans will tell you that this one, not the Original, is the best Hot Ones hot sauce to buy.
Scoville Units: 56,000
Season 5 (#6)
The label has received an update since its Season 5 appearance but the extreme heat and flavor remains. Replacing the habaneros from the Good and Bad versions and loading up on Ghost and Scorpion peppers instead, this sauce is a favorite among serious chileheads who want strong flavor alongside with big heat. As versatile as there is when it comes to a hot sauce with this heat level.
Scoville Units: 669,000
Season 13 (#9)
Ed Currie nearly killed me and my friend at the NYC Hot Sauce Expo in 2019, but I won’t hold that against him! The mad genius best known for creating the Carolina Reaper, out did himself with the even hotter Pepper X (which is featured in this sauce). This sauce is a slightly sweet, smokey scorcher.
Scoville Units: 5,000
Season 4 (#3)
This sauce is it out Portland, Oregon but its popularity has spread nationwide. Iron Chef Michael Symon’s Mabel’s BBQ in Cleveland has Secret Aardvark as their table hot sauce. Jimmy Fallon name-dropped them in a Tonight Show interview with Cobie Smulders. This is a hot sauce anyone can enjoy with its tolerable heat level but great flavor.
Scoville Units: 74,000
Season 11 (#6)
No other hot sauce available embodies the word “herbaceous” more so than Hot Thai Green from Seed Ranch Flavor Co. This citrusy and bright delight is Vegan, Paleo Friendly, Gluten-Free, and full of all-natural, organic ingredients. Don’t underestimate this one, it has a spicy kick from its green Carolina Reaper peppers.
Scoville Units: 116,000
Season 8 (#7)
The ultimate garlic hot sauce for those who can take the extreme heat. The garlic hits you upfront and then the burn from the Carolina Reaper creeps in and sticks with you. The creamy consistently makes this one great as a dip or marinade. The best Hot Ones sauces generally have simple but nuanced flavor combinations and none exemplify that theory more so than Garlic Reaper.
Scoville Units: 24,000
Season 6 (#4)
Torchbearer Sauces joins High River Sauces with the distinction of making the list of best Hot Ones sauces twice! Sweet, smoky and sensational. They call this one a wing sauce and I think this is the best of the 18 on this list to use on wings if you were only to choose one. You can’t go wrong with the flavors of chipotle, garlic, honey, ghost pepper, habanero, and even the mandarin orange comes through.
Wow, 18 already. This was such a tough list to compile. I thought it should be noted who just missed the cut, so here are my “Top Six Out” in alphabetical order.
The Best Hot Ones Sauces: In Conclusion
I’m already hearing the following:
- This list sucks! How could you leave out (insert sauce here)?
- If it weren’t for (insert “grocery store” hot sauce), you wouldn’t even like hot sauce! It deserves a place on this list!
- (Insert Brand here) is the best ever how did you put on (Brand hot sauce #1) and leave out (Brand hot sauce #2)?!
With over 100 unique sauces that have appeared throughout the 18 seasons, there’s no way I’m going to make everyone happy.
Remember, this is just my opinion.
The margins to make the Top 18, to the Top Six Out, to the dozen or so sauces that just missed that list, were razor thin.
I had more agony than I thought when I first conceived putting this together.
One sauce I think all fans of the show (and celebrities) can agree on is that any best Hot Ones sauces list will never include Da Bomb.
My personal tastes are pretty obvious with my choices: For the most part, I like for mild and medium heat-level sauces that are versatile in their uses.
Another analysis I took is I think it’s evident that the hot sauce lineups in the later seasons have been stronger overall.
Only the best make the show and I’m glad I’m not the one who has to make those choices.
I started this blog in April 2020 and it took me seven months before I was comfortable putting together my first list and it has changed several times with the new seasons (and sauces) that have been added since that time.
I’m very thankful that a show like Hot Ones exists. It has given many small craft hot sauce makers a shot at the big time.
What did I get wrong? Leave your best Hot Ones sauces list below in the comments.
Thanks for reading and don’t forget:
HOTONES15 for 15% off!