I’m feeling HOT, HOT, HOT!

Nov 29, 2019Categories, Savory

You’re singing it… aren’t you? I can’t help but think of Buster Poindexter when I think of hot sauce.

No market is safe from the thisisis trend. Consumers are trying anything and everything to get their fix of spicy heat and fantastic flavor. Retail sales of hot sauce made up to $700 million in 2018. So what’s with the constant demand? One word: variety. Variety IS the spice of life, right? You may have heard us talk about Jungle Jim’s before on this blog, but their hot sauce section features more than 1,500 options. Variety is king – or should I say, King of the Jungle?

Varieties range from slightly sweet to creamy spicy, and can go well with plenty of dishes and drinks. Every bottle is a new opportunity to ignite your taste buds and experience a taste never tasted before.

Asian Zing

My personal favorite – and a global favorite – is Sriracha. Packed with a sweet Asian zing, this product started its conquest on the west coast in 1980 when Huy Fong Foods was established. It pairs well with a myriad of dishes and doesn’t overpower anything. It gives you that “kick” without too much heat. Ingredients such as garlic, habanero, chiles, ginger and peppercorns sure pull this double duty. When creating my sauces at home, I use ginger for an Asian sweetness and to pack a punch with some spice – it’s one of my favorite spices to use. It’s so multi-faceted.

One example of an Asian-influenced hot sauce is one of my favorites – the Chili Rocks Fiery Pepper Asian BBQ & Teriyaki sauce. Mmmm… It’s a teriyaki base implemented as a hot sauce. It’s AUUHHH-mazing.

The American Classic

tabasco sauce

One of America’s oldest hot sauce recipes is good ol’fashioned Tobasco sauce. Established in 1868 by Edmund McIlhenny on Avery Island, Louisiana, this red pepper-based sauce favors the “hot” side but hits the tongue with a sweet, authentic chili smack. 150 years later and the Tabasco company aging process is longer! Their sauce is aged in white oak barrels for three years to develop a high quality distilled vinegar.

But, why is Tabasco so popular? Because it can pair with just about any flavor profile. The classic red pepper base is the classic form and a variety of brands focus on this particular profile. From seafood to Mexican cuisine, this sauce can complete the savory experience of any meal.

So What’s Next?

Hot sauce is incredibly unique because it can have different bases leaving room for imaginative new sauces. Many products are vinegar based with a mix of chili and pepper spices, but some of my favorite have a mango or pineapple base. This idea of mixing the heat and sweet isn’t going anywhere, we’ll just start to experiment more at home, at restaurants, and in sauce creation labs.

The ways to customize your favorite hot sauce are really limitless. In fact, in a recent Givaudan study asking consumers to pair ingredients with a sauce base, consumers included hot sauce in their combinations 8% of the time and Sriracha 8% of the time. Which makes them the 5th and 6th most paired “heat” options out of more than a dozen “heat” options.

Looking at some of those options from our proprietary study, consumers loved combining “hot sauce” with other “heat” elements: jalapeno, garlic, chipotle, and even ghost pepper among others. We even got a good understanding of how hot consumers expect hot sauce to be AND what season they most associate with hot sauce.

Risk, variety, and flavor describe the best hot sauces. And business is booming!

If you’re curious about this consumer-driven study and how it applies to your product, reach out to us at: noam.marketing@givaudan.com.

Brought to you by: Ashley Kindle & Scott Wenderoth



  1. Natalie Taake

    We keep a bottle of Frank’s (my husband’s fave) and Cholula (my fave) on the table next to the salt and pepper – that’s how often we use them!

  2. Robin Berardi

    Great insights for this sauce space!


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