11 of the best hot sauces from around the world

iStockHot sauce is a popular topping on tacos, chicken wings, and other dishes.
  • Different types of peppers and chiles are popular around the globe.
  • In North Africa, hot sauces made with harissa is popular.
  • In Thailand, Sriracha is a popular choice of sauce.

If you consider hot sauce the most important condiment of them all, an indispensable addition to any and every meal, you’re probably always on the lookout for a new fiery liquid to drizzle over your dishes. Even though most of us have go-to hot sauces, branching out and trying some different versions from around the globe can lead to some pretty amazing taste bud discoveries.

With this goal in mind, here are 11 hot sauces from around the world that are well-worth trying (if your taste buds can handle them).


While in the US, try Louisiana-Style Hot Sauce.

Louisiana Brand Hot SauceLouisiana Brand Hot Sauce is made using sun-ripened peppers.

Hot sauce appreciators based in the United States are likely familiar with Louisiana-style sauce, perhaps the most ubiquitous version available stateside and likely the most common in southern parts of the US.

Known for its vinegar base, Louisiana-style hot sauce in its purest form uses red chilli peppers for heat and salt for seasoning. Simple, classic, and a natural partner for everything from fried chicken to scrambled eggs to cold pizza. Some of the brands that offer versions of this regional specialty include Tabasco, Frank’s Red Hot, Louisiana Hot Sauce, and Crystal.


Portugal’s piri-piri sauce can add a kick to your favourite dish.

iStockThe sauce is popular at the Nando’s food chain.

Originating in Portugal, piri-piri sauce, which translates to “pepper pepper” in English, has found popularity in other regions of the world, commonly being referred to as “peri-peri” sauce.

Frequently used as a condiment for charcoal-grilled chicken, piri-piri sauce generally contains chilli peppers, lemon juice, and oil.Optional additions can sometimes include citrus peel, garlic, salt and pepper, and green herbs like oregano, basil, and tarragon.


Try the Mexican Green Habanero Sauce if you’re looking for spice.

El YucatecoSome retailers in the US sell this sauce.

Those who seek a serious kick from their hot sauce will find plenty to appreciate about Mexico’s green habanero rendition. Mexican company El Yucateco makes a highly-regarded version of hot sauce that includes green habanero peppers (boasting an intense 100,000-300,000 points on the Scoville scale), water, garlic, and an undisclosed spice blend.

The resulting sauce clocks in at 8,910 on the Scoville scale, so you’ll want to keep a beverage handy (ideally, a glass of milk) when trying it out.


Jamaican Scotch Bonnet Sauce will spice up any dish.

JacenoA lot of brands create sauces using the Scotch Bonnet pepper.

Popular throughout the Caribbean, the Scotch Bonnet pepper (100,000-350,000 on the Scoville scale) has particular importance to many cooks of Jamaica, who use this vegetable in a wide variety of recipes, including Scotch Bonnet Hot Sauce.

This incendiary condiment typically includes pureed Scotch Bonnets, vinegar, salt, and seasonings like allspice, and some choose to temper the sauce’s powerful heat (and bring an extra flavour level) by adding fruits like mango or pineapple.


Harissa is a heated hit in North Africa.

iStockThere are a lot of recipes for Harissa hot sauce.

Harissa, a zesty condiment with origins in Tunisia, also contributes its savoury heat to cuisines from adjacent regions, like the Mediterranean and the Middle East. Harissa generally uses hot peppers like Tunisian Baklouti for heat, then rounds out its flavours with roasted red peppers, olive oil, garlic, and herbs like coriander, caraway, and saffron.


Aji sauce from Peru is loaded with flavour.

PachaMany brands make Aji hot sauces and Aji sometimes comes as a paste that can be used for cooking.

The Peruvian aji sauce features a more moderate heat level than green habanero sauce or Scotch Bonnet sauce, but it also offers a bold flavour profile thanks to its abundance of herbs and seasonings.

Aji typically comes in two varieties: verde (green) or amarillo (yellow). The former contains aji chilies, garlic, mayonnaise, lime juice, and lots of cilantro, while the latter includes aji chilies, mayo, crema, salt, pepper, lime juice, shallot, and tomato paste (or, if you prefer, some Peruvians use ketchup).


Italy’s Calabrian Chilli Sauce is a delightful condiment.

TuttoCalabriaIt’s more of a paste than a liquid.

The Southwest Italian region of Calabria is famous for its spicy fare, so it stands to reason that the area would have its own iteration of hot sauce.

More of a paste than a liquid condiment, Calabrian chilli sauce is made from Calabrian chiles mixed with olive oil, vinegar, water, garlic, and salt. Homemade versions can be found throughout Calabria, but one of the most widespread mass-produced Calabrian chilli sauces comes from the Tutto brand.


While in Indonesia, try adding sambal to your dish.

iStockSometimes prawns are cooked in the Sambal sauce.

A paste made from ground or finely-chopped chilli peppers, garlic, vinegar and salt, Indonesia’s sambal varies significantly depending on the region. Some versions include fruits like tamarind and coconut, some utilise herbs like lemongrass, and some feature ingredients like peanuts and candlenuts.


China’s got a famous Hot Chilli Sauce worth adding to any dish.

Lao Gan MaLao Gan Ma is a popular brand of the hot chilli sauce.

China’s most popular hot sauce comes from the Guizhou province, where the Lao Gan Ma company first started making its smash-hit chilli sauce. Made with dried chilies, fermented soybeans, and Sichuan peppercorns, Lao Gan Ma’s hot chilli sauce has become a staple in Chinese condiment collections and can also be found in Asian supermarkets in the US.


Sriracha has roots in Thailand and it’s also popular in other parts of the globe.

Steven Depolo / FlickrSriracha has also been gaining popularity in the US.

Sriracha, also known as “rooster sauce,” is a popular choice in many places around the globe. Although the version most familiar to Americans is produced in California, the original recipe was believed to be invented in Thailand. The sauce includes chilli pepper paste, distilled vinegar, garlic, sugar, and salt.


Gochujang is a popular choice in terms of Korean condiments.

Flickr/anokarinaGochujang is a popular bibimbap topping.

Like sambal, Korean gochujang is a red paste made from chiles. Unlike sambal, however, gochujang gains powerful umami flavour from fermentation, which happens thanks to glutinous rice and enzymes. The result? A bold, spicy, and distinctive condiment that is especially perfect on meat dishes like bibimbap.

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