Hot Sauce 101: It’s Getting Hot in Here!

By Megan Sapelak
Hot Sauce 101

Hot sauce is a spicy condiment that can be found in almost every nation around the world. Today there are hundreds of different varieties, flavors and styles of hot sauce. Hot sauce can come in many different colors and heat levels depending on the pepper that is used to make it. We are here to teach your hot sauce 101.

While hot sauce is widely popular around the globe, it may not be for everyone. In addition to the heat of the pepper, hot sauce may be perceived as spicy according to our ability to tolerate it. According to an article the reason certain people are able to tolerate hotter foods than others is simply because everyone’s bodies and sensory perceptions are different. So, before pouring on the hot sauce to your meal, it’s best to know exactly what you’re in for!


There are many different styles of hot sauces from around the world, but the most common styles of hot sauce used by Americans come from regions of the United States, Mexico and Asia.


Spicy and vinegary

➜ Crystal Hot Sauce, Louisiana Hot Sauce, Frank’s Redhot, Texas Pete, Tabasco and any type of buffalo sauce


Thicker with more emphasis on the chile flavor

➜ Tapatio, Cholula and Valentina


More of a paste texture with additional ingredients for flavor

➜ Sriracha, Sambal Oelek and Gochujang


Packing on the Heat

The heat that comes from a hot sauce can vary depending on what type of pepper is used to make the sauce. The heat (how spicy or not spicy a pepper is) is measured using a scale called the Scoville Scale and uses units called Scoville Heat Units (SHU) for measurement. Here is a ranking of some of the most commonly used peppers from mildest to hottest.

How to Make

Want to experiment with making your own hot sauce? Follow the starter guide below so that you can create your very own recipe!


  • Pot of 2 cups boiling water
  • Choice of spices (add as little or as much as desired)
  • Blender
  • Choice of hot peppers (add as little or as much as desired)
  • Choice of fruits/vegetables for added flavor (optional)
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 2/3 cup of white vinegar


  1. Check out the Scoville Scale of peppers and pick your favorite mild or spicy peppers to use.
  2. Place peppers, vinegar and salt along with your choice of spices and other fruits or veggies of your choice (like garlic and onion for savory or mango and pineapple for tangy) into a medium pot of boiling water.
  3. Reduce heat and let sit on low for 12 minutes.
  4. Let cool then pour water and ingredients into a blender. Blend on liquefy mode until evenly blended to desired thickness.
  5. Voila! Enjoy your very own homemade hot sauce!


Hot Sauce Quick Facts

Hot and Healthy!

According to University of Chicago Medicine, spicy foods are healthy because they contain capsaicinoids, which include the compound capsaicin, the chemical components of peppers that create their spicy taste. They also don’t cause ulcers or hemorrhoids, but can cause irritation to a previous known issue. Contact your doctor prior to eating anything too spicy.

Hot sauce in your eye? suggests gently flushing the affected eye with lukewarm water or a saline solution for up to 15 minutes.

Too Hot to Handle

Have milk nearby to drink instead of water because according to, “milk helps your mouth handle capsaicin, an oily chemical compound in chili peppers. Capsaicin binds to a receptor in the tongue and creates a burning sensation.”

More Butter, Please!

Most buffalo sauces are made of a cayenne pepper- based hot sauce, vinegar and butter. The butter-to-hot sauce ratio determines how mild or hot the sauce is.


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