Variety of hot peppers in basket

Hot sauces

Hot sauces & salsas

Salsa started outselling ketchup in America nearly 30 years ago. Tortillas outsell burger and hot dog buns. Tortilla chips outsell potato chips. The Associated Press once even observed, “…tacos and burritos have become so ubiquitously ‘American,’ most people don’t even consider them ethnic.” Times, they are a-changin’.

Whether it’s sriracha at McDonald’s or Cholula at IHOP, hot sauces have largely kept step with this new culinary era but have exploded in popularity in recent years. Regional favorites are becoming national favorites and more experimental, specialty hot sauces are readily available. Much like craft brewing, we’re in a golden age of hot sauce, dab it up while it lasts.

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Everyday favorites

Texas Pete Sabor Mexican-Style Hot SauceBuy it now

Texas Pete Sabor Mexican-Style Hot Sauce

This hot sauce is all about the flavor, not the heat. Regular Texas Pete is pretty good, but Sabor is extraordinary — impossibly delicious on Mexican food.

La Victoria Salsa Brava Hot SauceBuy it now

La Victoria Salsa Brava Hot Sauce

La Victoria introduced Brava to the U.S. all the way back in 1917 and have been refining it ever since. Their “hot” is just right, and we use it constantly. It’s our go-to everyday hot sauce.

Cholula Green Pepper Hot SauceBuy it now

Cholula Green Pepper Hot Sauce

Cholula Original is still one of our favorites, but this subtle successor is now our preferred sauce for eggs and chicken. If you’re a fan of green pepper hot sauces, this is the one.

El Yucateco Black Label Reserve Chile Habanero hot sauceBuy it now

El Yucateco Black Label Reserve Chile Habanero hot sauce

Very smoky with a decent heat and just a touch of sweetness, this sauce is dense and flavorful, if a bit polarizing. Some may find it bitter, but we use it with reckless abandon in refried beans and sauces.

Salsa favorites

Julio's Home Style Hot SalsaBuy it now

Julio’s Home Style Hot Salsa

If you have to buy it from a store, Julio’s — refrigerated or jarred — is arguably the best salsa you can buy. Made right on the border in Del Rio, Texans speak of Julio’s salsa (and their seasoned chips) with the hushed reverence they usually reserve only for brisket and Nolan Ryan.

Frontera double-roasted tomato salsaBuy it now

Frontera double-roasted tomato salsa

Inspired by the salsa of Mexican street vendors, Rick Bayless’ double-roasted tomato salsa is among the best of his already outstanding Frontera lineup. Rich and complex, this is the go-to salsa of many chefs and foodies.

Herdez salsa verdeBuy it now

Herdez salsa verde

Herdez salsa verde is a bright and fruity but balanced salsa with an unassuming heat that pairs exceptionally well with pork and chicken but is great with almost everything. Salsa verde is a Southwest staple for a reason.

Green Mountain Gringo SalsanBuy it now

Green Mountain Gringo Salsa

It’s easy to see why Green Mountain Gringo has such a loyal following. It does the impossible. It’s a salsa that’s as accessible and addictive as the over-sweetened popular brands but somehow still manages to please even the pickiest salsa gourmand.

Hot sauce sets

Yellowbird variety packBuy it now

Yellowbird variety pack

Yellowbird made its name by refusing to use the “fake filler ingredients” embraced by so many other manufacturers, opting instead to use farm-fresh fruits and vegetables. Their decision to use only quality ingredients has made their thicker, condimentlike hot sauce a widespread favorite.

Secret Aardvark Combo 3-PackBuy it now

Secret Aardvark combo 3-pack

Secret Aardvark has come a long away since its early days in Portland’s farmers markets, earning a small army of devoted followers who love Aardvark’s unique take on habanero hot sauce. It’s everything they claim, but don’t sleep on the Drunken Garlic Black Bean Sauce — it’s crazy good.

Queen Majesty Gift SetBuy it now

Queen Majesty Gift Set

Queen Majesty’s Scotch Bonnet & Ginger Hot Sauce is one of those sauces that keeps mysteriously disappearing from your kitchen. Bright and zesty, this sauce isn’t great on everything (like, say, Mexican food), but really shines in soup and fish dishes. Dab it on chicken wings, though, and it will knock your socks right off.

Humble House Mini Gift SetBuy it now

Humble House Mini Gift Set

A hot sauce-barbecue sauce hybrid, Humble House’s Ancho & Morita is made for ribs and grilled meats, eggs and, well, everything you want to make taste amazing. This compelling mixture of smoked jalapeño and aged tamarind paste might just replace your regular barbecue sauce.

Featured image: @belart84/Pexels