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We Blind Tasted Every Sriracha Sauce (And Huy Fong *Did Not* Come In First)

Maybe this is a little “inside baseball,” but I have no idea how this article will perform. That’s significant because that’s sort of my specialty. When someone on our team has an idea, I generally have a solid idea of how it will land. When I come up with a concept, I do it because there seems to be a general interest. Hot sauce? Obviously, that’s something people are passionate about.

Sriracha specifically? Who knows.

(Okay, I guess I can find out. Here’s the Google trend chart showing significantly less interest than hot sauce — rising and falling at a similar cadence. Who knew that hot sauce had seasonality?)

Sriracha hot suace
Google Trends

Part of why there’s less interest in sriracha is what I’ll call the “Coke effect” or the “Kraft effect” — when there is one brand that has dominated so much of the market, buying it is sort of a no-brainer. California’s famous Huy Fong Foods makes a sriracha sauce that is so prevalent that I’m actually surprised to see so much competition. It’s hard to get someone to experiment with another brand. If you’re a hipster new-era food company with an angle, I can see it, but the more generic brands? What’s the upside?

The other piece of the “Coke effect” is that one brand can come to define how we taste or even recognize a certain food. Suddenly, anything that deviates from the standard tastes off. I’d wager that most people who read this article have only tasted one brand of sriracha sauce ever. I’ve certainly never seen another brand in a fast-casual restaurant or pho joint. No other brand has merch and multiple Halloween costumes and branded socks and comes in a keychain-sized bottle and ITS OWN CHEESE???

sriracha sauce

Add to all of this Huy Fong dominance that sriracha’s definition seems pretty murky. Wikipedia says this: “a type of hot sauce or chili sauce made from a paste of chili peppers, distilled vinegar, garlic, sugar, and salt.” But… isn’t that all hot sauce? Even the sriracha documentary seems pretty laser-focused on Huy Fong. What, specifically, is this stuff supposed to be? How can it be judged if the parameters are this vague?

Just looking at what’s prevalent in the industry and the few articles that delve into its origins, this seems to be what separates sriracha from other hot sauces:

  • Paste/ ketchup texture.
  • Made with red jalapenos.
  • Garlic-heavy.

I think those are the truest definitive parameters but here are a few more elements that seem to make a good sriracha, as per… me:

  • Enough sugar to draw out the sweetness of the peppers.
  • A sweetness-vinegar balance that favors the sweetness without losing tang.
  • Enough spice to grab your attention, rarely enough to sideline a meal.

The ingredients for sriracha are mostly all the same — peppers, sugar, vinegar, garlic — and then some stabilizers. So for the most part I let brands self-define what is and isn’t sriracha and judged them based on my own palate which, like everyone’s, was calibrated by Huy Fong’s ubiquitous sauce. That said, Huy Fong didn’t win this test. Didn’t even medal. So read on, dear reader, read on and find the surprising trio of brands that toppled the icon in this blind test!

PART I — Methodology:

Steve Bramucci

My lady laid out this little grid for me. I used saltine crackers for the first taste and a spoon for the second. Since one of the defining factors of the genre seems to be texture, it was certainly helpful to look at them when tasting. And, of course, the yellow sauce was easily recognized because there was only one.

The Competitors:

Steve Bramucci
  • Ass Kicking Sriracha
  • Cha Sriracha
  • Chin-Su Chili Sauce
  • Everyday I’m Trufflin’
  • Fix Sriracha
  • Garden Farm Sriracha
  • Heartbeat In Flames x Heartbeat
  • Heartbeat Hot Sauce Red Habanero
  • Huy Fong Foods Sriracha
  • Kikkoman Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce
  • Leaping Leopards Sriracha Sauce
  • Leaping Leopards Sweet Chili Sauce
  • Mago Roasted Habanero Hot Sauce
  • Melinda’s Sriracha Hot Sauce
  • Shark Brand Sriracha Chili Sauce
  • Tabasco Sriracha
  • Trader Joe’s Sriracha
  • Tung Ot Sriracha OG
  • Three Mountains Yellow Sriracha
  • Underwood Ranch Sriracha
  • Week Knees Gochujang Sriracha
  • Yellowbird Blue Agave Sriracha

PART II — The Ranking:

DISQUALIFIED — Leaping Leopard Sweet Chili Sauce


Price $4.97

Original Notes:

This is clearly a sweet chili sauce, and I got scammed or I fell for the shape of the bottle or someone submitted it because they wanted coverage and their PR team is shitty (in retrospect, I think it was in a two pack with Leping Leopard’s actual sriracha).

Anyway, it’s a sweet chili sauce and a good one, but definitely meant for a different ranking.

Rating: Disqualified.

Bottom Line: Kudos to me, I suppose, for at least being able to pick this out as a sweet chili sauce rather than a sriracha. Though that’s not much of a challenge.

20) SEMI-DISQUALIFIED — Mago Roasted Habanero Hot Sauce

Sauce Blind

Price $8.00

Original Notes:

This is fruity. There’s the sweetness of Sriracha, but I’m still going to guess that there’s some habanero at play. I know there are one or two other brands in the test that call their habanero salsa “sriracha” and this is probably one. With that said, this is a really strong hot sauce it’s umami-driven and fire-roasted. Too thin to be true sriracha with too much vinegar, I think but certainly tasty.

Rating: 9/10 as hot sauce. 0/10 as sriracha.

Bottom Line: I love this sauce but between the habaneros and the fire roasting and the high vinegar flavor, it’s not sriracha. Still delicious, though!

19) Trufflin’ — Sriracha

Sauce Blind

Price: $17.99

Original Notes:

This clearly has truffle flavoring in it. On one hand, the truffle craze has been overdone, on the other hand, truffles are delicious, on the third hand no one‘s actually using real truffles in their product. They are using a synthetic. On the fourth hand, synthetic truffles are also kind of tasty.

The problem is, I just don’t need truffle everything and I would rather add it through oil than a hot sauce. This is deep and earthy, but it’s igniting all sorts of fears of fake or synthetic truffles in my mind and it’s really not doing anything particularly special to make up for those fears and there’s a weird tartness that actually doesn’t play well with the truffles which I am sure is derived from vinegar and… I guess this just doesn’t work.

That’s all I needed to write. It’s well-intentioned, but it doesn’t work.

Rating: 4/10

Bottom Line: Stop trying to make truffle happen.

18) Shark Brand Sriracha Chili Sauce

Sauce Test

Price: $14.99

Original Notes:

Here’s another classic sriracha that looks more like a regular hot sauce, in that it is thinner. It tastes like Thai chilies, but it also tastes pretty mild and generally doesn’t pop on the palate. There’s more sweetness to it, almost skewing towards a Thai-sweet chili sauce.

I have a feeling this is gonna land lower.

Rating: 5/10

Bottom Line: This is a Thai table brand, which means it could be an indication that I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about. But it was also $5 after shipping (and being imported from Thailand) so I think we can agree it’s not the Cadillac of srirachas.

17) Trader Joe’s Sriracha

Sauce Blind

Price $10.80 (Cheaper at Trader Joe’s Physical Locations)

Original Notes:

This was our first classic sriracha sauce in the test (I started with a few semi-srirachas) and it is definitely not Huy Fong. It tastes like there’s something nutty in there. I like the flavor but it’s definitely more than just garlic and chili. I can’t really tell what it is maybe some sort of sweeter pepper? Maybe just sugar? It’s interesting but I’m not in love with it.

Rating: 5/10

Bottom Line: Sometimes things just don’t come together. I’m surprised to see Trader Joe’s landing this low but also… this isn’t good so ¯_(ツ)_/¯.

16) Ass Kicking Sriracha

Sauce Blind
Ass Kickin

Price: $7.95

Original Notes:

This is pretty hot but there’s some sort of weird body odor note. I’ve noticed that happens with pre-packaged products sometimes and you don’t know if it’s because something accidentally fermented or is meant to have funk or if they roasted the garlic in a weird way or what.

Regardless, I don’t love this if I’m being finicky — which I am literally being paid to be

Rating: 6/10

Bottom Line: Not terrible but not great by any means. I don’t think the Ass Kicking name is strong enough to make up for this mediocre product.

15) Kitchen Garden Farm Sriracha

Kitchen Garden Farm

Price: $11.99

Original Notes:

This is a little thin in every respect. The flavors in the sauce is thin. The blend is not as fine and sort of thin-meets-pulpy. It’s less like the ketchup texture and more like a sweet chili sauce texture. No major complaints, but nothing to write home about either.

Rating: 6/10

Bottom Line: We have arrived in the long, boring, mediocre middle of the ranking.

14) Underwood Ranch Sriracha

Sauce Blind

Price: $18.67

Original Notes:

By the look of this one, I thought it was gonna do really well. I thought it might even be Huy Fong but upon taste — it’s not. It’s a little… I don’t know (GIVE ME A BEARD AWARD).

Some ratio is just off perhaps it’s a tad too garlicky? I think that’s it.

Rating: 6/10

Bottom Line: That price is for a two-pack but I don’t really need to notate that because there’s no reason to buy this.

13) Leaping Leopard Sriracha Sauce


Price $5.96

Original Notes:

Man, this is probably Sriracha, but it tastes a lot like Taco Bell sauce. It’s almost like I can taste the corn shell tortilla in it if someone told me this was Taco Bell sauce, I would definitely fall for it. That said, it’s pretty good I just don’t quite think of this as Sriracha, though I suppose it is.

Rating: 6.5/10

Bottom Line: Fine. Fine. Fine.

12) Melinda’s Sriracha Hot Sauce

Sauce Blind

Price: $6.99

Original Notes:

This is pretty sweet and almost tastes like a mix of sweet chili and Sriracha, although it lands more in the Sriracha direction. The flavor is really good. I like it — I’m not wildly in love with it but I would never turn it down.

It’s fruity but it’s not habanero. It just doesn’t quite come together all the way, which is the most generic food writer, bullshit ever and I promise I won’t use it a second time in this tasting.

Rating: 7/10

Bottom Line: Solid not noteworthy.

11) Tabasco Sriracha

Sauce Blind

Price: $7.99

Original Notes:

This is a stone cold classic but it’s definitely pretty mild. There’s no real heat. You have to really layer it on. It miiiiiiiiight even end up being Huy Fong although I think that Hoy Fong is significantly hotter and fruitier. It’s just… mid-level in every way.

Rating: 7/10

Bottom Line: Classic and solid but falls into the trap of imitating Hoy Fong and being slightly worse. Not a great place to land, even for a brand as big as Tabasco.

10) Yellowbird Blue Agave Sriracha

Sauce Blind

Price $8.49

Original Notes:

There’s something weird in here that I don’t necessarily love. I don’t hate it but I feel like they got fancy with the sweetener?

It’s just a little different. Maybe they did something weird to the garlic. I don’t know but also maybe there is an American palate problem at play here — this could be about the fact that I’m calibrated to Huy Fong. Because if I was in Thailand, and someone said “Hey, try this more authentic type!” I would probably get all excited and buy 70 bottles.

With that said, it tastes just different enough without surprising me in a way that I’m in love with for me to not be particularly interested in going back for more.

Rating: 8/10

Bottom Line: I was right about weird sweetener. But contrary to my prediction, I did go back for more (because I saw the brand and recognized it as one I really like) and ended up liking this sauce a fair bit. Not a starter but definitely worth a try.

9) Heartbeat In Flames x Heartbeat

Sauce Blind
Heart Beat Hot Sauce

Price $12

Original Notes:

This one is absolutely delicious and definitely very spicy but I would debate that it’s sriracha. It’s too fruity for that. I believe that it is made with habaneros. Just by deduction, that means that it comes from the Heartbeat hot sauce line, because I know they call their habanero sauces Sriracha and sent them to me calling them sriracha.

Technicalities aside, it’s great. It’s very fruity and there’s a whole lot of flavor.

Rating: As a hot sauce 9/10 — I love this sauce and have like 10 different Heartbeat flavors at my house. As sriracha: 7/10. Split the difference and we land at 8/10.

Bottom Line: I wouldn’t use it on the same dishes as sriracha but I certainly like it a lot. This is one brand on this list that I have consistently bought with my own money. For a food writer who gets a lot of stuff sent for free, that’s saying something.

8) Week Knees Gochujang Sriracha

Sauce Blind
Bushwick Kitchen

Price: $11.99

Original Notes:

I feel like one thing that this test has illustrated is that there’s a lot of confusion around what sriracha is and that some brands have used that to make weird hybrids or mashups. Here is another example because this definitely tastes like a Korean gochujang and Thai sriracha mashup. Do we need it? Maybe not. But a blend of gochujang and sriracha is a very good idea and this is very tasty.

So why isn’t it higher? Between the two sugar-forward sauces that it blends together, it’s got a lot of sweetness to it.

Rating: 8.5/10

Bottom Line: A sauce I didn’t know I needed but I certainly liked. One of the marvels of sriracha is just how exciting it can make a bowl of white rice and this sauce seems like it could do that splendidly. On the flip side, the problem with mashups is that they don’t work as well in culture-specific dishes.

7) Heartbeat Hot Sauce Red Habanero

Sauce Blind
Heat Beat Hot Sauce

Price $12

Original Notes:

I know the sauce by taste it’s the Heartbeat Red Habanero. I lived in Costa Rica last year, where the food is mostly rice and beans, and I had this for literally every meal for two months. I absolutely love this sauce. It’s in my rotation regularly. I wouldn’t exactly call it a sriracha but it’s a flavor that I adore.

Very fruity but that fruit flavor is all coming from the chili itself. I don’t think there’s any other fruit in there except maybe bell peppers, which is a vegetable but has a fruity vegetal flavor to it.

Rating: As a hot sauce: 10/10. One of my absolute favorites. As sriracha: 8/10. The average is 9/10 but I just couldn’t push it into the top six in a sriracha ranking when it’s not quite that.

Bottom Line: You wouldn’t use it for all the same dishes you’d use sriracha — I wouldn’t put some in my soy sauce at sushi restaurants, as I do with Huy Fong, but as a sauce, this is an absolute standout.

6) Chin-Su Chili Sauce

Sauce Blind

Price: $9.99

Original Notes:

This is too thick to be Huy Fong. It’s almost tomato-pasty but I also really like the flavor I have a feeling this is one of the really authentic Thai products.

It’s really good and I’m going back for more time fruity and light and also simple. Maybe there’s cornstarch in there as a thickener? (I was correct!) Or other weird thickeners? But it doesn’t taste super chemical, so I guess simple corn starch.

I guess the real complaint here is that it’s super mild.

Rating: 8.5/10

Bottom Line: Excellent in everything but its heat level.

5) Fix Sriracha

Sauce Blind

Price: $24.99 (2-Pack)

Original Notes:

Okay, this was deep in the ranking and I took a little phone call because I was worried about palate burnout. I came right back to a winner that was very sweet and very mild but definitely and excellent sriracha. The garlic is done well, the vinegar isn’t overpowering, it’s really nicely balanced. It’s a little thin to be Huy Fong but that says nothing about the flavor.

I really like it

Rating: 8.5/10

Bottom Line: Eight point five out of ten friends would not know that this is any different than Huy Fong.

4) Huy Fong Foods Sriracha

Sauce Blind

Price: $3.89

Original Notes:

This is a classic and could even be Huy Fong (winner!). It’s excellent it’s fruity and it’s bright and it’s spicy and it tastes like something my palate is pretty accustomed to.

I’m not actually in my peak sriracha sauce-using era right now but when I was, I remember how well this did with pure rice. You kind of forget how fruity it is and that it’s also sweet right after the heat.

Rating: 9/10

Bottom Line: OG. Icon. Market Leader. Also: Delicious. It takes a lot to beat this.

3) Cha Sriracha

Sauce Blind
Texas Pete

Price $15.55

Original Notes:

I can’t believe none of these use peanut oil this taste so nutty. Maybe it’s in how they roast the garlic? This is very good and very nutty and could be Huy Fong but I doubt it because of the nuttiness. It’s classic with a plus — that nutty, umami depth. It doesn’t shock me, stays in the Huy Fong lane, but offers something exciting.

Rating: 9.1/10

Bottom Line: A very minor upgrade over Huy Fong, but an upgrade nonetheless.

2) Three Mountains Yellow Sriracha

Umami Cart

Price $6.99

Original Notes:

Holy shit, I love this sauce. I don’t know how we get to call it sriracha but it’s kind of obvious which one it is because there was only one truly yellow sauce and it was called “yellow sriracha” right on the label. It’s not all that spicy but the flavor of yellow chilies is such a surprise and the other ratios are so well done and there’s this aspect of the tropics to it.

If you asked me which sauce to put on your jerk chicken right now, I would hand you this. It’s my new go-to when eating Jamaican food.

Rating: 9.5/10

Bottom Line: This transcends any rules I had about what is and isn’t sriracha. It’s just so freaking wonderful. I love it and I will seek it out, even though I get roughly 30 free sauces sent to me per month.

1) Kikkoman Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce

Sauce Blind

Price: $12.21

Original Notes:

This is a surprise. It’s darker; it’s moodier. It’s almost smoky but it’s not that either. It’s beguiling and truly spectacular. I don’t know what it’s doing differently. Maybe it’s toasting the peppers? Or the garlic? Or… I don’t know here all the darkness comes from but it is my favorite so far by a mile. It’s a little less sweet and a little darker and the flavor profile is richer.

Rating: 10/10

Bottom Line: Sometimes these sorts of tests come down to a judgment call. Not this time. I can, with 100% confidence, call this the best sriracha on the market.

PART III — Conclusion

Steve Bramucci

Get the whole top five for fun and contrast. Get the Hearbeat because it’s an excellent sauce, regardless of its sriracha-ness. Get the yellow sriracha because its so good it transcends my rules laid out in the lede. But nothing beats that Kikkoman. Not sure why, can’t explain it, but it’s undeniable: this is better than the OG.