California Habanero Blends review

California Habanero Blends out of Chico, Calif. have created a trio of habanero Table Sauces from Ginger Garlic (mild) to Chipotle (medium) to Garlic Key Lime (hot). While these are not “hot sauces” per se, they are designed for dipping, marinating and cooking.

California Blends Hot Sauces

California Habanero Blends

Chef Timothy Sharkey created these “table sauces” to enhance your food, lead you into the world of spicy condiments without burning your face off, and to introduce his flavorful creations to the masses. Of the three sauces offered, there is a California Habanero Blend flavor for everyone in the house.

1 – Ginger Garlic – Sweet

California Blends Ginger Garlic habanero

Sweet, mild & sticky

The mildest of the 3 sauces here, the Ginger Garlic is very sweet and sticky. It has an Asian inspired flavor that makes for a nice sticky wing sauce, or as a finishing sauce on grilled shrimp. It would also be delicious as a dipping sauce for egg rolls.

Consistency is towards the thinner side of sauces, yet it has a little body that you would expect from a sticky Asian sauce.

California Blends Ginger Garlic Habanero is sweet

Ginger Garlic is a nice dipping sauce too

Heat Level: Rated 1 out of 5 Stars – 1/5 This one is all flavor and sweetness. Just a tingle of heat.

Ingredients: water, sugar, orange juice concentrate, pineapple juice concentrate, garlic, ginger, key lime juice concentrate, carrot puree, salt, distilled vinegar, habanero peppers, wheat, soybeans, red peppers, citric acid, extra virgin olive oil, spice, xanthan gum, phosphoric acid, ascorbic acid, sodium benzoate, potassium sorbate, sodium metabisulfite.

2 – Chipotle – Sweet & Smoky

California Blends Chipotle Habenero Sauce

Smoky BBQ sauce style flavor – the 5oz bottle will go fast

The “medium” level of this trio tastes for all the world of a smoky BBQ style sauce. The thickest of the 3, by far, it’s a dark, thick, pourable sauce with lots of smoke overtones and nice little bits of garlic and peppers.

There are some impressive ingredients in this one that include chipotle peppers, molasses, honey and maple syrup. Yes, it’s a bit on the sweet side too – but with a nice little bite of heat. In case you didn’t know, chipotle peppers (smoked jalapeños) can be quite hot. Coupled with the habaneros, along with some vinegar and key lime juice, and you’ve got a zesty flavor profile.

It’s no surprise that the Chipotle – Sweet & Smoky is Cal Blends’ biggest seller by far. I only wish it came in a bigger size – either a pint jar, or quarts or gallons. Yea, it’s that good.

California Blends Chipotle Habanero is a BBQ style sauce

Thick, rich and smoky. This really should come in a pint jar.

Heat Level: Rated 1.5 out of 5 Stars – 1.5/5 – I can’t give this sauce a much higher heat level due to the sweetness and smokiness that pervade it. Relatively speaking, it really is just a half notch above the milder Ginger Garlic.

Ingredients: tomato paste, water, sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, chipotle peppers, salt, carrot puree, molasses, honey, maple syrup, key lime juice concentrate, distilled vinegar, habanero peppers, garlic, spice, extra virgin olive oil, natural flavors, citric acid, sodium benzoate, wheat, soybeans, liquid smoke, oleoresin, paprika, oleoresin capsicum, sodium metabisulfite.

3 – Garlic Key Lime – Tangy

California Blends Garlic Key Lime Habanero sauce

Hottest, thinnest of the trio.

Labeled as the “Hot” level of these three sauces, and indeed it is the hottest, it is also the original sauce that California Blends started with. And it forms the basis for the other two sauces in the lineup.

Standing alone, it is also the thinnest of the sauces here – with an orange color and bits of peppers and seasonings.

The taste, straight up, is very harsh. The biting flavor of the key lime juice, coupled with the habanero peppers is jarring, to say the least.
This one is definitely our least favorite of the threesome. Which is both surprising and disappointing. I had high hopes for this one.

California Blends Garlic Key Lime Habanero is their house sauce

Thin, fiery, and very much a Key lime flavor.

Heat Level: Rated 2 out of 5 Stars – 2/5 The quick heat and sting are short-lived. You’d have to be a big fan of key lime juice AND habaneros to really dig this one.

Ingredients: water, carrot puree, key lime juice concentrate, habanero peppers, garlic, extra virgin olive oil, salt, distilled vinegar, citric acid, spice, xanthan gum, sodium benzoate, sodium metabisulfite.

As usual, everyones tastes are different, so I highly suggest you order all three (get 2 of the Chipotle – it’s that good) and judge for yourself. You may find you love them all for different reasons!

California Blends bottles

Classy labels

Label/Graphics: Clean labels with big fonts tell you that you are indeed looking at California Blends’ products. The single habanero pepper emblazoned with the “flavor” is very clear. The background splash of color is different for all 3, but I will take issue with the mild Ginger Garlic having the “hot” red color over the Chipotle’s tamer orange color.

Overall Rating (Taste on Food, Final Thoughts): We tried each of the 3 sauces on wings that we grilled outside, tossing a few wings in each of the flavors.

Grilled wings with California Blends Table Sauces

Grilled wings with California Blends Table Sauces – L-R: mild, med, hot

The Ginger Garlic made for some tasty Asian style wings – but very mild in heat. The Chipotle sauce was the favorite, imparting a nice BBQ/Chipotle flavor. Thick, sticky BBQ style wings. The Garlic Key Lime was a big fail on wings. The sauce never “set up” and remained thin and runny.

Next up was a round of grilled shrimp that we cooked on our indoor George Foreman grill. After a short marinade in the ‘fridge for about 4 hours, each skewer of shrimp was grilled first and brushed with the sauces for a final flavor hit.

Grilled shrimp with California Blends sauces

Grilled shrimp really did well with the sauces

Again, the Ginger Garlic was superb if not mild, the Chipotle made for some great BBQ shrimp that you would be proud to serve up, and … finally… we found a better combo for the Garlic Key Lime. It really shined on the shrimp this time. It was hot and spicy, tangy and flavorful.

Bonus Review: Garlic Key Lime Pistachios

California Blends Pistachios

Pistachios – with California Blends’ Key Lime seasoning.

These salty, savory, slightly spicy pistachios are seasoned with a dry version of California Habanero Blends’ Garlic Key Lime sauce. They also have very little of the heat level that we found in the sauce itself.

Pistachios from California Blends


The 8 ounce resealable bag lasted us through about 4 episodes of Breaking Bad. Get two, they go fast!

About California Blends:

Our company and product name comes from the fact that we are different from most of the Hot Sauces out there today. We take a base flavor with heat and create all of our products from the original source. All of the flavors naturally blend together because they all have the same base flavor in them. Mixing one with the other only intensifies the flavors and heat. California is a melting pot of cultures and flavors.

All of our products are low in sodium, all natural ingredients, no fillers, natural sugar, no high fructose Corn syrup, fat free, low in calories, no artificial colors, no MSG. All of these sauces can be used all year long so keep them on the Table for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Where to buy: Visit to purchase.

About Brian Meagher

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