Must Have Hot Sauces:
Three I Keep on Hand At All Times

These are my top 3 favorite hot sauces that I always have in the house.

There’s nothing exotic or fancy here – just simple, good for everyday use hot sauces that I always keep on hand.

1. Tabasco – The Granddaddy of hot sauces

Tabasco has been around since 1868. Pages have been written about this trail-blazer sauce, the McIlhenny Family and their company. I may take some heat from readers for even mentioning Tabasco, but it’s hard to argue it’s popularity. And dammit, I like it. I love it on pizza, it keeps well needing no refrigeration, so I can carry it with me all the time.

For all you Tabasco fans out there, be sure to check out Tabasco’s History Tent and their Info Booth (FAQ’s).

By the way, the correct pronunciation of the family name “McIlhenny” is “mac-ull-henny”

Ingredients: distilled vinegar, red pepper, salt

2. Pickapeppa – Hot Red Pepper Sauce from Shooters Hill, Jamaica

My favorite imported hot sauce comes from the Pickapeppa Company Limited. Again, another old company that has been making it’s legendary Pickapeppa Sauce since 1921. This bright red sauce begins with a very unique sweetness due to the cane vinegar and sugar, but it also packs quite a bit of searing heat. I think it’s a very tasty hot sauce.

So much so, that it was the subject of the 2nd post here on HotSauceDaily way back in 2007.

If you can’t find it locally, (remarkably, I’m able to buy it at SuperFresh), you can purchase it online here from the Warbac Sales, the folks who import Pickapeppa products into the US via the Port of New Orleans.

Ingredients: hot peppers, cane vinegar, sugar, salt, and spices

3. Pyro-Mania – A chunky hot sauce from Garden Row Foods in St. Charles, Illinois

Even though its one of my top favorites, I do tend to reserve it’s use strictly for tacos, burritos and similar Mexican dishes. This is a very chunky sauce. Loaded with bits of peppers, onions and chives, it hits you with the vinegar and heat from the habaneros first, then some sweetness from the tomato paste and sugar. There’s the smokiness of the chipotle in there too.

I could eat this stuff with a spoon! Obviously, Pyro-Mania has the most complex recipe of this trio. It earns the third spot as my must have on hand sauces based on flavor and texture.

To purchase, Google “pyro-mania sauce” and you’ll get about 8,000 hits, but the best price I found was on, home of the manufacturer Garden Row.

Ingredients: distilled vinegar, habanero pepper, tomato paste, water, chipotle pepper, onion, salt, chives, sugar, garlic powder, black pepper

Bonus: If you’ve read this far, and you plan to buy the Pyro-Mania from, they are also home to the famous Sport Pepper that is a must have ingredient for Chicago Dogs. Drop a jar of these babies into your shopping cart while you are there!

In case you’re wondering, off the chart at Number 4 would have to be Sriracha sauce! Gotta keep that around too!

What would your top 3 must have on hand hot sauces be?

Click here to leave a Comment and tell us.

About Brian Meagher

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  1. I have too many to list. I couldn’t narrow it down to a top three.

    But I must strongly disagree with your selection of Tabasco.;-) I’m not into pepper-colored vinegar.

  2. Personally, my go tos would be Franks Redhot (I do put that @#$! on everything), Blair’s Original Death and Mike and Diane’s XX Hot Habanero, if I could do a fourth another common fave is Gringo Bandito.


    • Hey Jay, nice choices! I’m a recent fan of Blair’s Original Death, and it’s pretty damn good.
      And this is the second time in 2 days that I’ve run across someone touting Gringo Bandito. I have a few small sample bottles here that I’m going to have to open now.

  3. I’m actually pretty new to the hot sauce craze but so far my top three go tos would be
    Killer Cayenne – I put this on about everything
    Oaxacan – go to sauce for tacos and burritos
    Thai Monkey – this is my Chinese food go to sauce

    I buy one or two of these just about every time I go to Jungle Jim’s.

    • I will have to check out Killer Cayenne and Oaxacan! I love the suggestions coming in. Thanks hudd.

  4. just found out over the weekend Killer Cayenne is done! I picked up a couple extra bottles. May have to round up a few more.

  5. Susie says:

    My first choice would be Sriracha sauce, then Frank’s Red Hot and Cholula. I also like any flavor of Tabasco.

    • Ah, Cholula… another great sauce to keep handy. Thanks Susie!

      • Kelly says:

        hmm can’t say I have a favorite hot sauce. there are so many out there and it all depends on what you are doing
        Cholula of course is great with most anything
        Tabasco if I just want a small something extra with soup
        just got sent 4 hot sauces Desert Creatures, it has 4 different bottles two are hot the other two are more basic but all are good
        Pecan hot sauce was amazing, has a sweeter taste def not the hottest but combine it with a salsa it would be awesome

        • Thanks Kelly! I’ll have to check out the Desert Creatures line of sauces. The Pecan sweet hot sauce sounds a lot like Georgia Peach in that it’s both sweet and hot.

  6. Brian, I buy my Killer Cayenne at Jungle Jim’s in Fairfield Ohio. However over the weekend I bought a couple bottles direct from CaJohn’s shop in the North Market in Columbus Ohio. I was told when I bought mine Saturday that they weren’t making it anymore. and 888-703-FIRE is the phone number. Not sure how much they have left so get in touch with them and order some.

  7. parker394 says:

    Redrum Golden BBQ (batch 1)
    Mike and Diane’s Ring of Fire (garden)
    Defcon wing sauce (2)
    And Mild to Wild original habanero finishing sauce

    I realize that’s 4 but I just had to….

    • That’s cool… 3, 4, 6 … everyone’s got their “list”. Thanks for weighing in.

      • I not saying any new ones that anyone else hasn’t all ready said. The ones I use the most are identical to Parker’s.

        For bbq- Mild to Wild Pepper & Herb Company’s Fiery Hot Habanero is my favorite.
        For egg omelets- Mike & Diane’s Ring of Fire XX Habanero, there is not another hot sauce that will do it justice.
        For Anything Mexican- Oaxacan
        Wing Sauce- Defcon 1 or 2
        Dessert Sauce- Crazy Uncle Jester’s Afterburner Sauce- Chocolatey fudgey and oh so good with ice cream.
        On Swiss Cheese- Yes sounds weird, but a slice of Sargento Swiss cheese and Zane & Zack’s Too Hot for Tina’s Habanero is just the right snacktoid.
        Snack- B’More Nutz Nuclear Nutterz is both addictive and the perfect party snack with beer or at least I been told via feedback. It is good with my foo-foo drinks too. Their bacon cheddar flavor while not spicy is awesome.

  8. Hey, Buddah… nice list of “must haves” on hand. Thanks for your eclectic list! Some great ideas there.

  9. Although I seem to have a different favotite sauce every month, I find myself going back to the same few after the “Sauce of the day” facination wears off
    My 3 favorites (not including RedRum Sauces which would of course would capture all 3 spots!)
    First…must mention:
    Number 1 (A) Sauce Emeritus – Inner Beauty, sadly no longer available 🙁
    now the top 3 not neccasarily in order of preference:
    1. Marie Sharps Fiery Hot – a classic!
    2. Cheech Garlic – not too hot but it keeps me coming back again and again – great on pizza!
    3. Defcon 2 – Makes great Jerky too!

  10. parker394 says:

    Hey Eddie, you jacking my Defcon jerky recipe? lol I need to make some more, Start m a pile with 2 bottles of Defcon 2 will ya?

    • Hey Parker and Ed,
      I’d love to see the recipe for jerky with Defcon sauces. Where can I find it?

  11. Brian,

    I don’t think there is any particular recipe other than their own. They all make their own jerky using that sauce. I know my friend Eric loves Bill & Sandi’s Defcon jerky version as well.

    • Buddah, can you point me to a recipe somewhere?

      • Brian, like I said, there isn’t a recipe to go look for. I am guessing all the amateur jerky makers are marinating their meat in Defcon wing sauce and dehydrating it. I will ask Parker or Sandi the specifics, but I am guessing that is all it is.

  12. Brian..I have had much success making Defcon jerky. It took a while to get it down pat because it is a different type of sauce..get a hold of me if you want the “recipe”. It’s just a matter of the meat, marinating and way of dehydrating..but the method we’ve found does work for Defcon sauces.

    • Hey Sandi, I will get in touch with you. I’d love to know how to make some jerky with Defcon sauces! Thanks!

  13. I wish I would have gotten on this 3 sauces..hard to think of..
    Oaxacan a must..use that more than any other sauce.
    Thai great with anything Asian tasting..
    And the last..I hat to say it is Tiger just works on anything.

  14. EDIT!! Not top 3 sauces..but sauces I keep on hand!

  15. I’m happy to see so many jerky makers using our stuff!

    • I thought that you had tried some at WOF O8..we had brought some for everyone to try..Turned out great! Have had some requests for Defcon jerky.

  16. If someone could email me a recipe (I don’t know the first thing about making jerky), I’ll be more than happy to post it on the website.

  17. Waddy Spice Traders Devil Dust
    It’s not a sauce, it’s a dry blend of very finely ground peppers and it is HOT!!!

  18. 1. El Yucateco Green.

    2. Sambal Oelek

    3. Dave’s Insanity (The only acceptable hot sauce that uses extracts, IMHO.)

    • Thanks Jack for chiming in on this older thread. I agree 100% that Dave’s Insanity is a must have sauce too. And don’t think I didn’t catch your “mandate” that it’s the only one with extract worth eating. Extract additives can be so harsh… now that’s not to say there are others out there that merit mentioning.
      It was my first ultra-hot sauce, and still a big favorite!

      As to your other 2 “must haves”… El Yucateco makes a great Chipotle that I like. I can’t comment on the Green version. And Sambal Oelek… well, who shouldn’t have a sweet/hot chili paste on hand? Eh? Thanks again. ~brian

    • El Yucateco XXXtra hot Salsa Kutbil-ik de chile habanerao (at home we just call it “triple-x”) is REALLY good, quite hot and quite tasty.

  19. Just found your blog and am really enjoying it. My wife and I have been chile heads for years and even dabble in making some of our own sauces when we have the right chiles Of the 60+ sauces we have in our fridge, my 3 desert island sauces are:
    – Jump Up and Kiss Me
    – Sriracha “Rooster”
    – El Yucateca Green habanero
    We these three I can add flavor and heat to any cuisine.

    • Awesome short list there Tedd! Great hot sauce, gotta have sriracha, and something mean and green.


  20. Loren Montespino says:

    OMG! I was beginning to think that I and members of my family were the only people on the planet who even KNEW that Pickapeppa makes a real, red type hot sauce! My Mom found this somewhere in the French Quarter years and years ago, like the late 1970’s, and bought it regularly there until she passed right after Katrina hit. I used to go to a shop on Decatur street and buy two or three bottles every time I went back to New Orleans up until that time. i now live in Dallas, and Central market actually got it in for me once and I bought several bottles then. But it is next to impossible to find in stores. It has the MOST delicious flavor. It is the best thing ever for seasoning beans – gives even vegan beans a rich meaty flavor that is unparalleled. I use it in scrambled eggs, hash browns, remoulade sauce, and spaghetti sauce too. I use it sparingly, like little drops of gold, because it is so hard to find and I’m beginning to run low. It is not like a quad X, habanero and bhut jolokia type heat – more on the milder range for sheer heat, but quite hot enough for me. But the flavor! Oh the exquisite flavor! Somehow this is the one that just pushed all the right flavor profile buttons for me.

    I also still have, carefully nurtured, about a third of a bottle each of two bottles of flavored Flying Goose brand Sriracha sauce, from what I understand no longer imported into the US. I have the Galanga and Lemongrass flavors, and they kick the isht out of “Rooster” sauce. The galanga(l) flavor is great with any kind of meat or sauce for met, and the lemongrass is perfect in vegetable heavy dishes like stir frys, or vegetable soups, and, oddly, mixed with melted butter and lemon on grilled fish (and in remoulade sauce). (I discovered they were no longer being imported when I went back to the store I bought them from looking to buy the “extra sour” lemon flavor :>( ) I’ve used both in spaghetti sauce and they are fabulous there too. I’d give my right arm to be able to get a complete set of the flavors in the mid sized bottles but can’t even find anyone on line who will send them to me (pout).

    I loathe Frank’s sauce though. Not sure why, just don’t like it. Tabasco was of course in every pantry in New Orleans when I was growing up and still has a place in mine, but if I could get regular access to Pickapeppa I would probably seldom use Tabasco. One recent discovery for me is available everywhere here in Texas and probably all over the southwest at the very least – Tapatio’s. As I have gotten older my ability to tolerate high levels of capsaicin has dramatically decreased, to my dismay. Tapatio is quite mild to my sensibilities but has a very good flavor and mixes well with darn near anything. That has become my “table” hot sauce for that reason. I wish I had ready enough access to Pickapeppa to make THAT my “table sauce” but Tapatio will do in the meantime. Unfortunately, Anything stronger than these will literally leave blistering chemical burns on my oral mucus membranes. No Habanero sauces for me!

    Finally, I do love Korean gochujang for cooking with. Again because it has a good flavor. Two other products that I keep around for flavor are Dua Belibis, an Indonesian “hot sauce” that is more like a spiced up ketchup (and is used like ketchup in Indonesia from what I understand), and Jufran “Banana Sauce(Ketchup)” which is very hard to describe, again like a spicy ketchup but not tomato-y. Also a good brand of “sweet” chili sauce which I use on stir fried noodles, BBQ, rice, etc etc.

    Sorry for such a long post to such an old thread, but i was SO excited to see that someone other than me even KNEW about Pickapeppa hot sauce, the best stuff in the world! I do hope it is still on your list of “got to have in my spice pantry”. I’ve loved it for thirty five years.

  21. We do keep tabasco around, but don’t use it much. Until a few months ago, our top 3 list would be Cholula, El Yucateca XXXtra, sriracha, but we’ve started going back and forth between Cholula and Tapatio. I always thought Tapatio must be inferior because it’s cheaper and doesn’t have a cool wooden top, but when I actually tasted it, I found I liked it a little better.

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