Week of Mild: Day 5: Dillapeño Salsa & Relish Review

Condiments rule (after hot sauces, of course), and today for Day 5 of Week of Mild, we’re looking at Dillapeño Salsa & Relish from the Smither Family Kitchen in Texas. This concoction of cucumber, jalapeños, sugar and carrots makes for a delicious condiment. Sweet and only mildly hot via the jalapeños, it’s perfect on “cream cheese, deviled eggs, hot dogs, burgers, tuna salad… and our favorite, chips!” according to their label.

Ingredients: cucumber (distilled vinegar, salt, alum, turmeric, spics, 1/10 of 1% sodium benzoate (preservative), polysorbate 80), jalapeño peppers, (water, vinegar, salt), sugar, trace of calcium chloride, carrots

Texture & Appearance: It’s chunky in a relish kind of way. Ok, let’s cut to the chase – it IS a relish. A very sweet relish, with jalapeños.

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Week of Mild Day 2 Scotty B’s Trio of Jalapeño Sauces Review

For Day 2 of our Week of Mild, we review a mild trio of Scotty B’s jalapeño based sauces – Chipotle Fever, Jalapeño Scream, and Sweet Jalapeño Heat.

Scotty B's Mild Trio

Scotty B sent me his lineup of 8 sauces awhile back. His flavorful mild sauce trio fit right in with this series, so I’m beginning with his mildest of mild and working my way up. Overall, I do like all 3 of these sauces from Scotty B, so don’t be turned off by the first review… it’s really mild – almost “sub-mild”.

And kudos to Scotty B for using “wide mouth” bottles (the 5 ounce “woozies”) and no restrictor caps. These are my kind of bottles.

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Lucky Dog Fire Roasted Hot Pepper Sauce

Lucky Dog Hot Sauce – “Food’s Best Friend”, comes from the Sonoma, California kitchen of Scott Zalkind. Featuring fire-roasted hot peppers, Scott offers three versions of Lucky Dog Hot Sauce.

“I believe in flavor above all else, which is why Lucky Dog Hot Sauce is created with savory fire-roasted hot peppers, sweet carrots, tangy vinegar, fresh onions, assorted dried peppers, and heaps of roasted garlic.” – Scott Zalkind

Green Label – with jalapeño, serrano and cayenne peppers, and roasted garlic – is the mild-to-medium version.
Red Label – adds habanero to the jalapeño, serrano, and cayenne pepper mix – this is their medium-hot offering.
Orange Label – more habanero, serrano, jalapeño and varietal hot cayenne peppers – Orange Label is their hot one.

Lucky Dog Hot Sauce Lineup

Lucky Dog Hot Sauce Lineup

I’ve been in touch with Scott since March of this year, and at that time he was finishing up pre-production work on Lucky Dog. Having just launched officially in June of 2012, Lucky Dog is the “new kid on the block”, and I’m glad they brought out all three flavors right off the bat. Their site, LuckyDogHotSauce.com mentions that upcoming fourth, and possibly fifth flavors are in the works.

Lucky Dog Fire-roasted Hot Sauce – Green Label

Ingredients: distilled vinegar, onions, roasted chile peppers, roasted garlic, water, carrots, chile peppers, sugar, sea salt, lime juice from concentrate, cayenne pepper The side of the label does spell out the peppers here are the jalapeño, serrano and cayennes.

Lucky Dog Hot Sauce Green Label

Lucky Dog Hot Sauce Green

Texture & Appearance: With finely ground or crushed peppers and slightly thick, this sauce pours in dollops and clings well. Marilyn says “the color is a dull orange / beige – not really green.” The overall texture of all three of the Lucky Dog sauces is the same impressive and consistent grind. Very nicely done!

Taste Straight Up: Sweetness from the carrots and sugar is up front along with the onion. The jalapeño and serrano peppers provide a mild, traditional heat on the front of the tongue. This is a classic flavor enhanced by the quality of the ingredients. The smoked roasted peppers provide a nice earthy flavor overall. However, the garlic is disappointingly too subtle for me. I love to be hit in the face with garlic… Marilyn, not so much.

Knowing there are dried chile peppers buried in the mix, I can’t help but sense just a wee bit of what I call “dustiness”. It’s ever so slight, and it may be a “mind thing”, as Marilyn disagrees with me. But I thought it worth mentioning.

Heat Level: Rated 2 out of 5 Stars – A fairly good bite of heat that tingles the tongue, but is short lived – I credit the serranos for the nice sting here, even if it’s only a mild-medium level, just as the label says.

Lucky Dog Fire-roasted Hot Sauce – Red Label

Ingredients: apple cider vinegar, onions, roasted chile peppers, carrots, roasted garlic, water, chile peppers, sea salt, sugar, cayenne pepper, lime juice from concentrate Again, elsewhere on the label the addition of habaneros are mentioned.

Lucky Dog Hot Sauce Red

Lucky Dog Hot Sauce Red

Texture & Appearance: A tab bit thicker than the Green Label, with a darker burnt orange color. Same great “grind” or mash-like consistency. A beautiful sauce, if you can call anything that looks burnt orange, beautiful. I’m smitten with the texture of these 2 sauces.

Taste Straight Up: The habanero really shines through at first, bringing on its classic taste – fruity and hot – followed by the sweetness of the other non-chile ingredients. We think the roasted garlic, being much sweeter than its raw counterpart is a supporting player in the sweetness here. It’s also a little more pronounced now.

Heat Level: Rated 2.5 out of 5 Stars – Yup, just barely a notch above the Green Label here. Marilyn thinks it’s practically the same heat level, but with a different chile. In this case the habby moves the burn to the back of the throat. I think the fire roasting technique, along with the milder apple cider vinegar, really keeps the heat from burning too much. The rich, sweet flavor is still predominant, making this sauce a great, well balanced choice.

Lucky Dog Fire-roasted Hot Sauce – Orange Label

Ingredients: apple cider vinegar, onions, roasted chile peppers, roasted garlic, carrots, chile peppers, water, sugar, sea salt, cayenne pepper, lime juice from concentrate

Lucky Dog Hot Sauce Orange

Lucky Dog Hot Sauce Orange

Texture & Appearance: We’re back to the slightly thinner consistency, very similar to the Green Label, if not just a bit thinner. Also it’s the darkest color of the 3, but we’re still in burnt orange territory. And again, the overall grind or consistency is standard for Lucky Dog.

Taste Straight Up: We both detected a rich, dark smoky flavor here. Finally, the roasted garlic comes through stronger for my taste. Marilyn commented the vinegar flavor is more pronounced for her.

Heat Level: Rated 3.5 out of 5 Stars – Only moving up 1 star in heat, the Orange Label does have the same ingredients as the Red, only the order of a few have shuffled around. I’m assuming, of course, there is even more habanero here. The burn is now within our mouth and the back of the throat.

Marilyn feels the heat level is much higher than the Red Label, but since I’m writing this, I’m going with my take of only 1 notch up.


Labels, graphics, bottles, packaging – it’s an ugly truth that they all play a role in our collective decisions to purchase a given product, especially when seen on a shelf in a store next to other products. While this is not a deal breaker, especially when a given sauce has a stellar product inside but not so great labels or graphics outside, it definitely influences our purchases. Sometimes, however, the sauce speaks for itself. But as reviewers, we feel compelled to comment on such things.

Bonus Points: Lucky Dog Sauces come with a high quality shrink wrapper that includes a built-in zip strip. The shrink wrapper itself is of a thicker plastic than most, with a foil insert in the lid. The zip string goes around the neck for easy removal of the top. It’s reminiscent of the old wax-topped bottles with the fabric string. Very classy!

Label/Graphics: All three flavors sport the same shiny metallic label. We’re not big fans of shiny labels. In my opinion, they are usually hard to read. But in this case, most of the sides of the label are easy to read – the ingredients, nutrition facts, and descriptive texts are all very visible.

All three bottles also sport the exact same graphics on the front. They all show the same grayscale image of a dog, surrounded by the gold horseshoe. The distinguishing differences between the Green, Red, and Orange flavors and labels are the radiating … um… rays from behind the dog and horseshoe graphic. Regular readers know I’m color-blind, but even Marilyn agrees the green, red, and orange (I call it gold) rays are almost indistinguishable from each other; let alone when perched on a store shelf next to competing products. At first glance, I would not know there are 3 completely different flavors of Lucky Dog Hot Sauce. The only sure sign of the different sauces is on the side of the label. Printed there is text that tells you this is the “Green Label” with a short descriptive text of the peppers. The same goes for the “Red” and “Orange” versions.

I would like to see something on the front label that tells me “this is the Green Mild, Red Medium, Orange Hot” versions of this sauce. Ok, I’ll stop with the graphics critique… let’s look at our final thoughts on these sauces.

Overall Ratings

Green Label: Rated 3 out of 5 Stars – While this is a delicious jalapeño based sauce unto itself – we felt it’s the weakest of the 3 sauces reviewed here. It’s just O.K. I do love the serrano component – serrano peppers are my favorite chiles for my own salsas – but I was hoping for more garlic, and less dried chile in the background. (Update: As I write this review, I had a nice chat with Scott Zalkind, and he told me he’s working on an ever so slight modification of the green sauce – mainly to thicken it up without affecting the flavor. But from what he said, I can tell this nice jalapeño sauce may get even better with the next batch.)

Red Label: Rated 4 out of 5 Stars – Our favorite of the 3 players here, the Red Label is very tasty, hot, and palatable. If you like your sauces on the mild to medium side, and want to venture into a really good habanero sauce, the Lucky Dog Red Label is a great start. It takes the heat level up just a notch. The habanero chile really shines here, with a nice balance of heat to sweet.

Orange Label: Rated 3.5 out of 5 Stars – It’s hard to put into words, as I’ve just said the Red Label is our favorite, but the almost “umami” dark smoky flavor of this sauce is my personal favorite overall flavor profile of the 3 sauces. Unfortunately, the heat level was a bit too much for me for an everyday sauce, and so I can’t rate it higher than the Red Label. Marilyn agrees, the Orange Label is tasty, dark, and smoky, but was a bit too hot for her everyday tastes too. What a conundrum!

Lucky Dog Fire Roasted Hot Sauces

Buy one of each!

Lucky Dog Fire Roasted Hot Sauce sells for $4.99 per bottle, and is available at LuckyDogHotSauce.com. Get all three and save on shipping.

This is part of a dual review between HotSauceDaily.com and ScottrobertsWeb.com

We thought it would be fun to post our reviews on the same day. It will be interesting to see what Scott has to say about these sauces – he and I often differ in our opinions. 🙂
Please leave a comment here, and then go over to ScottRobertsWeb.com and read his take on Lucky Dog Hot Sauces, and leave a comment there. Or vice versa.

Disclaimer: We purchased this product for our own personal use and review purposes. No compensation was received. The thoughts and opinions expressed are our own.

Smoke Canyon Smoke Roasted Jalapeno Sauce Review

Smoke Canyon smokes and roasts their jalapeño peppers over Missouri hardwood, combining them with seasonings and spices to bring us a truly unique hot sauce. The gourmet quality and flavor of this hot sauce is remarkable.

Update: 08/30/12 – SmokeCanyon.com is live and taking orders!

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Tabañero Hot Sauce Review

From the state of Tabasco, Mexico comes a spicy, flavorful sauce called Tabañero. A combination of the words Tabasco and Habanero, Tabañero is a unique and flavorful hot sauce that is on the milder side of heat – perfect for the not-so-extreme Chileheads out there. If you are at all a fan of Tabasco or Cholula, you will appreciate this new concoction.

Tabanero Hot Sauce Label

Tabanero Hot Sauce

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Texas Tamale Company Casa Salsa Review

It’s been awhile since I’ve reviewed a jarred salsa. The Texas Tamale Company and Brazos Legends sent us this jar of Casa Salsa for review, and while I’m not sure who or which company is making this stuff, I enjoyed eating it and writing this review.

Texas Tamale Casa Salsa

Texas Tamale Casa Salsa jar with chip

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Luckys Popcorn Dressing Jalapeno with Garlic Hot Sauce – Review

Lucky’s Popcorn Dressing is quite an odd name for a hot sauce company. We’ve received a few products from them for review – and first up is their Jalapeno with Garlic Hot Sauce.
Lucky's Popcorn Dressing Jalapeno with Garlic Hot Sauce Label
With its bright green color, there’s no doubt this is purely jalapeno but with a twist – there are a lot of garlic bits floating about. We tried this sauce on eggs, pizza, and straight up.
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Fire Ant Juice
Gourmet Hot Sauce

Fire Ant Juice from Tropical Island Gourmet Company http://www.fireantjuice.com is offering a free bottle of Hobo Howey’s Jalapeno Treats with any order until the end of August 2010. Read on to find out how you can get yours!

This sauce rocks! I think the name “Fire Ant Juice” is funny, and the graphics on the label are a hoot. I know “fire ants” are a species, but Fire Ant Juice reminds me of when I was a kid and there were ants, and I had a magnifying glass…. oops! Sorry PETA, I digress.

This sauce has a lot of body and doesn’t run when you pour it out. It’s slightly chunky with bits of jalapenos, onions, and garlic. Very fine bits. And it holds its shape even after 20 mins on the plate.

Marilyn and I tried this sauce first on a spoon, then on tortilla chips, then on tacos.

When we poured some onto a spoon, it was hot. HOT. But after a few sips, the initial heat went away and we were able to discern its qualities better.

We then tried it on some chips to get the flavor:

Marilyn: I tasted the cayenne first, with a big hit of the roasted garlic. The mango smoothed it out a little for me, making it a very savory taste with a nice bite of heat.
Brian: I like the habanero profile – very unique with the mango. Hot, sweet, and very spicy – the garlic and salt really rounded it all out for me – and I love the roasted garlic in it.

Fire Ant Juice has plenty of heat with great flavor – on a scale of 1 – 10, we’d put it at an 8. But the flavor is what won us over.

Then we poured a lot onto some tacos made with our own taco seasoning.

Fire Ant Juice Gourmet Hot Sauce Ingredients:
cayenne peppers, jalapeno peppers, habanero peppers, onions, vinegar, mango juice, tomatoes, roasted garlic, salt

As you can see from the simple list of ingredients, there are no added sugars, no “parentheses” listing preservatives or the popular “xanthan gum” etc, … in other words it’s a straight-up gourmet hot sauce done right.
Fire Ant Juice Gourmet Hot Sauce is a keeper that we will have on hand at all times. We think you’ll love it as much as we do.

To get a free bottle of Hobo Howey’s Jalapeno Treats, just place an order with FireAntJuice.com and in the comments section of your order, enter “Hot Sauce Daily” or “Hot Sauce Weekly” – owner Wayne Howey will take care of you!
Offer good thru the end of August 2010.

And be sure and check out Wayne’s newest creation, Fire Ant Bite Jalapeno Sauce and his other products!

Update: Brian had the pleasure of interviewing Chef Wayne for the HotSauceWeekly.com Podcast. Check it out here: http://hotsauceweekly.com/hsw-024-fire-ant-juice/

Ordering: Click on this link to get you some of this awesome sauce!