‘Where should I start?’
We get this question a lot, especially when chatting about hot sauces.
A fair question indeed, but a very tricky one considering the huge amount of options out there.
As we won’t be able to cover the whole range, we will dive into the ones we currently sell hoping it can shed a bit of light on the topic, or at least serve as a starting point if you were to investigate a bit further.
First point to consider is that no one can determine which hot sauce is going to be a good fit for you. Your taste and tolerance are unique, so no matter how much you read about it, you’d certainly need to try as many as possible in order to train your palate.
Secondly, it is important to be realistic on how much heat you can handle. That feeling in your mouth when having a hot sauce (heat) is due to a chemical within the pepper called capsaicin; the more capsaicin, the hotter the pepper, hence the sauce. Our recommendation is to start small because certain sauces are incredibly hot, so even just a few drops can leave you crying on the floor!
‘How can I tell how hot it is?’
There are a few methods to quantify how hot a sauce can be. Here at Hispanic Pantry we’ve decided to use the Scoville Heat Unit (SHU) scale as reference due to its simplicity. This method was developed back in 1912 by Wilbur Scoville with the intention to measure the heat of peppers or anything derived from them.
The scale ranges from 0 units for bell peppers for instance, all the way up to (currently) over 3 million units for Pepper X (see image below) but besides heat there are some other ways to tune flavours and kick, such as sweet (savoury to sugary), vinegar (splashy to thick), or allium (garlic and onions) just to mention a few.
On this same note, the scale doesn’t need to have an exact correlation with the hot sauce itself, but considering chillies are the main ingredient, knowing upfront where the used peppers sit within the scale will provide a good indication on how hot the sauce could be. As not every bottled sauce provides a Scoville rating, you can just check on the ingredients and take note of which types of peppers are used.
Our current range
Mexican hot sauces have a rich culture behind them, reason why Here at Hispanic Pantry we have selected just a few brands that we are positive will give you some authentic hot flavours, allowing you to have a small glimpse into the food culture of Mexico.
A story that goes back to 1960, Valentina is undoubtedly the most well-known hot sauce in Mexico and #1 in Sales.
This is a must-try and one which is considered by many experts to be the best one in the market due to its full-rich flavour and a not-so-hot spicy touch, providing a perfect flavour-heat balance.
Yellow label (900°) is almost perfect for everyone and everything, suitable in particular for people with low heat tolerance, while the Black one (2100°) not only provides double the kick (without being super-hot) but also preserves the unique Valentina’s citrus taste; tangy with a vinegary touch.
Mexican company with more than 50 years of history and tradition across the Yucatan region.
From humble beginnings, El Yucateco has grown to be one of the biggest players in the hot sauce industry and recognised as #1 selling habanero hot sauce in the US.
Green Jalapeno Pepper hot sauce (1270°) is made from an original home recipe, including freshly cultivated green Jalapeno peppers and a special mixture of herbs and spices, which provide rich flavour and gentle heat.
Chipotle Pepper hot sauce (3400°) is made from a rich blend of naturally smoked chipotle peppers and corn syrup. Its smoky, with a sour-sweet flavour.
Caribbean hot sauce (5400°) is made with yellow habanero peppers and has a slightly sweet character and mild heat. Its unique colour lies on the spices and carrots used.
Red Habanero hot sauce (5800°) follows a traditional recipe, a blend of habanero peppers, red tomatoes, selected spices and seasonings.
Green Habanero hot sauce (9000°) is made with the freshest green habanero peppers, garlic and fine spices blended into a fresh, flavourful sauce.
Black Label Reserve hot sauce (9300°) is a dark, smoky habanero hot sauce with a relatively mild heat level. Habanero peppers are roasted to provide a beautiful smoke flavour, and the black colour is the natural charring of the pepper itself.
XXXtra Hot Kutbil-ik hot sauce (11600°) is an award-winning hot sauce based on culinary traditions of the ancient Mayan civilisation, hence the name “Kutbil-Ik” which means “crushed chili”; explosive taste and extra heat.
There are certainly many other really good brands on this space that are worth exploring, but when it comes to Mexican hot sauces, we wanted to start with the ones we personally consider to be the best in their categories. We certainly look after expanding our range in the near future so keen to hear your suggestions and comments.
No matter which Mexican hot sauce you pick, you are in for a treat.