Taste Test: The 8 Best Mexican Hot Sauces on The Market

Mexico is home to many delicious dishes. But one of the most traditional foods in Mexico is its hot sauces.

The best Mexican hot sauce recipes on the market are usually crafted to preserve the integrity of the foods you eat while kicking it up a notch.

The different types of chiles that are used in these sauces allow for the different food flavors to come through. 

The 8 best Mexican hot sauces include Huichol and El Yucateco. El Yucateco is the only green sauce on the list but it sure does pack a punch from the habañero peppers. Valentina and the Salsa Búfalo hot sauces will also make an appearance as Valentina is considered the best Mexican hot sauce on the market.

Below we will talk about the history of Mexican hot sauces as well as taking a deeper dive into each of the hot sauces on the list. There are also special instructions on how to make Mexican hot sauces that we will look at and the many ways that you can use these sauces.

What Makes Mexican Hot Sauce So Spicy?

Mexican peppers and hot sauce and pepper seeds
Mexican Hot Sauce, Peppers & Seeds

There are different types of hot sauces all over the world. The ancient Mayans were using all sorts of peppers mixed with water to make either a paste or a sauce.

As other civilizations started to discover the bold flavors of these hotter peppers, they began to breed them.

The mixing of these peppers led to distinct flavors that grew with the breeding of these peppers.

Some hot sauces are meant to enhance the flavors of your food.

Other hot sauces are made almost to remove your taste buds and test your heat intake.

Many of these hot sauces contain a variety of ingredients, but core aspects to a Mexican hot sauce include: 

  • Chiles
  • Salt
  • Vinegar

With Mexican hot sauces, they are made with smoked or dried chile pepper pods to make the flavor more intense. Trying to focus on heat is not something that is a priority when it comes to these types of hot sauces. 

Knowing what makes a Mexican hot sauce so spicy will allow you to understand the Scoville Scale and how hot it can be.

How Hot Can the Scoville Scale Be?

Scoville Scale Pepper Heat Scale
Scoville Scale Pepper Heat Scale

You may be familiar with the Scoville Scale. The Scoville Scale was invented in 1912 by scientist Wilbur Scoville.

The Scoville Scale is used as a measurement for spicy substances that were created in 1912.

The unit of measurement of this scale is Scoville Heat Units (SHU). The scale ranges from 0 to 16,000,000 SHUs.

A few ranges of pepper types on this scale include:

  • Pure Capsaicin: 16,000,000 SHUs
  • Ghost Pepper: 1,000,000 – 1,500,000 SHUs
  • Serrano Chiles: 10,000 – 23,000 SHUs
  • Pepperoncini: 100 – 500 SHUs

Now that you have an idea of how hot Mexican hot sauce can be, what are the best Mexican hot sauces?

What Are The 8 Best Mexican Hot Sauces?

Shopping Basket for Best Mexican Hot Sauce
Shopping for Best Mexican Hot Sauce

The Mexican hot sauces that are a part of this list are the best sauces on the market.

You can try all 8 sauces to find out which one is your favorite. They all have different flavors and levels of heat that vary from person to person. 

One individual may feel as though a hot sauce with 11,000 SHUs is mild.

Another person may have used a Mexican hot sauce that sits at 2,000 SHUs and think it is the spiciest thing on earth.

Therefore, it is important to always understand your limit. And worse case scenario, you can always cool off your tastebuds with some Mexican aguas frescas.

1. Valentina Hot Sauce

Salsa Valentina Mexican Hot Sauce
Salsa Valentina Mexican Hot Sauce

If you have ever stepped foot inside a Mexican restaurant, you have more than likely seen Valentina Salsa Picante. This family-owned business started in 1960 by the founder Don Manuel Maciel Mendez.

The ingredient in this Mexican hot sauce that can either make or break the spice level is the puya chiles.

Their Scoville Heat Units range from 5,000 – 30,000. The Tamazula Group has decided to offer two different labels. The yellow label has a small amount of spice. The black label is considered extra hot.

Both versions of the Valentina Hot Sauce are noticeably thicker than other hot sauces. Along with the difference in thickness, some individuals identify a tart and vinegar taste to it.

At the same time, the others may feel like it has a sweet and sour taste that sits on your tongue and builds the heat up.

There are two other Valentina products in the form of seasoning for fruit or snacks and seafood specific hot sauce.

Because this is the most popular Mexican hot sauce on the market, it comes in various sizes like the following:

  • 4.9 oz.
  • 5 oz.
  • 12.5 oz.
  • 34 oz.
  • 1.1 Gallon

However, at the moment, the Tamazula Group that owns the Valentina Hot Sauce is not ready to sell smaller quantities to individual consumers or retailers directly.

This means that only wholesalers and distributors can put their hands on this special Mexican hot sauce.

Although, you can still purchase your bottle through a middle man like Amazon.

2. Cholula Hot Sauce

Salsa Cholula Mexican Hot Sauce
Salsa Cholula Mexican Hot Sauce

Cholula is another staple when it comes to Mexican hot sauce.

This hot sauce is made in Chapala, Jalisco with native árbol and pequin peppers. The Scoville rating for Cholula is between 1,000 to 2,000 SHUs. 

Over 20 countries outside of Mexico sell Cholula. You can also purchase Cholula through its website. The following restaurants in the United States have Cholula readily available:

  • IHOP
  • California Pizza Kitchen
  • Denny’s
  • Cracker Barrel
  • Taco Bueno
  • Salsarita’s

Cholula is recognized by its signature wooden cap. The woman on the label is La Chila who happened to cook for the Cuervo family and who is responsible for Cholula.

She came up with some of the original recipes of the dishes that are incorporated with the hot sauce in the restaurant located in Tequila, Mexico.  

Cholula has other flavors in their brand that include:

  • Cholula Hot Sauce Original: This is the original sauce in their brand that everyone is most familiar with. It has a medium heat level that is suitable for anyone.
  • Cholula Hot Sauce Green Pepper: This flavor holds bold jalapeño and poblano peppers. This hot sauce pairs nicely with salads and fried chicken.
  • Cholula Hot Sauce Sweet Habanero: Pineapple and habanero peppers make this hot sauce one of their hottest. Cholula suggests that you use it in a cocktail to bring out more of the flavor.
  • Cholula Hot Sauce Chipotle: Milder than the Original, this Chipotle Hot Sauce brings out smoky flavors. These flavors work best with meats like pork and chicken.
  • Cholula Hot Sauce Chili Lime: The Chili Lime is the mildest of all of them. This is a great introduction for those who are not used to hot sauce and it is great with seafood.
  • Cholula Hot Sauce Chili Garlic: Since this hot sauce has garlic infused with it, your savory foods pair well.

3. El Yucateco Hot Sauce

Salsa El Yucateco Mexican Hot Sauce
Salsa El Yucateco Mexican Hot Sauce

The next best Mexican hot sauce on the market is El Yucateco Hot Sauce. It receives its green color from the green habañero peppers.

Mr. Priamo Gamboa created this sauce in 1968 and now includes 7 hot sauces in their lineup.

The 7 hot sauces in their lineup are:

  • Jalapeño Hot Sauce: A green hot sauce that delivers 1,270 SHUs as the gentlest of the 7 EL Yucateco sauces. 
  • Chipotle Hot Sauce: Chipotle peppers gather smoky flavors for a more intense taste. Recommended for grilled meats and fuller dishes. This hot sauce sits at 3,400 SHUs.
  • Caribbean Habañero Hot Sauce: Has a more orange color to it as it is made with yellow habañero peppers and carrots. It is considered to have a sweeter taste than the others with a 5,400 SHU level.
  • Red Habañero Hot Sauce: This sauce sports a bright red color as it is made with habañero peppers and red tomatoes. The Red Habañero Hot Sauce is slightly hotter than the Caribbean Habañero Hot Sauce at 5,790 SHUs.
  • Green Habañero Hot Sauce: The second green hot sauce is made from habañero peppers and garlic. This is made for more savory dishes and takes a significant leap to 9,000 SHUs.
  • Black Label Reserve Habañero Hot Sauce: Like Chipotle Hot Sauce, the Black Lebel Hot Sauce delivers a smoky taste. The only difference is that the smoky flavor comes from actual fire-roasted habaneros, where it sits at 9,285 SHUs.
  • XXXtra (XXX Kutbil-lk) Hot Habañero Sauce: The hottest hot sauce in El Yucateco’s lineup at 11,600 SHUs. Claiming to follow the recipe of the ancient Mayans, it has a name in the Mayan word, ‘Kutbil-lk,’ that means ‘crushed chili.’

Whether you are a retailer or just an individual customer, you can place your online order here. You can create your own 6- or 12-pack with whole bottles of hot sauce.

You may even want to buy the small individual packet by the caseload with 300 packets inside. However, the small packets are only available in the Green and Red Habañero Sauce.

If you happen to love this Mexican hot sauce so much, you can purchase a 2-pack case of 68 oz. bottles of the following:

  • Red
  • Green
  • Black Label Reserve
  • XXX Kutbil-lk

4. Salsa Búfalo Hot Sauce

Salsa Bufalo Mexican Hot Sauce
Salsa Búfalo Mexican Hot Sauce

Lomas de Chapultepec, Mexico, has been the home of the Salsa Búfalo Hot Sauce since 1933. Production still carries on to this day in the same city and is considered one of the oldest Mexican hot sauces on the market.

There are two hot sauces in their business: the Búfalo Salsa Picante Clasica Hot Sauce and the Búfalo Chipotle Hot Sauce. Both of these sauces have the same if not a thicker consistency as the Valentina Hot Sauce.

The Búfalo Salsa Picante Clasica Hot Sauce uses the guajillo pepper to bring in most of the heat. It is mostly sweet, with a bit of heat and lime.

The Búfalo Chipotle Hot Sauce sports a deeper color since it comes from chipotle peppers.

5. Tapatío Hot Sauce

Salsa Tapatío Mexican Hot Sauce
Salsa Tapatío Mexican Hot Sauce

The consideration of calling this a Mexican hot sauce is sometimes iffy.

The family that produced this hot sauce is from Guadalajara, Mexico, but it is currently produced in Vernon, California.

Mr. Jose-Luis Saavedra placed this hot sauce into the market in 1971. 

Most individuals believe that Tapatío Hot Sauce is an entry- to the mid-level hot sauce as its Scoville Heat Unit sits at 3,000. The main contents of the sauce are made up of:

  • Red Peppers
  • Vinegar
  • Garlic

There is only one type of hot sauce available, but you can purchase it directly from Tapatio without the need for a middleman. You have the following options to choose from:

  • 500 Small Individual Packets
  • 24-Pack of 5 oz. Bottles
  • 12-Pack of 10 oz. Bottles
  • 12-Pack of 32 oz. Bottles
  • 4-Pack of 1 Gallon Jugs
  • Burlap Gift Set of 5-Pack of 5 oz. Bottles
  • 3 Holster Set with 3 mini 1.6 oz Bottles

6. Huichol Hot Sauce

Salsa Huichol Mexican Hot Sauce
Salsa Huichol Mexican Hot Sauce

Some may not know about the original development of the Huichol Hot Sauce, but in 1949 Roberto Lopez using empty Pacifico beer bottles as the original containers.

The reason behind the use of empty beer bottles was because they did not have any other logos on them, and they were cheaper to find.

Roberto Lopez used his wife’s recipe to create the hot sauce we know today. The ingredients in the Huichol Hot Sauce contain the following:

  • Cascabel Peppers
  • Cumin
  • Salt
  • Vinegar

The Scoville level sits between 1,000 to 3,000. The heat is meant to enhance the flavor of your food and linger for a second.

Because of its mild tone, you can put a lot of this on your food at once. Huichol has a bit of an earthy flavor and is fit to put on more savory foods than sweet. 

The name and colorful label of Huichol honors the indigenous people that can be found near the mountains of Nayarit, Mexico.

This is an area that sits right outside Jalisco, Mexico, where other famous Mexican hot sauces were produced.

The production of Huichol is still well within the family. Roberto Lopez’s two grandsons and daughter continue to work in the family business.

The family boasts that the hot sauce can stay fresh for three years once you open it. You can find it on Amazon.

7. La Guacamaya Mexican Hot Sauce

Salsa La Guacamaya Mexican Hot Sauce
Salsa La Guacamaya Mexican Hot Sauce

Coming in with a steep Scoville level of 8,400 SHUs, the La Guacamaya Mexican Hot Sauce was founded in 1948 in El Rosario, Sinaloa. There are a whopping 8 different hot sauce flavors that are:

  • Traditional
  • Habanera
  • Lemon
  • Green Habanera
  • Chipotle
  • Ying Wu
  • Salsa mix
  • Chamoy

There are uses of red and green habañero peppers and dried chili peppers throughout each of these flavors.

In order to make this hot sauce the traditional way, there is the use of a stone grinder and a manual star corn mill.

The original sauce during its time of production was made through dried chiles and spices. You can purchase a 5.07 oz. of La Guacamaya here.

8. Mayanik Mexican Hot Sauce

Salsa Mayanik Mexican Hot Sauce
Salsa Mayanik Mexican Hot Sauce

Mayanik was produced in the 1990s and the manufacturing plant can be found in Merida, Yucatan.

This plant’s location leads towards the name as it was the place that the ancient Mayans once lived. Habañero peppers are used all through their three hot sauces:

The level of heat depends on when the pepper was picked and used for the sauce.

So, when you taste a hot habañero sauce, the pepper may have been picked later than the green habañero sauce.

Because of the amount of vinegar in this hot sauce, its consistency is watery, and it has a strong acidity.

What Are the Different Ways You Can Use Hot Sauce?

Mexican Hot Sauce in a bowl with hot peppers and chili powder
Hot Sauce, Peppers & Powder

Most individuals put Mexican hot sauce in savory foods, but there are other foods that you can put a dab of hot sauce in.

Maybe take some time to experiment with hot sauce on other foods that are not on this list. You never know what could surprise and delight your taste buds.

Try Out Your Italian Sauces

Since Italian sauces are based around tomatoes and sun-dried peppers, adding a dash of hot sauce to the mix is a great combination.

Anything like pasta or pizza with a traditional red sauce is perfect. Most Italian dishes can take extra heat without taking away from the integrity of the dish.

Use It on Asian Dishes

Most Asian dishes are equipped to handle the heat. Stir fry or ramen are great dishes to try this on. Some Asian dishes call for one-pots. This is where everything is cooked in the same pot but different stages. 

The veggies and rice that may be put into your one-pot dish can hold up to the hot sauce and the flavors will not clash.

If you plan on putting sauce in this dish, you can add a couple of dashes of hot sauce. 

Your Snacks Are a Great Candidate

Snacks are a dime a dozen. From popcorn to potato chips to fruit. Adding a dash of hot sauce can brighten these snacks up.

A red sauce would be better to put on popcorn or French fries because of the vinegar than a green sauce.

Who Doesn’t Love Spicy Seafood?

Shrimp & Cocktail (Hot) Sauce
Shrimp & Cocktail (Hot) Sauce

Whether its shrimp or lobster, hot sauce will stick to seafood. Sometimes without proper seasoning seafood can begin to taste like nothing.

However, using hot sauce either directly or in the cocktail sauce can bring your seafood back to life.

Use it with shrimp scampi or on cold clams. A seafood chili has a ton of other added seasonings that would benefit from the added heat.

Bring in a bit of lemon or lemon zest for a fresh flavor.

Mix It with a Cup Of Hot Chocolate

Hot Chocolate & Hot Sauce
Hot Chocolate & Hot Sauce

Mexican hot chocolate can bring you even more warmth during the winter months. Most individuals who put hot sauce in their hot chocolates use a habañero-based hot sauce. 

Habañero can be paired well with chocolate and whipped cream. These are the two main ingredients for hot chocolate.

You may want to add a sprinkling of cinnamon to lend your hot chocolate another depth of flavor.

Wake Yourself Up In The Morning

Eggs & Hot Sauce
Eggs & Hot Sauce

What better way to wake yourself up in the morning than by dousing your eggs in hot sauce? 

You can add hot sauce to your bell peppers or your avocado toast.

If you eat fruits in the morning or you make smoothies, you can also add hot sauce.

You can eat your fruits the way they are, or you could bake something like apples and pears with brown sugar and melted butter.

Before you put them in the oven add hot sauce to the mix. Eat it as soon as it leaves the oven and it is sure to bring some extra warmth to the start of your day.

Bring Out the Best In Your Guests

When you are hosting a party, you want your guests to have a great time.

You want the food to make them happy and full, and you want them to be entertained well.

You can add hot sauce to your marinades or your dips. 

Use the hot sauce in the guacamole or the marinade you are using for meats.

For the marinade, you can add all sorts of other things like garlic or lime juice. 

Spice Up Your Diet

Diets can become boring after a while. Adding hot sauce into the mix is sure to liven things up.

When you are working out and you wish to lose weight, using hot sauce can raise your metabolism.

Your blood begins to pump more and more calories are burned even when you are sitting down. 

Add hot sauce to your salad’s dressing like a vinaigrette or a creamy dressing.

You can also add hot sauce to Greek yogurt or oatmeal as strange as that may seem. 

Zing Up Your Cocktails 

Bloody Mary & Hot Sauce
Bloody Mary & Hot Sauce

Cocktails are already made with the intent to make your drink a little less boring.

Now, add a bit of hot sauce to a Bloody Mary, and that cocktail is now amplified.

There are a few combinations that you can pull off with hot sauce:

  • Vodka and hot sauce is called Dragon’s Breath
  • Margaritas can use either red or orange habañero-based hot sauce
  • Crème de menthe, vodka, and hot sauce is known as the Polar Bear Bite

The cocktail combinations above are just a few suggestions that you can try.

Remember, when it comes to cocktails and hot sauce you just want a bit of heat.

The point of adding hot sauce is not to see how much you can take but to just add a bit of flavor.

Soups Are Wonderful to Spice Up

Chicken Gumbo & Hot Sauce
Chicken Gumbo & Hot Sauce

Soups come from every part of this world and adding hot sauce to a soup dish will only enhance the flavors. You can add hot sauce to the following soups:

  • Pho
  • Ramen
  • Bisque
  • Gumbo
  • Beef Soup

The list goes on and on. With soup, there is no limit to when you can add hot sauce.

Even a creamy soup-like clam chowder will take to the hot sauce better than you think.

Vegetable-based soups deserve to be on this list as the vegetables come alive with a touch of chile peppers.

Even though you can place Mexican hot sauce on most of your foods, you should know what hot sauce does to your body.

What Does Spice Do to Your Body

Most people love to spice up their foods even if the increased spice level that’s eaten affects the body. Here are several responses to your body due to hot spices:

  • Blood Flow Increase: Even though you may not be able to feel it, your body’s blood is pumping. Your metabolism is rising, and your heart rate will rise.
  • Become Happy: For several individuals, hot spices will release endorphins that cause happiness. We may begin to eat more of the hot food that is causing us pain.
  • Brings Blood To Your Stomach: As you eat these hot spices your body is registering everything. More fluid will build up and be ready to leave your body. The capsaicin in the hot sauce alerts your pain receptors and your body now wants to remove the problem.
  • Pain Receptors are Heightened: When your tongue comes into contact with a hot sauce it can determine the temperature and the amount of pain it is feeling. 
  • Body Temperature: Because your body now understands the amount of pain it is feeling, your body temperature will rise. Your nose may begin to drip, and your forehead will perspire.
  • Live Longer: The more hot sauce you eat the longer you could live. A few studies show that eating hot sauce a few times a week can lead to fewer health risks.

As you can see from the list above, not all side effects from hot sauce are negative. The best way to stay safe eating hot sauce is to know your limit.

If you have stomach ulcers or a sensitive stomach, it may be best to stay away from these sauces. Afterall, all Mexican foods don’t have to be spicy!

Conclusion

Bottle of Mexican Hot Sauce
Mexican Hot Sauce

Mexican hot sauces have a rich culture behind them. These 8 Mexican hot sauces will allow you a small glimpse into the food culture of Mexico.

Just remember that each Mexican hot sauce will bring out a different flavor in your food. 

Smoky flavors are built into these sauces and they help to build up the food profile that you apply it to.

So, whichever Mexican hot sauce you pick just know that you are in for a treat.

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