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Taste test: hot sauce

Hot sauce might be as much a player at Super Bowl parties this weekend as the teams on the field. Fans will be heating up their chicken wings, burgers, tacos, chili and maybe even adding a few drops to their hot chocolate. Our panelists tasted 10 brands of hot sauce from local grocery stores to find the right amount of heat for their party platters. They found several winners.

Kathy Saunders, Times correspondent


(out of 100)

Pete 80

Red Hot

Original 76

Value 68

Bright orange color and a perfect balance between tang and heat made this the champion of our sampling. "This has a nice citrus and heat combination," said one judge. "I would love to drizzle it over fries." Another raved about the peppery flavor. "I love this because it's hot — but not too hot."A couple of judges mistook this for their familiar, go-to Tabasco brand of hot sauce. "It's a delicious, salty sauce with a hint of hot," said one judge. "It has a strong flavor and a bit of vinegar — but no fire engines will be needed for this one." Another called the flavor "wonderful." She said, "It's got the perfect balance of salty-sweet-hot. It would add a lot of panache to an omelet or Mexican dish."Walmart's store brand of hot sauce had more of a smoky flavor that appealed to our panelists. "It's really well-balanced," said one. "It's light, translucent orange and fairly salty," said another. "I like it because it's more like a Buffalo wing sauce and not super hot." One judge said this might be a good sauce to use in a Super Bowl chili, adding, "This could hold its own in a variety of dishes."

they buy?
All four judges said yes.All four judges said yes.Three of the four judges said yes.
Shopping information88 cents for a 6-ounce bottle from Walmart.$3.49 for a 5-ounce bottle from the Fresh Market.98 cents for a 12-ounce bottle from Walmart.

Also Sampled: Tabasco ($1.34 for a 2-ounce bottle from Walmart, 33 points); Louisiana's Pure Crystal (66 cents for a 6-ounce bottle from Walmart, 62 points); Louisiana (62 cents for a 6-ounce bottle from Walmart, 59 points); Hannaford (79 cents for a 6-ounce bottle from Sweetbay, 63 points); Dave's Gourmet Ghost Pepper ($7.99 for a 5-ounce bottle from the Fresh Market, 3 points); Cholula ($3.39 for a 5-ounce bottle from the Fresh Market, 51 points); and Trappey's Bull (69 cents for a 6-ounce bottle from Publix, 33 points).

Panelists: Nan Jensen, registered dietitian; Kay Hodnett, personal chef; John Hehn, owner of All Brite Lighting & Power Design Inc.; and Laura Reiley, Times food critic. All foods were tasted blind.

Send suggestions for product testing to: Taste section, Tampa Bay Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731 or email them to Please put TEST SUGGESTION in the subject line. To read past Taster's Choice columns, go to

Serving sizeOne teaspoonOne teaspoonOne teaspoon
Fat/Fiber0g / 0g0g / 0g0g / 0g
Sugars/Sodium0g / 100mg0g / 190mg0g / 130mg
Carbs/Protein0g / 0g0g / 0g0g / 0g

Taste test: hot sauce 01/27/14 [Last modified: Monday, January 27, 2014 5:04pm]
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