Bring the heat with these 7 local hot sauces

These Tampa Bay hot sauce purveyors know a thing or two about flavor.
Courtesy of Taco Jesus
Courtesy of Taco Jesus
Published July 3, 2019

Make your Fourth of July spread a little spicier with help from these seven Tampa Bay hot sauces.

Taco Jesus

Started in Largo by Jeff Crupper, this company offers several tempting creations, including a very, very hot sauce called Holy Ghost Pepper. But it also has a thing for habanero, clearly, as the ingredient is featured in four flavors: Heavenly Habanero (hot), mango habanero (mild), garlic habanero (medium) and Hellfire Habanero (extremely hot). Highlights on the non-hot sauce front are habanero mustard and Virgin Mary Mix for all your Bloody needs.

Festival Hot Sauce

In Tampa, owners and Trinidad natives Derry and Ann-Marie Montoute specialize in eight hot sauces — habanero garlic, roasted jalapeno, spicy bacon, Sweet Heat, Ghost, Red Lava, cilantro lime and habanero mango — in addition to their zesty pepper jellies. Find them at a number of local farmers markets. Toll-free 1-800-331-2974.

Intensity Academy

The award-winning gourmet sauce business, established by founder Michele Northrup in 2007, produces veggie-based hot sauces such as Carrot Karma, chai chipotle, Garlic Goodness and Hot Squared. Fun fact: A batch of Garlic Goodness takes more than 100 pounds of slowly roasted fresh garlic to make. Northrup’s concoctions range from mild to spicy. (813) 299-3600.

Jessi’s Flaming Fruit Sauce

Okay, so Flaming Fruit Sauce, a cross between a chutney and a fruit preserve, isn’t technically hot sauce. But the Temple Terrace brainchild of founder Jessi Budiansky, who started whipping up her original Everything flavor in 2002 for wings and stir-fry, deserves a shout-out nonetheless. Budiansky’s sweet-meets-spicy selection of Flaming Fruit Sauce varies from hot to mild, offering 12-ounce bottled blends including the extra-hot version of Everything and the sugar-free blueberry ginger. The back heat comes later. (850) 450-0723.

Pirate Jonny’s

Owners Jonathan and Terri Toner are known for their line of Caribbean-inspired barbecue rubs, sauces and seasonings. But you can hit up Pirate Jonny’s to heat things up, too. Syrena’s Seduction (a spicy-sweet combination of the Toners’ award-winning Jamaican jerk seasonings, cascabel chiles and orange habaneros) plays nice with wings, burgers, chicken and pork, while Paulina’s Peri-Peri (a versatile blend of fire-roasted sweet red peppers, lemon, garlic, cascabel chiles, coriander and African bird’s-eye chiles) is good for just about anything, especially breakfast, meats and fish. Both come in 5-ounce bottles. (727) 441-4504.

Tampa Bay Hot Sauce Company

This fiery business’ signature is the original blend that calls for ghost peppers. Its 5-ounce bottles of goodness, however, don’t stop there. Founded by Tampa neighbors-turned-friends Stephen Moore, Vincent Stulginski and Robert Goodrich, Tampa Bay Hot Sauce Company is also behind Menage a Peppers, a marriage of Thai and habanero peppers infused with mango. (813) 230-9646.

Tampa Hot Sauce

Reach peak Florida through the peppery, citrus-inspired concoctions of Jose Santiago, a chef and Puerto Rico native who sources from Sunshine State growers to craft his hot sauce made from scratch “with love.” Tampa Hot Sauce, which also churns out an avocado lime blend, is featured at restaurants around town like Four Brothers Eatery. (813) 263-4058.