Texas Living

Support Your Local Texas Hot Sauces

By Peter Simek 7.1.19

As true Texans know, hot sauce is not just a sauce. It is the magical potion that makes meals come to life — and no meal is complete without it, from chili to chilled potato salad, from chicken to eggs, and even ice cream.

It’s no surprise that Texas is home to some of the best locally produced hot sauces on the planet. Drawing influence from Mexican, Asian, and Caribbean culinary traditions, these sauces push the envelope of combining delicious flavors with a range of heat.

Here are six of the best out there, in no particular order. Grab a few bottles from the Texas hot sauce maker closest to you and blow the roof off your next meal. Go on, go wild. It’s good for you, according to science.

Photo by Natalie Goff

1. Yellowbird Habanero Sauce

The secret to Yellowbird’s quality is the company’s careful attention to the details. Musician George Milton’s artisanal approach includes sourcing all organic ingredients directly from farmers and pureeing the vegetables and spices himself. The company’s namesake — the zesty habanero pepper — remains centerstage in this slightly tangy and citrusy sauce that burns hotter than sriracha.
Made by: Yellowbird
From: Austin
Eat: in habanero mac and cheese, habanero peach ice cream

Photo by Natalie Goff

2. Cindy’s Cin-Fully Hot Cayenne Hot Sauce

They call her the “Chili Queen.” Cindy Reed Wilkins earned her stripes as a hot sauce god by winning 15 first-place awards in chili competitions, including taking home first place twice at the ultimate chili test: the Terlingua International Chili Championship. Wilkins has been perfecting her recipes since then, and in 2005 she launched a company and a whole range of hot sauces. This cayenne-peppered and vinegar-based standout is blazing.
Made by: Cin Chili and Company
From: Houston
Eat: in cin-fully hot chili and Frito pie

Photo by Natalie Goff

3. August in Austin

Mother and son Joy Burleson and Brian Rush got into the Texas hot sauce game in 2003, after turning their attention from their thriving tamale business to their carefully perfected recipes. Today, they can’t seem to keep some of their sauces in stock. Some of their homebrewed concoctions include a limey hot sauce, a cactus-based hot sauce, and a blend so spicy they call it “Red Fang’s Night Destroyer.” But you’ll be safe sticking to their original August in Austin sauce. With only five ingredients, the red habanero hot sauce keeps it simple, with a clean, uncomplicated flavor that packs just enough heat and goes well with just about anything.
Made by: Tears of Joy
From: Austin
Eat: on Hawaiian poke bowls, ramen, and barbecue

Photo by Natalie Goff

4. Habanero Supreme Pepper Sauce

The founders of the Aztexan Pepper Company exploded onto Texas’ hot sauce scene by taking top honors at the 1994 Austin Hot Sauce Festival. Since then, the group’s signature habanero-based sauce has won the people’s choice award for best pepper sauce at the festival 10 times. The secret to their success is keeping it simple and selling just one style of sauce — a sauce that may challenge your Tabasco bottle’s place of pride in your pantry.
Made by: Aztexan Pepper Company
From: Austin
Eat: on jerk chicken, in mango salsa

Photo by Natalie Goff

5. Ghost Pepper Sauce

Kerry Stessel started making hot sauces to impress his friends and family. Then the 2008 recession hit, money got tight, and he began looking for new ways to earn a living. He spent two years developing the recipes that could propel his sauce-making hobby into a full-time gig. The result is a line of hot sauces that display a range of flavors — a product of Stessel’s experimentations with roasting his ingredients and blending peppers to create unique and complex taste profiles.
Made by: Hot Line Pepper Products
From: Spring
Eat: in moderation! Ghost peppers are the second hottest chilis in the world.

Photo by Natalie Goff

6. Spooky White

San Antonio-native Frankie Valdez used to whip up hot sauces while cooking for family and colleagues. Now, his Dallas-based hot sauce company produces handmade condiments for a few more people, from ingredients inspired by both the culinary heritage of Valdez’s hometown and flavors he experienced in travels to places such as Spain and the Bahamas. His award-winning Spooky White sauce is his most popular. It combines white and orange habaneros for a tangy, citrusy sauce that packs the perfect amount of heat.
Made by: Frankie V’s
From: Dallas
Eat: in hummus, on nachos

For more Texas flavors, check out our regional guide to Texas barbecue and barbecue sauces of the south.

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