The Original TryMe Tiger Sauce
New Orleans While tigers may not be indigenous to our state (well, unless you count the LSU campus, where Mike resides as the mascot), any Louisiana product named after apex feline predators needs to bear its namesake’s ferocity. To that end, Tiger Sauce did not disappoint: the firefighters were particularly impressed by this offering. Unsurprisingly, they asked to keep this one at the firehouse when the tasting rounds had run their course. “Its got some sweetness,” Bill says. “That really gets me.” Ken agrees. “I like the sweet — it takes the edge off the heat a bit, almost like a hot barbecue sauce. It’s less of a hot sauce and more of a dipping sauce… I’d put this on just about anything.”
We measure the spiciness of a chile using Scoville heat units (SHU). According to “The Chile Pepper Bible” by Judith Finlayson, Scoville levels used to be measured by seeing how much sugar water it took to dilute a chile’s extract before tasters failed to detect any heat. These days, “chemists use high-performance liquid chromatography to analyze capsaicin concentration.” Even with the fancy new equipment, the data is still presented in Scoville heat units.
What follows is not a ranking of which ones I think are best, but a breakdown of what you can expect from each, because they all have different roles to play, and I think its important to point those out. Some have vinegar-forward profiles, while others prefer to hang back and let the chile heat build slowly.
Unfortunately, finding reliable SHU scores for all of the hot sauces I tasted was harder than I imagined. A number of websites claim to have the scores for all the hot sauces, but I couldn’t confirm where they got that information. Only a few companies, such as Tabasco and Cholula, display Scoville numbers on their websites. Representatives from Valentina Salsa Picante claimed they have never measured the Scoville ranking of their hot sauce. Both Frank’s RedHot and Huy Fong Foods, the maker of the country’s best selling Sriracha, knew the Scoville numbers for the chiles used in the sauce, but not for the finished sauce.
First created in 1928, “Louisiana” Hot Sauce is much milder than Tabasco, with a heat that pops up for a second before dissipating. But it has a strong initial rush of flavor thanks to a lot of salt. In fact, at 200 milligrams per teaspoon, it takes the prize as the saltiest hot sauce I sampled. If you pour it on something very bland, “Louisiana” Hot Sauce could add a lot of flavor. But if the dish is already salty, it might be overkill.Advertisement
Edmund McIlhenny founded this classic American hot sauce company back in 1868. Unlike most Louisiana-style hot sauces that use cayenne chiles, Tabasco uses tabasco chiles. These are mixed with salt and vinegar before being aged in oak barrels for “up to three years,” according to Tabasco’s website. I was surprised by how much spicier Tabasco was than its competitors. It has an official count of 2,500 to 5,000 SHU. The thin sauce has a heat that lingers on the tongue for a long time. I also picked up on a slightly smoky background, perhaps from the wood barrel aging. Tabasco only has 35 milligrams of salt per teaspoon, which is the second least of the sample group. Advertisement
Crystal Hot Sauce isn’t very thick, but it’s not as watery as many Louisiana-style hot sauce competitors. Because of that additional thickness, its dasher bottle is a little different, allowing you to get larger amounts of this hot sauce onto your plate. That’s a nice and needed touch, especially given Crystal Hot Sauce’s heat and flavor balance will have you coming back to the bottle over and over.
Look familiar? It’s similar ingredients to Tabasco Original Red Sauce (distilled vinegar, red pepper, and salt), but with a key difference outside of the chili pepper type used (more on that below.) Crystal Hot Sauce leads with the chili peppers, while Tabasco’s predominant ingredient is distilled vinegar. That’s important to note while considering Crystal’s flavor profile against the competition.
Crystal Hot Sauce is a staple in New Orleans, but there’s good reason why this Louisiana-style hot sauce is so popular (and widely available) all around the globe. It’s packed with flavor and supplies a very eatable heat. But how well-balanced are the two together? And is Crystal Hot Sauce as usable as other Louisiana hot sauce staples? Let’s dive into a bottle and find out. SUMMARY
Even though Crystal Hot Sauce only has three ingredients, the taste seems bigger than that ingredient list. The balance is spot on, making everything taste “more”. There’s a surprising depth due to the pepper mash and the vinegar being more equal flavor partners.
The packaging is old school and speaks to Crystal Hot Sauce’s place among long-legacy hot sauce brands. It’s been around since 1923, and the label (a retro cursive font with a simple cayenne pepper graphic) gives a feeling of that longevity. It doesn’t draw the eye, but it does speak to years and years of quality.
Is Louisiana hot sauce the same as Crystal?
Is Louisiana hot sauce hotter than Crystal?
Is Louisiana hot sauce the hottest?
Why is Crystal Hot Sauce so good?