Hot sauces, ranging from mild to medium, searing and beyond, have skyrocketed in popularity and taken the world by storm. Companies continue to invent their own special variations, sometimes making it difficult to choose one at the grocery store. But for those who love the thrill of setting their mouth on fire, adding this spice to your plate means more than just flavoring your food.
Whether you’re pouring a drop or pouring it all over the meal, you’ll want to find quality hot sauces that won’t harm your health.
“What makes a quality hot sauce is its ingredients,” he says dr Lisa R. Young, Ph.D., RDNand author of Finally full, finally slim and The portion plate plan. “Chilis are the main ingredient. This also includes vinegar, lemon, lime, spices, salt and often pickled vegetables or fruit. I love ones with added veggies and fruits.”
Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, LDand author of The Sports Nutrition Playbook, also suggests that “whole” ingredients like peppers, onions, garlic, and spices are good additions to hot sauce. When hot sauces can include other components like carrots, tomatoes, spinach, or even avocado, they add an extra boost of nutrients.
At the same time, hot sauces can contain excess preservatives and additives. For this reason, Goodson advises checking nutrition information in the search for the good.
“The next time you reach for a hot sauce, be sure to look out for preservatives and additional additives, which are high on the list of things to avoid,” Goodson said Eat this, not that! “These include xanthan gum, a food thickener that causes stomach upset in many people. [Also] Sodium benzoate is used to extend shelf life, which may be associated with inflammation.”
While hot sauces are generally low in calories, says Dr. Young that many hot sauce brands tend to be high in salt. So pay attention to the sodium content when choosing your favorites.
With that in mind, here are 6 nutritionist-approved hot sauces using the highest quality ingredients. And for more shopping tips, check out 6 Store Bought Salsas Made with the Highest Quality Ingredients.
This popular hot sauce brand has been around for centuries – literally. Tabasco was first introduced in 1868, and its Original Red Pepper flavor remains a staple on restaurant tables and in the home. I suspect the reason for this is that the brand has remained consistently true to its original recipe over the decades.
according to dr Young Original Tabasco contains just 35 milligrams of sodium and only three simple, healthy ingredients: paprika, vinegar and salt. With nothing else added, it should be a top contender for those looking for a simple but quality hot sauce.
Crystal Hot Sauce keeps its ingredients crystal clear and includes all the good basics. After figuring out its “recipe for success” in 1923, this New Orleans-based family business established a legacy of excellence based on quality taste that has thrived for three generations.
“Like Tabasco, Crystal’s has a simple ingredient list of cayenne pepper, distilled vinegar, and salt,” says Goodson. “A simple, whole-ingredient hot sauce that contains no preservatives or additives.”
For those who don’t need too much seasoning in everyday life, Melinda’s Original Habanero Hot Sauce is just the thing for high quality. At just 80 milligrams of sodium, it’s also a favorite choice of Dr. Young.
“I like this option because it’s made with carrots, garlic, and lime — all good for health,” she says.
Carrots are packed with vitamins and antioxidants that can do wonders for your health, including supporting your vision and eye needs, reducing the risk of cancer, and strengthening your bones. Add in brain-boosting garlic and immunity-boosting lime, and it’s no wonder why this hot sauce is a quality choice!
With the word “veggie” in the name, it’s no surprise that TrueMade Foods Veggie Sriracha made the list. This sriracha sauce — or as the brand calls it, “veracha” — is a mix of hot and sweet that’s perfect for a little kick with some bonus benefits. Because this sauce is rich in veggies, it’s packed with vitamins and nutrients. To sweeten the deal, sugar is also “never” added, according to the bottle.
“This hot sauce puts a twist on the original sriracha with powerful ingredients like butternut squash, spinach and carrots to give you extra antioxidants,” says Goodson.
Self-defining itself as “not your average hot sauce,” Secret Aardvark Habanero is a blend of Caribbean and Tex-Mex flavors made with bold habanero peppers and a few other delicious additions.
“With a list of whole ingredients, including carrots, tomatoes and mustard, this hot sauce adds a unique twist,” says Goodson. “Mustard is also a great way to get a pinch of iron and calcium into your hot sauce.”
When you think of hot sauce, you probably wouldn’t expect avocados to be the base of your recipe, but using this pitted fruit is exactly what makes Herdez Avocado Hot Sauce so special. According to the company’s website, avocado is their “secret weapon,” as their version of the hot sauce gives your taste buds a “creamy hint of heat” and is just 35 milligrams of sodium.
“This hot sauce actually has fresh avocados in it, as well as tomatillos, onions and cilantro,” says Goodson.
Avocado has many health benefits, like lowering the risk of heart disease, improving eye health, raising good cholesterol levels, and even increasing your intake of fiber, minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants. It’s no wonder this company wanted to find a way to incorporate this fruit into a unique, tasty, and healthy hot sauce.