What's So Hot About Hot Sauce? A Simple Guide

what so hot about hot sauce with zia chile traders

If you're like most people, you probably have a bottle or two of hot sauce sitting in your pantry. You might even put it on everything from scrambled eggs to pizza. But have you ever wondered why hot sauce is so popular or what exactly makes hot sauce so... well... hot?

According to Ibisworld.com, there are 295 Hot Sauce Production businesses in the US as of 2022. Which is an increase of 4.4% from the previous year. With so many different businesses and varieties of hot sauces, it can be a little overwhelming for those who don't already know a lot about the spicy and flavorful condiments. But today, we're going to clear some of that up!

In this blog post, we'll take a closer look at the history of hot sauce and some of the reasons why it's become such a staple in so many kitchens around the world.

History of Hot Sauce

The first hot sauces were believed to have been made by Mayans and Aztecs in Central America. These early sauces were made by crushing chili peppers and mixing them with other ingredients such as water and herbs. Hot sauce was used not only as a condiment but also as a medicine. It was believed that the capsaicin in chili peppers had healing properties.

group of chili peppers used to make hot sauce

The 16th century is the first time fermentation is mentioned in conjunction with hot peppers. This was the era when explorers discovered them in America and brought them back to other continents like Europe, Asia, and Africa.

Peppers were preserved through fermentation and turned into hot sauce, which quickly became a new and popular condiment in Europe, Asia, and Africa because of its ability to liven up traditional meals. The first commercially bottled hot sauce was sold in 1807, which was a sauce called “cayenne sauce”. With that being said, it wasn't until 1868 when Tabasco sauce was created that it become more widely commercialized.

Today, there are all sorts of different types of hot sauce available on the market. Whether you like it super spicy or milder, there's sure to be a hot sauce that's perfect for you. And as more people become interested in cooking international cuisines, it's likely that hot sauce will only become more popular.

What Makes Hot Sauce Hot

The main ingredient in hot sauce is chili peppers. Chili peppers contain a compound called capsaicin, which is what gives them their heat. The amount of capsaicin in a pepper varies, which is why some peppers are hotter than others. For example, jalapeno peppers have a moderate amount of capsaicin while habanero peppers have a high amount of capsaicin.

Capsaicin is measured in Scoville units. The Scoville scale was created by Wilbur Scoville in 1912 and is used to measure the heat of chili peppers. The scale goes from 0-16,000,000 SHU (Scoville Heat Units).

batch of craft hot sauce being bottled

What is the Proper Spelling of Peppers

There are a few different spellings of chili peppers, but the most common spellings are chili and chile. The spelling chilli is less common, but it is still used occasionally. Some people prefer to use chili because that is the spelling used in the United States, while others prefer to use chile but not to be confused with Chile the country.

Ultimately, it is up to the individual which spelling they prefer. However, depending on what county you reside in may determine the most common spelling of the word.

Style of Hot Sauce & Regions

As we mentioned earlier, hot sauce is popular all over the world. However, each region has its own style of hot sauce.

girl eating chili peppers

Central & South America

The original hot sauces were created in Central and South America. The most common type of chili pepper used in these regions is the Aji pepper. The Aji Amarillo is a chili pepper with rich orange and yellow colored skin, which can have a fruity flavor.


In Africa, people use a variety of different chili peppers to make their hot sauces. One of the most popular chili peppers used is the bird's eye chili pepper. African hot sauces tend to be less spicy than those from other regions because they use a lot of fruits and vegetables to balance out the heat from the peppers.


In Asia, the most popular chili pepper used is the Tien Tsin chile peppers are also known as Chinese Red Peppers or Tianjin peppers. They are native to the Sichuan province in China. Asian hot sauces tend to be very spicy because they use a lot of peppers and very little fruit or vegetables.


The Capsicum Annuum is one of the most common in Europe., which includes common red Cayenne pepper cultivar. Cayenne pepper is a type of chili pepper that is very spicy. It is used to make hot sauce and is also used in seasoning blends.

United States

The United States is a melting pot of different cultures, so it's not surprising that there are all sorts of different hot sauces available. However, the most common type of chili pepper used in American hot sauces is the jalapeno pepper. This pepper is not as hot as some of the others, so the sauces tend to be milder.

carolina reaper peppers

With that being said, the U.S. is also home to the hottest chile pepper in the world... The Carolina Reaper. The Carolina Reaper was created by Ed Currie of the PuckerButt Pepper Company.

The pepper gets its name from its shape, which resembles a skull, and its color, which is a deep red. The Carolina Reaper has a Scoville rating of 2.2 million SHU. That means it is more than 200 times hotter than a jalapeno pepper!

In addition to the regions around the world, depending on the region you reside in here in the U.S., the type of pepper used can also vary. Although the Jalapeno pepper is the most common, there are quite a few popular chile peppers used here, such as:

  • Serrano Pepper

  • Cayenne Pepper

  • Hatch Chile Pepper

  • Chili de Arbol Pepper

  • Scotch Bonnet Pepper

  • Habanero Pepper

No matter what region you are from, there is sure to be a hot sauce that you will enjoy.

How is Hot Sauce Made

Hot sauce is made by combining chili peppers with vinegar and other ingredients. The most common type of vinegar used is apple cider vinegar, but white vinegar can also be used. Other common ingredients include salt, garlic, and onion.

The chili peppers and other ingredients are combined and cooked until the peppers are soft. They are then pureed into a smooth sauce. Some people like to leave the seeds in the sauce for an extra spicy kick, while others prefer to remove them.

Once the sauce is finished, it can be bottled and stored in the refrigerator.

infographic showing common chili peppers

What Are Some of the Most Popular Hot Sauces?

There are so many different types of hot sauces available that it can be hard to decide which one to try. Here are a few of our personal favorites that all have different heat levels and explosive flavors!

Hatch Green Chile Hot Sauce - Made with fire roasted hatch chiles and local jalapeños (mild)

Hatch Red Chile Hot Sauce - Made with fire roasted hatch chiles and local jalapeños (mild)

Black Dog Serrano Hot Sauce - Made with Serrano (Medium to hot)

Las Cruces Hot Sauce - Made with the Bhut Jolokia aka Ghost Pepper (hot)

So What's Up With Hot Sauce

Hot sauce is a type of condiment that is made from chili peppers and vinegar. It is used to add heat and flavor to food. There are all sorts of different hot sauces available, each with its own unique flavor and heat level.

No matter what region you are from, there is sure to be a hot sauce that you will enjoy. The most common type of chili pepper used in American hot sauces is the jalapeno pepper. However, the U.S. is also home to the Carolina Reaper, which is the hottest chile pepper in the world.

Hot sauce can be added to any dish for an extra spicy kick. It is perfect for adding flavor to chicken, pork, beef, fish, or even eggs!

If you guys want to try a new hot sauce but are unsure how about heat levels and flavor profiles, feel free to leave a comment down below or send us a message and we'll point you in the right direction!