Are you a condiment queen or chilli lover, always looking to add extra flavour to your meals? There are hundreds of different hot pepper sauces and chilli oils on the market, ready to liven up even the simplest dishes.
Whether you’re looking for a sweet and sour sriracha sauce to drizzle over noodle dishes or use in marinades, something hot and tangy for your tacos, the perfect buffalo sauce for chicken wings or the best chilli oil for dunking gyozas into, we’ve tried and tested over 35 different hot sauces and crispy chilli oils to bring you our favourites.
Read on to discover some of the best hot sauces and crispy chilli oils available in the UK.
10 of the best hot sauces
Best Mexican hot sauces
Valentina salsa picante
This is food & reviews writer Anna Lawson’s favourite hot sauce of all time (bold claim, we know). Not only is the consistency satisfyingly thick and smooth, meaning it pours really well, it’s also packed full of flavour. It has a low-medium level of heat, rather than blow-your-head-off spice and loads of tangy, citrussy acidity. This makes it excellent for drizzling over tacos, nachos, huevos rancheros or any Mexican-inspired dish. We also like it with eggs, in halloumi wraps or swirled through yogurt to make an easy dip.
Cholulua original hot sauce
Cholulu is another popular Mexican hot sauce and one of the most well-loved in the UK, as it can be found in most supermarkets. It’s full of zingy acidity and has a punchy but not overwhelming heat from dried arbol and piquin peppers. It has a thinner consistency, so is great for liberally splashing over everything from eggs and meat, to toasties, tacos, wraps and more. This is a great all-rounder for everyday use.
El Yucateco Habanero Green sauce
Green habanero chillies give this vibrant sauce by popular Mexican hot sauce brand, El Yucateco, a distinctive flavour and more heat than the two sauces above. It also has plenty of zesty acidity, garlic, a pleasant saltiness and fresh green pepper flavour. Use it to add heat and acidity to a range of dishes, especially anything Mexican – add a few drops to guacamole or drizzle lightly over tacos, barbecued meats or corn salad.
Best fermented hot sauces
Eaten Alive fermented hot sauces
Set up by self-confessed ‘ferment-obsessed’ chefs Glyn and Pat, Eaten Alive makes fermented hot sauces, kimchis and krauts. Fermenting each batch of their hot sauces for up to six months gives them bags more flavour than the usual hot-sour-sweet you get in standard chilli sauces – these are packed full of extra funk, plenty of umami savouriness and long-lasting, complex flavours.
It’s too difficult a task to pick just one favourite from the range. The original Scotch Bonnet, made with fermented scotch bonnet and sweet red peppers for a fruity heat, is great for dowsing over just about anything, from eggs to meat to sandwiches. The impressive Smoked Srirarcha combines the sweet-sour tang of sriracha sauce with intense smoky notes (from smoking the veg and chillies before fermenting them) and miso for an extra umami hit. If you love funky, fermented flavours and plenty of acidity, try the Raw Kimchi sauce, which combines kimchi brined chillies, peppers and gochgaru (dried Korean chilli) for a super-zingy, pleasantly salty sauce which is excellent splashed over cheese or eggs on toast or drizzled over noodles and Korean-inspired rice bowls.
Best Indian-inspired hot sauce
Raja Bonnet original hot sauce
This Indian-inspired hot sauce from En Root combines scotch bonnet peppers with Kesar mango, red onion, white wine vinegar, lemon juice and a blend of Gujarati spices including cumin, coriander, turmeric and black pepper. One for spice lovers, the scotch bonnet provides a really fiery, fruity heat, but this is balanced out by sticky mango sweetness, a pleasant but not overwhelming level of acidity and a nice aromatic warmth from the spices. It’s great for adding heat to a range of Indian-inspired dishes – drizzle into meat-stuffed naan breads, flatbreads and wraps, swirl through natural yogurt to make a dip for samosas and pakoras, or serve alongside a curry.
Best Bajan hot sauce
Aunt May’s Bajan pepper sauce
If you’ve ever been to Barbados, chances are you’ll have seen bottles of vibrant, ochre-yellow Bajan hot pepper sauce on almost every restaurant table. There aren’t many varieties available in the UK, but this one from Aunt May’s is one of the best we’ve found here. Made with scotch bonnet peppers, alongside mustard and a hint of turmeric, onions, vinegar, sugar and salt, it’s spicy, with a strong and distinctive mustard flavour, reminiscent of picallili. This means it pairs well with barbecued meat and fish, hot dogs and sandwiches.
Best sriracha sauce
Flying Goose sriracha
Flying Goose sriracha is a household name and favourite among chefs, food writers and home cooks alike, and for good reason. This iconic Thai sauce, named after Thai city Si Racha, is made from sun-dried chillies, garlic, sugar, salt, and distilled vinegar, giving it its distinctively sweet-sour, garlicky flavour, medium heat level and bright red hue. Its handy squeezy bottle makes it ideal for drizzling over everything from noodle and rice dishes, to eggs, avocado toast and even hot dogs. We also like mixing it with mayo to use as a dip for tempura or crispy squid, drizzling into a banh mi sandwich, using as part of a glaze for sticky chicken wings or making Tom Kerridge’s sriracha-glazed chicken burger & pickled cabbage.
Best buffalo sauce
Wingmans buffalo sauce
Love buffalo chicken wings? If you’ve ever eaten at either of Wingmans’ London-based restaurants, you’ll know that its classic buffalo wings with blue cheese sauce are lip-smackingly delicious. In fact, they’ve been awarded the title of ‘best buffalo wings’ at Wingfest several times over the years. The secret? The super acidic, fiery buffalo sauce, which you can purchase online – hooray! This neon orange sauce is made with fermented cayenne peppers, vinegar, butter, smoked paprika, garlic and onion. The result is a seriously zingy, spicy and natural-tasting sauce which packs a proper punch in flavour but has a deliciously silky smooth, creamy texture.
Best hot sauce for pizza
Casa Firelli Italian hot sauce
Love hot sauce with pizza? Firelli’s Italian chilli sauce is designed for exactly that. Made in Italy from roasted red peppers, Calabrian red chillies, balsamic vinegar plus garlic, porcini mushrooms, salt and spices, it has a strong roasted pepper flavour, balsamic sweetness and slightly fruity, subtly smoky heat. It’s great with pizza, in hot dogs or try in a Bloody Mary.
Best versatile fusion trio
Woolfs Kitchen sauce trio
Inspired by her Thai heritage, as well as her travels to Mexico, India and more, trained chef Dominique Woolf began making and selling her fusion-style sauces during the first lockdown in 2020. The three sauces in her trio are each very different and, as a set, make a nice addition to any condiment-lover’s fridge.
The hot + sour has a sticky sweet-chilli sauce-style sweetness, fruity chilli flavour and plenty of garlic, nicely balanced by lime acidity. It’s perfect as a spicy dipping sauce for prawns, crispy squid or spring rolls, drizzled over sweetcorn fritters or used to add a sweet-sour-spicy flavour to noodle and rice dishes.
The jalapeno + lime is more Mexican inspired, and packs a real punch in onion, lime and fresh jalapeño flavour. Try with tacos, burritos or anything Mexican, or drizzle over barbecued prawns.
The third in the trio is less a hot sauce and more an interesting ingredient. Made with tamarind, sugar, onions, tamari and just a hint of chilli, this super-sweet, sticky brown sauce can be used as a glaze for salmon, tofu, prawns or barbecued meats, or used in place of tamarind paste in pad Thai, stir-fries and curries.
4 of the best crispy chilli oils
Lao Gan Ma crispy chilli in oil
Lao Gan Ma, also known as LGM crispy chilli oil, is the most famous brand of chilli oil used in China (where it originates) and has also achieved somewhat of a cult status here. With a soybean oil base, it’s packed with crispy flakes of dried chilli and onion, and flavoured with fermented soybeans, Sichuan pepper, and salt. The result is a moreish combination of salty, crispy, yet fairly mild chilli which adds extra flavour and crunch to a range of dishes without making them overwhelmingly spicy. It’s great drizzled over eggs, rice and noodle dishes – try using this in place of making your own for a super-quick version of our noodles with crispy chilli oil eggs.
Lee Kum Kee chiu chow chilli oil
Food & reviews writer Anna Lawson’s number one crispy chilli oil, Lee Kum Kee’s is much hotter and more umami-rich than the LGM chilli oil (above), and also less crispy. Made with soybean and sesame oils, garlic, dried and salted chilli peppers, soy sauce, salt and sugar, it’s packed full of intensely savoury, spicy flavour. This means it’s not only great drizzled on top of dishes, but can also be used as a cheat’s ingredient to add bags of flavour to sauces for stir-fries and noodles dishes, or try mixing with sesame oil and a splash of Chinese black vinegar for a delicious dressing or dip for wontons and other Asian dumplings.
Tonkotsu Eat the Bits chilli oil
This Japanese chilli oil, served at ramen restaurant Tonkotsu (London, Birmingham and soon to be Brighton), was so popular with their customers that they decided to jar and sell it for use at home. Made with rapeseed and sesame oils, miso, garlic, sesame and shichimi togarashi, it’s a moreish combination of salty, sweet and umami, which is mild in chilli heat (although an ‘extra hot’ version is available if you prefer things spicy). Try it drizzled over ramen and other Japanese noodle and rice dishes, it’s excellent as a dip for gyozas or Japanese fried chicken or mix with rice wine vinegar and a splash of soy sauce to make a dressing for smacked cucumbers and other Japanese-inspired salads.
White Mausu Peanut Rayu
Inspired by the taberu rãyu (chilli oil) found on the tables of Japan’s cafés, restaurants and homes, Irish brand White Mausu’s Peanut Rayu is a mild, nutty chilli oil. It’s made with sunflower oil packed with peanuts and sesame seeds and flavoured with tamari, gochugaru (Korean dried chilli peppers), chilli flakes, agave, garlic and sea salt. The result is a mild chilli oil with a strong, toasty sesame flavour, plenty of nuttiness from the peanuts and a nice balance of salty, sweet and umami. This is mild yet moreish and adds a nice nutty texture and extra flavour to all kinds of dishes – we love it drizzled over noodle and rice dishes, eggs, steak, grilled broccoli or steamed Asian greens like pak choi, or mixed with soy sauce and a splash of rice wine or black vinegar to make a sauce for dumplings or dressing for an Asian-inspired salad.
This review was last updated in May 2021. If you have any questions, suggestions for future reviews or spot anything that has changed in price or availability, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.