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What is Louisiana Hot Sauce?

Mary McMahon
Updated Feb 26, 2024
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Louisiana hot sauce is a spicy condiment that is made by blending hot peppers, vinegar, and salt to make a generally thin, bright red sauce with a moderate heat level. Most producers pride themselves on making a product that is provides some heat, but isn't too hot. There are many uses for this condiment, and it is famously included in many Cajun and Creole dishes; it is also a feature of the classic Bloody Mary, a cocktail that blends tomato juice, clam juice, vodka, and hot sauce for a fiery kick.

Both cayenne and tabasco peppers can be used to produce Louisiana hot sauce. Some famous brands include the Original Louisiana Style Hot Sauce, Tabasco®, Crystal, and Frank's Red Hot. Sauces made with tabasco peppers, such as the eponymous Tabasco® sauce, tend to be more peppery, while cayenne-based sauces can be more moderate. Many of these producers continue to make their products in the state that it is named for; Tabasco®, for example, is still made on Avery Island, Louisiana, where some of the peppers for the famous sauce are grown.

Most markets across the United States sell at least one brand of hot sauce, while stores in the Southern US often carry an assortment. It is also frequently found in places like diners, where it may be set out on the table along with salt, pepper, ketchup, and sweeteners. Many consumers have a preference for a specific brand, as different companies use slightly different formulas that have unique flavors and levels of spiciness.

In most cases, Louisiana hot sauce is actually fermented and aged for up to three years in casks with vinegar and salt as a preservative. The aging creates a distinctive hint of fermentation in the flavor that some consumers enjoy. By tradition, additional ingredients are not added, as they would obscure the heat of the peppers and the natural flavor of the sauce. Some companies do make variants with ingredients like chipotle peppers, which are slowly smoked to yield a very unique flavor.

Although this type of hot sauce is generally mild, some varieties do carry a kick. For people who are not used to hot sauces, it can seem unbearably hot. If someone finds himself with a mouthful of hot sauce that is too much for him to handle, it can help to squeeze some lemon juice into the mouth. The acid of the lemon juice will neutralize the basic capsaicin of the chili peppers, calming the reaction.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By anon248606 — On Feb 18, 2012

I personally feel the best hot sauces don't even have vinegar, and are instead purees of peppers. I recently have found a Ghost Pepper puree sauce that I enjoy very much, even on cheese.

By calabama71 — On Sep 19, 2010

@dega2010: A sieve is like a sifter. It filters the unwanted particles from the wanted. It’s kind of like a mesh or a net. A strainer is a type of sieve, used to separate solids from liquids.

By dega2010 — On Sep 19, 2010

@calabama71: What exactly is a sieve?

By calabama71 — On Sep 19, 2010

@chrisinbama: This is the only recipe that I have tried for hot sauce and it turned our pretty good. It calls for 3 cups finely chopped red cayenne peppers, 1 cup white vinegar, 1 Tbsp. garlic (finely chopped), ½ cup water, and 1 Tbsp. salt.

Simmer the ingredients over medium heat until soft. Remove from the heat and mash with a potato masher. Press the mixture through a sieve to leave skin and seeds. Discard the solids. If it is too thick, you can add more vinegar. I store it in a Mason jar and it is good on the shelf for about 6 weeks and even longer if refrigerated.

By chrisinbama — On Sep 19, 2010

I would like to try to make some homemade Louisiana hot sauce but have no clue where to start. Has anyone ever made any? If so, could you share your recipe?

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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