Tabasco sauce is one of the most popular hot sauces in the America and the world. Tabasco has been a staple hot sauce for over a century and is still the hot sauce of choice among spicy food-lovers. Luckily, if you need that classic kick from Tabasco sauce, but are without it, you can always substitute it with a variety of accessible and easy swaps. Continue reading for the full breakdown.
What is Tabasco Sauce?
A household name, Tabasco sauce is a hot and spicy condiment made primarily from Tabasco peppers. Vinegar and salt are also added to the sauce to give it a more balanced taste. Tabasco is fairly spicy, with a Scoville heat scale rating of 2,500–5,000 SHU. The Tabasco peppers used in making Tabasco sauce are picked fresh and mashed before being fermented with salt in oak barrels. This fermentation process can last for up to three years, then vinegar is added. The result is a fiercely spicy condiment that is one of a kind.
Thanks to its popularity, there are variations of Tabasco sauce that are made from alternative peppers, as opposed to Tabasco peppers. The alternatives, like Cayenne Garlic Sauce and Sweet & Spicy Sauce, are usually milder, which may be a good choice for those sensitive to heat.
Tabasco Sauce Substitutes
Louisiana Hot Sauce
Louisiana Hot Sauce is made from a similar process to Tabasco hot sauce but with cayenne peppers. The pepper is fermented for about a year instead of three years in the case of Tabasco sauce. The resulting sauce tastes primarily like pepper and vinegar, just not as spicy as Tabasco sauce.
Louisiana Hot Sauce is considered by many to be the ideal replacement for Tabasco sauce because it is spicy with a hint of vinegar. As both hot sauce products are made with similar ingredients and in a similar fashion, the only difference is the levels of spiciness. Louisiana hot sauce is a milder alternative, suitable for those who don’t want overwhelming spiciness.
Cholula Hot Sauce is made from a fermentation process similar to Tabasco, but with one key difference: it’s made from a blend of two peppers. Cholula uses a mixture of both Arbol and Pequin peppers, along with other spices like garlic. Thanks to the other spices present, Cholula hot sauce tastes both spicy and sweet. The spiciness and sweetness are balanced and mild in Cholula. Cholula has a Scoville heat rating of around 1,000-2,000 SHU.
Cholula Hot Sauce can replace Tabasco hot sauce perfectly, though you may need to use more than you would Tabasco. Cholula is not as spicy as Tabasco, as its heat level is considered mild.
The most obvious difference between Sriracha and Tabasco sauce is that Sriracha contains sugar. The presence of sugar in Sriracha gives it a unique sweet and spicy taste that make it so popular. The pepper used in making Sriracha is Jalapeño, one of the most famous peppers in the world.
There are many more ingredients in Sriracha, including sugar, and in this way it differs from Tabasco. Sriracha is still spicy, but it’s mild compared to Tabasco. If the recipe you are preparing calls for a lot of heat, then you will want to add quite a bit of Sriracha to achieve intense heat. Sriracha is a great substitute for Tabasco sauce when your dishes are already spicy and you just need some sweetness.
While Tabasco is a sauce, cayenne pepper is a powdered spice that you likely have in your spice collection already. Amazingly, powdered cayenne pepper can also be made into a sauce that can replace Tabasco. Combining cayenne pepper with vinegar and salt so that it forms a sauce consistency does the trick in replacing Tabasco sauce.
Cayenne pepper sauce is the ideal replacement for Tabasco sauce because it is just as spicy as Tabasco. The one thing missing from cayenne pepper sauce would be that it is not fermented, so it will not have as great as a depth of flavor that the fermentation process creates in Tabasco sauce. The texture of the homemade cayenne pepper sauce will also be slightly grainy and less smooth compared to Tabasco. Otherwise, it is a great Tabasco substitute in a pinch.
Worcestershire sauce is a umami flavored condiment that can replace Tabasco sauce, even though it’s not spicy. Worcestershire sauce is made from fermented onions, barley malt vinegar, spirit vinegar, molasses, sugar, salt, anchovies, tamarind extract, garlic and other spices. Because of the presence of anchovies, Worcestershire sauce is not vegan and cannot served with Kosher meals.
Worcestershire sauce can be used in place of Tabasco because it is a vinegar-based condiment. It has a strong acidic flavor that is similar to Tabasco, but minus the heat. If using Worcestershire sauce to replace Tabasco sauce, add spiciness from another source.
Chili oil, sometimes called chili crisp, is an infused oil sauce with hot pepper. Chili peppers can be used, but any pepper can suffice. Chili oil can therefore be spicy or mild, depending on the pepper used in making it. It’s made by heating the chili pepper in the oil, infusing the oil with the flavors of the chili.
Chili oil can be used as a substitute for Tabasco because has a deep flavor and heat. The main difference between chili oil and Tabasco sauce is that Tabasco has a more fresh, acidic flavor, while chili oil is just oil.
Frank’s RedHot Sauce
Frank’s RedHot sauce is made like Tabasco sauce, but using cayenne peppers. The fermentation process and length are a secret, making it a unique hot sauce. Frank’s RedHot sauce also contains vinegar, like Tabasco sauce. It’s very similar to Tabasco, but with less heat, and more added spices. Frank’s RedHot sauce is the go-to hot sauce used in buffalo sauce.
Like Tabasco sauce, Frank’s RedHot sauce is spicy, though not as spicy as Tabasco. The original sauce is low on the Scoville heat scale, at 450 SHU, but the XTRA Hot variety is at around 2,000 SHU. Like Tabasco, Frank’s RedHot sauce has in production for over a 100 years.
Tomato Ketchup is an excellent substitute for Tabasco sauce, even though it has no heat. Ketchup, made up of tomatoes, vinegar, sugar, and other spices, has the same acidity that Tabasco adds. Tomato Ketchup is sweet and tangy instead of spicy, so if using ketchup instead of Tabasco sauce, add heat from another source. A spicy ketchup can also be a great Tabasco sauce substitute.
If none of those options work out, you can always try making your own Tabasco sauce at home using the recipe below, though it does take some time to ferment, so it’s not a quick option.