Don’t say Dr. Assburn’s Fire Roasted Habanero Pepper Sauce doesn’t try to warn you. It’s there, right in the name, on the cool vintage-style label. There’s a decent kick of heat here that builds and hits you from the mouth on down. But there’s more than just fire here. Dr. Assburn’s delivers a real smoky, flavorful ride along the way. So how usable is it and does that heat and flavor balance just right? Let’s get down and dirty with Dr. Assburns.
The ingredient list for Dr. Assburns Fire Roasted Habanero is deceivingly simple for all the flavor here: Fire roasted habanero peppers, red wine vinegar, water, salt, xanthan gum, and sorbic acid.
It’s a medium thick sauce with beautiful seeds poking through it’s fire roasted color. The smell of the red wine vinegar will have your mouth watering before you even taste it.
On first bite, you get a taste of that red wine vinegar, a lovely sweet tang, but it takes a back seat pretty quickly to the smokiness and spiciness. Dr. Assburn’s fire roasts their habaneros over natural lump charcoal, and that provides all the smoky flavor you need here. There are no additional ingredient to add smokiness – just those roasted habs. It’s earthy and rich.
They also found a way to highlight the sweet side of the habaneros (maybe brought out with that red wine vinegar?) The sweet and smoky are so well-balanced here.
The overall heat of Dr. Assburn’s is medium-high. Habanero peppers can really range up there (100,000 to 350,000 Scoville heat units.) But it’s been tempered down quite a bit in Dr. Assburns. As a rough estimate, let’s say somewhere between 25,000 and 50,000 SHU. That puts it in the cayenne pepper range (30,000 to 50,000 SHU).
That said on first bite, it doesn’t feel quite that hot. It doesn’t immediately hit the back of the throat. Rather, it feels like it builds to that heat the more and more you eat it.
Put another way: It’s not so hot that you have to do a toothpick taste first, but after prolonged use some may find the bite too strong to enjoy.
All-together, the heat and the flavor are well-matched. If the spiciness was a little less than where it is, it wouldn’t be enough to match the robust flavor behind the fire-roasted habaneros. Any more, and it loses its usability.
If you like smokier sauces, you’ll get a lot of use cases here. If you don’t, you won’t. The smoke is the factor, and where you stand on that level of earthiness will impact its usability. Dr. Assburn’s is GREAT on eggs and any kind of grilled or bbq meat like wings, brisket, chicken, and ribs. I used it to make a spicy honey and it gave me just the right amount of fire roasted flavor that I use it morning, noon, and night.
On the sodium level: There’s 70mg of sodium per teaspoon (2% of the daily allowance), so we wouldn’t call Dr. Assburn’s low sodium, but it’s lower than many other options. Consider this if you’re watching your sodium intake.
This bottle’s vintage-style label truly tells the story of Dr. Assburn. It’s fun and super retro – a true talking piece sitting atop my table during get-togethers. I love how much personality they put into the label, while also wrapping it around a vintage-style flask. This is a fun collectible hot sauce for gifting too. The design kills it and the sauce is quite good.
If you like smoky hot sauces but want something more than chipotle pepper heat, Dr. Assburn’s is a winner. Its heat builds over time, and its well-balanced with the sweet-smoky flavor. Plus, the label design is just plain fun. (Amazon)