Hellacious Hot Sauce Review

Now that’s a hot sauce name that should make you take pause. Hellacious Hot Sauce by High River Sauces on paper promises big, wicked things with its use of orange habaneros and a label full of skulls and big, gnarly leafless trees. It’s a frightening thing, but does that translate to the heat? How flavorful is Hellacious Hot Sauce? And is it usable beyond a dare? We dig into a bottle to tell you all.

SUMMARY
Hellacious Hot Sauce by High River Sauces
4.2
$10.02

Don’t let the label fool you. Hellacious Hot Sauce has a surprising amount of flavor inside its ominous bottle. Its upper-medium heat is not overwhelming (think cayenne pepper level spiciness) and it’s well-balanced with the overall smoky, sweet, peppery flavor. You can find a lot of uses for this hot sauce.

Heat Level: Upper-Medium
Pros:
  • Surprisingly tasty -- smoky, sweet, light tang
  • Lower sodium that most
  • Heat is well balanced
Cons:
  • Label sets super-hot expectation -- don't be fooled (it may scare some off when it doesn't need to)
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01/22/2022 12:35 am GMT

Flavor

Let’s start with the ingredients. What makes this Hellacious Hot Sauce so…well, hellacious? It’s those orange habaneros near the top of the ingredients list. The ingredients are: Distilled vinegar, orange habanero peppers, agave syrup, chipotle peppers, crushed red pepper, garlic, lime juice, caramel color, and xanthan gum.

Vinegar sits atop the ingredients list, but in reality the vinegar taste is very slight here. It quickly moves aside for the habanero heat, the slight sweetness from the agave, and a smokiness that hits mid-bite (thanks to those chipotle peppers.) The garlic and lime come to life in the back-end of the flavor, and they both add a really nice end-bite to the overall sauce.

Hellacious Hot Sauce on a spoon
Hellacious Hot Sauce by High River Sauces on a spoon

And then there’s the crushed red pepper — granted, it’s more of a heat source than a flavor enhancer. But you get whole bits of CRP in the sauce, which definitely adds to the eating experience. Plus, it gives something extra to the look of Hellacious Hot Sauce as it’s layered on the plate.

The sodium sits at 35 mg per teaspoon, or 2% of your daily allowance. That’s not bad at all. It’s just enough to give the flavor a little saltiness, but not so much for it to overpower the flavors of the habaneros, chipotle, and garlic. If you’re watching your sodium, you could do a lot worse.

Heat Balance

With a name and branding like Hellacious Hot Sauce has, you’ve got to wonder if the heat is going to overwhelm the flavor. But that’s 100% not the case. Yes, there’s a reasonably big-hitting chili pepper here (the habanero pepper, 100,000 to 350,000 Scoville heat units.) Plus, the chipotle pepper (2,500 to 8,000 SHU) and the crushed red pepper (typically made of cayenne pepper, 30,000 to 50,000 SHU) all add to the potential heat.

But Hellacious Hot Sauce is surprisingly well-balanced. I’d call the spiciness a solid medium to upper-medium heat level — maybe somewhere around 50,000 Scoville heat units (the upper-end of cayenne pepper level heat.) You feel the heat mostly at mid-bite, and it quickly moves to the back of the throat. It builds (and can get uncomfortable at higher amounts), but it doesn’t linger for an extended period.

Really (if you’re used to hotter hot sauces), you can easily handle a teaspoon of Hellacious Hot Sauce at a time. I can take a couple of tablespoons of it without needing a break.

Usability

Hellacious Hot Sauce could be used as a daily driver, if you’re used to higher heats than the likes of Tabasco, Sriracha, and other store hot sauce staples. It has the type of flavor that works with many different foods equally well — chicken, tacos, eggs, you name it. It’s delicious on burgers, bringing a smoky, peppery kick to the meal that works incredibly well with red meat.

I even tried it on pizza, given the fact that the crushed red pepper is so prevalent in the sauce. Delicious. The vinegar isn’t too overwhelming, and the chipotle added a touch of smokiness.

Granted, this hot sauce may be too hot for some (or frankly most) to consider it an everyday hot sauce. But for those who can handle the upper-medium heat, this is an excellent “cover all bases” sauce.

Collectibility

The label is cool and over-the-top, fitting the brand name — filled with skulls, gnarly looking tree limbs, nail-like and a wicked-looking font. It’s ominous — but maybe just a touch too ominous for what’s inside the bottle. Seriously, it sets an expectation of extreme pain that’s just not there.

So, does it stand out among a pack of hot sauces? Yes. Could it disappoint extreme eaters who expected something even hotter? Maybe. Could it scare off many who may actually enjoy this hot sauce more than they’d expect? You bet. There’s a bit of dissonance between the label and the flavor inside. Don’t let it scare you off if you’re in the market for a step-up in flavor and heat from common low-medium hot sauces.

The Score

Don’t let the label fool you. Hellacious Hot Sauce has a surprising amount of flavor inside its ominous bottle. Its upper-medium heat is not overwhelming (think cayenne pepper level spiciness) and it’s well-balanced with the overall smoky, sweet, peppery flavor. You can find a lot of uses for this hot sauce.

FINAL SCORE4.2
Overall Flavor4.5
Heat Balance4.5
Usability4
Collectibility4
X-Factor4
Based on a scale from 1 (lowest) to 5 (highest)

UPDATE NOTICE: This post was updated on December 28, 2021 to include new content. It was originally published on December 4, 2021.
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