Hot Ones Los Calientes Hot Sauce Review

Hot Ones Los Calientes taste like a higher quality, fresher, spicier version of Taco Bell sauce. And that’s 100% not a bad thing. No, this hot sauce from the fiery foods collab of Hot Ones, First We Feast, and Heatonist is a total flavor winner. It’s so eatable. So, how’s the heat balance and the usability? Let’s break down what you should expect when picking up a bottle of Los Calientes.

SUMMARY
Hot Ones Los Calientes Hot Sauce
4.6
$19.95 ($3.99 / Fl Oz)
Heat Level: Upper-Medium (36,000 SHU)
Pros:
  • Incredible flavor - smoky, sweet, a lot of depth
  • Highly usable - perfect for Tex-Mex and Mexican foods
  • Well-branded and collectible
Cons:
  • Could be a little too hot for some
  • While sodium level isn't particularly high, it's easy to use a lot of this hot sauce - sodium intake can creep up
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10/03/2022 12:08 am GMT

Table of Contents

Flavor

A lot is going on in the ingredients list of Los Calientes Hot Sauce, so let’s start there. The ingredients are chiles (green serrano, applewood smoked green serrano, orange habanero), apple cider vinegar, apricot (ascorbic acid added), apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, tomatillo, agave nectar, water, garlic, salt, toasted onion, cumin, culantro, black pepper, and celery seed.

AND breathe. That’s a ton of stuff under the hood. But, it plays out in flavor perfectly.

Right at the top, you’ll taste those applewood smoked serranos, a touch smoky, sweet, and fiery.

—> Learn More: What does applewood smoking add to flavor?

Then the sweet apricots and apple cider vinegar take center stage, not too sweet and not too tangy — just enough to balance well with that serrano spiciness. The sweetness from those habs also supports the flavor here, but it’s not specifically noticeable amid that apricot sweetness (outside of their spiciness, but we’ll get to that later.)

The heat calms around mid-bite, and when it mellows, you get the classic flavors of tangy tomatillo, garlic, and onion, along with earthiness and warmth from that cumin and black pepper. The lingering taste is simply peppery, with a spiced undercurrent.

The flavor in Los Calientes, as you can see, is a total journey. Each ingredient that takes the focus complements what came before it but also brings in new depth. Few hot sauces truly can compete with Los Caliente’s flavor.

It is much like a higher quality, fresher, and spicier Taco Bell sauce (and the Bell’s sauces are all surprisingly tasty.)

On the salt here: The sodium sits at 40mg per teaspoon, which is relatively low compared to many other high-ingredient hot sauces. It’s 2% of your daily allowance per teaspoon. If you’re watching your sodium, still take care. This is the kind of sauce you can down by the tablespoon. The amount of salt can add up very quickly.

Hot Ones Los Calientes Hot Sauce on a spoon
Hot Ones Los Calientes Hot Sauce on a spoon

Heat Balance

Los Calientes Hot Sauce has a reported Scoville heat rating of 36,000 Scoville heat units (SHU). That’s an upper-medium heat, and that feels about right. The two chilies in this hot sauce are serranos and habanero peppers. Fresh serranos range from 10,000 to 23,000 SHU, while habaneros range from 100,000 to 350,000 SHU. It’s those habs that really increase the overall heat.

At 36,000 SHU, Los Calientes is hotter than many similar hot sauces on the market. Many competitors keep their heat in the true low-medium range (2,500 to 10,000 SHU). 36,000 SHU is a noticeable step up, but it’s still very balanced and usable.

It’s similar to the spice rack staple, cayenne pepper (30,000 to 50,000 SHU). So, it’s still a common level of spiciness for most kitchens.

The spiciness is relatively quick, too. As mentioned earlier, it hits early and trails off mid-bite. Though, it does build the more you use it. I could handle about three tablespoons with my tacos, and I would have taken more if it wasn’t for the bite of those serranos and habaneros getting to me towards the end.

Usability

There’s a lot of versatility in the Los Calientes Hot Sauce flavor. It pairs very well with Mexican and Tex-Mex foods like tacos, burritos, and enchiladas. It’s also tasty on eggs, chicken, and almost anything grilled on a BBQ. That smokiness from those applewood smoked serranos really works with outdoor grilled meats.

This is a thicker sauce, and the bottle is ideally suited for use with it. A nice-sized spout (about the size of a U.S. dime) gives plenty of room for this sauce to pour. That thickness also gives you much control — Los Calientes sits atop your food rather than drizzling everywhere. So you won’t go mixing its flavors in unwanted places.

The only thing holding it a little back on usability is its spiciness. Yes, it’s well-balanced, but some may find this hot sauce just a touch too spicy for everyday use.

Collectibility

Being a collaboration between well-known fiery food brands makes Los Calientes Hot Sauce an immediate get for many hot sauce collections. These are big names: Hot Ones, First We Feast, and The Heatonist on the label.

These are brands that know the ins and outs of hot sauce, so they do a lot right in flavor, heat, and packaging too. The teal to yellow gradient coloring on the label of yellow reminds me of a summer day on the beach. Then you have the punch-up of the Hot Ones chicken in neon that just pops. It feels like good times are within. And it pops visually. I’d be drawn to it in a line-up of hot sauces.

They also do an excellent job with the collaboration branding. It’s visible enough to be part of the label experience but not over-the-top where the hot sauce feels NASCAR-y.

The Score

Los Calientes Hot Sauce delivers a big on flavor, with a smoky-sweet tang and a ton of depth. Its heat is well-balanced and, for hot sauce fans, very eatable. Though, less initiated may find it a touch on the hotter side. Very usable and collectible too.

FINAL SCORE4.6
Overall Flavor5
Heat Balance4.5
Usability4.5
Collectibility4.5
X-Factor4.5
Based on a scale from 1 (lowest) to 5 (highest)
  • Our Hot Sauce Rankings: We’ve reviewed and ranked over 100 hot sauces to help you find your next new favorite. Review our rankings and discover the chilies in each hot sauce.
  • The Last Dab XXX Hot Sauce Review: Three different Pepper X types in this big-heat sauce. How does the flavor stack up?
  • The Hot Pepper List: Learn all about the chilies inside the hot sauce bottle! We’ve profiled over 150 chilies, covering heat, flavor, use cases, origin, and more.

UPDATE NOTICE: This post was updated on May 26, 2022 to include new content.
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