Howler Monkey Hot Sauce (Original) Review

If you know your monkeys (and who doesn’t, I say), you may have gathered Howler Monkey Hot Sauce is a Panamanian-style sauce. Howler monkeys being the tell here for those in the primate know — a species native to Central America. But enough Nat Geo background. Howler Monkey Hot Sauce (the original blend) has a fitting Caribbean flair and a very eatable mild to medium bite. But how well do that heat and flavor mesh and how versatile is it? Let’s dive into a bottle of Howler Monkey and see how this Panamanian-style sauce fares.

Flavor

If you love vinegar-forward hot sauces like Louisiana-style hot sauces (Tabasco being the most popular), Howler Monkey Original Sauce is a hot sauce to note. It has a vinegar tang right up-front too, as expected from the ingredients list: distilled vinegar, red scotch bonnet peppers, garlic, onions, mustard (distilled vinegar, number one mustard seed, salt, turmeric, and spices) cumin, black pepper, and turmeric.

From the second you open a bottle of Howler Monkey Hot Sauce, you’ll smell that vinegar. But unlike Louisiana-style hot sauces where the vinegar is followed by the smell of pepper mash, Howler Monkey follows it up with an aroma of fresh garlic, onions, and mustard. Those scotch bonnets are keeping until you get a drop of Howler Monkey on your tongue.

On first bite, the scotch bonnets finally shine as part of the overall flavor profile. This sauce really brings out their bright and fruity side. That’s followed on the back-end by a touch of heat (more on that below.)

With those fresh bits of garlic and onion, along with the perfectly spiced mustard, Howler Monkey is sort of like a Louisiana-style hot sauce with more depth of flavor. It’s like a Louisiana-style and Caribbean hot sauce mashup, and it’s just right. This is an all-natural sauce (no artificial ingredients) that provides a perfect amount of tang, sweetness, and pungency to the table. Not too much, not too little. Just enough to complement a dish and not overpower it.

Howler Monkey is also pretty decent on its overall sodium per serving. At 70 mg per teaspoon it may not be low-sodium, but among vinegar-forward sauces that’s pretty light in comparison.

Howler Monkey Original Hot Sauce on a spoon

Heat Balance

Scotch bonnet peppers are equal to habaneros in overall heat — 100,000 to 350,000 Scoville heat units (SHU). So the pepper on its own has some kick, but that kick is well diluted down in Howler Monkey Hot Sauce. The brand doesn’t list the Scoville heat units, but some say 600 SHU and others say hotter (1,000 to 3,000 SHU.) I’d place it in the upper-mild to low-medium heat level. It’s somewhere between Tabasco Green Sauce (600 to 1,200 SHU and Sriracha (1,000 to 2,500 SHU). For me, its heat comes in below Tabasco (2,500 to 5,000 SHU), another vinegar-forward sauce.

The spiciness certainly builds, but it doesn’t linger. It disappears within a minute, leaving you with comforting warmth. And at times, Howler Monkey tastes like it punches above its noted Scoville heat level. As this sauce uses all fresh ingredients, it’s prone to settling in the bottle. That can lead to some inconsistent heat (and flavor) experiences. Some bites pretty mild, others more in the medium range. To get a more consistent heat and flavor shake shake shake senora that bottle and see those fresh ingredients whirl around.

In terms of balance, the flavor profile of this sauce could certainly handle even more heat. But Howler Monkey has got your back there as they also have a hotter version of this hot sauce for sale (labeled “Hot” instead of “Original”.)

Usability

Howler Monkey Hot Sauce is a pretty versatile sauce that goes well with chicken, beef, seafood (try it on shrimp!) and anything else that’s craving some vinegar spice flair. It also goes great with eggs, pizza, and it’s been delicious every time I’ve used it to liven up a bowl of soup.

This sauce is very thin and watery, so it comes out quickly. The opening on the top of the bottle is a bit large for a spout that pours such a thin sauce. Normally you’d find a watery sauce like this in a shaker bottle, so you get drops at a time. I guess Howler Monkey knew you’d want to go by the tablespoon, not by the drop, due the tasty flavor.

Collectibility

I love the pic of the howler monkey on the label — a nice nod to the Panamanian roots of the sauce. “Howler Monkey”, too, is a pretty cool name for a hot sauce brand — it sounds tough, but there’s a lot to love both with those monkeys and this sauce. The label catches the eye, with its bright colors and howler monkey image.

The brand also provides care packages for the US military, to add a little more spice to their lives. They also support K9s for Warriors, so giving back is truly part of Howler Monkey’s story. If you’re looking for your hot sauce to have purpose, there’s plenty here to like.

The Score

Howler Monkey Original Hot Sauce is a Panamanian-style sauce that pairs delicious tang with mustard and fresh spices. If you wish your Louisiana-style hot sauce had a bit more flavor, this is a hot sauce you’ll want to try!

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

UPDATE NOTICE: This post was updated on May 9, 2021 to include new content. It was originally published on March 12, 2021.

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