Mexican Hot Sauces Guide: Five Widely Available Must-Knows

| Last Updated: September 11, 2019 |

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The best Mexican hot sauces are all common and relatively affordable. If you are in Mexico, the offerings will change from region to region and from restaurant to restaurant. The good news is that all of them are available online, and most will be in the Latin aisle of most U.S. grocery stores. Here is a look at some of the highest-rated and most beloved Mexican hot sauces.

Valentina

Arguably the most popular of all the Mexican hot sauces, Valentina Hot Sauce is a staple in Mexican taquerias and is becoming one in the United States as well. You can already find it in many grocery stores.

This sauce from Guadalajara consists of red puya chili peppers along with vinegar and some spices. Valentina’s beauty is in its simplicity. Along with its heat, it offers a flavor that is simply tart and vinegary. There are two versions with two levels of heat. The mild Valentina has a yellow label, and the hotter version has a black label. Both sauces are thicker than typical “dasher” hot sauces, which are usually similar to Tabasco and more on the watery side.

Tapatio

While it’s not produced within the borders of present-day Mexico, Tapatio was created by Mexicans. It is also currently made in California, a state that was once part of Mexico.

The name Tapatio is a nickname for people from the Mexican state of Guadalajara, which is the company’s founders’ home state. The sauce’s main ingredients are flavorful red peppers along with vinegar, garlic, and other spices.

Tapatio has a strong pepper flavor, but the heat level is medium at best. Aside from that, it offers a little sweetness that helps to differentiate it from other Mexican hot sauces. Because of its mildness, it is a popular entry-level hot sauce.

Bufalo

Bufalo Hot Sauce is made in Mexico City and is one of the oldest truly Mexican hot sauces — its production began in 1933. The sauce started out in Lomas de Chapultepec and is still made there today, but the company now belongs to Herdez Group. Hormel Foods own the Herdez Group.

The sauce is made with guajillo peppers, garlic, and various spices. Unlike the other sauces, Bufalo Hot Sauce’s flavor profile focuses on the pepper without as much of its vinegar component. The texture is also important since it is a thicker hot sauce, similar to Valentina. It has a ketchup-like consistency that sticks to the surface of your food.

Cholula

Named after the oldest continuously inhabited city in North America (Mexico’s city of Cholula) and second only to Valentina in terms of iconic status, Cholula Hot Sauce is another Jalisco favorite. It is available in a range of flavors including chipotle and chile-lime, but the best known is the classic red sauce. It is almost as widely recognized in the United States as it is in Mexico.

The traditional Mexican hot sauce is formulated to add flavor without too much heat, which means it is a relatively mild sauce. Cholula is made with a combination of pequin and arbol peppers – two hotter peppers on the pepper scale. Cholula actually carries a bit more heat than most other Mexican hot sauces.

El Yucateco

El Yucateco Chile Habanero Red is the most recognizable and accessible of the brand’s line of sauces. It’s a typical Mexican red hot sauce that will do the job without drawing too much attention to itself. The green version offers a similar moderate spice level as the red. The real heat is reserved for the XXX Habanero version, which is about twice as hot as the red sauce.

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