Purple Haze Hot Sauce Review

Love hot sauces that look as unique as they taste? Get to know Purple Haze Hot Sauce. This is one “psychedelic hot sauce”, with a bold name, bold flavor, and even bolder color. But how well-balanced is its heat? And do the unique ingredients (like red cabbage!) make it a tough sell in the usability department? Let’s get a little crazy with Purple Haze and see what makes it tick.

Flavor

Purple Haze Hot Sauce uses habaneros for heat (and flavor), but that’s not the thing that catches the eye in the ingredients list. No, it’s that red cabbage that provides the sauce’s beautiful purply color. Here’s what’s in the bottle: pineapple juice, red cabbage, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, onion, lemon juice, habanero pepper purée (habanero peppers, salt, acetic acid), spices, ginger, thyme, and xanthan gum.

As you pour this out you see what a beautiful color the red cabbage brings to this sauce, but the first thing you taste is the sweetness from the pineapple and brown sugar mixed with the sweet tang from apple cider vinegar. That cabbage is more there for color than for adding any dominant flavor.

For any who dislike pineapples, first…why?! But seriously, don’t fret about them coming first in the ingredients list. Their sweetness hits quick, but balances out among all the tastes going on really fast. And, for me, the pineapple isn’t even the most interesting sweetener in this sauce. It’s that brown sugar. It’s there, lingering through the flavor from beginning to end, but it never overtakes this hot sauce. Honestly, it’s the balance of all the flavors that makes Purple Haze Hot Sauce work.

Purple Haze Hot Sauce On a spoon
Purple Haze Hot Sauce on a spoon

Similarly, the habanero purée definitely hits you quickly mid-bite, but it isn’t an overwhelming kick. It layers right in with the other flavors, along with the habanero sweetness.

I didn’t taste the ginger on the first bight, but as I got into this sauce I could taste that exotic bite of on the back end. It’s a nice refreshing twist for those that stick with the sauce. Same with the onion.

The lemon juice is noticeable and helps lean into that tang. I even added a little more fresh lemon to Purple Haze and that really brought out even more flavor from the sauce. That’s totally a “lemon lovers” choice on my part. You’ll likely be in love with the lemon balance as the sauce stands.

Heat Balance

You may think with habaneros (100,000 to 350,000 Scoville heat units) in the ingredient list and the word “psychedelic” on the label that there’d be heat that’s hard to handle in Purple Haze Hot Sauce. Not the case here. The habanero peppers deliver a solid medium heat without a lot of lingering spiciness.

Really, if you can handle the heat of typical kitchen chili peppers like fresh jalapeño peppers (2,500 to 8,000 SHU) and cayenne (30,000 to 50,000), you can handle the heat here. It’s somewhere in that range, depending on the spoonful. That heat is decently balanced against the flavor profile, though it was a little inconsistent at times for me. Some bites hotter than others. That’s likely fixed with a good bottle shake with every use.

Usability

Boy, with that ingredient list, where do you start with usability? It doesn’t feel like it’d work with a ton of stuff, but you’d be surprised. Remember, that red cabbage is more color than taste. It’s that complex sweet-heat that stands tall in Purple Haze Psychedelic Hot Sauce.

I tried this with one of my favorite tacos (pork with fresh pineapple and cabbage — mine was vegan pork, but works either way) — slam dunk. This also works on nachos, and I loved it on my avocado toast. It added just the right amount of tangy and sweet, without me craving more in regard to heat. The sweetness, too, works real well with shellfish and chicken.

It’s also on the thicker side, so your pour definitely stays where you put it. That thickness makes Purple Haze a good dipping sauce for any sort of finger food. The color may not work with everything (if you’re considering plating or ingredient aesthetics), but the taste is totally there to work with a ton of food.

Collectibility

The maker of this sauce — Chef Ric Orlando — shares the cool backstory for this sauce on his site. Short of it: This sauce was made decades ago for a signature dish Ric made called Purple Haze Shrimp. Along with this sauce Ric sells a ton of amazing seasonings and rubs on his site, check it out.

The label of this sauce makes it feel very vintage, while also being hip and fun. I don’t know anyone who would see this bottle on a shelf and not be intrigued. It pops on the shelf.

And really, any hot sauce where red cabbage is the second ingredient on the ingredients list (and features that purply color), is prime for table talk. It’s just not an ingredient or color you expect from most hot sauces.

The Score

Purple Haze gives you a sweet ride with its mix of pineapple, apple cider vinegar, red cabbage, habanero peppers, and more. It’s a unique flavor that pairs with a surprising color. This one’s totally fun to talk about (and taste) at the table. (RicOrlando.com)

FINAL SCORE4.4
Overall Flavor4.5
Heat Balance4
Usability4
Collectibility5
X-Factor4.5
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 April 8, 2021.
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