What happens when you pair two popular peppers with totally different flavor profiles? Secret Aardvark Serrabanero Green Sauce does just that. It mixes medium-heat serrano peppers and extra-hot habaneros into one beautiful green tomato based sauce — and one funky name. But how does it work? Are the pepper flavors still there? And how well-balanced is the heat to that flavor? We take Serrabanero for a spin and give you all the details.
Let’s dive into the ingredients list, especially since they feature so prevalently in the Serrabanero hot sauce name. The list: green tomato, water, onions, serrano peppers, roasted tomatillo, garlic, apple cider vinegar, green habanero, sugar, cilantro, salt, basil, organic white distilled vinegar, organic mustard seed, lime juice concentrate, cultured dextrose, spices, organic spices, natural lime flavor, and turmeric.
As you pour Serrabanero, you can see the fresh ingredients. It’s a really beautiful green color, and boy do green things play a big part in the ingredients list of this sauce.
Green tomatoes and roasted tomatillos play large roles. And then there’s that basil, cilantro, and lime juice. But the most interesting twist is those green habaneros. Habanero peppers are typically used ripened as that’s when they are the fruitiest and hottest. Here, they are picked and used young. Meaning, they are less sweet and towards the milder end of their heat range. As such, the serrano peppers bright flavor shines here a bit more than the the fruitiness of habaneros, and the sauce doesn’t hit that hard that all in terms of heat.
The green tomatoes are what you taste on first bite, and they provide a really nice acidic tang. The tomatillos layer into that flavor nicely, leading to a real smooth start. Then we get the garlic and sugar and they both feature prevalently in the ongoing flavor experience. The sugar is lovely and adds a very light sweetness alongside the fresh pepper flavors that hit mid-stream and the fresh bits of garlic add to the overall zing.
After a few bites you’ll definitely be able to notice the cilantro and the tiny lime kick that is present. In my opinion, I think this sauce really shines when you add more fresh lime to it. Get yourself some fresh lime wedges and combine those with this sauce, and you’ll be in heaven. And that highlights an interesting aspect to the flavor of Serrabanero. Even though there are two vinegars in this sauce, it’s not overly tangy. In fact, for me, it could do with a bit more tang.
With this sauce specifically, it’s a little harder to break down the spices and other ingredients in the flavor profile. They all meld into the overall back-end of the taste, and you’ll get hints of each on different bites and with different palates. Some of you may taste the lime or turmeric, whereas I taste the garlic and onions more. In the end, it’s a good tasting sauce, but I can’t help wanting just a bit more tang.
You may see that habanero and think Secret Aardvark Serrabanero Hot Sauce is going to be a bigger heat. Far from it — it’s a very eatable mild to low-medium spiciness. Secret Aardvark doesn’t push the habanero to its heat limits, even in its popular habanero hot sauce. So, it’s not a surprise that the heat is pretty mild in Serrabanero.
Serrano peppers are medium heat peppers (10,000 to 23,000 Scoville heat units) and habaneros are, as mentioned, 100,000 to 350,000 SHU. And as they use green habs here, they’d tend to the milder end. Both peppers are fresh in the sauce, but not high up in the ingredients list. So the spiciness is certainly tempered by those green tomatoes and water. For Serrabanero, think more in the 1,000 to 3,000 SHU range which puts it in the Sriracha (or less) range.
The spiciness dissipates after a minute or so and the kick is on the back end. It’s not too surprising and it does build some as you go. Really, the heat feels more like the strong kick you’d get from a lot of black pepper versus a heat that will send you running for the milk. And with habanero being part of the name, it feels like it could have been a bit more here.
With the lower heat and smooth flavor, Secret Aardvark Serrabanero is quite usable. It’s tasty on eggs and chicken. I also really love a good green sauce on sandwiches and Serrabanero definitely doesn’t disappoint as a ketchup-like condiment. It amps up to the flavor to something that tastes “fresh from the deli” with a special sauce.
Serrabanero also works well on nachos and pizza. I even added some to my ramen and it was a worthy addition! This is the type of sauce that can be used like an everyday spreading condiment than a “dash will do ya” hot sauce. To that point, it’s thicker and stays where you put it. And the packaging is a squeeze bottle with a well-flowing nozzle. That’s hint enough for how you should approach using Serrabanero.
I love the Secret Aardvark logo with the Aardvark sticking his nose down a hot sauce bottle to get every last drop. That’s pretty much what you want to do with Secret Aardvark’s hot sauce line. It’s a fun, memorable brand mascot that, with the funky Serrabanero name, sets this sauce out from the pack in terms of collectibility.
Plus, the squeeze bottle packaging feels like something that’s just meant to be used in large quantities. Your hands just involuntarily reach for that bottle-type when there’s a line-up of hot sauce choices. Strangely — the utilitarian aspect of their bottle choice just adds to the collectibility. Though how long a Secret Aardvark would stick around among your hot sauce is up for question. If you’re like me, they tend to get used quickly.
Secret Aardvark Serrabanero Hot Sauce pairs two popular chili peppers — serranos and habaneros into a smooth, tasty green-tomato based sauce. Though, the spiciness may be too mild for some looking for bigger heat. (Amazon)