Skyline Chili Hot Sauce Review

If you’re from Cincinnati, you likely have heard of Skyline Chili. The restaurant has a long history and devoted following in the region (and now across multiple states.) Why all the love? The chili, of course — more a sauce than a chili con carne. People come out of the woodwork for it, and Skyline Chili Hot Sauce is made specifically for it. So, does it live up to the hype? Is this hot sauce big on flavor? How well is the heat balanced? And is it as usable as popular table hot sauces? Let’s grab a bottle and find out.

SUMMARY
Skyline Chili Hot Sauce (pack of two)
4.5
$11.77

There’s a lot to love about Skyline Chili Hot Sauce — plenty of vinegar tang, a surprising depth of peppery flavor, and a bolder than expected low-medium spiciness. It’s quite usable, and the bottle has a fun nostalgic feel. 

Heat Level: Medium
Pros:
  • A surprising amount of peppery depth
  • Hotter than expected (but very eatable)
  • Very usable
Cons:
  • High sodium (though a dasher bottle, so you can control)
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12/08/2021 12:13 am GMT

Flavor

Let’s start with the ingredients list to see what makes Skyline Chili Hot sauce tick. The ingredients are: distilled vinegar, water, red tabasco pepper, salt, red jalapeño pepper, red cayenne pepper, natural flavor, corn starch-modified, guar gum, xanthan gum, and ascorbic acid.

So, we have a trinity of chili peppers here — red tabascos, jalapeños, and cayenne. That’s quite a bit of chilies here, but the star of the show on first bite is that vinegar. It hits you right at the top, even before you get a sense of the heat that lingers right behind it.

The three pepper combo adds a nice depth of peppery flavor here, along with a little sweetness. There’s more pepper flavor depth here than you get from Tabasco Original Red, but you get a comparable upfront vinegar tang. Dare I say, I think the flavor is better than what you get from common red dasher hot sauces, like Tabasco or Crystal Hot Sauce. But of course that depth of peppery sweetness in Skyline Chili Hot Sauce can impact the flavor more than those two Louisiana-style hot sauces.

There’s a saltiness here too. And it’s a pretty substantial amount of sodium in Skyline Chili Hot Sauce: 150 mg per teaspoon serving. That’s 6% of your daily allowance. It’s packaged in a dasher bottle, though, so, if you’re watching your sodium intake, you can limit easily the amount of this hot sauce that you’re using.

Skyline Chili Hot Sauce on a spoon
Skyline Chili Hot Sauce on a spoon

Heat balance

The chilies here are all medium-heat peppers. Tabasco and cayenne peppers both range from 30,000 to 50,000 Scoville heat units (SHU), while jalapeños range from 2,500 to 8,000 SHU. Being they use red versions of all of these chilies, the heats of the peppers used are likely toward the middle or higher of these ranges.

Skyline Chili does list the Scoville heat range of its hot sauce, but there’s a low-medium spiciness here, perhaps a bit more than what you get from Tabasco Original Red (2,500 to 5,000 Scoville heat units.) That puts Skyline Chili Hot Sauce in a comparable heat range to eating a fresh jalapeño.

This is not a spiciness that’ll wow you, but it does have a punch, especially because it hits pretty fast and quick up top. And it does balance well with the flavor and consistency of the sauce. The heat feels just about right for the expectations you’ll have for this hot sauce.

Usability

Skyline Chili positions its hot sauce as the choice for its branded products. If you’re craving its original chili, chili spaghetti, or heck even oyster crackers simply topped with hot sauce (it’s yum), then it’s a no-brainer that Skyline Chili Hot Sauce is your preferred product.

But this hot sauce isn’t limited to just that. Really, anywhere you’d use a hot sauce with a bold vinegar tang upfront, you can reach for Skyline Chili Hot Sauce just as quickly as Tabasco. It’s quite versatile.

I’ve tried it with chicken, on salad, atop tacos, and with other Mexican dishes. They all worked well with this sauce. The more ingredients you’re talking about, the more it’s just all about the vinegar and heat in Skyline Chili Hot Sauce. If you really want to taste the pepper depth here, keep the ingredients simple. Then, you’ll really taste the difference between this and competitors.

Collectibility

Skyline Chili Hot Sauce’s label won’t ever let you forget its roots. It features a classic silhouette of the Cincinnati skyline. The font and design have a kitschy old-school feel — like the bottle comes right from the 1960s or 70s. It’s not a bad thing — in fact, the entire style is simple, but feels nostalgic and fun. It doesn’t jump out among a hot sauce line-up immediately, but when you do notice it, it takes you back in a good way.

The score

There’s a lot to love about Skyline Chili Hot Sauce — plenty of vinegar tang, a surprising depth of peppery flavor, and a bolder than expected low-medium spiciness. It’s quite usable, and the bottle has a fun nostalgic feel.

FINAL SCORE4.5
Overall Flavor4.5
Heat Balance4.5
Usability5
Collectibility4
X-Factor4.5
Based on a scale from 1 (lowest) to 5 (highest)

UPDATE NOTICE: This post was updated on November 26, 2021 to include new content. It was originally published on October 27, 2021.
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