In terms of heat, Tabasco Habanero Sauce sits between Tabasco’s Original Red and Scorpion options. But how hot is that really? Does it reach true hab heights? And how well is it balanced against its flavor? Is it as universally usable as other Tabasco brand hot sauce options? Or is it more specialized? Let’s take Tabasco Habanero for a ride and give you all the details.
Let’s start with the ingredient list as there are many big clues to how this hot sauce performs: Distilled vinegar, habanero pepper, cane sugar, TABASCO brand pepper sauce (distilled vinegar, red pepper, salt), salt, mango purée, dehydrated onion, banana purée, tomato paste, tamarind purée, papaya purée, spices, garlic, TABASCO pepper mash (aged pepper, salt).
That’s pretty long compared to the three-ingredient Original Red Sauce. In fact, it’s a lot like how they approached Tabasco Scorpion, with a selection of tropical fruit purées and spices — like a Jamaican-style hot sauce. Those, with that extra pepper mash, changes the mouth feel of Tabasco Habanero Sauce right from the start.
This doesn’t have a vinegar front which puckers your lips, rather it’s a peppery front with a side of sweet tang. The heat from the habanero and pepper mash hits you upfront, and then fruity sweetness of those purées kicks in. The mango, banana, and papaya purée really pair well with the fruity natural sweetness of habanero peppers.
The onion in the sauce also brings a nice earthy zing. And thankfully the cane sugar doesn’t come on too strong — it adds just enough sweetness to level off the heat and it’s not too distracting.
Overall, it’s a level of tastiness that takes you completely by surprise, especially if you’re expecting something closer to Tabasco’s Original Red.
On the sodium-level: this isn’t a sauce for those looking to curb their sodium intake. Tabasco Habanero has 120 mg per teaspoon serving, which is 5% of your daily allowance. That’s very high compared to the brand’s Original Red (35 mg).
Habanero peppers sit at the top of the range among true culinary peppers — 100,000 to 350,000 Scoville heat units (SHU). Above that you get into the world of super-hots which are too much heat for most except (except you extreme eaters out there!)
That said, Tabasco Habanero Sauce doesn’t reach anywhere near the hab’s potential. It comes in at 7,000 SHU, which nestles it right in between Tabasco Original (2,500 SHU) Tabasco Scorpion (7,000 SHU). And, of course, it’s way hotter than Tabasco Green Pepper Sauce (600 to 1,200 SHU). It’s right in line with the spiciness you experience when eating a fresh jalapeño pepper (2,500 to 8,000 SHU).
So it’s a medium heat, but how do you experience it on eating? It hits you quickly and slightly lingers on your tongue but doesn’t give you a throat burn. The burn just warms you up enough to make you want to take a slight break, but you’ll be back in the game momentarily.
In terms of heat balance, this isn’t the kind of sauce that’s just hot for the sake of being hot; as mentioned, it has a ton of flavor. And the balance is about just right.
Tabasco is king at making super-usable “daily-driver” hot sauces, and Tabasco Habanero is no exception. You can truly use this on everything you’d want a medium kick on, but my favorite is pizza! This fruity side goes amazing with Hawaiian pizza (and any Hawaiian-style dishes for that matter.)
It’s also a great addition to any rice or potato by adding a peppery sweet heat that’s very different from original Tabasco. This is, of course, great on eggs (as Tabasco always is.) And it works great as a marinade too, you’ll just have to dash it out for quite a while due to the stopper, but dare I say, the Jamaican taste it will provide makes it worth all the arm soreness.
Tabasco Habanero is still a relatively thin sauce, so the stopper helps control how much heat you’re adding. That said, you can get a few good dashes in before you really start sweating things out.
If you’re a Tabasco super-fan, Tabasco Habanero Sauce certainly is necessary for your collection. But, really, as mentioned, the brand is more known for being those daily drivers you can’t live without. This sauce doesn’t have the same collectible cache as Tabasco Scorpion Sauce, with its surprise take on a super-hot to a line that tends to focus more on a broad user-base.
But we should mention the label. It does have a noticeable color-pop of red and yellow that fuses over the Original red and white style. It’s there to create a difference, so you know “HEY THIS AIN’T THE ORIGINAL, THIS IS A DIFFERENT KIND OF HEAT KID!”
Tabasco Habanero Sauce packs a bigger punch that the Original Red, with a delicious tropical fiery-sweet flavor. If you’re looking for a Jamaican-style sauce as a daily-driver, you can’t go wrong here. (Amazon)