My first takeaway from a bite of The Pepper Plant Hot Sauce (Original California Style) is how salty the flavor is — and I’m not mad at it! It actually blew me away as I’m a known salt-addict. There’s a more complex flavor here, too, beyond the sodium — a tasty smoky, peppery bite. But how does The Pepper Plant compare in terms of heat and how usable is something with this salty of a flavor? Let’s dig into it to see what it’s all about.
The Pepper Plant Hot Sauce’s ingredients list is pretty simple, but it leaves some room for interpretation: Jalapeño purée (green jalapeño peppers, salt, acetic acid), water, chili pepper, dehydrated garlic, spices, dehydrated onion, olive oil, and xanthan gum.
Let’s start with the salt. It’s listed as part of the jalapeño pepper purée, but it’s likely also in the “spices” listed. And it’s a pretty hefty amount: 160 mg per serving or 7% your daily allowance. That’s a ton for a hot sauce. And it’s why you get the saltiness from the moment The Pepper Plant Hot Sauce hits your tongue. For those watching their sodium intake, this should be on your no-no list. And even for those who aren’t — be careful when adding more salt to a meal once you add The Pepper Plant Hot Sauce. You likely don’t need it, and it could kill the flavor of your food.
But that is quickly overcome by the jalapeño purée, which provides a nice spicy tang (thanks to that acetic acid.) That tangy side — I wouldn’t call this a vinegar-forward sauce. Honestly, it’s more of a salt-forward experience. The tanginess is more part of the flavor journey than the prevalent taste.
The dehydrated garlic and onion in The Pepper Plant Hot Sauce also stand out, providing an earthy pungency that pairs nicely with a smokiness that permeates the sauce (which I think comes from the generic “chili peppers” listed on the ingredients list.)
Looking for a sauce that can liven up meals for the entire family? The Pepper Plant is a winner. Looking for big heat no matter the flavor consequences? Look elsewhere. The Pepper Plant doesn’t list its Scoville heat units, but it’s fair to say it’s a moderately mild sauce with a kind of heat that allows everyone to join in on the fun. Compared to the heat of fresh chilies: It’s more inline with fresh poblano pepper heat (1,000 to 1,500 Scoville heat units) than the upper end of jalapeño (2,500 to 8,000 SHU.)
Plus, it doesn’t linger. The spiciness hits your tongue for a couple of seconds, and then it’s gone before you know it. It’s not a strong pepper kick, and the saltiness and smokiness are both a bit stronger than the heat in my opinion. It feels slightly off-balance in this way, but still very tasty and family-friendly.
So, how usable is a sauce with this level of sodium? Well, if you forgo any additional salt it’s very usable. It really can bring any bland meal to life. That smoky, peppery flavor (along with the earthy garlic and onion) are like a liquid form of a perfect seasoning blend. This is a sauce that doesn’t need anything else to go with it — it comes with everything that you could possibly need in one bottle.
This is a true standout on eggs and with any sort of fish dishes. And on tacos and other Tex-Mex or Mexican food it shines. It’s also a great addition to chili and soups. Just think of this sauce as your seasoning, and you’ll be happy with the outcome.
The Pepper Plant Original California Style is also on the thicker side in terms of consistency, so it works well as a marinade too.
The font style and simply imagery on the label give the bottle a homemade feel. It’s a nice complement to the home-style flavor in the bottle. The imagery shows two people cooking in a cauldron. It’s simple, but effective — making you wonder what goodness lies inside.
The font itself actually is what makes it stand out on the shelf among other hot sauces. It feels a little old-school in its styling, but not in a bad way. Rather, it feels homey — like this was just bottled down the street from a local farm.
The Pepper Plant Hot Sauce (Original California Style) packs a delicious salty, smoky punch. It’s the sort of hot sauce that acts more like an entire seasoning blend, bringing life to even the blandest dish. But take care not to overdo it with additional salt and spices! Not needed in this case. (Amazon)