Zatarain’s Cajun Hot Sauce Review

You may not know Zatarain’s Cajun Hot Sauce. You don’t find it commonly on store shelves (at least for most of the United States.) But Zatarain’s as a brand has a rich history (founded 1889) that goes back nearly as far as that Avery Island favorite Tabasco (founded 1868.) So, the brand has some staying power, but does that translate to its hot sauce? How well is that heat balanced? And is it as usable as other popular Cajun hot sauces on the market? Let’s take Zatarain’s for a spin and see what makes it tick.

SUMMARY
Zatarain’s Cajun Hot Sauce (Six Bottle Pack)
4.2
$8.94

Zatarain’s Cajun Hot Sauce leans into a delicious mix of aged red peppers, vinegar, garlic, and salt. Lots of salt. It’s as versatile as you’d expect from Cajun/Lousiana-style hot sauces, but those watching your sodium intake, take care in the amount you use.

Heat Level: Mild to Low-Medium
Pros:
  • Great flavor
  • Super-versatile
  • Great value
Cons:
  • High amount of sodium
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09/26/2021 01:12 am GMT

Flavor

Zatarain’s Cajun Hot Sauce has a warm red pepper flavor, a really great vinegar punch at the top, and a high amount of salt… which you know I love. GIVE ME ALL THE SALT PLEASE!

Okay, moving on. The ingredients are simple and straightforward: aged red peppers, distilled vinegar, salt, natural flavor, garlic, and xanthan gum.

Garlic may come close to last on the ingredients list, but it’s actually a predominant flavor in this sauce. It’s also not something you find in some of Zatarain’s Louisiana-style “dasher” hot sauce competitors (like Tabasco Original Red or Crystal Hot Sauce.) Though other Cajun pepper sauces follow suit (Slap Ya Mama, for instance.)

The flavors hit you right away and all at once — nothing sneaks up on you. You get that vinegar tang up top with that saltiness, the garlic undertone, and a pretty immediate kick from those aged red peppers. But that heat doesn’t linger too long (more on that below.)

Frankly, the tanginess from the vinegar and the salty punch is such a deadly combo that it’s really hard not to drink this sauce straight out of the bottle. But on that salt…

The sodium-level here is off the charts — 190 mg, or 8% of your daily value per teaspoon serving. That’s significantly higher than primary competitors (like Tabasco at 35 mg) and (frankly) a ton of other hot sauces. So, keep that in mind if you’re watching your sodium level. This is not the hot sauce you’re looking for <end Obi-Wan schtick>.

Zatarain's Cajun Hot Sauce
Zatarain’s Cajun Hot Sauce on a spoon

Heat Balance

This has a mild to low-medium heat to it, relying more on flavor zing than pepper punch. “Aged red peppers” doesn’t give us much to go on in terms of the Scoville units of the fresh peppers used (though it’s likely cayenne peppers being a Cajun hot sauce.) If I had to guess, I’d say Zatarain’s Hot Sauce sits at around 1,000 Scoville heat units. That’s less than Tabasco (2,500 to 5,000 SHU) and inline with Sriracha Sauce (1,000 to 2,500 SHU).

The balance between the aged red pepper heat, vinegar, and garlic is good. Almost anyone can handle this heat, and it compliments the other ingredients quite well. Sure there’s still a kick, but you can literally drink this sauce, and you won’t need any milk as a rescue. The heat disappears quickly, too, so it’s easy to use throughout a meal. Really, it’s the saltiness that you’ll experience as an aftertaste more than spiciness.

Usability

Like other Cajun or Louisiana-style hot sauces, you can get a lot of mileage at the table from Zatarain’s hot sauce. Eggs, pizza, wings, soups, and sandwiches all work as you’d expect. Plus any meal which leans into garlic can do well with a few dashes of Zatarain’s. It really brings out that garlic flavor even more.

And, weirdo that I am, I really enjoyed this on vanilla bean ice cream. Yes, I’m that type of person who doesn’t mind some saltiness and garlic bite with my sweetness.

Of course, Zatarain’s Cajun Hot Sauce also goes well with any Zatarain’s rice and gives any chicken dishes a little extra Cajun spice. Due to the higher amount of sodium in this, it could also work as a marinade, with no need for extra salt or seasoning. Repeat — no need for extra salt.

Collectibility

Zatarain’s brand is a New Orleans staple. It’s the city the company has called home for more than 125 years, so this sauce is about as authentic as it gets. Yes, the brand is now owned by McCormick, but the Southern soul is still strong. And you can’t beat the price. Seriously, this is one the most cost-effective hot sauce buys out there.

That said, the label and style may not catch your eye in a hot sauce line-up. The label is old school feeling and pleasant but not memorable, featuring crisp, clear pictures of aged red peppers and fresh garlic — exactly what you’ll get from the bottle. This is a hot sauce that’s more about good old-fashioned function, consistency, and taste more than collectible look and feel.

The Score

Zatarain’s Cajun Hot Sauce leans into a delicious mix of aged red peppers, vinegar, garlic, and salt. Lots of salt. It’s as versatile as you’d expect from Cajun/Lousiana-style hot sauces, but those watching your sodium intake, take care in the amount you use.

FINAL SCORE4.2
Overall Flavor4.5
Heat Balance4
Usability5
Collectibility3.5
X-Factor4
Based on a scale from 1 (lowest) to 5 (highest)

UPDATE NOTICE: This post was updated on May 18, 2021 to include new content. It was originally published on May 14, 2021.
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