What Is Sriracha Sauce and How Hot Is It Really?

If you’re someone who likes to spice up a dish, I’d be willing to bet you’ve got one of those distinctive green-nozzled bottles of thick crimson heat in your fridge door as we speak. That’s right, today we’re talking about sriracha. Sriracha is a versatile hot sauce with a bright red hue that is commonly associated with Vietnamese and Thai cuisine, and, folks, tell the Rockettes they’ve got competition, because this stuff kicks. 

Is sriracha hot sauce? 

Well, friends, it certainly isn’t cold sauce. Jokes aside, sriracha is, in fact, hot sauce. This might be perplexing to some as it has a very different taste and consistency when compared to your average bottle of Cholula. That’s due in part to Tabasco hot sauce becoming the norm for the average American table. I say, have both choices in the house for when a different dish calls for a specific heat boost. It never hurts to have options! 

What is in sriracha sauce?

Sriracha is made from fermented and pureed red chili peppers, garlic, vinegar, salt, and sugar. I assume another essential ingredient is “remembering not to touch near your eyes when making the stuff, lest you want to start up the waterworks.”

How hot is sriracha sauce? 

Depending on the crop of peppers used, sriracha can range from 1,000 to 2,500 Scoville units. To put that into perspective, straight Tabasco sauce runs anywhere between 2,500 and 5,000, while Texas Pete hot sauce is around 750. (Hey, sometimes you just want the flavor!) 

Can I substitute hot sauce for sriracha?

I can only answer this question by saying it’s all a matter of personal taste. So, absolutely, please substitute to your heart’s content. No jury in the world would convict you, and if one does, I’ll gladly offer my legal counsel pro bono. I have no law degree, but I have my own gavel, which should provide some fun courtroom confusion. 

That said, if you’re following a recipe that calls for sriracha but you only have a bottle of Ass Blaster on hand (a real hot sauce that really comes in a real mini outhouse), then the end result will taste different than the original recipe writer intended. And you may want to adjust the amount of whatever hot sauce you use in the recipe according to its heat level. 

Sriracha sauce is many people’s go-to when it comes to hot sauce choice, which is really saying something these days—have you seen how many varieties of hot sauces there are now?! Everybody’s got their own brand, it’s getting nuts! I blame Hot Ones. I’ll tell you one thing, if I ever hit it big, I’m not going the hot sauce route. I’ll be using my celebrity for bigger and better things, for the good of humanity—like, for starters, inventing that “cold sauce” I mentioned earlier.

About the Author

Joe Rumrill

Joe Rumrill is a fictional one-eyed spinach-loving sailor created in 1929 by E.C Se- Wait, no, that's not right... Joe Rumrill is a stand up comedian and writer currently based in Los Angeles. His favorite thing about food is a close tie between the taste and the nutrients one gets from it. His least favorite thing about it is the "gritty, dirt-like quality some food has", but he's most likely referring to the time in third grade he was dared to eat playground sand.

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