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The rise of Sriracha from a novelty item to America’s favorite hot sauce is a relatively modern phenomenon, though the popular condiment has actually been around for over half a century.

Celebrated Thai cook Thanom Chakkapak is credited with creating the flavorful chili sauce, a unique blend of red goat peppers, garlic, vinegar, sugar, and sea salt, way back in the 1940s. The story goes that Chakkapak whipped up batches of the smooth chili sauce for friends and family before eventually bottling it for sale. It ultimately became a hit with locals, as well as Vietnamese visitors, who popularized the sauce in their own country.

In 1984, Chakkapak sold her recipe to Thai food company Thaitheparos, which now exports the sauce to over 50 countries around the world. It’s labeled “Sriraja Panich,” and the name is a sort of oblique homage to Chakkapak’s home district of Si Racha, a seaside area in Thailand’s Chonburi Province. (On its website, the company explains that the Thai government does not allow registered trademarks named after real places in the country.)

Sriracha was later popularized in America by Vietnamese immigrant David Tran, who started producing the sauce in Los Angeles in the 1980s and named his company “Huy Fong,” after the boat he took as a refugee to the United States.

Today, Huy Fong’s version—sometimes called “rooster sauce” after the animal depicted on the bottle—is the best-selling Sriracha brand in the U.S. However, its iconic green-capped bottles can be hard to come by. The company has been dogged by shortages in recent years following a bitter legal dispute with its former jalapeño supplier, Underwood Ranch, among other supply-chain issues.

According to the Washington Post, yet another shortage looms this summer, thanks to a drought in Mexico, where Huy Fong now sources its chili peppers. Numerous other brands are currently producing their own Sriracha-style sauces to help satisfy the unmet demand.

As a longtime Sriracha fan, I wanted to see which brands, if any, could replace America’s preferred chili sauce. So I rounded up nine different bottles, including the standard bearer Huy Fong, to find the best-tasting chili sauce on the market right now. I found three of them so underwhelming that I excluded them from the contest. These include iterations put out by popular grocer Trader Joe’s and famed hot-sauce behemoth Tabasco, as well as Huy Fong’s former chili supplier, Underwood Ranch—all of which proved too overwhelmingly spicy and sour without much sweetness or garlic to balance things out.

Meanwhile, the remaining six brands each attain a more harmonious medley of sweet, spicy, sour, and savory flavors—though some I liked much better than others. Here’s how these six brands compared to each other, ranked in descending order from my least favorite to the absolute best.

Flying Goose Sriracha

a bottle of flying goose sriracha next to a plate of eggs with a dollop of sriracha
Photo: Clara Wang, Eat This, Not That!

Nutrition: (Per 5 Tsp)
Calories: 35
Fat: 0 g (Saturated Fat: 0 g)
Sodium: 730 mg
Carbs: 0 g (Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 6 g)
Protein: 1 g

Flying Goose Sriracha is a Thai brand hailing from the original Si Racha district and sourcing its chilies from farms in Thailand. It offers a large selection of different sriracha flavors and sriracha-flavored condiments like Sriracha Tikka, Sriracha Long Coriander, Sriracha mayo, and Sriracha mustard. A 15.3-ounce bottle of the original flavor cost me $8.59 online.

The look: Flying Goose Sriracha is lighter in color, more orange than red, with a thinner consistency and visible flecks of chili pepper throughout.

The taste: This is not a very spicy or strong Sriracha, which makes it a good pairing for lighter foods like eggs or as a complement to foods that already have strong flavors as it won’t overpower the food with heat. It is very sweet and garlicky, which I personally enjoy, but would prefer a little more heat.

 8 Best Sriracha Brands That Aren’t Huy Fong

Sky Valley

sky valley sriracha bottle next to a plate of eggs with a dollop of sriracha
Photo: Clara Wang, Eat This, Not That!

NUTRITION: (Per 1 Tsp)
Calories: 5
Fat: 0 g (Saturated Fat: 0 g)
Sodium: 120 mg
Carbs: 0 g (Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 1 g)
Protein: 0 g

Named after founder Rachel Kruse’s daughter Sky, Idaho-based Sky Valley offers an array of gluten-free, plant-based sauces aimed at an upscale market. An 18.5-ounce bottle of Sky Valley Sriracha cost me $7.96 online.

The look: The sauce is dark orange-ish in color with a thicker consistency and light granules of spices and garlic. The bottle design is also very pretty, and the texture feels luxurious.

The taste: Sky Valley is one of the more unique Sriracha sauces on this list. It has stronger acid notes than others, which are heavier on garlic and sugar. The vinegar rings out well, making it a great pairing for saltier, fatty foods like french fries or some coconut milk curry. Hits of sugar and spice lingers at the end and the pleasant contrast can be habit-forming.

 8 Healthiest Hot Sauces—and 3 to Avoid

Lee Kum Kee Sriracha Chili Sauce

a bottle of lee kum kee sriracha next to a plate of eggs and a dollop of sriracha
Photo: Clara Wang, Eat This, Not That!

Nutrition: (Per 1 Tsp)
Calories: 5
Fat: 0 g (Saturated Fat: 0 g)
Sodium: 180 mg
Carbs: 2 g (Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 1 g)
Protein: 0 g

Hong Kong-based company Lee Kum Kee has been a leader in the Asian sauce market for over 100 years, producing over 200 sauces including hoisin sauce, XO sauce, and oyster sauce. The brand’s line of Sriracha Chili saucewhich is certified non-GMO and has no added chemical preservatives, artificial colors, or artificial flavors—has proven popular with Sriracha fans on Reddit. One Redditor mentioned hoarding packets of the stuff from their local pho spot “in a drawer at my office for emergency use.” You can get an entire 18-ounce bottle to yourself for $8.99 online.

The look: The classic Lee Kum Kee bottle is a clean design featuring a prominent image of peppers to warn people of the spice level. This is very helpful, as the sauce is quite spicy! The sauce itself is a dark, grainy red, textured with bits of garlic and red pepper.

The taste: This sauce is extremely smoky, almost reminiscent of a spicy barbecue sauce. You can really taste the charred pepper! Like a barbecue sauce, smoke and acid are the strongest notes, with a hefty kick of spice at the end. This is a good sauce for roasted meats. Throw it on top of chicken or ribs when grilling this summer.

 I Tried 14 Bottled BBQ Sauces & the Best Was Sweet and Bold

J-Lek Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce

a bottle of j-lek sriracha next to a plate of eggs and a dollop of sriracha
Photo: Clara Wang, Eat This, Not That!

Nutrition: (Per 1 Tsp)
Calories: 10
Fat: 0 g (Saturated Fat: 0 g)
Sodium: 140 mg
Carbs: 2 g (Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 1 g)
Protein: 0 g

J-Lek Sriracha is a popular Thai brand that is manufactured by the storied K.R.S Spicy Foods company, which is the first company in Southeast Asia to be certified as a fair trade manufacturer. I found this 15-ounce bottle for $8.99 online.

The look: The brightly colored sauce has a smooth consistency with no visible pepper specks (until you scrape your plate), and resembles a duck sauce or the kind of sweet-and-sour sauce you get on a kebab at a halal spot.

The taste: Like Flying Goose sriracha, which is also made in Thailand, this sauce is more sweet than spicy and not as smoky. It’s also less garlicky than the Flying Goose sauce, making it more versatile. As the label suggests, the J-Lek Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce is meant for dipping vegetables and seafood as well as a “universal” sauce on fries, kebabs, and burgers. I would use this as a shrimp cocktail sauce or as a dipping sauce for a seafood boil.

Huy Fong Foods Sriracha

a bottle of huy fong sriracha next to a plate of eggs and a dollop of sriracha
Photo: Clara Wang, Eat This, Not That!

Nutrition: (Per 1 Tsp)
Calories: 0
Fat: 0 g (Saturated Fat: 0 g)
Sodium: 70 mg
Carbs: <1 g (Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: <1 g)
Protein: 0 g

As the company that basically introduced the American public to Sriracha, Huy Fong Foods is the best-selling and most well-known brand in the U.S and what most Americans think of when they’re browsing the condiment aisle. While shortages—and the resulting price-jacking scalpers—appear imminent, you may still be able to get your hands on a bottle. A small 9-ounce container cost me $7.99 online.

The look: The classic Huy Fong bottle featuring its iconic rooster logo and white block letters brings back memories of my late-night pho runs. The sauce is a bright orange-ish color with a smooth consistency and not a lot of visible garlic or pepper specks.

The taste: Huy Fong hits a good balance of sweet and spicy. It’s not as sweet as the Thai brands and with strong garlic notes, the sauce is spicy enough to wake you up but doesn’t torch your palate. I personally find it a great sauce to use for cooking, for stir-fries, and for topping Asian noodle soups.

 7 Best Bottled Hot Sauces, According to Chefs

Sriraja Panich Original Sriracha Chili Sauce

a bottle of sriracha next to a plate of eggs with a dollop of sriracha
Photo: Clara Wang, Eat This, Not That!

Nutrition information unavailable

Sriraja Panich is the “the original Sriracha chili sauce” produced to wide acclaim in the Si Racha region 80 years ago. Thaitheparos, which purchased the label from the creator’s family in 1984, continues to uphold her legacy of premium ingredients and zero additives. What makes Sriraja Panich special is that it uses Thai red goat peppers and Thai garlic that has been pickled for seven days. Those ingredients, plus sugar, vinegar, and sea salt, is all that goes into this chili sauce—nothing else. An 8-ounce bottle cost me $8.45 online.

The look: The original bottle is in Thai, making it a little difficult to read the nutrition information (other than the “No MSG, added preservatives, added colors, or added flavor”), but you can find ingredient labels online. The sauce itself is bright red in color and a smooth consistency with no visible pepper flakes.

The taste: Sriraja Panich is sweeter and slightly less hot than Huy Fong. It also packs a noticeable umami punch. (There’s a hint of something similar to fish sauce, though I don’t see that listed among the ingredients.) The sweetness of the sauce, balanced with the garlic and spicy pepper, keeps you coming back. It’s probably the perfect sauce for topping eggs. I could honestly drink this sauce on its own or even throw it on a hearty salad.

It’s hard to top an original—even if it’s not the one you’re used to.

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