Advertisement

Sriracha Brands Ranked Worst To Best

Sriracha bottles lined up
Sriracha bottles lined up - Helena Nichols/Mashed

Sriracha has been a hot topic in the news recently. In recent years, sriracha has gained traction as one of America's most popular hot sauces. In 2022, Huy Fong sriracha was the most-ordered hot sauce in the United States on Instacart (via PennLive). However, things changed in 2023 with supply chain issues leading to a national Huy Fong sriracha shortage. While Huy Fong has held the sriracha market for a long time, people are now looking elsewhere for their fix, searching for a heat that can't be beat.

We decided to take up the challenge, pitting 10 popular sriracha brands against each other to find the best one. For this ranking, we are not judging each sriracha based on how accurately it adheres to traditional methods and styles of preparing the sauce. Instead, we are focusing on the style of sriracha that is more common in the United States: a thick, sweet, and spicy pepper sauce. We are ranking them on deliciousness alone. There are many versions of sriracha out there, but in the end, only one can reign supreme.

Read more: Frozen Pizzas, Ranked From Worst To Best

10. Frank's RedHot Sriracha

dark red hot sauce bottle
dark red hot sauce bottle - Helena Nichols/Mashed

We love Frank's RedHot. Unfortunately, we do not love the brand's sriracha. For lack of a better description, it tastes like Frank's RedHot thicker and less flavorful. By this, we mean instead of creating a new hot sauce, the company literally just threw some Frank's RedHot into a different container and thickened it to match the consistency of sriracha. This may not be far from how the company made it, as Frank's RedHot is the first ingredient in this sriracha.

Because this hot sauce is from Frank's, it has a cayenne pepper base and not a jalapeño one like most of the other sauces. Additionally, Frank's RedHot base contains distilled vinegar, water, salt, and garlic powder. The company also added sugar, soy sauce, carrot fiber, sesame oil, garlic powder, paprika, spices, xanthan gum, soy lecithin, and natural flavors to complete the recipe.

The result is a sour and not-all-that-peppery hot sauce that is frankly not particularly hot either. Frank's RedHot Sriracha is thick like ketchup and deep red, the opposite of the thin and light original Frank's RedHot. The beauty of Frank's RedHot is the combination of tangy pepper and spices, but that gets lost in this blend. Instead, we ended up with a thick to the point of gloopy sauce that is more vinegary than it is flavorful.

9. Roland Sriracha

red and yellow hot sauce bottle
red and yellow hot sauce bottle - Helena Nichols/Mashed

Roland Sriracha is unique in almost every way. It is a light crimson color and is smooth and transparent to the point of being nearly glassy. The thing that makes it stand out the most, though, is its flavor. Roland Sriracha is incredibly garlicky. The bottle does promote the garlicky flavor, but this ended up being more of a garlic sauce than a sriracha chili sauce.

The ingredients for this sauce are salted red chili pepper, water, sugar, salt, garlic, acetic acid, xanthan gum, citric acid, potassium sorbate, and ascorbic acid. There is nothing here out of the ordinary, but the prominence of the garlic flavor is astounding. Because of this, we could not rank Roland Sriracha higher on the list. While it is tasty, it simply does not taste like a sriracha. This would be a good sauce to use in certain situations, but the highest-ranking sriracha should be a good all-around condiment. Still, Roland Sriracha ranks higher than Frank's RedHot Sriracha simply because it is not as offensively bad as Frank's.

8. Fix Sriracha

red bottle of hot sauce
red bottle of hot sauce - Helena Nichols/Mashed

Fix really came at us with bold claims about being "the best hot sauce on earth." Unfortunately for us, Fix does not quite deliver on its promise. Fix does have the simplest ingredients of any sriracha we tried. The only ingredients are organic chili peppers, garlic, sea salt, cane sugar, and rice vinegar. The rice vinegar adds a noticeable flavor different from the distilled white vinegar other brands use. While not unpleasant, it once again creates the problem of being distinct enough that it may not work for every situation.

But the texture is where things really fell apart. Fix is the runniest of all the srirachas; this is probably because, unlike the others, there are no thickening agents in the ingredients. While we can appreciate such simplicity, it does make for a messier sriracha experience. Fix has a more versatile taste than Roland but does not blow us away.

7. Sky Valley Sriracha

hot sauce with bird on it
hot sauce with bird on it - Helena Nichols/Mashed

Sky Valley Sriracha is fine but does not set our taste buds on fire. This sriracha is dark colored and has noticeable flecking in it. This flecking should have been our first hint there would be a problem with the consistency. This sauce is almost sandy. The ingredients for this sriracha are water, jalapeño peppers, citric acid, cane sugar, distilled vinegar, salt, dried garlic, spices, and xanthan gum. We have to wonder if dried spices are responsible for its grainy texture.

Other than that, the taste does not thrill us. It tastes like a generic hot sauce. It is almost Frank's RedHot-like, although it is noticeably better than Frank's Sriracha. The problem is that flavor is not what we have come to associate with sriracha. It just doesn't offer the same clean, spicy sriracha flavor we were looking for. While we love the additional spices in our sriracha, they overpower the taste of the pepper and try to steal its spotlight. Despite its consistency problems, Sky Valley at least sticks to our food, unlike Fix.

6. Lee Kum Kee Sriracha

hot sauce bottle
hot sauce bottle - Helena Nichols/Mashed

Lee Kum Kee Sriracha is definitely better balanced than Sky Valley but still has some flavor issues of its own. The ingredients include red chili, distilled vinegar, sugar, garlic powder, salt, and xanthan gum. Three of these ingredients stuck out to us and make it an unbalanced taste experience.

The first is the vinegar. This hot sauce is vinegar-heavy to the point of being almost too tangy. This is interesting because Lee Kum Kee's Sriracha is not very spicy. We find it to be one of the least spicy on the list. It appears that the company tried to compensate for the lack of kick by pumping up the vinegar.

Additionally, this sriracha is noticeably more garlic-forward than most of the others, and much thicker. We could turn the bottle upside down and the sauce would not move. We have to assume this is the xanthan gum going into overdrive. We appreciate having some thickness so the sauce doesn't run off the food, but this is overkill. The flavor, though, is more in line with what we associate with sriracha than Sky, and it does not have an odd grainy texture.

5. Trader Joe's Sriracha

red hot sauce bottle
red hot sauce bottle - Helena Nichols/Mashed

If you are looking for a sriracha that is perfectly in the middle of the road, look no further than this choice. Trader Joe's may not have made the best sriracha, but it is perfectly acceptable.

Trader Joe's uses a combination of red chili pepper and red Anaheim pepper. In addition, it contains water, sugar, crushed garlic, salt, garlic powder, cultured dextrose, salt enhancer, citric acid, and xanthan gum. The result is a shockingly average sauce. The flavor is what you expect from a sriracha. It is peppery with a bit of spice. There is a hint of garlic, but not too much. Even the color and texture a perfectly average. This is neither the darkest nor lightest red, and the texture is neither thick nor thin.

Sadly, just because it is middle of the road does not make it Goldilocks. This sriracha is nothing spectacular. It is simply not offensive and its qualities put it ahead of all the previous choices. Trader Joe's Sriracha somehow manages to toe the line of average in just about every way.

4. Three Mountains Sriracha

yellow bottle of hot sauce
yellow bottle of hot sauce - Helena Nichols/Mashed

The first thing most people are likely to notice about this sriracha is the color. It is made with yellow chili, which gives it a deep yellow-orange color. The rest of the ingredients are simple: sugar, garlic, vinegar, coconut sugar, and salt.

Despite using no thickeners, this hot sauce is not nearly as runny as Fix. While it is a smidge on the runny side, it is perfectly fine as a topping and will not instantly run off your food.

What sold us on Three Mountains was its taste. The pepper flavor is on point; it allows the chili to shine through and is not bogged down with unnecessary spices. It is bright and mildly tangy. This is the first sriracha on the list that stands out from the rest of the pack.

Our main two complaints — and the reasons it does not place any higher — are that it lacks heat and is too sweet. This is easily the sweetest sriracha we tried. They all have sugar, but this one really packs it in. Additionally, the yellow chili just does not bring in the heat we want from the top sriracha. The flavor is there, but this is supposed to be a "hot" sauce, after all.

3. Ninja Squirrel Sriracha

hot sauce with yellow lable
hot sauce with yellow lable - Helena Nichols/Mashed

If this were a cool name contest, Ninja Squirrel would win. Ninja Squirrel came in as a surprising top contender. This sriracha is darker red than many of the others and has some slight speckling. There is a bit of liquid separation at the top that has to be mixed back into the sauce by shaking the bottle.

The prominent pepper in this sriracha is jalapeño, as opposed to the undefined red chilis found in many bottles. While it does have red chili as an ingredient, the jalapeño flavor really shines through. What we find interesting is that Ninja Squirrel includes habanero pepper powder in addition to these two peppers. While this doesn't add a ton of flavor, we suspect it is responsible for the noticeable kick at the end.

In addition to the peppers, this sauce has salt, citric acid, water, cane sugar, garlic puree, distilled white vinegar, garlic, and xanthan gum. Once again, this sauce lets the peppers shine through, but unlike Three Mountain, this sriracha brings the heat and does not overdo it on the sugar. Ninja Squirrel is a Whole Foods-specific brand and is the highest-ranking grocery store brand on this list, as it provides a unique flavor and a nice kick.

2. Huy Fong Sriracha

red hot sauce
red hot sauce - Helena Nichols/Mashed

The battle for the top spot was fierce. It will not surprise many that Huy Fong places as high as it does. Even with the complaints that Huy Fong Sriracha doesn't taste the same as it used to, we can not deny that this company knows how to make a striking sauce.

Hoy Fong Sriracha is made from chili, sugar, salt, garlic, acetic acid, potassium sorbate, sodium bisulfite, and xanthan gum. This creates a peppery, medium-spicy hot sauce. The garlic adds a little flavor but by no means overtakes the other ingredients. Hoy Fong Sriracha is identifiable by its bright orange-red color. The sauce itself is thick enough to hold its shape while on food but smooth enough to come out of the bottle easily.

The sauce is sweet and spicy and has everything we want in a sauce. This sriracha brand has basically become synonymous with the term. It is what most people think of when they think of sriracha, and we understand why. The reason it doesn't win overall isn't because Huy Fong does anything wrong. It is simply that the winning sriracha is just better.

1. Yellowbird Sriracha

hot sauce with yellow lable
hot sauce with yellow lable - Helena Nichols/Mashed

Yellowbird Sriracha is the smallest bottle containing the darkest-colored sriracha we tried. And it is hands down the best.

It is different from any others. The ingredients are organic red jalapeno peppers, distilled vinegar, garlic, dates, raisins, salt, tangerine juice concentrate, and lime juice concentrate. There are a few things that stand out about this ingredient list. The first for us are the dates and raisins. In addition to being a natural thickener, they also add a sweetness not found in the straight sugar most of the other brands used. While this made us hesitant at first, we have to say the company really pulled it off. Because Yellowbird uses non-refined sweeteners, it takes on an earthy, rounded flavor that the others lack. Only Yellowbird manages to pull off this depth of flavor.

Another important factor is the use of citrus juice. This adds sweetness but also balances the tang. Unlike ascorbic acid, the combination of fruit juice and vinegar preserves and adds the acidic notes this sauce needs. It even manages to hit the texture perfectly. It is thick enough to hold shape but soft enough to come out easily, but not too quickly. This sauce is sweet and spicy, and it has almost smokey notes. There is not one flavor that overpowers the others.  Its complete marriage of flavor and texture puts it on top of our list.

Methods

spoon of sriracha in front of bottles
spoon of sriracha in front of bottles - Helena Nichols/Mashed

We chose the sriracha brands for this ranking by looking at some of the most common brands sold. We went with nationally available varieties that could be purchased at stores or online with relative ease.

To rank the sriracha, we looked at several different factors. The main consideration was taste. We wanted a sriracha that was sweet and spicy and had a peppery flavor. We were looking for a good all-purpose sriracha, not one defined by a single element. Additionally, we wanted a sauce that wasn't too thick or thin.

Each sriracha was taste-tested on its own and on a tortilla chip.

Read the original article on Mashed.