Today is National Hot Sauce Day, which can lead many people to realize that hot sauce is a powerful thing. It can change a dish, take up a whole shelf in your fridge, and for many of the companies below, become your life's work. And this being the Southwest, we have to pride ourselves on the fact that our local hot sauces allow no wimps, yet still act as a flavorful, honest representation of regional ingredients.
Or hell, maybe your fish taco was a little bland.
Either way, there are many pride-worthy hot sauces made in the Valley, and here are a few of our favorites.
Arizona Pepper Products
Based in Mesa, Arizona Pepper Products produces Arizona Gunslinger — the recognizable hot sauce that has been around since 1985. If you've ever been to a steakhouse or pizza place or backyard barbecue in this city, you've most likely tried it. They're pepper sauces series is especially fun, ranging in flavor from from green and red jalapeno, habanero and mango, and the Mega Diablo Extra Hot Pepper Sauce. Pro tip: If you'd like to try these sauces on an order of wings, visit Zesty Zzeeks Pizza & Wings.
Big Red's Hot Sauce
This hot sauce line is family-owned, operated by husband-and-wife team Paul and Tasia Ford who have been crafting “Arizona-style” hot sauces for over seven years. They made waves at the 2018 California Hot Sauce Expo, but are usually found at farmers markets like Gilbert, Old Town, Pinnacle Peak, Ahwatukee, and Clark Park. Flavors range from Big Red's original to maple bacon jalapeno, the Big Yella, and God’s Wrath Ghost Pepper sauces.
Carolina's Mexican Food Hot Sauce
On more than one occasion, we've watched our out-of-town friends pump out cup after cup of this medium-spicy taco sauce and then consume what seems like gallons of the stuff before they head to the airport to return to their Carolina's-less cities. The spicy taco sauce has a slight nuttiness to it, and though it's relatively thin, it still has enough body to cling to one of Carolina's thick chips. You can even get the Carolina's hot sauce as a side order.
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Cutino Sauce Co.
The partnership between the people behind Homeboy's Hot Sauce and Chris Bianco, Cutino Sauce Co. is a Phoenix-based, habanero-inspired sauces. Co-founder and CEO Jacob Cutino still uses the simple, tiny, signature bottles which encase their five flavors — jalapeno, habanero, verde, chipotle, and the seasonal ghost. Like Homeboy's, Cutino sauces are still handmade, small-batch, vegan condiments, and can be found in Valley restaurants like Pane Bianco, Worth Takeaway, Otro Cafe, Barnone, and many more eateries around town.
Suzanne's Hot Stuff
This novelty hot sauce melds nicely with the other boutiques in Cave Creek, and owner Suzanne Brian even has her own line of house-brand hot sauce. Suzanne's Original Habanero Hot Sauce contains habanero chiles, serrano chiles, and garlic, which can be kicked up a notch with a bottle of Suzanne's Hot Stuff Extra-Hot Habanero Sauce. And for a milder approach, try Suzanne's Hot Stuff Chipotle Garlic hot sauce.