I’ve personally tried and tested a range of different Tabasco sauce substitutes to find the best one.
Whatever your reason for avoiding Tabasco sauce is and whatever dish you’re cooking.
Here’s the quick answer.
The best Tabasco sauce substitutes are other brands of Louisiana-style hot sauces (like Franks red hot), Mexican-style hot sauces (like cholula), Sriracha, or sambal oelek. You can also try red pepper flakes or fresh chilies. If you’re avoiding chili completely, try mustard.
Ready? Let’s jump in.
I made a batch of chicken wings to test 18 Tabasco sauce substitutes.
Tabasco sauce is a Louisiana-style hot sauce made from peppers of the same name. It’s spicy and tangy, and I was looking for a substitute that was just as addicting!
Here’s what I tested and the verdicts:
|Other brands of Louisiana-style hot sauces||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||10/10|
|Mexican-style hot sauces||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||10/10|
|Sriracha||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||10/10|
|Sambal oelek||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||9/10|
|Ground spices||Add to taste depending on the spice||8/10|
|Fresh chilies||Add to taste depending on the chili||8/10|
|Dry mustard||Replace with half the amount||7/10|
Common uses of Tabasco sauce and the best substitutes
Here are some popular ways to use tabasco sauce and the best substitutes for those situations:
- For cocktails – other brands of Louisiana-style hot sauces, Sriracha
- As a condiment – other brands of Louisiana-style hot sauces, Mexican-style hot sauce, Sriracha, sambal oelek
- For dips, sauces, and vinaigrettes – other brands of Louisiana-style hot sauces, sambal oelek, mustard, fresh chilis
- For marinades – Mexican-style hot sauce, sambal oelek, ground spices
Other brands of Louisiana-style hot sauces
Tabasco sauce is a Louisiana-style hot sauce, so using another Louisiana-style hot sauce is a no-brainer substitutes.
The only catch is most of them use cayenne chilies instead of Tabasco peppers, giving them a slightly different flavor profile.
There are many brands to choose from, and here are some of the most popular ones:
- Louisiana Hot Sauce – has milder heat than Tabasco but is noticeably saltier, so you may need to adjust the salt in your recipe.
- Frank’s Red Hot – this hot sauce is milder than Tabasco and has a more prominent peppery flavor.
- Crystal’s Hot Sauce – this is not as vinegar-forward as Tabasco, and I find the heat sensation it gives lasts longer on your tongue.
- Texas Pete – this is the mildest-tasting hot sauce of the bunch, so it’s an excellent option for those who find Tabasco too spicy.
Pro-tip: mix a few hot sauces together to add more complexity to your dishes.
How to substitute: replace Tabasco sauce in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with your chosen Louisiana-style hot sauce.
Mexican-style hot sauces
Mexican-style hot sauces offer a unique twist on Tabasco sauce. They’re generally made with a blend of smoked or dried chili peppers instead of just one kind.
And they’re not typically fermented (like Tabasco). The flavors can range from smoky and earthy, to bright and citrusy.
Like with Louisiana-style hot sauces, there’s lots of brands to choose from:
- Cholula hot sauce – this has smoky, nutty flavors but is milder than Tabasco, so it’s an excellent option for those who can’t deal with spice.
- Tapatio hot sauce – this tastes peppery and is the spiciest I’ve tried of the bunch.
- Valentina’s Salsa picante – this has an added hint of citrus that’ll bring brightness to your dishes. It’s slightly spicier than Tabasco but won’t overwhelm the other flavors.
How to substitute: replace Tabasco sauce in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with your chosen Mexican-style hot sauce.
I couldn’t make a list of Tabasco substitutes without having the iconic Sriracha!
This beloved condiment has a fermented base, similar to Tabasco, but with a thicker consistency.
And while both sauces pack a spicy punch, Sriracha offers a sweeter profile and an irresistible garlicky note that keeps you coming back for more.
With Sriracha’s popularity, you can find it in any store. But you can also make it from scratch if you have the time to spare!
Psst… I sometimes add a splash of vinegar to counteract the sweetness.
How to substitute: replace Tabasco sauce in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with Sriracha.
Sambal oelek is a delicious Indonesian condiment everyone needs to try (you might even prefer it to Tabsco).
On the surface it looks like a simple chili sauce, but it’s got a surprisign depth to it.
It also sports a chunky texture because the peppers aren’t completely pureed, so it’ll add a rustic charm to your dish.
Despite its Asian roots, it’s just as versatile as Tabasco. I love using sambal oelek in cooking, but it’s also great as a condiment for burgers and even crispy fries.
Psst… I also have a great article on the best alternatives to sambal oelek.
How to substitute: replace Tabasco sauce in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with Sambal Oelek.
Ground spices (like dried chili flakes, paprika, chipotle etc)
Ground spices aren’t a perfect substitute for Tabasco sauce, but they’re a convenient fix if you can’t make a grocery run.
And you don’t have to limit yourself to just one – you can blend a mixture of spices to create the prefect flavor for you.
To make the spices into a ‘sauce’ you can mix them with a bit of ketchup, a splash of vinegar, or even some good quality oil.
Raid your spice cabinet to see if you have any of these :
- Crushed red pepper flakes – these don’t have much flavor but will add heat to your dishes.
- Ground chipotle powder – this is mildly spicy with delicious earthy, smoky notes.
- Ground ancho powder – has a milder heat than other chili powders, and a similar smoky twist to chipotle.
- Paprika – mildly spicy, with sweet, fruity notes.
- Cayenne powder – made from cayenne peppers, hot and slightly fruity.
To get the most out of the spices, you should add them near the beginning of your cooking. They can’t be added right at the end in the same way as tabasco can.
With my chicken wings, I used them as a dry rub.
How to substitute: start with a pinch of your chosen spice and add more to taste.
Fresh chilies are another quick and easy way to add heat to your dishes.
Not only do they provide a spicy kick, but they also bring a fresh, natural flavor to your dishes.
I like mincing the chili’s into almost a paste so they blend into my dishes better.
Jalapenos are one of the most accessible chili peppers, and they pack a mild heat with a subtle sweetness that’s perfect for those who don’t want too much spice.
But there are other varieties you can try, like habanero and Serrano peppers, if you want something spicier.
Pro tip: you can also roast and char your peppers to bring some smokiness.
How to substitute: start with a small amount of your chosen spice and add more to taste.
Dry mustard is a little gem for those who are avoiding chili peppers completely.
It’s not a hot sauce, but trust me, mustard can bring some serious heat to the table.
You can use prepared mustard or mustard powder. If you use dry mustard, you’ll need to mix it with a liquid to unleash its full potential.
Water works fine, but I use vinegar to get a Tabasco-like tang.
But hey, don’t stop there – why not get creative and try out different liquids? Maybe try some lime juice for a zesty twist or a splash of apple cider vinegar for a fruity spin.
How to substitute: replace Tabasco sauce in your recipe with half the amount of mustard sauce.
The list above are my top picks for a Tabasco substitute, but there are other options you can use if you already have them on hand:
- Harissa – this North African chili paste is hot and spicy, with a garlicky, earthy flavor that’ll elevate your dishes up a notch. It’s best mixed into another condiment or cooked into your dish.
- Habanero-based hot sauces – if you’re craving a spicier kick, go with a hot sauces made from habanero peppers. They clock in at 150,000 – 575,000 SHU, making them far hotter than Tabasco peppers. Popular brands include Yellow Bird and Marie Sharp’s.
- Spicy ketchup – this will only add a mild heat to your dish, and the sweet-acidic flavors of the tomatoes are more prominent. But it’s better than nothing!
- Chili garlic sauce – this is just as spicy as Tabasco sauce but has a strong garlic flavor (hence the name). It has a chunky texture but can still be used as a condiment.
- Chili oil/ chili crisp – this is another option if you want a spicier condiment. It goes especially well with noodle dishes.
- Prepared horseradish – horseradish is another option if you’re avoiding chili peppers (or you can try one of these substitutes for horseradish). It’s spicier than Tabasco and has a strong vinegar flavor.
- Wasabi – this has a more intense, spicy flavor than Tabasco, so a little goes a long way. Most brands are actually made from a mixture of mustard and wasabi!
- Homemade Tabasco sauce – Tabasco peppers can be hard to find, but you can make your own Tabasco sauce if you can find them! If you’re up for the challenge, Chili Pepper Madness has a good recipe with a fermented and unfermented version.
Worcestershire sauce – substitute to avoid
Worcestershire sauce was suggested on other blogs as a good substitute for Tabasco, but I don’t agree!
Worcestershire sauce has a tangy note like Tabasco and a similar consistency, but that’s where the similarities end. It has no heat at all.
It’s more savory and will add umami to your dish rather than spice.
Best Tabasco Sauce Substitutes
- 1 tbsp other brands of Louisiana-style hot sauces
- 1 tbsp Mexican-style hot sauces
- 1 tbsp Sriracha
- 1 tbsp sambal oelek
- ½ tbsp ground spices, add vinegar or ketchup if desired
- 1 tbsp fresh chilies
- ½ tbsp dry mustard
- Cook your meal according to the recipe.
- Add your chosen Tabasco sauce substitute at the appropriate cooking time.
- Mix until thoroughly combined and continue with the recipe.