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All There is to Know About Sriracha

Let us answer all your questions about this delicious, spicy condiment.

Sriracha is a condiment that is popular all over the world. This moderately spicy sauce has a unique taste and when drizzled across your food, will add a noticeable kick. There are different varieties of this sauce available and the consistencies can differ between them. It is also readily available on the majority of shelves in supermarkets. 

a ramekin of sriracha hot sauce

If you are yet to try sriracha, we have provided you with everything that you need to know in our guide below from the history of this sauce to its uses and its taste.

This variety of hot sauce is bright red and appeals to the tastes of many. Although it is enjoyed all over the world, it is especially popular in Thailand, Vietnam, China, and the United States. Since the introduction of this sauce, many well-known brands have emerged.  


The History of Sriracha

Sriracha is believed to have been invented in 1949 by a Thai woman named Thanom Chakkapak. She began by sharing her creation with her friends and family, before starting to sell it on a larger scale. It is now sold under the name Sriraja Panich and has a sweeter taste than other varieties. 

bottles of sriracha hot sauce on a shelf

Up until the 1980s, sriracha sauce was relatively unheard of in America. In 1975, David Tran, a native to Vietnam began to experiment with his own version of this sauce. Approximately three years later, he fled his country and headed to Los Angeles. He established and founded his own brand ‘Huy Hong Foods’ and now when many people think of sriracha this is the brand that they think of. It is manufactured in a factory in Irwindale, California and it is packed in a clear bottle with a green lid. 


Is There More Than One Brand of Sriracha?

There is often confusion as to whether sriracha is the name given to a single brand of sauce or multiple different brands. Sriracha is the term used to describe a type of sauce and just like most other condiments available it is made by a few different manufacturers, although some are more popular than others. 


What’s in Sriracha?

Sriracha is typically made from red jalapeno-hybrid chili peppers, garlic, salt, vinegar, and sugar. Although sriracha is made using chilis, it isn’t as hot as some may expect. On the Scoville scale ( a scale that measures the heat intensity of chili peppers), sriracha sauce measures 2,200. Despite this, it is still classed as a hot sauce because it uses ingredients that give it a slight kick. 

a bowl of sriracha next to some ingredients

The consistency of the sriracha can also differ between brands. Some brands will create a sauce that has a thick consistency and others will make one that is thinner and more like a liquid. 

The Huy Fong sauce is made using the following ingredients; garlic, salt, chili, sugar, potassium sorbate, distilled vinegar, xanthan gum, and sodium bisulfate. It also does not contain any artificial colors or added water. 

Manufacturers will list the ingredients that their product is made out of on the packaging. Even though most varieties of sriracha will be made from the same ingredients, this will provide you with clarification. 


What Can Sriracha be Used for?

Sriracha is deemed to be one of the most versatile varieties of hot sauce and because the heat is not overpowering it can be enjoyed by most people. 

Whilst some people may choose to smother or cook their food in sriracha, others may prefer to eat it straight. Similar to ketchup, sriracha makes a great dipping sauce. It can also be used as a dressing and drizzled onto foods like salads.

a bowl of vegetables and tofu with sriracha on top

Although sriracha was originally created as a dipping sauce, it can be used for cooking purposes too. The sauce can be baked until its consistency breaks down and becomes more powder-like. You can then sprinkle this powder onto some of your favorite snacks. The flavors of this complement one another well even when made into a powder and because of this, it is not going to overpower the dish that it is sprinkled onto. 

Another option is to add sriracha to another sauce. For example, you may be making a sauce that tastes a little bland so adding sriracha will help to enhance the taste. Sriracha compliments the taste of creamy sauces very well. Often it is mixed in with sour cream and mayonnaise and then served as a dipping sauce. 

Sriracha is also an excellent choice for a marinade. Mix it with another sauce of your choice and then use it when you are cooking meat. It makes an especially tasty marinade when combined with garlic cloves and then soak some chicken wings in it. 

sriracha chicken wings

Do you enjoy eating soup? If so, why not add some sriracha to it for an added kick. In restaurants in Vietnam, you will find that this is a popular addition to their menus. You will not need to add lots, in fact, 1 to 2 teaspoons are going to be plenty.  It goes particularly well with chicken soups and ramen soups.

Sriracha goes very well with eggs. Whether you enjoy them scrambled, fried, or poached, adding sriracha will add a slightly different taste to this traditional breakfast dish. Whilst this may not appeal to everyone, sriracha complements the flavors of the eggs very well by adding a bearable amount of heat. 

Sriracha will go with just about anything and while it may seem peculiar, it can be a fantastic addition to alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages. Sriracha margaritas are a popular choice. Not only does the sauce alter the color of the drink but adds a nice twist to the flavor.

Moreover, sriracha can be added to Bloody Mary’s to boost the taste and a flavor that will be difficult to achieve without using a hot sauce. This sauce can also be added to a range of vegetable juices. Again, it is going to enhance the taste slightly. 


What Does Sriracha Taste Like?

The taste of sriracha sauce can vary between brands. It is spicy with a subtle kick that does not take away from the taste of the other ingredients. The garlic and sugar give it a tangy-sweet flavor.

Some describe the taste of Huy Fong as mild with a prominent flavor and noticeable kick. Others suggest that it starts out sweet but then gets more intense as you eat it. There are several varieties that are made in Thailand and they are said to have more of a vinegary, sweet taste along with a thinner consistency. 


 Is Sriracha Healthy?

According to experts, hot sauce, in general, is a healthy condiment. Whilst sriracha is not outwardly hailed as one of the healthiest foods that you can consume, there are a few health benefits associated with some of the ingredients that it is made from. 

Not only is sriracha a great source of minerals and vitamins A, B6, and C, it is also rich in capsaicin as red chili peppers are one of the core ingredients. Capsaicin is a chemical compound that makes your mouth feel hot after eating chili peppers.

chili peppers used to make sriracha sauce

It is thought that capsaicin can help to increase metabolism and the conduction of a few studies have suggested that it may be able to help with angina. Peppers will also release endorphins into your body and this will help to boost your mood. 

Garlic sauce is used to make sriracha and this is another ingredient that can benefit your body. In some cases, garlic can help to lower blood pressure and cholesterol. It may also support immune function. Garlic is also rich in antioxidants, substances that can reduce your risks of being affected by a range of diseases such as heart disease. 

Sriracha is also said to contain anti-inflammatory properties and therefore may help to tackle inflammation in your body. Finally, consuming this hot sauce may result in improved blood circulation. 


How to Make Homemade Sriracha

Although your local grocery store is bound to be stocked up with sriracha from a selection of brands, this sauce can easily be made from home too. When stored inside a refrigerator it can last for between 4 and 6 months. There are many recipes available online which you can follow and the majority call for the use of a few simple ingredients. 

To begin, you will need to make sure that you have all of your ingredients to hand. This includes peppers, vinegar, garlic, sugar, and salt. It is recommended that you put all of your ingredients into a jar and then set them aside. Doing this will reduce the intensity of the peppers. 

Next, you will need to prepare your ingredients. Chop off the stems of your peppers but leave the seeds where they are. 

The peppers and the vinegar are usually added first because they are going to create the base of your sauce. You can then add the salt and allow it to sit for a short period. To enhance the complexity of the flavor, you can then add sugar and garlic. 

Combine your ingredients in a saucepan and bring them to boil on high heat. As the ingredients begin to simmer you will need to reduce the heat to prevent them from burning. After removing them from the heat, allow the pan to cool before pouring the ingredients into a blender until it develops into a puree. You must blend it until the consistency becomes smooth and appealing.

Many people prefer thick sriracha sauce because it tends to be easier to pour and use. To make your sauce thick, you need to execute a balanced ratio of ingredients. The majority of manufacturers use xanthan gum; a powerful thickening agent. You will also notice that the sauce naturally starts to thicken as it gets cooler. 

Once you are happy with the consistency of the sauce you can pour it into a container and then put it into the refrigerator. Sriracha that is purchased from supermarkets doesn’t need to be stored in the refrigerator, however, homemade sriracha has a shorter shelf life because it does not contain any added preservatives. Because of this, keeping sriracha in your refrigerator is going to stop it from spoiling. 


Sriracha Substitues

If you are not stocked up on sriracha and do not fancy making your own version, you may be wondering whether there are any substitutes available. 

Sambal Oelek is considered to be one of the best substitutes for sriracha. This sauce is made from fresh chilies and has a straightforward flavor so just like sriracha, it isn’t too overpowering. You will also find that some manufactures make both types of sauces and because of this, there may be a few similarities between them.

Should you decide to use sambal oelek, you may notice that the taste of garlic is not as prominent as it is in sriracha, however, you can easily overcome this problem by adding some garlic powder to it. Just like sriracha, this substitute is pretty easy to make at home. 

Tabasco is another type of hot sauce that can be used as a substitute for sriracha. It is made using three basic ingredients; tabasco peppers, distilled vinegar, and salt. It is quite similar in regards to the spiciness, however, there are differences in the consistency of both sauces. Adding a few drops of tabasco instead of sriracha to your dish is going to be more than sufficient. 

a bottle of tabasco hot sauce

El Yucateco is a good substitute for sriracha. This hot sauce is made from habanero chilies and has a tangy taste with hints of sweetness. It is also versatile and can be added to a variety of dishes. It is worth noting that El Yucateco is quite hot, so if you are planning on using it as a substitute for sriracha, you must make sure that you do not add too much as you might find it too spicy. 

Most hot sauces are viable substitutes for sriracha as they are made using similar ingredients and offer the same level of spiciness. Although you may notice slight differences in taste and consistency, using a substitute isn’t likely to significantly alter the taste of the dish. There are also steps that you can take to make your substitute more similar to sriracha sauce. For example, if you feel like it is lacking the taste of a particular ingredient, you can add it yourself. 


Is Sriracha the Same as Chili Sauce?

Although they share similarities, sriracha sauce and chili sauce are two different things. The heat of sriracha is usually more intense than that of chili sauce and it also has more of a garlic taste. Despite these differences, chili sauce and sriracha can be used as substitutes for one another because they do share similarities when it comes to their flavor profile. 


What are the Most Popular Brands of Sriracha?

Whilst Huy Fong is one of the most popular varieties of sriracha sauce, after a visit to the supermarket you will soon discover that there are lots of other options available. Most are easy to identify in their unique packaging and they will usually be on display in a designated section of the store near the other condiments. 

Sriracha that is manufactured by Shark Brand is actually made in Thailand and is the sauce that many Thai natives themselves enjoy. This is a premium quality condiment that is categorized as medium-hot. Again this is another versatile sauce that can be added to lots of different dishes. 

Trader Joe’s is a chain of American grocery stores. In 2013, they released their own version of sriracha sauce. It is not as red as other types of sriracha sauce, instead, it is more of a brown color. It is made from a combination of vinegar, sugar, garlic, and chili peppers. This sauce has a thick consistency and a tomato base. It is not overly spicy and the flavors are well balanced. 

Sky Valley Sriracha sauce is made from the best quality cayenne peppers which are combined with garlic and jalapenos. It has a refreshing, sweet taste that is going to add a pleasant level of heat to your meals. 

Another popular sriracha sauce is made by the brand Dragonfly. It is packed very similarly to the well-known Huy Fong sauce although there are slight differences in the taste. Other brands of sriracha sauce include Three Mountains sriracha sauce, Kikkoman Sriracha Sauce, Thai Kitchen sriracha sauce, and Lee Kum Kee sriracha. Some of these sauces are made in the USA and others are made in Thailand following traditional recipes.

Final Thoughts

There you have it, everything that you need to know about sriracha from its origin, to the steps involved in making your own version and effective substitutes.

Sriracha is a condiment that is enjoyed by many because it has a pleasant taste that does not take away from the flavor of the other ingredients that are used to make it. It is also widely available and manufactured by several different brands. 

Which sriracha hot sauce is your favorite? Leave a comment below and let us know!

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Written by Rocco Smith

Rocco is from Sanibel Island, Florida, and a recent graduate of Florida State University with a Bachelor’s in Editing, Writing, and Media. With seven years’ experience in the restaurant industry as a cook, server, bartender, and more, he is deeply passionate about intertwining his fondness for food with his love of language.