What Can I Use Instead of Louisiana Hot Sauce

In this guide, we shall explore the possible substitutes to the popular Louisiana hot sauce and how they may differ as each of them have unique flavour profiles.

What can I use instead of Louisiana hot sauce?

There are many substitutes to Louisiana hot sauce that include:

  • Chilli powder
  • Chilli flakes
  • Sambal
  • Gochujang
  • Sriracha
  • Wasabi
  • Harissa

Below you will find an explanation for each individual flavour profile and how it may be different from the hot sauce.

Hot sauce is having more than a moment in global contemporary culinary culture. Attributed to the influence of Asian and Latino immigrants as well as the hot wings trend, the US hot sauce market has grown by 150% between 2000 and 2014—more than BBQ sauce, ketchup, mayonnaise, and mustard combined (1).

What is Louisiana hot sauce?

If you’ve ever loved adding a dash of hot sauce to your meals, then the classic Louisiana hot sauce is a must-try for you spice lovers. For the layman, Louisiana hot sauce is an umbrella term for most available hot sauces. You must have heard of the famous brand Tabasco – they sell variations of Louisiana hot sauce. Of course, while inherently different in flavour and ratio of vinegar to chilli, you can substitute Louisiana hot sauce with variants such as Tabasco, per-peri sauce, etc. 

In essence, the Louisiana hot sauce is a flavorful blend of red peppers and tabasco peppers, as well as vinegar and salt, to offer just the right amount of spice to spruce up your dishes.  The sauce is basically manufactured by aging ground peppers with salt and blending this mixture with vinegar. The main difference among the brands is their consistency, which is due to the size and amounts of the insoluble particles left in the sauce after processing (2).

But what do you do if you can’t find this bottle of liquid gold in your supermarkets? Or even online? 

Or perhaps you find that your existing bottle of hot sauce has been used up and you need a quick alternative. 

Or maybe you have travelled to a country where you’ve forgotten to bring along your bottle and hot sauce is simply impossible to find. Here’s what you can do.

Can you make Louisiana hot sauce at home?

Your first thought may be to whip it up from scratch at home. Easy as this may sound, it involves sourcing peppers like Tabasco, Cayenne, or Serrano. However, the classic take on the Louisiana hot sauce involves fermenting these peppers for years before transforming them into this delectable sauce.

Hot sauce production begins by grinding the peppers of the Capsicum annum or C. fructescens varieties into what is known as pepper mash. The mash is mixed with ten to twenty- five percent salt and aged in wooden barrels for an indefinite time between several months to three years.

The aged mash is then blended with vinegar and an edible stabilizer. This mixture may or may not be ground again, but is strained through screening machines which remove the large particles of the skin and seed. The finished product is then bottled, labeled, and marketed (2).

There are plenty of recipes online that show you how to create it, but if you’re in a time crunch or simply unable to find the right ingredients, the best you can do is opt for an accurate substitute.

List of possible alternatives to Louisiana hot sauce:

1. Chilli powder

A non-liquid substitute to Louisiana hot sauce, a variety of chilli powders such as Paprika and Cayenne mixes sprinkled on your meal can be used to add a touch of spice and flavour. Cayenne pepper has a moderate amount of heat and is easy to find in both local stores and online. Habanero pepper powder can also be used, however, this one in comparison is far spicier. Additionally, this pepper has a fruity, citrusy flavour profile that varies from the strong vinegar flavour in hot sauce. 

Chili peppers belong to Capsicum genus and are vegetables, condiments and spices widely consumed in daily life. There are about 25 species in this genus, and the five known varieties are C. annuum, C. frutescens, C. chinense, C. baccatum and C. pubescens. Capsaicinoids are the main source of the spicy flavors of chili peppers, and capsaicin constitutes approximately 69% of the capsaicinoids, which is considered as the main pungent ingredient (3).

Paprika, on the other hand, is a milder substitute that can be used by those with a lower spice tolerance. There are myriad more kinds of chilli powder that can be found based on where you live, but these are just some of the most widely consumed ones. Paprika is in cuisine mostly used for giving meals taste and color. Paprika is a good source of many sensory and nutritionally significant compounds, such as compounds forming color pigment (capsanthin, capsorubin, cryptoxanthin, zeaxanthin etc.), flavor, pungent taste (capsaicin, dihydrocapsaicin), antioxidant properties (ascorbic acid, tocopherol, polyphenols) (6).

2. Sambal

Almost an Asian version of basic hot sauce, this is a combination of chilli paste, vinegar, and salt. Widely used in Asian cuisine, this can also be used to liven up your meals. However, the most significant difference between sambal and hot sauce is that sambal is a lot chunkier. 

Another thing to note is sambal uses less vinegar and no sugar; enhancing the kick of spice from the chillies. Ingredients such as shrimp paste may be added to transform the flavour to each individual’s liking.

This spicy paste of Malaysian and Indonesian origin has the pure taste of chiles with little else and is used more in cooking than as a condiment. Once opened, the jar should be kept in the refrigerator and the “best by” date should be observed (4).

3. Chilli Flakes

This substitute, quite simply put, is dried-up, crushed chillies. It is extremely easy to find and can be eaten with almost any dish without compromising the flavours much and can be used to add a smidge of spice to each bite. From being sprinkled onto slices of pizza and used to add heat to your pasta, chilli flakes are one of the most common ways for spice lovers to enhance their meals.

Production process of flake or powdered pepper includes washing and slicing of the ripened red peppers into 2 or 4 parts, air drying at 65-70°C and grinding. In some cases, seed slot is generally removed during slicing stage. Drying process is completed approximately within 6 hours for sliced or within 12 hours for whole peppers where the product has 7-8% moisture content (5).

4. Harissa

Harissa is a chilli paste with a unique flavour profile as it includes the use of many other spices. In addition to the basic foundation of the chilli paste – which can be made using ancho and guajillo for example – it also uses spices such as cumin, coriander, and more. Due to this, it’s important to keep in mind that it may change the overall taste of your dish so use it accordingly.

Studies show that harissa paste and other pepper products contain many phytochemical compounds, particularly carotenoids, vitamin C, flavonoids and other phenolics, which have attracted much interest because of their antioxidant activity against free radicals, suggesting protective roles in reducing the risk of certain types of cancers, cardiovascular diseases and age-related degenerative pathologies (7).

5. Gochujang 

Widely used in Korean cuisine, Gochujang is a fermented chilli paste made from glutinous rice, fermented soybean powder, barley malt powder, chilli powder, and salt. This is served in a thick paste. Gochujang has a unique balance of sweet and spice and is hence used by a lot of people to add to their meals for a kick of flavour. It is mostly used in rice and noodle dishes. 

Gochujang sauce is usually composed of red pepper paste, wheat grain, glutinous rice, red pepper powder, salt, starch syrup, and garlic. Gochujang sauce is a popular South Korean seasoning. In Korea, gochujang sauce is the most widely used additive for unique taste development in traditional food such as bibimbap. The gochujang sauce have characteristic flavors, taste, color, nutrients, and functional properties, which are generated by the microflora produced from microorganisms such as mold, Bacillus spp., lactic acid bacteria, and yeast during fermentation (8).

6. Sriracha

Although considered a hot sauce, Sriracha is a tad sweeter but still maintains a good amount of heat. This too can be consumed by those with lower spice tolerance. Sriracha can be found almost anywhere and can be used to add to almost any dish.

Sriracha’s recipe is simple: it uses high-quality jalapeño chile peppers, picked when spiciest, ground with garlic, sugar, salt, vinegar, and a few other ingredients.  The trick is to use fresh chiles; if the chiles are not ground soon after harvest, then they become unusable. This delicate aspect of sriracha makes it difficult for large hot sauce manufacturers to use freshly picked peppers. Most hot sauce brands are made with dried chile peppers (9).

Other FAQs about Sauces that you may be interested in.

How to open a pasta sauce jar?

How long does Pasta Sauce last in the fridge?

How to store hot sauce?

What can I use Instead of Enchilada Sauce?


These are but a few examples of other available options that you can try. Keep in mind that for each substitute, the spice level, flavour profile and viscosity vary so be sure to consider these while adding them to your meals.


  1. Sharp, Kelly Kean. ‘I got hot sauce in my bag, swag’: The Diasporic Roots of Hot Sauce in Black American Culinary Culture. Oxford Food Symposium.
  2. Schlottmann, Richard Arnold. Effect of chitosan as a stabilizer in hot sauce. Louisiana State University and Agricultural & Mechanical College, 1977.  
  3. Xiang, Qunran, et al. Capsaicin—the spicy ingredient of chili peppers: A review of the gastrointestinal effects and mechanisms. Trend Food Sci Technol, 2021, 116, 755-765.
  4. Weil, Andrew, and Sam Fox. True Food: Seasonal, Sustainable, Simple, Pure. Little, Brown Spark, 2012.
  5. Khobragade, U. H., and P. A. Borkar. Characteristics, Packaging and Storage of Red Chilli Powder: A Review. J Ready Eat Food, 2018, 5, 45-48.
  6. Štursa, Václav, Pavel Diviš, and Jaromír Pořízka. Characteristics of Paprika samples of different geographical origin. Potraviny Stvo J Food Sci, 2018, 12, 254-261.
  7. R’him, Thouraya, et al. Assessing Physicochemical Properties of Different Red Hot Pepper Paste ‘Harissa’Commonly Consumed in Tunisia. Afr J Plant Sci Biotechnol, 2010, 4, 72-76.
  8. Park, Jae-Nam, et al. Combined effects of heating and γ-irradiation on the microbiological and sensory characteristics of Gochujang (Korean fermented red pepper paste) sauce during storage. Food Sci Biotechnol, 2010, 19, 1219-1225.
  9. Hernandez-Lopez, Ernesto. Sriracha Shutdown: Hot Sauce Lessons on Local Privilege and Race. Seton Hall L. Rev, 2015, 189.

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