What's The Difference: Sriracha vs. Hot Sauce

These two condiments are very different in taste and flavor.

IMAGE Shuttestock, Steve Cukrov/Shutterstock.com

It should be noted that spicy food and spicy hot food are two different flavors. If you love spicy hot food that makes your taste buds tingle and take notice, you are probably a fan of hot sauces. 

Hot sauces are also known as chili sauces, and in the world of chili sauces, there is also sriracha. However, these two spicy hot condiments are vastly different from one another in both taste and application. Here are the differences between these two spicy hot mixtures: 

1 Hot sauce contains more ingredients than sriracha.  

Hot sauces are a tasteful balance of flavors. It's defined as a spicy and flavorful blend of different kinds of peppers and chilis, tomatoes, onions, vinegar, sugar, salt, and spices. It's this mix of ingredients that creates a sauce that is not just going to activate your taste buds. It will have notes of fruitiness, sweetness from the sugar, a hint of warmth from the ground cumin or bitterness from the green bell peppers, and it might even have a touch of heat from the Sichuan peppercorns or the cayenne pepper that attacks the back of your throat, making you cough. It will also have a tangy flavor courtesy of the vinegar. 

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Photo by Bea Faicol
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According to the Huy Fong Food website, sriracha is made with sun-ripened chilies that have been pureed into a smooth paste. The other ingredients include sugar, salt, garlic, and vinegar. It also contains xanthan gum, an ingredient that is used as a thickener or even a stabilizer. It's an ingredient used widely in many different kinds of food, especially sauces and dressings, and is used as a binder and provides the structure for gluten-free food or food that doesn't contain wheat flour. 

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2 Hot sauce has more vinegar than sriracha. 

However, unlike sriracha which is very dependent on chilis for its taste, the hot sauce with its many ingredients is very tangy. It's because its other main ingredient is vinegar. If you taste hot sauce, you get a burst of heat together with the tangy vinegar. Vinegar serves two purposes: makes the hot sauces delicious with its flavorful play with the heat and it also helps preserve the chili, too. This is one reason why most commercially made hot sauces can be stored at room temperature. 

3 Sriracha is a chili paste. Hot sauce is a sauce. 

The big difference between these two mixtures is the consistency. Sauces such as hot sauces are more liquid than pastes. It is meant to lightly coat food and even enhance the taste of the food instead of covering it up with its taste. Pastes meanwhile are thicker, more viscous, and more concentrated. It's common to see pastes such as sriracha spread onto food in a light layer instead of being allowed to coat it.  

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This is why sriracha is more of a chili paste than a sauce with its thick consistency. It has fewer notes of other flavors since it has fewer ingredients than hot sauces but it's also why the spicy hot taste is more straightforward than hot sauces. This is also why the chill used is so important.

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