What Is Sriracha? (And Why Do We Love It So Much?)

The spicy-sweet Thai chili sauce has gone from cult condiment to pantry staple. Where does it come from, what is it, and why should you have some in your kitchen at all times?

Published Feb. 7, 2017.

We love hot sauce in the test kitchen. The hot-sauce industry has never been hotter (heh heh) than it is now, and so there is now an abundance (and probably more accurately an overabundance) of choice on your supermarket's condiment shelf. To determine the absolute best hot sauce on the market, we taste tested nine brands—straight up, over white rice, and on Buffalo chicken tenders—and in the end, our favorite was definitely Sriracha. (More specifically, we love the kind made by Huy Fung Foods in California. Buy a bottle. Like, right now.) Sriracha has been hot (pun intended) for a few years now, so you’ve probably seen it at your favorite breakfast joint or pho spot—that squeeze bottle adorned with an illustration of a rooster and filled with red sauce that looks a lot like ketchup is the stuff we’re talking about.

So, what exactly is Sriracha (and why do we love it so much)?

What Is Sriracha Made Of?

Traditionally, Sriracha is made from a fermented chile mash, which is a process that can take over a week. Huy Fung's ingredients list includes chilies, sugar, salt, garlic, distilled vinegar, xantham gum, potassium sorbate, and sodium bisulfite.

What Does Sriracha Taste Like?

Sriracha is more viscous than most hot sauces, and it boasts a flavor profile that’s on the sweeter side. And while Sriracha definitely packs some heat, it’s a bright, rich heat instead of a tongue-numbingly, uncomfortable heat.

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Why Do We Love Sriracha?

Because you can put it on virtually everything. Sriracha and eggs? Yes please. Sriracha-soaked hot wings? Uh huh. Sriracha as accoutrement to delicious beef pho? We wouldn’t have it any other way. Sriracha is seemingly ubiquitous in 2017, and that’s not a coincidence.

Want to learn how to use Sriracha in recipes? Check out this post:

When did your love affair with Sriracha begin? Let us know in the comments!  

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