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How to Pick The Perfect Heat Level For Your Hot Sauce

Updated: Feb 27

How to Pick The Perfect Heat Level For Your Hot Sauce

Hot sauce is an essential condiment for many people, but it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer number of brands and flavors available. The hot sauce industry has exploded in recent years and there is no lack of choices when it comes to heat levels and flavors. With a variety of heat levels ranging from mild to super spicy, how do you know which one is right for you?

Whether you’re a fan of subtle back-of-the-tongue heat or want the kind of fire that brings tears to your eyes, there’s a hot sauce out there that will suit you, we promise! To help you find the perfect heat level for your hot sauce, we’ll be taking a look at how you can determine what is the right hot sauce for you.

Let's dive right in!

chile pepper plant outside

1. Understanding the Different Heat Levels - Mild, Medium, Hot, & Extreme

When it comes to the heat levels of peppers, there are four different categories to be aware of - mild, medium, hot, and extreme. Mild peppers include varieties such as bell peppers and banana peppers, which contain very little capsaicin as measured in Scoville Heat Units (SHU). Capsaicin is responsible for giving chilies their spicy kick. The Scoville Scale is a measurement of the Capsaicin in many different peppers. So, by taking a look at the Scoville Scale, you can get a good idea of how hot a hot sauce may be.

In general, mild peppers are not incredibly spicy and they can add flavor without being overwhelmingly hot. Some common and popular mild chile peppers include:

  • Banana peppers

  • Cherry peppers

  • Cubanelles peppers

  • Poblanos peppers

Medium-level heat includes some of the more popular chili varieties, like jalapeños and serranos. While these can still be enjoyed raw, many people like to cook them to bring out their flavor and reduce their spiciness. These typically range in SHU from 2,500-30,000 SHU with jalapeños averaging 2,000-5,000 SHU. Here are a few popular medium-level peppers:

  • Jalapeños peppers

  • Chipotle peppers

  • Hot wax peppers