The hot sauce kings at Tabasco have recently been flooding the market with all kinds of spicy, populist flavors, so it was only a matter of time before they set their sights on that seminal condiment of the neo-hipster, post-gourmet dining era: sriracha. Like Huy Fong’s iconic green-capped model, the new beta version of Tabasco’s “Premium Sriracha Thai Chili Sauce” comes in a squirt bottle, although the Tabasco bottle is squatter than the original and not nearly as fun to look at. There’s a little bit of Thai script stenciled along the bottom of the Tabasco version, but there’s no puff-chested rooster on the front, no runic messages written in Chinese characters, and no boisterous operating instructions on the back, translated into English, Spanish, and French.
To examine the other, more subtle differences between the two hot sauce titans, we assembled an intrepid panel of Grub Street experts over lunch the other day. As card-carrying members of the new Sriracha Generation, we weren’t interested in seeing how these mongrel American formulas compared to the ancient Thai versions of the sauce. We only wanted to know how the latest entry to this increasingly trendy, crowded field stacked up against the reigning champ from Irwindale.
Our tasters sniffed the two chili sauces, eyeballed them for color, and probed their texture with plastic forks. We paired them with a variety of carefully selected Sriracha-friendly delivery systems, including chicken wings, bok choy, Momofuku pork buns, and even carry-out pizza. We debated our findings exhaustively, or at least until all the pork buns were gone.
We’ve compiled our tasting notes below, along with a grading system for each category from numbers 1 (not so good) to 5 (great), and tallied the final score below.