Tangy-Sweet Chili Heat That Goes on Everything

Sriracha chili sauce has become such a ubiquitous condiment in the U.S., the dominant brand—California-made Huy Fong—has spawned countless alternatives. We wanted to see how they compare to the original, which offers a balance of chili heat, tangy vinegar, savory garlic and just enough sweetness.

We tried 10 brands, judging each on how it nuances those characteristics, as well as viscosity. In our testing, Huy Fong proved so familiar that even in a blind tasting our panel recognized it. Yet we were surprised to find that three brands beat it.

U.S.-made Roland was our top pick, with its balanced blend of not-too-sweet, tangy heat; its garlic and spice notes are slightly mellower than Huy Fong. Tied for second place were two Thai brands, Shark and Flying Goose. Both offered complex flavor without being too garlicky. All three also had a thinner consistency than Huy Fong.

Our least favorite were Srirachas from Asian Organics, A Taste of Thai and Texas Pete. They had either a cloying sweetness, excessive saltiness or unpleasantly funky flavors (or some combination of the three).

While we love Sriracha on its own, it’s also a powerhouse pantry staple. We like to use it as the base for a stir-fry sauce: Whisk together 2 tablespoons Sriracha, 2 tablespoons fish sauce and 2 teaspoons brown sugar. We especially like it with eggplant or other vegetable stir-fries.

It also can spice up a rich, nutty sauce for noodles, such as lo mein (or even Italian-style noodles such as linguine). To make, stir together ¼ cup peanut butter, 3 medium garlic cloves (finely grated), 2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 1 to 2 tablespoons Sriracha, 1 tablespoon white miso and ¼ cup hot water, reserved from cooking the noodles. Toss the drained noodles with the sauce until well combined.