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Tabasco vs Cholula ⋆ The Definitive Comparison ⋆

Tabasco and Cholula are popular brands of hot sauce; chances are you’re contemplating which one to buy or use. But how similar are they? Or are they entirely different sauces? Here is all you need to know.

So, what is the difference between Tabasco vs Cholula? Cholula Original sauce is typically not as spicy as Tabasco Original. It is also somewhat thicker in consistency, smokier, and less vinegary in flavor. Cholula is typically more cost-effective to buy. However, both brands offer different varieties which can cause larger differences, depending on those compared.

The truth is, Tobasco and Cholula are large brands with extensive product lines.

While we can compare the popular and most widely used Original versions, you’ll soon realize that there are quite a few to choose from.

For instance, Cholula has six products in its lineup.

Tobasco also offers six different varieties too.

We’ll get into those and continue our comparison.

So keep reading.

You’ll hopefully find which brand or product is for you.

Is Cholula Hot Sauce The Same As Tabasco Sauce?

Cholula Hot Sauce is not the same as Tabasco sauce. In fact, they’re actually very different. That being said, they are both condiments in the hot sauce category and are often eaten with similar foods.

What Is The Difference Between Cholula And Tabasco?

The main differences between Cholula and Tabasco are the ingredients used in their formulations, the resulting flavor profiles, the consistency and color of the sauce, and the price point you can typically purchase them at.

Let us now run through each one in further detail.

Ingredients

The ingredient lists between Cholula and Tabasco are actually very different.

Here is the full ingredient list for Cholula sauce:

Water, Chili Peppers (5.0%) (Arbol & Piquin), Salt, Vinegar Blend (Spirit Vinegar, Cider Vinegar), Spices, Stabiliser (Xanthan Gum)

And now, here is the ingredient list of Tabasco:

Distilled Vinegar, Red Pepper (19%), Salt

As you can see, there’s quite the variance.

Cholula uses particular types of Mexican peppers (Arbol & Piquin) along with a number of additional ingredients.

It also contains spirit vinegar, opposed to distilled vinegar (and it is much more sparingly used). In Tobasco, vinegar is the primary ingredient.

Tabasco is generally much more minimal when it comes to ingredients.

Flavor Profiles

Unsurprisingly, the variance in ingredients results in a variance in taste.

Due to the inclusion of the hot dried Mexican peppers, Cholula has a deep, mellow, and somewhat smoky flavor.

Tobasco on the other hand has a clear and distinctive vinegary taste and flavor profile; whereby it is difficult to distinguish the peppery notes.

Color

Another consequence of the ingredient profiles; is a marked difference in color.

Original Cholula has a vibrant orange color, whereas Tobasco is a more rouge red.

Just consider that there are different variations of the brand’s original sauce. Each of which has different colors too.

For instance, Green Pepper Cholula is, you guessed it, green.

Chipotle Cholula is maroon.

Whereas in the Tobasco line, their Green Pepper sauce is a similar color, their Habenero Sauce is the one that is perhaps most maroon.

Consistency

Cholula sauce has a thickness that Tabasco simply doesn’t.

This is due to the fact that the stabilizer (Xanthan Gum) is used in the recipe.

This makes it a smooth, blended, viscous consistency that makes it more ideal for dipping.

Tabasco, on the other hand, is thin and runny.

It doesn’t tend to ‘stick-on foods’, either.

At the same time, Tabasco is not pureed or emulsified; so it has flecks of pepper running through.

Price

Cholula is actually more cost-effective to buy.

Typical bottles are 150ml, compared to the 57ml of Tobasco.

And as they are priced at a similar price point, although Tobasco is often a little more expensive, you’ll notice that you are actually getting more sauce for your money with Cholula.

Just consider how much you use at each time, though.

Variations

There are different variations and flavors in each respective product line. Here they are, for reference:

Cholula Variations

  • Cholula Original,
  • Cholula Green Pepper,
  • Cholula Sweet Habenero,
  • Cholula Chipotle,
  • Cholula Chili Lime
  • Cholula Chili Garlic

Tabasco Variations

  • Tabasco Original Red Pepper,
  • Tabasco Green Jalepeno,
  • Tabasco Habenero,
  • Tabasco Cayenne Garlic,
  • Tabasco Chipotle,
  • Tabasco Scorpion

As you can see, there is overlap and each brand does have its version of some flavors (Green Pepper, Habenero, Chiptole).

Even then, there are also differences in the ingredients used, resulting in flavor profiles, etc.

And then each brand has some of their own different and unique sauces.

Cholula Chili Lime and Tabasco Scoprian, as an example.

Can You Substitute Cholula For Tabasco?

You can substitute Cholula for Tabasco, but just consider it is not a like-for-like replacement.

There may even be other sauces that are more suitable, depending on what you need them for or depending on your preferences.

For instance, will you be adding the sauce to a recipe, or are you simply adding it to prepared food?

Nevertheless, these sauces can generally be used interchangeably – so if one sauce is not available whereas another is, you should be good to go.

Which Is Hotter Tabasco Or Cholula?

Tabasco is generally spicier than Cholula. According to the brands, Tabasco has a Scoville heat rating of between 2500 – 5000, whereas Cholula ranges from between 1000-2000.

If you are wondering what the Scoville scale is, it is essentially a measurement of spiciness or heat, based on the analysis of capsaicinoid concentration.

In other words, it’s a statistical means of comparing spicy foods, and it is a common standard used across hot sauce brands.

The scale is named after its creator, American pharmacist Wilbur Scoville, and sauces provide their measurements in Scoville Heat Units (SHU).

As you can imagine, the higher the SHU, the spicier it is.

Now, consider that Cholula and Tabasco offer a range.

That’s because individual batches of sauces can differ in terms of spice.

It depends on the season, growing conditions among other variables.

Essentially, it’s how spicy the peppers were at the time when they were used.

Nevertheless, what you need to know is that Cholula is generally not as spicy, at least if we are comparing the original versions of the two.

Back to the variations. Let us now compare the heat:

Cholula Variations SHU Score

  • Cholula Original – 1,000 – 2,000
  • Cholula Green Pepper – 1,000
  • Cholula Sweet Habenero – 2,500 – 5,000
  • Cholula Chipotle – 750-1,000
  • Cholula Chili Lime – 300-600
  • Cholula Chili Garlic – 500-750

Tabasco Variations SHU Score

  • Tabasco Original Red Pepper – 2,500 – 5,000
  • Tabasco Green Jalepeno – 600 – 1,200
  • Tabasco Habenero – >7,000
  • Tabasco Cayenne Garlic – 1,200 – 2,400
  • Tabasco Chipotle – 1,500 – 2,500
  • Tabasco Scorpion– 23,000 – 33,000

So, the hottest sauces in the ranges: Cholula Sweet Habenero and Tabasco Scorpion.

Although Tabasco Scorpian is considerably hotter than any variation Cholula offer.

And, the Cholula Sweet Habenero is half as spicy as the Tabasco equivalent, generally.

Finally

Tabasco and Cholula, while both marketed as hot sauces (and commonly seen and stored in the same section of the condiment aisle), they are not the same.

In fact, they are quite different in a number of ways.

Sure you can substitute one for the other, but don’t expect a like-for-like replacement.

Tabasco is a runner, hotter, and more vinegary sauce.

Cholula is a smooth, smoky, and thicker one.

Just remember that.

Wondering about how other hot sauces compare too? Check out my other guides below: