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Tabasco vs Franks ⋆ The Ultimate Comparison ⋆

Are you weighing up whether to buy or use Tabasco or Franks? Not sure what hot sauce would be better for your tastes and preferences? Well, here is exactly how they differ and to know which one to choose.

So, what is the difference between Tabasco vs Franks? Tabasco is considerably spicier than Franks – the recipe includes Tabasco Peppers compared to Cayenne Peppers used in Franks. Franks also has a more peppery taste and is considered more ‘flavorful’, through the use of garlic. Although they are both quite thin sauces and a little goes a long way with either sauce.

One thing is for sure, if you look at a lot of consumer reviews and comments, you’ll find there is quite a divide in opinion.

You tend to find that you’re either more of a Franks or a Tabasco advocate.

We’ll soon see why as we look into the differences.

But nevertheless, both of these sauces are typically enjoyed and one may be more preferable, for your palette.

So let’s continue to compare them to find out which one is for you!

What Is The Difference Between Tabasco And Franks?

The main difference between Tabasco and Franks is the peppers used in the sauce. The result is very different flavors, heat profiles, and what foods they typically pair best with.

Let us now explore these differences in greater detail.


Tabasco is made from the Tabasco Pepper – a variety of chili pepper that originates in Mexico.

Frank’s on the other hand, is made specifically from cayenne peppers – a moderately spicy chili species that is said to have originated in Cayenne, French Guiana.

Moreover, Frank’s contains garlic powder and “natural flavor.”

Here is the full ingredient list of Tabasco, for reference:

Distilled Vinegar, Red Pepper (19%), Salt

And now, take a look at the ingredient list of Franks:

Aged Cayenne Red Peppers (35%), Distilled Vinegar, Water, Salt, Garlic Powder

As you can see, Franks uses much more pepper although they do both are distilled vinegar-based sauces.

Flavor Profiles

The flavor profiles of these sauces are quite different and are noticed quite clearly on a taste test.

The difference is mostly from the different peppers used where Franks has a much more peppery taste.

Some consumers even comment that Tabasco sauce is lacking in flavor, but is better used to provide heat and more spice.

Bottle Style/Size

With Tabasco, you get a lot of heat with only a few drops.

Hence the bottle is much smaller and the bottle shape/dispenser is a lot more suitable for more controlled use.

Franks on the other hand come in a much larger bottle and the dispenser is more open, making it easier to ‘pour’ or ‘drizzle’.

Which Is Hotter Tabasco Or Franks?

Tabasco is considered much hotter than Franks. The average bottle of Tabasco measures at around 3,000 on the Scoville Heat Scale, whereas the average bottle of Franks measures at just 450 Scoville Heat Units.

So that makes the average bottle of Tabasco 6x hotter than Franks.

Now, if you are wondering what the Scoville scale is, it is essentially the industry standard that is used to measure the heat, or spiciness of peppers.

And unsurprisingly, it’s the scale that hot sauce companies have adopted too.

Now it’s used as a means of directly comparing heat – by ranking concentrations of compounds and using them against a standardized scale.

This scale is given in SHU (Scoville Heat Units).

The higher the SHU, the hotter it is.

One other thing to note – most peppers and hot sauces have a SHU range.

That’s because chili peppers, and hot sauces, will not always be equally as hot as one another.

They differ from bottle to bottle, batch to batch.

That’s because chili peppers can vary in heat – depending on growing conditions when they were purchased, when they were purchased, how they have been stored, etc.

Nevertheless, the average bottle of Tabasco will always be hotter than Franks.

Just consider, however, that Tabasco offers a range of different sauces.

And not all of them are as hot as each other.

Some are actually much spicier than others.

If you look below you can see the SHU units for each variety:

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, depending on what you buy and use will determine the heat variance between Tabasco and Franks.

Tabasco Green is not much hotter than Franks, for instance.

Whereas Tabasco Scorpian is incredibly spicier at the other end of the spectrum.

Does Tabasco Taste Like Franks Red Hot?

Tabasco does not taste like Franks Red Hot. Franks is considered to have more of a peppery, tangy, and somewhat sour and salty flavor. Whereas Tabasco does not provide much flavor but instead provides much more heat.

Can You Substitute Franks Red Hot For Tabasco?

You can substitute Franks for Tabasco, but do consider it is not a like-for-like replacement and you will likely notice the difference.

For this reason, Franks is often preferred for foods like chicken wings – where more flavor may be desired with less heat.

Franks is also more ideal for marinating, whereas Tabasco is great when used sparingly to add heat to a dish.

Nevertheless, there is no reason why these sauces could not be used interchangeably – they are both vinegar-based hot sauces, after all.

So if one sauce is not available whereas the other is, you could proceed to use it.


Tabasco and Franks, while both marketed as hot sauces (and commonly seen and stored in the same section of the condiment aisle) are actually quite different.

Besides, the fundamental ingredient of each sauce is based on a different type and variety of pepper.

It makes a huge difference.

If you are looking for a more flavorful sauce to use more liberally or to coat wings or even marinate, Franks may be for you.

But if you love your heat and spice, then Tabasco could be a better option.

Ultimately only a taste test can help you find what’s right for you, your preferences, and your dish!

So, purchase both, give them a try and see for yourself.

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