You’re looking for a new hot sauce and you’ve got to make a decision between Tabasco and Sriracha. Does it matter? Are they actually any different? What can you expect from either sauce? And most importantly – which is spicier!? Well, here is everything you are going to want to know.
So, what is the difference between Tabasco and Sriracha? Tabasco is a spicier and thinner sauce than Sriracha. Tabasco has minimal ingredients other than chili peppers and distilled vinegar, whereas Sriracha has additional flavorings including garlic and sugar – making it a little sweeter too.
In reality, while Tabasco and Sriracha both fall into the hot sauce category – they actually quite different as we shall continue to explore below.
Some consumers enjoy both, whereas others tend to stick to one or the other.
It ultimately comes down to preference, and perhaps what foods you are looking to pair the respective sauces with.
Nevertheless, let us continue to compare them side by side so you know which one is going to be best for you.
Is Sriracha Sauce Like Tabasco Sauce?
Sriracha sauce is not like Tabasco. In fact, they are quite different in regards to ingredients used, sauce flavor, and consistency.
Let us now take a look at each aspect:
Brand vs Style
First and foremost it’s important to recognize the differences between the two here.
Tabasco is a brand, that sells its own proprietary blend of sauce.
Sriracha, on the other hand, is a type, or style of sauce, sold by many different brands.
So we must consider that while Tabasco remains the same, Sriracha can vary quite a bit between different brands.
Huy Fong is perhaps the most popular, iconic Sriracha brand. But there are many others out there too.
So, it is difficult to compare like for like.
Tabasco is made from the Tabasco Pepper – a variety of chili pepper that typically scores 30,000 to 50,000 Scoville heat units (SHU).
Sriracha, on the other hand, is typically made from red jalapenos – a moderately spicy chili that averages a much lower 2,500 to 8,000 SHU.
While they both originate in Mexico, these are two very different chilis, where Tabasco wins quite comfortably on the heat scale.
Beyond just the chilis, there are other differences in the brand recipes.
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 Huy Fong Sriracha:
Chili, Sugar, Salt, Garlic, Distilled Vinegar, Potassium Sorbate and Sodium Bisulfite as Preservatives, Xanthan Gum.
Tabasco is therefore a sauce with three simple ingredients.
Sriracha has a much longer list as you can see!
With such ingredient profiles, the tastes are actually quite different.
You can clearly taste the vinegar in Tabasco, although you do also get a sweet smokey flavor too from the chilis.
While Sriracha does also contain vinegar, you don’t really taste it as much; instead, you can clearly taste the garlic and sweetness from the inclusion of sugar.
Tabasco is runny and thin, where you typically add ‘drops’ to your food.
Sriracha, on the other hand, is a thick ‘ketchup-like sauce’.
With Sriracha you tend to drizzle it over your food or pour it on the side – you can use it quite liberally.
You can’t really do that with Tabasco – it tends to run and doesn’t really ‘stick’ or ‘adhere’ to food as well.
Bottle Sizes and Dispensers
Tabasco comes in small bottles with a unique dispenser cap that allows for more conservative use.
Sriracha comes with the popular green lid and a dispenser that keeps the sauce intact as you use it.
Sriracha tends to come in much larger bottles.
Which Is Hotter Tabasco or Sriracha?
Tabasco is considered the hotter sauce when compared to Sriracha. The average bottle of Tabasco measures at around 2500 – 5000 SHU whereas the average bottle of Sriracha averages at 1,000 to 2,500 SHU.
So despite the drastically different spiciness levels of the chilis used, Tabasco is not actually that much hotter.
And you are probably wondering why that is the case.
Well back to the ingredient profiles.
It has to do with the proportion of chilis used in each recipe.
Tabasco only uses 19% chili, whereas the rest is made up of distilled vinegar.
Can Tabasco Replace Sriracha?
Tabasco can replace Sriracha, but just be mindful that this is not a like-for-like substitution. You should expect variances in flavor.
For this reason, these hot sauces are actually often used for different dishes, by and large.
Tabasco is commonly consumed with cajun dishes, or even with fried foods.
Sriracha is actually generally a lot more versatile. You can pair it with most types of foods, and many use it as a day-to-day sauce.
People have been known to consume Sriracha with rice, meats, eggs and even fruit!
Tabasco and Sriracha are hot sauces.
But that is essentially where the similarity ends.
These are actually very different sauces.
Tabasco provides a tangy peppery heat, whereas Sriracha provides a sweet garlic flavor.
While you could theoretically substitute one for the other, it’s ultimately not going to be the same.
So my advice.
Try both, with different foods, and see what you personally like.
Wondering about how other hot sauces compare too? Check out my other guides below:
Hi there. I’m Jeremy – a passionate food technologist with several decades in the food industry. With a love for sauces, food, and nutrition, I decided to create WeWantTheSauce. Here I share my experience, knowledge, and recommendations; from ingredients and recipes to storage all the way through to nutrition for every sauce imaginable.