Review: Tabanero Hot Sauce

I've written a couple of hot sauce reviews on The BBQ Grail and with each and every time I struggle with what words to write.  It's not because I've got writers block.  It's because, if I'm being completely honest, I just don't know a lot about hot sauce.  Give me a BBQ sauce or rub and I'll dazzle you with word power.  I can write a BBQ sauce review with no hesitation or problem.  But when it comes to hot sauces all I really know is what I like. And I really like " Tabanero Hot Sauce." Up until when I was 18 years old "hot sauce" was not something found on my dining room table.  My maternal grandfather loved hot sauce.  I can remember his bottle of hot sauce when I when we went to visit him, but his love of vinegar based hot sauce didn't carry over to my mother.  My mother was a pretty good cook, but heat to her came from simple ground black pepper.  It wasn't until I started eating at the mess hall at Fort Hood, Texas that hot sauce became an integral part of my daily dining habit.  A little Tabasco on my eggs in the morning and my meat loaf for dinner helped make eating more enjoyable.

Up until about a year ago I thought I was a hot sauce gourmet because I had three different flavors of Tabasco hot sauce in my refrigerator.  Toss in a bottle of Texas Pete and some Louisiana Brand hot sauce and I pretty much had anything and everything I thought I needed in the hot sauce department.  Then I got my hands on some other hot sauces, hot sauces that would rip the taste buds right off your tongue.  Even though Mrs Grail makes fun of me for heating food so hot it makes me sweat, I just can’t take hot sauces so hot you can’t taste anything after eating them.  Call me a wimp…call me whatever but I’m just not into heat for heat sake.  But then again maybe that’s just my hot sauce ignorance talking.

I knew, the moment I opened the bottle of Tabanero, and gave it the “drop on the finger” taste test that this was a different kind of hot sauce.  It was a little hotter than I normally prefer, but the heat faded quickly and left nothing but a nice little flavor on my tongue.  What I’ve noticed with a lot of hot sauces is when it’s put on food the flavor of the hot sauce doesn’t come through for me.  Instead I’m left with just heat.  That’s not the case with Tabanero, since the harshness of the heats fades it leaves just an amazing flavor profile that, so far, has compliment everything I’ve eaten it on.  And over the past couple weeks, other than my corn flakes, I’ve eaten it on just about everything.

I recently asked Kevin Peake about Tabanero.  He described Tabanero as, “An extremely flavorful sauce with a kick but that isn’t too hot.”  I knew the flavor of the sauce was not like anything I’ve every found in a hot sauce, but I sure found it interesting when he explained the combination of ingredients, “Tabanero Hot Sauce has a base of carrots and key lime juice that provides a zesty flavor.  The heat comes from the Habanero pepper.  The heat is balanced by the sweetness of the Agave nectar.  Agave nectar actually accentuates the flavors and allows the complex flavor profile of the Habanero to be appreciated,” he explained.

Okay, I get the key lime juice, if you’re not going to use vinegar you need something to give the hot sauce some tanginess.  But carrots?  Really?  I never would have put those two ingredients together, and we all know I’ve tried some weird ingredient combinations before.  It works though.  Habaneros are often described as having a slight citrus flavor so the key lime also makes the Habanero flavor stand out.

Look, as I mentioned at the beginning of this blog post, I’m not a hot sauce expert.  I don’t know much about peppers or pepper combinations.  But I do know what tastes good.  And this hot sauce is one of best condiments I’ve ever eaten.  It’s just that good.

And if great taste isn’t reason enough to use Tabanero the company, CDS International Holdings, is a company that tries to do good things  for others.  Kevin Peake explains:

“The founder of Tabanero is Carl De Santis (CDS International Holdings). Carl is a passionate entrepreneur with an affinity for embarking on interesting and philanthropic projects. He once developed a beer called Chillie Beer which had an actual chile pepper in it. It was a dream of his to create an amazing hot sauce that could also do some good! We knew that we wanted this sauce to be authentically from Mexico and we wanted to create a unique hot sauce. As we began our search for the right ingredients, we gravitated towards the state of Tabasco in Mexico for a couple of reasons,” Kevin said.

“One reason was the influence of the Mayan culture on the birth of hot sauce. The second reason was that Tabasco gets the most rainfall in Mexico, making the land extremely fertile and providing amazing and flavorful peppers,” he continued.

“We wanted this to be a project that would give back to the community so we have made contributions to help build orphanages along with a pledge of giving back a percentage of all sales to the state of Tabasco. Our first crack at this was in 2005, we were developing the product and created our first batch when in 2007 Tabasco was devastated by floods that washed away the majority of the crops. This set us back a few years. In 2009 we were able to begin redeveloping and it was at this stage that we decided to add Agave Nectar into our recipe which is our key ingredient. We got our first batch of our revamped Tabanero in 2010 and launched it in Los Angeles in 2011.”

“Tabanero Hot Sauce” is available in a limited numbers of stores in California, Florida and North Carolina.  Some of the stores I’m sure can ship this fantastic hot sauce directly to your door.  And you really should do your best to get some of this hot sauce.  It will be well worth the effort.  You can find those stores on Tabanero’s website.

Need another reason to purchase Tabanero Hot Sauce?  Then check out this recipe from their website.

Tabanero Glazed Wings
Recipe Type: Appetizer
  • 3 lbs chicken wings
  • 18 oz. jar of apricot preserves
  • 2 tbsp of citrus herb dressing
  • 2 tbsp Tabanero sauce
  • 2 tbsp oregano
  • 1 tbsp chili seasoning
  1. Mix all ingredients and let marinate in seasoning for 20 minutes.
  2. Grill wings 8-10 mins. covered in sauce, add more Tabanero if more spice is desired.
For the extra Tabanero fix, try along with our Gorgonzola Dip recipe.

1 Comment on Review: Tabanero Hot Sauce

  1. BigBoyBob // April 11, 2012 at 7:30 am //

    I bought 12 bottles last mouth. Need to reorder already. I don’t like the vinegar base hot sauces. This sauce has a soft heat with great flavor. It doesn’t over power the taste of the food. But it enhances it. Love the stuff.

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