There may be a sriracha shortage, but we bring our own heat with these Arizona hot sauces

Bahar Anooshahr
Arizona Republic

Sriracha hot sauce, a popular sweet-spicy Southeast Asian condiment made from a paste of chili peppers, distilled vinegar, garlic, sugar and salt, has become a staple in restaurants and pantries around America. So, the news of a disruption in our chile sauce supply came as an unwelcome surprise.

The biggest sriracha producer in the United States, California-based Huy Fong Foods Inc., warned of a possible shortage of its popular sauce in July 2020. This year, the shortage became a reality.

Empty grocery store shelves where the hot sauce used to be are reminiscent of the toilet paper shortage while sriracha lovers and chefs have started conserving the beloved sauce. According to an article in Saveur, some chefs have rationed "sriracha at work like it's Purell in 2020." Others are considering taking the sauce off the tables and offering it only upon request. In Tempe, Crazy Mike's Wings has stopped serving their sriracha wings. 

Those hoping to restock are in for a long wait. In a letter dated April 19, 2022, the company announced that due to inclement weather, there was an even larger shortage of chile peppers than it expected and new orders would not be shipped until after Labor Day.  

Though your favorite Thai hot sauce may not be back for a while, we have some fantastic hot sauces being made right here in Arizona, and the shortage is a great excuse to give them a shake.

Here are five local hot sauces to try now in metro Phoenix:

Big Red's Hot Sauce

Paul and Tasia Ford at their farmers market stand.

Owned by husband and wife team Paul and Tasia Ford, Big Red's offers sauces ranging from mild to very hot, indicated on the bottles with a one to five red pepper rating. Big Red's has nine hot sauces and two smother sauces — blackberry rum and AZ Jerk— described on the website as "a new line of sauces that we don’t dare call BBQ sauce." Both are sweet and savory and the AZ Jerk puts a Southwestern twist on Caribbean flavors. 

In addition to the usual lineup, Paul gets creative and comes up with special edition sauces and bundles. For sauces similar to Sriracha, Tasia recommends AZ Cajun and the sweet and spicy prickly pear, the former of which has a thinner consistency. 

Details: The hot sauces are between $8 and $10. Order online, at their Uptown Farmers Market stand on Saturdays, or by appointment at the store. 10439 N. Cave Creek Road, Suite 104, Phoenix. bigredshotsauce.com

 Arizona Salsa and Spice company  

Arizona Salsa and Spice Company.

Based in Mesa, this family-run company offers hot sauces along with spice blends, barbecue sauces and salsas. The flavors range from mild to spicy with scorchers like Ghost Pepper or Scorpion Pepper Hot.

Their award-winner Miss Reapper is made of honey, aged jalapeños and a touch of Carolina reaper and ghost peppers. The Reapper Jr. hot sauce is a blend of Carolina, ghost and aged peppers that impart a medium spice level to the sauce.  

Details: Bottles range from $6.99 to $13.99. 1900 E. University Drive, Suite 22, Mesa. 480-632-2168, azspiceco.homestead.com

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Arizona Pepper Products

Arizona Pepper Products offers pepper sauces, salsa, barbecue and wing sauces.

Producer of Arizona Gunslinger since 1985, this Mesa-based company offers pepper sauces along with salsa, barbecue and wing sauces. Customers can order single bottles or variety packs. Some of the flavors include green jalapeño, red jalapeño, habanero, and habanero and mango. The company also produces limited edition sauces such as key lime jalapeño and cherry chipotle habanero. Order online or by phone. Shipping is free for orders over $50. 

Details: Prices range from $4.99 to $55, depending on the bottle size. 480-833-1908, azgunslinger.com.

Cutino's Sauce Co.

Cutino's hot sauces pack big flavors in small bottles.

Jacob Cutino's hot sauce started under the name Homeboy's Hot Sauce. In 2017, he partnered with Chris Bianco to become Cutino's hot sauce. The partnership expanded their reach and in a 2017 Instagram post, Jimmy Kimmel called it the best hot sauce he's ever had. Cutino's makes a variety of flavors: mango, chipotle, habanero, verde and miso. Four, six and 12-pack sauces are also available. Visit the website to order online or find a store that stocks the sauces near you.  

Details: Prices range from $8 to $10 per bottle, cutinosauce.com.

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Suzanne's Hot Stuff

At this Cave Creek novelty hot sauce store, in addition to offering a collection of hot sauces made by different producers, which are classified by heat index ranging from wussy to toxic, Suzanne makes three of her own tomato-based sauces. The original habanero incorporates onions, habanero and serrano; the extra-hot habanero packs more habanero and is for those who are "hungry for heat" and her chipotle and roasted garlic consists of fresh roasted garlic and chipotle pepper plus habanero, serrano and spices. 

Details: Price ranges from $7.95 to $14.99. 6245 E. Cave Creek Road, Cave Creek.480-488-1277, suzanneshotstuff.com.

Pita Jungle 

Pita Jungle's Sriracha sauces include Red, Green and Ghost. Each bottle of Sriracha retails for $7.95.

Pita Jungle is a local chain that offers Mediterranean food. The restaurant produces three types of sriracha sauce: red, green and ghost. The red sriracha is milder in flavor, the green is made with jalapeños and lime, and for those who like a little more of a kick, ghost is the right choice. All three are vegan and non-GMO. Purchase at the store or email: friends@pitajungle.com. Check the website for a location near you. 

Details: Price: $7.95 per bottle, pitajungle.com.

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Reach the reporter at BAnooshahr@azcentral.com. Follow @banooshahr on Twitter.