What is a Louisiana style hot sauce…and why has it stood the test of time?

Many styles of hot sauce are identified by their origins of where they come from either by the climate of the region where the hot peppers grow or by the culture of cuisine that is consumed there. These sauces are often identified or labeled by the region they come from such a Louisiana-style hot sauce.

A Louisiana-style hot sauce uses fermented or aged red cayenne peppers mixed with a simple combination of vinegar and other spices such as garlic and salt. This was one of the original forms of hot sauce when it entered the mainstream population 200 years ago and many of the recipes have remained the same for decades.

A Louisiana-style hot sauce is one of the most common hot sauce types and will usually have a simple ingredient combination of hot peppers, vinegar, and spices. When I write about traditional or classic hot sauces, I am usually referring to this style of sauce.  

There are many varieties of peppers used in hot sauces, but the red cayenne is the most commonly used in a Louisiana-style hot sauce. These sauces are typically a bright red color, like the cayenne pepper, and have a sharp vinegar-based flavor. This is what defined what a hot sauce is for years.

There have been many variations of this simple combination and it is these bold flavors that have paved the way for gourmet, craft, and artisan hot sauces today. History has provided documentation for one of the oldest bottled hot sauces to be Tabasco® but many use this same hot sauce combination.

A Louisiana hot sauce has a mild to medium level of heat compared to the extreme levels of hot sauces and hot peppers available today. Heat level and spice can vary from sauce to sauce and new ones are being produced that challenge the taste receptors of consumers by being hotter than the last.

Louisiana is a brand and a style of hot sauce

There are hot sauces that have capitalized on the success of a hot sauce from this region and have and have adapted the term “Louisiana” in their brand name. Louisiana brand hot sauce uses the same simple hot sauce ingredients, and it is labeled as the original. Invented over 90 years ago their other sauces from the same region such as Tabasco® that have been manufactured longer. There are now many that use some of the same ingredients to put a different twist on a classic taste, coming from different regions of the US.

Franks RedHot, Crystal, Cholula, Texas Pete’s, Tapatio, Valentino, Tabasco®, Louisiana brand are the more popular brands of hot sauce in this style but many others have yet to be discovered. The above list of hot sauces is not difficult to find and is typical of what is on store shelves. However, there is a new line of sauce creations following the same style commonly found online.

New “flavors” of a Louisiana hot sauce are being produced to capture and expand on this classic flavor. Brands like Blue Bayou Louisiana Pepper Sauce, Pain Is Good #218 Louisiana Style (through Amazon) and Cajun Chef Hot Sauce (also through Amazon) all celebrate this classic flavor.

How is it made?

A Louisiana-style hot sauce is typically made with cayenne peppers that are fermented or aged. The longer the fermenting lasts the richer, more pungent, and flavorful the sauce will be. The concept of aging foods to preserve them or intensify their flavor is older than hot sauce itself.

What is the difference between these sauces?

Aging hot pepper mash into a salt and water brine is a common process for making a hot sauce. If done correctly and in the right conditions, it can define the end product…if done incorrectly it can produce rotten and bacteria-laden peppers.

Aged cayenne red peppers, distilled white vinegar, water, salt, garlic powder are the most common ingredients in a Louisiana-style hot sauce. Aside from some thickeners and preservatives, some manufacturers list “spices” as additional ingredients.

The FDA does not require ingredients used in trace amounts to be listed on the ingredient label so spices or “secret spices” can vary between each of these sauce types. This would be ingredients encompassing 2% or less of the overall weight of the product. Some spices can add BIG flavor in small quantities.

Because many of these hot sauces use some of the same ingredient’s flavors can be similar but it is the process in which the sauce is made (typically aging peppers) that makes each of them stand out. Intricacies such as the amount of salt in the brine and the duration of the fermenting make a difference over time.

Why is Louisiana-style hot sauce so popular?

Hot sauce originally became popular because of its sharp and poignant flavor to give “new life” to otherwise bland food. That is the same reason why people consume hot sauce today. It is a large amount of vinegar in a Louisiana-style hot sauce that can add flavor to staple Southern foods such as collard greens, gumbo, and crawfish.

Foods from regions where the cuisine has been defined as originating from that area, also called regional cuisine, are popular because of their uniqueness and inability to be duplicated elsewhere. Examples of this would be NY-style pizza, New England clam chowder, and Philly cheesesteak. Spicy foods and hot sauces are also known by where they come from. They are popular for some reasons such as the peppers grown and used in certain sauces are unique to the area or the sauce cannot be obtained as easily in certain regions.

The desire to consume spicy foods was not a new concept but the convenience of having it in bottle form certainly helped with sharing it. Spicy food populated the southern regions of the US with the migration of a Cajun community from Canada known as Acadians. Similar to the way many foods gain popularity in certain regions, they brought their hot sauce with them.

This is the same reason why many common brands and styles of hot sauce are gaining popularity today. Asian and Indian immigrants have brought their hot and spicy flavors into the US and have domesticated some of these unique sauces.

For years or maybe decades, a Louisiana-style hot sauce defined what a hot sauce is. The recipe and flavors have not changed much, and it has paved the way for what hot sauce has become today. This style of hot sauce is very versatile and has been used with many different types of foods.

New trends in hot sauce popularity

New hot sauces are being introduced that have a fresh twist on an original flavor. Consumers seeking new flavors are willing to reach beyond what they have leaned on and try new variations. Popular and original Louisiana hot sauces are branching out to include slight variations of an original to include a chicken wing sauce.

What food is a Louisiana hot sauce used on?

A Louisiana-style hot sauce has a classic flavor and it was Franks Redhot that was used in the original chicken wing recipe in Buffalo NY. Wing sauce flavors have changed drastically over the last few decades but it the hot sauce, butter, and garlic combination that represents the classic wing flavor. Before the wing sauce gain popularity in the late 60s, it was standard and staple Southern foods that were receiving accolades for their hot sauce enhancements.


Gumbo is a spicy sausage and rice combination that also originated in the South often mixed with shrimp or crawfish. Hot sauce can be used in the recipe while it is being prepared or as a topping. See this recipe using the Louisiana brand.

Fried Chicken

Another popular Southern-style meal is fried chicken. Prepared in different ways in the South, a hot sauce can be used in the coating or as a topping like gumbo. The spice on fried chicken is a classic Southern flavor.


Collard greens, turnip greens, and mustard greens are a staple food of the Southern US and in combination with a Louisiana, sauce represents cuisine that originated in the South. The heat and flavor of the sauce pairs well with the bitterness of the greens.

Whether you are from the South or just love a Southern-style hot sauce, a Louisiana style can emulate Southern entrees or spice up a meal from any region of the US. New and original sauces are popping up everywhere.

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