Do You Want a Not-So-Hot Hot Sauce?

By Carolyn Shearlock © 2014 • all rights reserved

Want a really flavorful sauce that's not really hot -- and doesn't have that harsh pepper taste? Try Pickapeppa -- it's not your usual hot sauce!

When I was growing up, the only hot sauce I knew of was Tabasco.  And I hated it.  Not the spiciness of it, but simply the flavor.

As I got out on my own, I learned that there were other hot sauces out there, but frankly I assumed that they’d taste more or less like Tabasco and stayed away from them.  (I know that many people love Tabasco — my husband is one — but it just hits me wrong.)

In 2002, I had a revelation.  We were in Baja and met a couple camping on the beach — he was Jamaican, she Canadian.  They invited us to dinner one night — and served us fish with “hot sauce.”  Since the sauce was already on the fish, I didn’t have much of a choice and took a first, tentative bite.

It was good.  Really good.  And while the “hot sauce” had a bit of spice to it, it was more tangy than hot.  That was when I learned about Pickapeppa Sauce (it’s Jamaican, explaining how they had it).

Since then, I’ve tried lots of other hot sauces now that I know they don’t all taste like Tabasco.  But I always return to Pickapeppa as my favorite.  And the good news is that it’s getting more and more widely available every year.  Lots of places sell it online in the US and well as in stores; I’m told it’s fairly easy to find on most Caribbean islands.  I never found it in Mexico, but it was easy to slip several bottles into my luggage on trips to see family.

I use Pickapeppa in lots of dishes — Tuxedo Soup and other bean soups, meatloaf, crabcakes, jambalaya, gumbo, fish, in barbecue sauces and more.  It adds flavor without undue heat.  A number of friends who tell me they don’t like Tabasco have liked Pickapeppa — to the point where they’ve asked me where to buy it!

I know that taste is all a matter of individual preference, but if you’re like me and haven’t really liked the hot sauces you’ve tried, think about trying Pickapeppa.  I like their original best (the bottle in the photo at the top of this article), but their Spicy Mango is pretty good lightly brushed on grilled chicken, too.  NOTE: there is also a Pickapeppa Hot Mango Sauce and a Hot Pepper Sauce — both of these are quite spicy; I don’t like the “Hot Pepper Sauce.”

I can find the original Pickapeppa in one local grocery store (town of 20,000) and often see it in gourmet shops when traveling.  It’s also available online:

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  1. It’s yummy when poured over a block of cream cheese and eaten with your fav cracker!

  2. I tried it for the first time when I was doing field research in Puerto Rico ages ago. Thanks for reminding me!

  3. Gloria Rooney says:

    I love hot things, but I especially like spicy and flavorable things. Pickapeppa is a definite go-to ingredient that even makes leftovers like chicken and steak special when you add some sliced veggies – just stir, heat and eat!

  4. second the Pickapeppa over cream cheese; everyone does that down here. I’ve used it for years for marinades for pork, chicken, shrimp.

    When in the ilons, or at specialty stores in the States, you can also find Matouk’s brand sauces which are pretty hot but have really good flavor.

  5. I have been buying it in the gallon size lately. Found a couple of sites online that sell it in the US. Our family has been using this sauce for over 40 years. We really enjoy it.

  6. Love this sauce! I’m an early adopter. It is a little more like a zippy Worcestershire sauce than a traditional “hot” sauce.

  7. Pickapeppa is outstanding. It is a great foundation for many marinades.

    Tabasco on the other hand is not very good. It’s hot but really doesn’t taste like anything.

  8. Barbara Bland says:

    I discovered Pickapeppa 30+ years ago while living in Louisiana. Love it! I’ve since found it in Oklahoma and Virginia grocery stores. One fella I knew years ago traveled all over the world with a small bottle of Tabasco in his pocket and put it on everything he ate. Claimed it kills germs, but it doesn’t like me and so would likely kill me too, ha ha.

  9. We started using this on tuna sandwiches when Jason’s Deli used it. Jason’s no longer uses it, but we do. Made sure we had 6 bottles when we returned to the boat in August since we didn’t find it in any Maryland stores. We’re down South now, and it’s getting easier to find.

  10. Also for those who struggle finding hot sauce that isn’t mostly vinegar, Tapatios is just red pepper and water, nothing else. Good taste not super hot and no vinegar.

  11. Pickapeppa is great as a marinade, especially for chicken. I personally don’t consider it a hot sauce – it’s a pepper sauce.

    Tabasco is just hot and doesn’t really taste like anything. Our hot sauce collection includes Cholula and Tiger Sauce.

  12. On cream cheese with crackers.

  13. I have a religious devotion to Frank’s

  14. It needs to be hot enough for me to not be able to drink the entire bottle in one sitting .

  15. I love Pickapeppa, especially on lamb and pork. Also TryMe Tiger Sauce

  16. Lee Stinson says:

    I had not tried Pickapeppa before and bought a bottle of the hot mango on the clearance shelf for a buck and absolutely loved it, I will have to try the regular since it is readily available in the Dallas area grocery stores. I hope y’all have many enjoyable years sailing. Oh BTW, Walmart sells all the Pickapeppa online to pickup in your closest store at good prices.

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