Best Hot Sauces To Use As Marinades


Hot Sauce Marinade

I don’t like to let a good hot sauce go to waste. So besides adding it to nearly every meal. I enjoy experimenting in different ways of using hot sauce. Marinading meat in hot sauce is the next phase of my addiction. So I wanted to know if you could marinate food with hot sauce.

The ingredients in most hot sauces allow them to be used as marinades. The vinegar provides acid to tenderize the meat and the spices and peppers provide flavor. Hot sauces and marinades contain similar ingredients, but are used differently.

That isn’t to say hot sauce can’t be used. As mentioned above you can marinate meat with hot sauce perfectly well.


To make a marinade with hot sauce even better, there are a few extra things to note here.

Certain hot sauces might work better than others. The sauce can be tweaked and made into a marinade. What meats work best and how long to marinate them for.

Hot Sauces That Work Best

Hot sauces are versatile and can be used as marinades if done correctly. If you are shopping for specific hot sauces to use, here is what you should know.

Spicy Marinades:

Hot sauces can be uniquely made to suit many different categories. One category of hot sauces is “spicy marinades”.

The most common type of hot sauce marinade is wing sauce.

Hot sauce marinades are also made in the form of wet and dry rubs. The only difference between wet and dry rubs is that wet uses oils.

These sauces can also be called cooking sauces, but not all of them are spicy. Cooking sauces are “all-purpose” and can be used for both marinades and plain sauces.

Jerk sauces can be used as a marinade with chicken, pork or even beef (most commonly chicken and pork). Jerk or Jamaican sauces are Caribbean style and are usually spicy enough to be considered a hot sauce.

The reason you want to marinade meat is for flavor and to make the meat more tender. You can take cheaper cuts of meat and make them slightly better by marinading them.

Besides specific hot sauce marinades. Most brands do not mention anything about being a marinade. If you are unsure but really want to try your favorite hot sauce.

More than likely you can still use the sauce. Most hot sauces work well as marinades. Just make note of what is mentioned below.

The main difference between marinades and hot sauces? Marinades use ingredients that are used to tenderize meat.

Marinades contain acids and oils that are suppose to help with the tenderizing process. Even so many cooks even question the effectiveness of these marinades and marinating in general.

Most say it only makes a small difference. That the flavor only really reaches about 1/4 of a inch into the meat anyways. Still I practice marinating foods and think there is benefits.

Novelty Hot Sauces:

Specific and novelty hot sauces will work as a marinade. Two main things to consider when marinating with hot sauces.

Sweeter hot sauces will burn faster on the grill. Ingredients such as honey, agave and added sugar can burn quicker. Just don’t keep them in direct heat and move them around the grill if needed.

Another thing to look out for is a hot sauce made with fruit juices.

The acids in these juices are essential for a good marinade, but you don’t want to marinate meats in them for too long. Since it can over tenderize meats like chicken easily.

Same thing goes for alcohol or salt that might be included in your sauce.

When this happens the meat actually becomes tougher.

You can use almost any hot sauce. Just make note of the ingredients and how they might affect the meat.

As far as budget goes marinades and hot sauces aren’t much different in price. Except maybe some rare hot sauce that you can only get in a 5 oz bottle. It could take two or three bottles to have enough marinade.

In that case it would be more expensive to use a hot sauce.

Additional ingredients can be added into the sauce to make it a better marinade.

Name Brands:

Most name brands sauces, like Franks RedHot, Cholula or Trappey’s can be used as well. Even Sriracha sauce has marinade recipes online.

The good thing about some of these hot sauces, such as TABASCO brand. There basic ingredients allow them to be blended with other sauces. You can add them into a BBQ sauce for example.

Hot sauces that are made with simple ingredients like cayenne pepper and vinegar. Are great base sauces to be added into other mixes.

Hot sauces made with mangoes or other unique flavors are best on their own. They can still be used as marinades and mixed with other ingredients, but you’re more limited.

Make A Custom Spicy Marinade

You don’t need a lot of ingredients to make a marinade. Even less if you are going to use some hot sauce.

A hot sauce can turned into a custom marinade easily. Marinades have three basic components. These are acid, fat (oil) and flavor.

If the sauce has vinegar then that is enough acid. When your sauce needs a acid you can use either, citrus juice or wine. Even apple cider vinegar is used in many marinades and hot sauces.

Garlic is one of the best ingredients to add in to a custom marinade. Garlic salt is a easy way to add this into your sauce.

Other ingredients like liquid smoke, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, mustard or honey.

Vegetable oil works really well as it has a higher burning point than olive oil. Also be careful with how much salt you add into the marinade. Salt tends to draw moisture out of the meat.

Meats To Marinate With Hot Sauce

Chicken more than any other meat gets marinated in hot sauce. Especially chicken wings and drumsticks.

Here is different meats you could marinade with a hot sauce.

Flank & Skirt Steak

These cuts of steak are best when marinated to get them tenderized.

Baby Back Ribs

Mix hot sauce with a BBQ, or use a BBQ hot sauce.

Grilled Salmon

Do not marinate overnight if using a vinegar based hot sauce.

How Long To Marinate

Hot sauces are a lot stronger than regular marinades. Delicate meats like chicken shouldn’t be marinated for more than 24 hours.

You can marinate chicken wings for as short as 1 1/2 hours with great results. Tender meats require less time, especially fish which doesn’t need to marinated more than 2 hours.

Depending on the hot sauce you are using times can vary. Fruit juice based hot sauces such as a pineapple one. These have a lot of acid in them so be careful not to over marinate.

Best Hot Sauces

These are a few of the best rated and versatile hot sauces. They can be used to marinate, glaze, dip or cook with.

  • Kumana Avocado Sauce, Original Jalapeño
  • Schultz’s Gourmet Cooking Hot Sauce
  • Vermont Maple Sriracha – Very Hot All Natural Habanero Hot Sauce

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Eric M Wilkens

Content writer and recreational cook. I also enjoy craft beer, comedy and the outdoors.

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