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How to Survive the Sriracha Shortage

If you love sriracha style hot sauce, you’ve probably heard about the sriracha shortage, and as a result, you’re inevitably panicking. Sure, the toilet paper shortage of 2020 was rough, but at least we had baby wipes, bidets, and all levels of creative alternatives on hand to handle our—ahem—business. But sriracha is more than a condiment, it’s a way of life. Die-hard enthusiasts put it on everything, from pizza to popcorn, spaghetti to steak (ok, maybe not steak, but you know what we mean). What is causing this supposed shortage of our beloved sauce, when will it end, and how will we survive until then? Fear not, dear chilihead—your old pal Pepper Palace has you covered. 

What is Sriracha Style Hot Sauce?

Let’s start from the top, here, shall we? While the term “sriracha” inevitably brings to mind visions of a bottle of red sauce with a green top and a picture of a rooster front and center, this ubiquitous Rooster Sauce is not the only sriracha on the block. 

It all started in Si Racha, Thailand in 1949 when a home cook concocted a garlicky hot sauce in and her friends and family couldn’t get enough of it. She began to bottle and sell it locally, and it took off in Thailand, making her the creator of the original “Sriracha” hot sauce. Fast forward a few decades to when David Tran and his family fled Vietnam, settled in California, and started selling their own version of sriracha style hot sauce (you know, the one with the rooster). The sauce gained popularity throughout the mid-90s and into the early 2000s, when supermarkets and restaurants across the country began carrying it, and their product became synonymous with “sriracha.” 

Nowadays, there are countless companies that make their own variation of sriracha hot sauce, aka “rooster sauce.” While each has their own recipe, the main ingredients in sriracha are always the same: Chili peppers, vinegar, garlic, salt, and sugar. The ingredients are mashed into a paste and ferment together to form a thick, flavor-filled sauce that complements just about any dish.  

Why is there a Shortage of Sriracha?

To be clear, there isn’t actually a sriracha shortage, there’s a shortage of hot sauce from a specific manufacturer, commonly referred to as “sriracha sauce” or “rooster sauce.” That manufacturer sources their chili peppers from farms in California, New Mexico, and Mexico, and those farms have experienced a drought which has severely impacted pepper production. As a result, that manufacturer has halted hot sauce production for the time being, so die-hard fans are panicking. However, there are dozens, if not hundreds, of other manufacturers who make sriracha-style hot sauce, and whose chili pepper harvests are still going strong, so the world still has plenty of sriracha. 


What is a Substitute for Sriracha?

If your local grocery store shelves are lacking your familiar go-to hot sauce, you might be freaking out a little bit. We get it, you’ve been using it to season just about everything you’ve eaten since you lived on noodles and microwave burritos in college, so you’re afraid you’ll be doomed to a land of bland food from now until eternity. Don’t panic. Instead, we implore you to use this opportunity to step outside of your comfort zone and explore the world of hot sauces—there are far more flavors available than you ever thought possible, and you may just find a new favorite. Some of our favorite sriracha substitutes are:

  • Sriracha. Yup, you read that right—stick with the same sauce but from a different brand. Heck, just because your go-to sauce is super popular doesn’t actually mean it’s the best. You might even find that you prefer the elevated spice levels in sauces like Rooster Reaper, which features all the same flavor you know and love but with the addition of reaper peppers for some extra smoke in your tail feathers, and Red Eye Rooster, which throws some red jalapenos in the mix for an unexpected twist. 

    • Garlic-Forward Hot Sauce. With garlic being one of the most prominent flavors in classic sriracha sauce, try branching out into another sauce that puts garlic center-stage where it belongs. Try some Garlic Fusion Hot Sauce or Black Rose Hot Sauce for vampire-blasting pungency and well-rounded flavor that’ll complement everything from pad thai to pizza.

  • Fermented Hot Sauce. Tons of hot sauces feature fermented peppers for a well-rounded flavor and mellow heat. Search around and grab another fermented hot sauce to keep the same depth and heat that you know and love.

  • Thick Hot Sauce. People tend to love sriracha because it’s thicker than most traditional vinegar-based hot sauces. Grab a substitute with the same thickness by reaching for a tomato paste-based sauce, like this Aztec Red Habanero Salsa Picante or Times Up Tomato Blend Reaper Hot Sauce.

  • Any Other Hot Sauce. Some folks have been so hung up on their go-to hot sauce that they’ve missed out on the countless other hot sauce styles and flavor profiles out there. From green hot sauce to alcohol-based hot sauces, fruit-forward sauces and even the hottest hot sauces in the world, there’s a flavor out there for every food. Grab a variety pack and let the taste-testing begin. 

  • How to Survive the Sriracha Shortage

    Take a deep breath, then step outside of your comfort zone. Whether you try a sriracha style sauce from another manufacturer, a garlic-forward hot sauce, or just about any other hot sauce style, we will get through this together. If you’ve been so loyal to your rooster sauce that you don’t even know how to start stepping out on her, don’t panic—just message our friendly hot sauce experts and we’d be happy to be your shamans and help guide you on the journey to discovering your new hot sauce spirit animal. Who knows, you might not even want to go back to the ol’ ball and chain whenever it does grace grocery store shelves again.
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