Growing up, I would avoid even the most mildly spicy food at all costs—even one chile pepper symbol next to a dish on a menu meant it was a no-go.
But a few years ago, seemingly out of nowhere, I started to gravitate towards more fiery dishes, working my way up from mild to medium and finally, spicy. Nowadays, I count Nashville hot chicken and piri-piri chicken with french fries as two of my all-time favorite foods (three, if you count the fries). I even have a pantry stocked with different types of hot sauces that I use on a regular basis, from Cholula Green Pepper (I know, it's not that spicy, but it's just so good) and Huy Fong Chili Garlic Sauce.
Recently, though, I've been on the hunt for a new favorite hot sauce to (sorry) spice things up. Luckily, I didn't have to look very far.
Turns out, there's a company called Fuego Box that offers a quarterly hot sauce subscription. Here's the gist: you sign up and every three months you get a shipment of three different small-batch hot sauces from around the world.
I recently gave it to myself as a gift (just in time for the holidays!) and my first box just arrived. In it, a spicy chili sauce made in Los Angeles, a Hawaiian hot sauce made with pineapple juice (yes, you read that right), and a smoked jalapeño number from California.
I popped open the jalapeño hot sauce first, and drizzled it over a breakfast of whole-wheat toast with smoked salmon and cream cheese. My desk neighbor and senior editor, Eric Kim, reacted with disgust and delight all at once. "I've never seen anyone put hot sauce on that before," he said.
This got me thinking: What other surprising things do people put hot sauce on? So I posed the question in a company Slack channel dedicated to idiosyncratic topics such as this. The results below, which have been edited lightly for clarity, were very surprising indeed.
Kaleigh Embree: I make pancakes, top them with a few dollops of vanilla bean ice cream, and then drizzle with lime Sriracha. 🙂
Erin Alexander: !!!
Max McDonough: Broccoli. Don't @me.
Brooke Deonarine: Whoa @Kaleigh Embree! Trying that out! That sounds so crazy and amazing! Ha!
Patrick Moynihan: Mac and cheese! Chips!
Erin Alexander: Mmmmm.
Kaleigh Embree: @Max, I'm @'ing you because I also do that, haha. Ultimate snack is broccoli drizzled in cheese and a little Buffalo sauce.
Erin Alexander: Mine is smoked salmon. 🐟
Kaleigh Embree: What hot sauce would you use with that? 😮 I'm so curious about that flavor combo.
Erin Alexander: I loveeee green Tabasco on it (but really any hot sauce will do).
Eric Kim: I don’t know if it’s that surprising, but I put hot sauce on salmon!
Coral Lee: I toss nuts to coat them in hot sauce and roast for cocktail snacks. I also use hot sauce on popcorn and in drinks (Micheladas and Bloodies, especially).
Erin Alexander: Ohhh hot sauce and popcorn sounds so good.
Eric Kim: Oh yeah, hot sauce in cocktails and shots, honestly. Not that I do either regularly…
Erin Alexander: I'm a big hot sauce + lime + Tecate fan.
Alicia Barber: Along those lines, put it in a beer with lime + Tajín rim = chef's kiss!
Mollie Doherty: When i'm making salad dressing I often add in a bit of hot sauce to keep things interesting. It plays well with tried-and-true mustard, olive oil, and shallots. Plus, the vinegary-ness helps to soften even tough kale.
Kaleigh Embree: For comfort food goodness, a cheesy hash brown casserole with a little hot sauce is great.
Eric Kim: The prairie oyster is a great hangover cure: bourbon, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and egg yolk.
Danielle Curtis-Williams: Maybeee eggs is surprising to someone? I'm sure I've put it on pizza before and fries (anything with potatoes is fair game, tbh).
Rebekah Daniels: I'm a huge fan of putting hot sauce on a diner-style corned beef hash breakfast. Oh, and I like to make Furikake Chex Mix with a few shakes of hot sauce to add a bit of bite to it.
Patrick Moynihan: @rebekah daniels wins.
June Kim: I never thought to put hot sauce on boiled eggs until I saw this video and now I can't stop.
Erin Alexander: Yummmmm.
Eddie Barrera: Unsure if this counts, but I put Fuego Box's Hot Hive Honey (this brand specifically) in my smoothies. It really adds a nice end flavor to something cold and thick.
Erin Alexander: That definitely counts.
Rebekah Daniels: Omg Eddie that sounds so good.
Erin Alexander: What kind of smoothie??
Rebekah Daniels: I honestly love hot honey on everything. I'd eat it by the spoonful if it wasn't socially (and medically) unacceptable.
Kaleigh Embree: Mike's Hot Honey on vanilla ice cream, or drizzled over the whipped cream on dark chocolate hot chocolate = love.
Eddie Barrera: Spinach, berries, banana, chunky peanut butter, goji berries, chia seeds, and a nut milk.
Kelly McPartland: Tuna wraps and sandwiches for me, lol.
Brinda Ayer: @Coral Lee +1 on hot-sauced popcorn (with a lot of nutritional yeast sprinkled on top).
Cody Kestigian: It's not really a snack, but I love upgrading a whatever bland beer into a pretty-tasty spicy beer.
Kaleigh Embree: Is there a cider anyone thinks this would work with? I want to try it, but don't drink beer. 😭
Cody Kestigian: I bet anything on the drier side works fine!
Liz Andrew: I can vouch for that smoothie. It's wonderful and I've started occasionally adding that hot honey to my own smoothies (where appropriate).
Christina Ferrara: Idk if this makes me a bad Italian, but I put Sriracha in my sauce for spaghetti and meatballs all the time. 🍝 🤷
This post contains products independently selected by Food52 team members. As an Amazon Associate, Food52 may earn an affiliate commission on qualifying purchases.