All About Cholula Hot Sauce

Cholula hot sauce
Nancy Lopez-McHugh

A wooden bottle cap, a simple yellow and red colored label with a portrait of a beautiful señorita sitting in what appears to be a kitchen. This is Cholula (Original) Hot Sauce.

Unscrew the iconic wooden cap and immediately your nose is met with a pleasant smell that can only be described as Cholula’s own distinctive scent. One smells chilies, spices, and a touch of vinegar. The color is a deep red with little specks of white, which can be assumed are from the spices used. When poured out through the narrow bottle opening the red liquid that slowly flows out is of medium consistency. A taste test will fill your mouth with a very pleasant flavor: First comes the taste of spices (perhaps even a cumin-like smokiness), then a slightly garlic-y or oniony taste, and lastly the tingliness of the mild chili heat and a touch of tangy vinegar. Not one flavor overpowers the other and instead of reaching for something to cool your palate you’ll want to reach for another taste, then another.

Cholula has been voted, nominated, and ranked among the best hot sauces in the world. It’s relatively mild heat and distinctive depth of flavor are what make Cholula so popular.

Spice Level

On the companies’ website, Cholula is stated to have a Scoville unit rating of 1,000 but other sources quote it as 3,600. Regardless, these are both very low (or mild) on the Scoville scale, and so a perfect hot sauce for spicy food beginners. Cholula is really a flavor (food) enhancer and what it lacks in heat, it makes up in taste. You can splash it over eggs, fruits, vegetables, fried rice, pizza, noodles, soups, drinks, tacos, tortas, and tostadas. Cholula can also be used as a marinade or a dip, or even poured over popcorn.

History and Facts

  • The recipe is 100 years old and a closely guarded secret. 
  • The hot sauce was named after a 2,500-year-old city which is the oldest still-inhabited city in Mexico. But the sauce didn’t actually originate in Cholula. 
  • Before being acquired by the Jose Cuervo brand it had been produced by three generations of one family. To this day both the family who created the sauce/recipe, and the label's artist remains anonymous. 
  • The label states that both arbol and piquin chilies are what gives the sauce its heat.  
  • Cholula is produced in the city of Chapala (where it originated) which is in Mexico’s state of Jalisco. Here the salsa had been popular for many years before crossing national and international borders. 
  • Cholula was first exported to the US in 1989. 
  • According to the company's website, “Cholula's wooden cap and distinctive yellow label represent the care and quality tradition of Mexican artisanship."
  • In one test when polled against Tabasco, 71% preferred Cholula Original over Tabasco.
  • There are zero calories and of course, the added benefit that spicy foods help boost metabolism. 
  • Cholula is gluten-free, Kosher, and contains no preservatives or artificial ingredients.
  • Additional flavors have been added to the Cholula line. Besides the original flavor, you can now purchase the Green Pepper, Chipotle, Chili Garlic, and Chili Lime. 

If you're looking to enhance the flavor of your food and give it just a touch of heat, reach for a bottle of classic Cholula hot sauce.