Huy Fong Foods Inc. factory signage

There’s plenty of sriracha—unless you’re looking for the brand anyone wants.

Huy Fong Foods, Inc’s Sriracha vanished from stores, and they have no idea when it’ll be back.

So, driven by the shortage and the scorn of sriracha hipsters decrying Huy Fong as an Americanized knockoff of the original Thai sauce, I did a blind taste test.

Before the test, I cling to two expectations:

  1. I’ll be able to pick out the Huy Fong Sriracha
  2. Huy Fong Sriracha will be the best, dooming me to wander the earth searching for it

Except that’s only kind of what happened.

The contenders

Sriracha Fight!

I bought six brands of sriracha and sacrificed a precious portion of my dwindling Huy Fong Sriracha for science:

🖼️ Product Origin Price
Huy Fong Foods Inc. Sriracha Huy Fong Foods, Inc. Sriracha Irwindale, CA, USA inf
Amazon/Whole foods Ninja Squirrel Sriracha Amazon/Whole Foods Ninja Squirrel Austin, TX, USA $4.79
Lee Kum Kee Sriracha Chili Sauce Lee Kum Kee Sriracha Chili Sauce City of Industry, CA, USA $5.99
Yellowbird Organic Sriracha Yellowbird Organic Sriracha San Marcos, TX, USA $9.29(! And it’s so tiny)
Shark Brand Sriracha Chili Sauce Shark Brand Sriracha Chili Sauce Chon Buri, Thailand $18.99(! This is a big bottle. But still.)
MW Polar Sriracha Chili Sauce MW Polar Sriracha Chili Sauce Thailand $3.83 (6-pack for $22.99—hope I like it )
Sriraja Panich Sriracha Chili Sauce Sriraja Panich Sriracha Chili Sauce Thailand $3.98

Methods

Tater-tots. Lots of ’em.

On a very normal Friday night, I blindfolded myself and ate tater-tots.

I dispensed each sriracha into its own stainless-steel ramekin and assigned it a letter. This way, my steadfast assistant would remain unaware which sriracha was which, ensuring the validity of my results.

Between srirachas, I cleansed my palate using plant-powered protein tortillas because ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

Ramekins with sriracha, assigned a letter

I ranked each sriracha from 1–10 using four criteria:

  1. Garlic
  2. Sweetness
  3. Spiciness/heat
  4. Overall flavor

Results

I forgot to guess which was Huy Fong Sriracha.

And, oddly, Huy Fong was the only sriracha I tasted without comment. I suppose I received a sriracha that tasted like Sriracha—what was there to say?

My “overall” ranking is more of “I like this” vs. “this is a good Huy Fong Sriracha substitute.”

Brand Garlic Sweetness Spice Overall
Lee Kum Kee Sriracha Chili Sauce 4th 1st 2nd 1st
Huy Fong Foods, Inc Sriracha 3rd 3rd 3rd 2nd
MW Polar Sriracha Chili Sauce 4th 1st 3rd 3rd
Yellowbird Organic Sriracha 3rd 3rd 4th 3rd
Shark Brand Sriracha Chili Sauce 2nd 2nd 4th 4th
Sriraja Panich Sriracha Chili Sauce 1st 4th 1st 4th
Amazon/Whole foods Ninja Squirrel Sriracha 3rd 2nd 5th 5th

Comments

First, I grew up on Doritos and Pizza Hut and this all opinion.

Second, some observations:

  • The Thai brands were red-orange. American brands were dark red. The exception was Huy Fong Sriracha which was in between the two.
  • The American brands were spicier.
  • The Thai brands tasted like fermented garlic, an acquired taste, I guess, since I found it off-putting.

Brand-sepcific comments:

  • Lee Kum Kee
    • “Sharp cayenne-pepper-type heat”
    • “Like spicy ketchup”
    • This was more like hot sauce than sriracha. But I like hot sauce, so.
  • Huy Fong Foods, Inc – No comment.
  • MW Polar
    • “Initially not very spicy, but heat builds”
    • “Garlic-y, but not how I want my garlic”
    • It seemed fishy. I think this is the flavor of fermented garlic.
  • Yellowbird Organic
    • “This tastes like barbecue sauce”
    • Once I accepted this as expensive barbecue sauce, I liked it much better.
  • Shark Brand
    • “This tastes like jarred garlic”
  • Sriraja Panich
    • “Some up-front heat”
    • “This tastes like fishy garlic”
  • Amazon/Whole Foods Ninja Squirrel
    • “Weird old sweetness, like molasses”

So it seems I’ve found some new condiments.

But Huy Fong Sriracha is still the only sriracha, at least to my dumb American palette.