Cajun Chef may not have the notoriety of some of the bigger name Cajun brands, but it sure does check the box for authenticity. Its Louisiana hot sauce is made in the heart of Cajun country from a time-tested family recipe (handed down 80+ years) using fresh Louisiana cayenne peppers. So it has the right pedigree, but how does it match up vs. against competitors? How’s the heat balance? Flavor? Usability? Let’s dive into a bottle to find out.
Cajun Chef Louisiana Hot Sauce leans a little more into those cayennes than some competitors. And that provides some tasty flavor depth to the classic Cajun salty and vinegary flavor. Usability is high here, and it's not as spicy as some competitors.
- Flavor depth (leans into the cayenne)
- Highly usable
- Authentic Cajun
- High salt content
Table of Contents
Like all Louisiana-style hot sauces, Cajun Chef Louisiana Hot Sauce relies on three ingredients for its flavor: cayenne peppers, vinegar, and salt. Simple enough. The order (and the ingredient “extras”) are the few differences among the competitors in this market (Tabasco being the biggest.) For instance, the ingredients in Cajun chef are: cayenne peppers, distilled vinegar, salt, guar, sodium alginate, xanthan gum, yellow no. 6, and red no. 40.
Those cayennes are first in Cajun Chef, similar to Crystal Hot Sauce, but different than Tabasco Original Red where the vinegar sits first in line.
Why does ingredient order matter? It provides a general idea of the relative amounts used. Ingredients listed at the beginning usually make up a larger portion of the product. And that comes out in the flavor.
All Louisiana hot sauces have similar flavors – big peppery, salty, vinegary tang. The salty vinegar zing hits first with Cajun Chef, as expected. But there’s more of that peppery sweetness here than what you get from Tabasco (which is more vinegar foreward.) There’s even a touch of fruitiness to that sweetness. Overall, I’d say there’s some surprising depth to this simple hot sauce.
Now, a key difference here is all of those additional ingredients you find in Cajun Chef – all either thickeners/stabilizers or food coloring. They don’t impact flavor, but it’s interesting that most of the primary competition among Cajun hot sauces sticks to the three primary ingredients and nothing more.
On the sodium: Cajun Chef Louisiana Hot Sauce sits at 140mg per teaspoon, 6% of your daily allowance. Cajun hot sauces are known for their high sodium level (Tabasco being a notable exception at 35mg), so this is not surprising. Trappey’s, Crystal, and Slap Ya Mama are all in a similar range. If you’re watching your sodium, monitor the amount you’re adding.
Cayenne peppers are no slouch in the heat department, providing a robust medium spiciness (30,000 to 50,000 Scoville heat units or SHU.) Of course, you get nowhere near that level once you’ve diluted those peppers in vinegar.
Cajun Chef doesn’t list the Scoville heat units of its Louisiana hot sauce. But I’d call it upper-mild that can build to something nearing low-medium heat. It likely sits somewhere on the cusp between the two: somewhere in the 1,500 to 3,000 SHU range. That tracks similarly to other popular Cajun hot sauces. Crystal Hot Sauce ranges from 2,000 to 4,000 SHU and Tabasco Original Red has a spread from 2,500 to 5,000 SHU.
The eating experience You get a quick bite on the back of your throat, but it leaves rather quickly. The spiciness doesn’t linger. It does build up, though, if you’re eating a lot at a quick pace. But it never feels more than low-medium in spiciness.
Here’s where Louisiana hot sauces shine, and Cajun Chef Hot Sauce is no exception. It’s very versatile in the kitchen – with its very eatable heat and flavorful tang.
Of course, anything Cajun is where it shines. Gumbos, crab boils, seafood (particularly shellfish), soups, and more. It’s also tasty on eggs, sandwiches, chicken wings, fries, and other fried foods. I also really enjoyed this mixed with mayonnaise to create a tasty dipping sauce for vegetables.
In terms of packaging, this hot sauce comes in a plastic squeeze bottle with a tiny spout opening. So you can be pretty precise on where you put it. It’s easier to sprinkle than a dasher bottle to control, which I certainly appreciate. Where you want the hot sauce, that’s where it goes – not all over your plate.
Cajun Chef isn’t just about hot sauce. The brand makes all things Cajun, selling 50 different sauces and other Cajun-inspired products. All done in the heart of Cajun country. The company is in Saint Martinville, Louisiana – right outside of Lafayette. So if you’re looking for real Cajun flavor, it doesn’t get more authentic.
The hot sauce’s logo is a mix of vintage and modern. I love the drawing of the chef; it looks very vintage and fun. And it mixes well with the modern bright yellow and red lettering. Overall, it feels the part of a brand with history.
Cajun Chef Louisiana Hot Sauce leans a little more into those cayennes than some competitors. And that provides some tasty flavor depth to the classic Cajun salty and vinegary flavor. Usability is high here, and it’s not as spicy as some competitors.