Cooking With Sriracha: The Dos And Don’ts

Sriracha is a Thai hot sauce containing chili peppers, garlic, and a few other basic ingredients like salt and sugar. The version of this sauce that is most common in America was made by a Vietnamese immigrant named David Tran who started a company called Huy Fong Foods. Though, it’s also pretty easy to make your own. Yes, this is a super-popular sauce that people use just about anywhere, but there are still best practices you should follow to get the most from this tasty hot sauce. Let’s go through our dos and don’ts for cooking with Sriracha.

Do take advantage of Sriracha’s versatility.

Sriracha started out as a dipping sauce but you can use it for much more than that. Not only is its heat mild, but none of its other flavors also are overpowering. Plus, they are all familiar in both the East and the West. As a result, Sriracha pairs well with many savory foods from all over the world.

Here are some Sriracha recipe ideas that go beyond Sriracha’s dipping sauce origin (we have many more as well in our recipe section):

Do discard leftover Sriracha if you have dipped food into it.

While Sriracha does have a long shelf life due to its acidic ingredients, it can be contaminated if it comes into contact with other foods. 

Do clean the tip of your Sriracha squeeze bottle.

Dried Sriracha can gunk up the nozzle and make it difficult to squeeze the sauce out. More importantly, dried sauce on the nozzle can also be a source of bacterial contamination. 

Do use sriracha as an introduction to hot sauces and spicy foods in general.

Sriracha is a relatively mild sauce as far as its Scoville heat rating is concerned. Its mildness makes it a great starter sauce for anyone who is not accustomed to hot sauces and who wants to add a little heat to their food. You eventually build up a tolerance to the heat from chil peppers, so you can use Sriracha until you get used to it and then work your way up to something hotter.

Do serve Sriracha on the side if in doubt.

Sriracha may be mild to lovers of spicy foods, but it does offer a little heat. Never take any one’s ability to tolerate the heat from chil peppers for granted. If you are serving Sriracha to anyone who may not be able to handle spicy heat in any form, serve it on the side to give them the option of avoiding it. A hot sauce that may seem harmless to some can ruin a dish for others.

Don’t worry about refrigerating sriracha.

As long as it is inside the closed bottle, Sriracha should remain safe to eat. Sriracha’s ingredients do not encourage bacterial or fungal growth, which are the causes of spoilage. Their resistance to these factors means that you can store it at room temperature even after the bottle has been opened. Unless you prefer the sauce chilled, feel free to leave it out on your countertop or in a kitchen cabinet.

Note that even though it may not spoil, Sriracha’s bright red color may fade if you keep it at room temperature for extended periods.

Don’t use Sriracha if you want complex flavors in your food.

Sriracha is a simple hot sauce that was originally intended for use as a dipping sauce, nothing more. If you want sophistication and nuance, try more complex options (like harissa paste) instead.

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UPDATE NOTICE: This post was updated on February 2, 2023 to include new content.
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