Crystal Extra-Hot Sauce Review

Love Crystal Hot Sauce but want more oomph? Enter Crystal Extra-Hot. This hot sauce has more of that cayenne kick that you’re craving. But does that extra spiciness come at the cost of flavor? Can you still use it nearly anywhere, like you would the regular OG bottle? Let’s dive into a bottle.

SUMMARY: Crystal Extra-Hot Sauce
Crystal Extra hot Sauce takes what you love about Crystal classic and amps it up. Similar big Louisiana-style flavor, with a heat that, while hotter, is still very eatable and balanced.

  • Our Score: 4.4/5
  • Heat Level: Medium
  • Pros: Strong cayenne “peppery” flavor, very versatile, bigger medium heat than the classic (very eatable)
  • Cons: High sodium, can have a slight bitterness to aged cayennes

Last update on 2024-07-13. We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. 

Flavor

Let’s start by comparing ingredients lists between classic Crystal (review) and the extra-hot variety:

  • Classic Crystal Hot Sauce: aged red cayenne peppers, distilled vinegar, and salt
  • Crystal Extra-Hot: aged red cayenne peppers, distilled vinegar, water, salt, natural flavorings, and xanthan gum

As you can see, those classic Louisiana hot sauce ingredients hold true in the extra-hot version. It’s that simple trio of cayenne, vinegar, and salt. But Crystal Extra-Hot throws in a few more ingredients: water, natural flavorings, and xanthan gum. That’s a surprise, as the balance of the original Crystal is so spot-on.

There’s no word on what’s added as “natural flavors”. I’d think the water is likely needed to thin down the extra pepper mash some (since the spiciness comes from fresh cayenne and not extracts). But the xanthan gum is typically used as a thickener/stabilizer in hot sauces. Why the need for it (or the natural flavors) is anyone’s guess.

But the good news: None of the extra ingredients really affect the flavor you expect. This is essentially Crystal Hot Sauce amped up. You still get that oh-so-tasty Louisiana hot sauce tang. You get that natural cayenne pepperiness upfront, quickly followed with that vinegar tang. And then that cayenne heat goes straight to the back of your throat. The salt heightens the flavor and helps balance out the sour from the vinegar. It’s all there.

But in my experience, there are some slight differences here, too. There’s a hint of peppery bitterness at times, likely due to more of the aged cayenne pepper mash being used. The vinegar tang, too, seemed to be ever-so-slightly more. These are subtle differences and may vary person-to-person. But none greatly impact the overall “Crystalness” of this hot sauce.

On the salt: The sodium sits at 120 mg per serving (5% of daily allowance), which is not surprising as the original is even higher (135 mg). If you’re watching your sodium and love Louisiana-style hot sauces, there are lower options out there, particularly Tabasco Original Red (at only 35 mg per serving.) Still, this is a dasher sauce, so you aren’t using a lot in any given meal. Just keep it in mind.

Crystal Extra-Hot Sauce on a spoon

Heat Balance

So what does “extra-hot” really mean? The Original Crystal Hot Sauce ranges from 2,000 to 4,000 Scoville heat units (SHU), which places it firmly in the fresh jalapeño pepper range of spiciness (2,500 to 8,000 SHU). Fresh cayenne peppers are much hotter (30,000 to 50,000 SHU), but the question is—how far down does Crystal Extra Hot dilute that potential heat with its other ingredients?

The Crystal brand doesn’t publish the Scoville heat units of its Extra-Hot sauce, but I’d place Crystal Extra-Hot Sauce at roughly 6,000 to 10,000 SHU. That’s well hotter that the original and places it at the upper-end of a fresh jalapeño/lower-end of a fresh serrano pepper (10,000 to 23,000 SHU.)

Is this a spiciness that’ll have you running for the milk? No, not for most. But it’s a definite uptick. And given the pepper mash does provide depth here (more than many Louisiana hot sauces), Crystal Extra Hot Sauce’s flavor holds up well to the extra-heat.

The eating experience is a quick sting, with a slight amount of lingering heat (more than the original.) It can build some, the more you add and the longer you eat it. But really, it stays within a very eatable range for most hot sauce fans.

Usability

Crystal Extra Hot is just as usable as the original, and that means it’s highly versatile (like all Louisiana Hot sauces.)

It’s perfect with Southern cuisines as a whole (Cajun, Creole, and more), But you’ll find it tasty on nearly any dish where you’d reach for a hot sauce. I’ve tried the Extra-Hot on eggs, avocado toast, chicken, steak, and various soups, and it has worked every time.

Another favorite use for me: The extra kick is perfect for my ramen. I just mix a tablespoon of this into my ramen bowl and it gives it the perfect kick and tangy punch.

Collectibility

The original Crystal Hot Sauce has become more and more available on store shelves (though often overshadowed by bigger brand names, *cough* Tabasco), but the Extra-Hot variety is harder to find. And even when it does have shelf-space, I’ve found it sold-out at times. Is this as visually collectible as a craft hot sauce? Absolutely not. But, it is for its “unsung-ness” compared to the higher-profile competition and difficulty to find in grocery stores. It’s also a fun hot sauce to have around to pair with the classic Crystal, for when the extra heat comes in handy.

The Score

Crystal Extra hot Sauce takes what you love about Crystal classic and amps it up. Similar big Louisiana-style flavor, with a heat that, while hotter, is still very eatable and balanced.

Last update on 2024-07-13. We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. 

FINAL SCORE4.4
Overall Flavor4.5
Heat Balance4.5
Usability5
Collectibility4
X-Factor4
Based on a scale from 1 (lowest) to 5 (highest).

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UPDATE NOTICE: This post was updated on June 23, 2024 to include new content.
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