Does Hot Sauce Have Calories?

If you’re like many spicy food fans, hot sauce is a staple in the kitchen. And you likely put it on just about anything. If you tend to use a lot of hot sauce, should you be worried about its calories? Does hot sauce have calories at any significant level at all? Let’s discuss the nutritional content of hot sauce and how it can fit into a healthy diet.

Does hot sauce have calories?

The answer is it depends. Some simple hot sauces have zero calories, while other, more solid ingredient-driven hot sauces have between 1 and 20 calories per tablespoon.

The range in calorie counts is due to the different ingredients used in various sauces and the overall solids content. For example, a hot sauce that contains mostly peppers and vinegar (like a Louisiana-style hot sauce) will have fewer (or no) calories than one that also includes tomatoes, other vegetables, or sweeteners.

But, as a whole, hot sauces are either calorie-free or low in calories.

What hot sauces have zero calories?

As mentioned, some hot sauces have no calories at all. These are typically simpler sauces that only include peppers, vinegar, and salt. Lousiana-style hot sauces are a prime example of these simple calorie-free hot sauces. Both Tabasco Original Red and Crystal Hot Sauce have zero calories and extremely simple ingredient lists, as do many other Lousiana-style hot sauces.

Other hot sauces tend towards extremely low-calorie vegetables mixed with vinegar, herbs, and spices. Those tend to run from 0 to only a few calories per serving. Elijah’s Xtreme Regret Hot Sauce, for instance, has a larger ingredient list yet still remains calorie-free.

What hot sauces tend to be higher in calories?

Hot sauces with additional ingredients beyond the simple peppers, vinegar, and salt recipe will typically contain calories, typically up to 20 calories per tablespoon. But there are a few hot sauce ingredients that tend to bring more calories than others.

For instance, hot sauces that use ketchup as an ingredient will be higher in overall calories than other hot sauces. Traditional datil pepper hot sauces are a common example of this. Dat’l Do It Datil Pepper Sauce, for example, uses ketchup and contains 20 calories per tablespoon.

Sweeteners will also increase the overall calories in a hot sauce. The super-popular Sriracha Chili Sauce is a good example here. Sriracha has 18 calories per tablespoon because its ingredient list includes sugar and garlic.

Does the spiciness of a hot sauce matter when considering calorie intake?

It does. You’ll tend to use more of a hot sauce the lower the spiciness is. Sriracha’s low-medium heat (1,000 to 2,500 Scoville heat units) can be used much more than a super-hot sauce with equal calories. With the Sriracha, you may use that full tablespoon serving size, while the extreme hot sauce will likely be used a dash or two at maximum.

So, is hot sauce healthy then?

Yes, hot sauce is generally healthy. The main ingredients in most hot sauces – peppers, vinegar, and tomatoes – are all linked to various health benefits, with – as seen – very few calories.

Vinegar is a probiotic food that can promote gut health, and tomatoes are rich in vitamins and antioxidants. And the capsaicin in hot peppers has been shown to boost metabolism and help burn calories. So, while some hot sauces have calories, their ingredients’ health benefits typically outweigh any concerns about their calorie content.

However, it should be noted that some hot sauces can be high in sodium. So if you’re watching your salt intake, check the label before using.

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UPDATE NOTICE: This post was updated on July 28, 2022 to include new content.
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