El Yucateco Ingredients: What Makes This Hot Sauce Tick?

The El Yucateco company was founded in 1968 in Yucatan, Mexico by Priamo J. Gamboa. The term “Yucateco” refers to people from the Yucatan. Gamboa’s company started as a small family-owned business that specialized in habanero-based hot sauces. El Yucateco sauces have gone on to become favorites among chili pepper fans as versatile condiments that can be used on a wide variety of foods. So what’s behind this delicious hot sauce? There are many options, but let’s take a closer look at the ingredients of one of its most popular varieties – El Yucateco Chili Habanero Hot Sauce (red).

El Yucateco ingredients – the breakdown

El Yucateco Chile Habanero Hot Sauce has the following ingredients listed on the label:

  • Water
  • Habanero pepper
  • Salt
  • Acetic acid
  • Spices
  • Xanthan gum
  • Citric acid
  • Onion powder
  • Sodium benzoate
  • FD & C Yellow #5
  • Calcium disodium EDTA
  • FD & C Blue #1

The peppers in El Yucateco Habanero Sauce

The best-known sauces from this company – like the one we’re directing – are made with habanero peppers. Though, as mentioned El Yucateco’s hot sauce line consists of seven hot sauces, and they are made with different peppers including chipotle and jalapeño pepper.

The habanero pepper is very hot with a Scoville rating of between 100,000 and 350,000 Scoville Heat Units (SHUs), meaning that its heat is approximately 70 times that of a jalapeño pepper. But because of dilution, the sauces made with it are much milder, with the red sauce clocking in at 5,790 SHUs. That’s equal the heat of a slightly above average fresh jalapeño.

The other ingredients in El Yucateco Habanero Hot Sauce (red)

Water is the first ingredient on the list and can work as a diluent to control texture and heat without adding any additional flavors to the mix. It, along with the other ingredients may be responsible for El Yucateco’s mildness.

Habanero pepper is the next ingredient and is followed by salt, which is essential for flavor. El Yucateco is only moderately salty with 90 mg of sodium per serving, which is 4 percent of the recommended daily amount. This is less than half of the sodium content of Louisiana Hot Sauce but more than that of Tabasco Original Red Sauce and Texas Pete.

The fourth El Yucateco Hot Sauce ingredient is acetic acid, which may be in the form of vinegar. Acetic acid is what supplies the tangy flavor that complements the heat from habaneros. The spices in El Yucateco Chile Habanero Hot Sauce are not named individually, but most likely include garlic and cumin since this is a Mexican-style hot sauce.

After that, xanthan gum is listed; its purpose is to provide texture and stability. Xanthan gum is derived from grain. As a Mexican-style hot sauce, El Yucateco is supposed to be thick. Xanthan gum serves as the thickener in addition to keeping the sauce from separating.

To the other ingredients: Citric acid is another acidic agent that is derived from citrus fruits. Onion powder is listed separately from the other spices and helps to give El Yucateco its flavorful taste. Sodium benzoate is a food preservative that is used in acidic foods like hot sauce and salad dressings. FD & C Yellow#5 is a water-soluble food coloring that is also known as tartrazine. It is used in prepared mustard, candies and sodas along with a large number of other yellow food items. Calcium disodium is another preservative that is used to keep air from spoiling the sauce.

The final Ingredient in the red El Yucateco Chile Habanero Sauce is FD & C Blue #1, also known as triarylmethane dye. It is otherwise used in Blue Curacao liqueur as well as in mouthwash.

About the preservatives in El Yucateco hot sauce

Sodium benzoate and calcium disodium EDTA are the only two ingredients included solely for their preservative function; however, the acidic ingredients are preservatives as well as flavor enhancers. The salt also has a preservative effect, as does the capsaicin in the habaneros. All of these ingredients work together to ensure that your El Yucateco hot sauce can continue to taste fresh and flavorful for a long time.

UPDATE NOTICE: This post was updated on September 5, 2019 to include new content.
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William Barkley

Try XXXtra hot ‘teco in your spaghetti. Thank me later.


This is mine and my boyfriends favorite brand of hot sauce. We actually ate it on our first date and have been eating it since.


I don’t like the artificial colors nor the artificial preservatives that keeps me from trying this hot sauce. I can get sauces with neither.