Frank’s RedHot Ingredients: What’s In This Popular Hot Sauce?

Frank’s RedHot has been making hot sauce since 1964. While the company now has a sizable line that includes a variety of hot sauces, the best-known one is still their Original Cayenne Pepper Sauce. Not only is it a versatile flavoring for a vast range of different foods, but it is also the main ingredient in the first ever buffalo wing sauce created at Anchor Bar and Grill in Buffalo. In order to get a better understanding of what makes this hot sauce so iconic, we should take look at what goes into it.

Ingredients in Frank’s RedHot Original Cayenne Pepper Sauce

The label on the Original Cayenne Pepper Sauce bottle shows these ingredients:

  • Aged Cayenne Red Peppers
  • Distilled Vinegar
  • Water
  • Salt
  • Garlic Powder

This is a relatively short ingredient list compared to what goes into some other sauces. Note that there are no preservatives or thickeners listed. For more information on the nutritional value, take a look at our post on Franks RedHot nutrition.

The peppers in Frank’s RedHot Original Cayenne Pepper Sauce

Cayenne peppers are believed to be from French Guiana, specifically from the cayenne region of that South American country. On their own, these peppers offer significant heat (30,000 to 50,000 Scoville Heat Units), though the sauce certainly dilutes this to a much more mild level. The original Franks RedHot, in fact, only tips the scale at 450 SHU, while the XTRAHOT version ramps it up to 2,000 SHU, or about the heat of a milder jalapeño pepper.

Aged cayenne peppers are cayenne peppers that have been fermented. Fermentation has been used as a way to preserve hot peppers since the 17th century when European colonizers transported it around the world; however, it is likely that early Central Americans did this as well. Fermentation can add a good deal of complexity and depth to the flavor of cayenne peppers.

The other ingredients in Frank’s RedHot Cayenne Pepper Sauce

After cayenne peppers, the next ingredient is vinegar. Most hot sauces contain vinegar, though not all do. It serves as both a preservative and a flavor enhancer. Water is after this and can be used to thin the texture without having too much of an effect on flavor. Next, we have salt. Frank’s RedHot contains 190 mg per serving, which means that it does not have the lowest salt content among hot sauces; however, there sauces with considerably higher levels. Finally, there is garlic powder. Many hot sauces neglect additional spices, with the makers preferring to focus on the heat. Frank’s offers heat along with a flavor that pairs well with pretty much every food for which you would use hot sauce.

Does Frank’s RedHot Cayenne Pepper Sauce have preservatives?

While some Frank’s RedHot sauces do have preservatives like sodium benzoate, the Original Cayenne Pepper Sauce does not. The reason is that vinegar, as well as salt and cayenne peppers, all have preservative qualities; an additional preservative is not needed. The only thing left to preserve would be garlic powder, which is not as much of a risk of going bad. You do not even have to refrigerate this hot sauce; however, Frank’s does suggest that you do so to keep it fresh for longer.

Photo Credit: Frank’s Red Hot Sauce, at Costco, 6/2015, by Mike Mozart o… | Flickr

UPDATE NOTICE: This post was updated on March 19, 2022 to include new content.
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