Hoppin Hot Sauce Review

Hoppin Hot Sauce is chock-full of California good-feelings, leaning into its creator’s love of California cuisine. It uses locally grown ingredients (like tangy Meyer lemons) and two flavorful chilies that hail from just south of the California border. So, how do all of these ingredients meld together? Is it a standout on flavor? How well-balanced is the heat? And how usable? Let’s get into a bottle and see what it’s all about.

Video Review


Boy, there’s a lot to talk about in regard to flavor, but let’s first highlight the ingredients you’ll find in Hoppin Hot Sauce: water, distilled vinegar, puya pepper, dried garlic, salt, Meyer lemon concentrate, chipotle meco powder, spices, caraway seeds, guar gum, xanthan gum

There’s a lot here, including the catch—all “spices” which always leaves us wondering what to expect. The good news: You can expect A LOT from the flavor of Hoppin Hot Sauce.

On first taste, it has a wonderful vinegar tang that melds so well with the fresh tangy-sweet taste of Meyer lemon. It really wakes up your tastebuds. Then those chili peppers and spices hit you on the back end, and it’s full of depth and delicious flavor. Don’t take this the wrong way, but it reminds me of a WAY better Taco Bell sauce. Seriously, I have never tasted a hot sauce that highlights Meyer lemon, and this sauce has made me rethink what’s possible with just a little ingredient exploration. It’s so good.

We’ll get into their heat below, but the chilies and other spices used here add a ton to the flavor, too. Puya peppers have a tasty fruitiness to them that maps well with lemon, and the chipotle meco adds some depth with a touch of smoky sweetness. Also on the backend, you’ll get a hint of nuttiness from the caraway seeds and some delicious sweet-pungency from the dried garlic. Add it all together and what you have is one of the most addicting sauces I’ve ever tasted.

On the salt: The sodium rings in at 75 mg per 1/2 tablespoon, 3% of your daily allowance. That’s not too bad, and provides just the right salt kick where you don’t need to add any more. Just note, Hoppin Hot Sauce is pretty mild, so you could find yourself using quite a bit per sitting.

Hoppin Hot Sauce on a spoon
Hoppin Hot Sauce on a spoon

Heat Balance

Both puya peppers (5,000 to 8,000 Scoville heat units and chipotle meco (2,500 to 8,000 SHU) sit at the lower end of medium heat. Hoppin Hot Sauce doesn’t list its Scoville heat range, but with the dilution (water and vinegar sitting at the top of the ingredients list), it quickly falls into the mild level of heat for a hot sauce. Really, this is one the whole family can enjoy.

And that mildness works really well here. The flavors in Hoppin Hot Sauce are so unique and complex that you want them to star. Really, the spiciness is just another simple layer among the many you get in this hot sauce.

The heat lingers for no more than a minute, and it’s a pretty mellow eating experience. That said, if you use enough of Hoppin Hot Sauce, you will feel more. The spiciness does layer some, and it could feel more like a low-medium heat, but no more than that.


With the big flavor and balanced heat, you’ll seriously be using Hoppin Hot Sauce on almost everything. I love it with all Mexican dishes, along with potatoes, eggs, and chicken. It makes a super-tasty aioli (just mix it with mayonnaise!)

It’s also the perfect addition to anything already containing some chipotle pepper, as Hoppin Hot Sauce will add a unique lemony twist. It’s the kind of surprise twist that’ll bring out the smiles of your guests.

Hoppin Hot Sauce’s bottle has a decent-sized spout opening. ANd that’s helpful as you’ll be using a lot of this sauce per sitting. Seriously, I have to stop myself from having four tablespoons on my plate. It’s also a slightly thicker hot sauce, so it’ll stay exactly where you put it as you’re pouring it.


There’s so much to love about Hoppin Hot Sauce, and I’m not just talking flavor here. California-native John Hoppin is the man behind the sauce, and his passion for California cuisine is the motive behind the sauce. That passion really shows. As I said, this is one of the best hot sauces I’ve ever tasted.

Celeb Marc Maron says the same, if you’re a fan of his. He even gave away hot sauces through his podcast because he just wanted people to taste the amazing flavor of John’s Hoppin Hot Sauce.

John Hoppin also shares his journey with multiple sclerosis through his own podcast (and shares these details with fans of his hot sauce.) He sets an outstanding business example for those facing MS or other disabilities.

The label has a classic feel, featuring a fun font and highlighting the Puya peppers that John was introduced to when he started cooking at a young age. It’s simple and a bit understated compared to the incredible goodTness you’ll find inside. So, it may not immediately jump out amid a collection. But Hoppin Hot Sauce doesn’t need a lot of fluff on the outside because once this bottle is opened, you’re going to have a very hard time keeping it closed.

The Score

Hoppin Hot Sauce is pure California feel-good flavor magic, mixing Meyer lemons, puya peppers, chipotle meco, and spices perfectly. The flavor is the star, and the heat is a perfect level of spiciness to let it shine.

Overall Flavor5
Heat Balance5
Based on a scale from 1 (lowest) to 5 (highest)

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UPDATE NOTICE: This post was updated on May 31, 2023 to include new content.
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Sounds like a good one!