Pepper Palace Reaper BBQ Sauce: Extreme Grilling

A BBQ sauce for those that think “big” and “bold” are entry level…

The grim reaper on the label should tell you enough. Pepper Palace’s Reaper BBQ Sauce, featuring the infamously scorching Carolina Reaper pepper, is a taste bud land mine. Yet, thankfully this isn’t a story of all heat and no flavor. There’s just enough tomato sweetness and peppery spice to make things interesting before the Reaper has its way. Let’s break down this super-hot BBQ sauce.

What’s in Reaper BBQ Sauce?

There are two heat sources, but only one is the star:

  • Distilled vinegar
  • Tomato paste
  • Brown sugar
  • Honey
  • Salt
  • Paprika
  • Mustard powder
  • Onion powder
  • Reaper powder
  • Garlic powder
  • Chili powder
  • Black pepper
  • Ground coffee
  • Spices

Paprika ranks higher on the ingredient list, but make no mistake – the extremely hot Carolina Reaper powder is the predominant pepper ingredient here – Reapers being the current hottest pepper in the world. Even a little amount will do you for most BBQ and hot sauces.

The heat: Potent and quick to peak

The Pepper Palace website claims their Reaper BBQ Sauce is the “world’s hottest BBQ sauce.” It’s definitely hot – uncomfortably so for most mortals – but hottest BBQ sauce in the world is a bold claim. The Carolina Reaper powder hits quick, within a few seconds of tasting the sauce. From there, things heighten quickly. The heat is potent at its peak and dissipates within a few minutes. Frankly, it’s a heat level that you’d expect from a super-hot BBQ sauce: Biting to the point of near uncomfortableness. But it never goes quite over the edge and the BBQ sauce’s flavor remains intact. We’re sure there are hotter BBQ sauces out there, but any hotter and you might as well kiss any flavor goodbye.

The flavor: Tomato is prominent

There’s a lot of tomato sweetness to this BBQ sauce that’s enhanced by the brown sugar and honey. Those are the predominant flavors you taste in the first few seconds before the Carolina Reaper takes charge. You can taste some other spices – a hint of black pepper, a touch of onion – but they are masked quickly by the heat. The other flavors, like coffee and garlic, aren’t as prevalent. This isn’t a flavor-complex BBQ sauce, but really how can it be when the ingredients have to compete with the hottest pepper in the world? It’s tasty, but not memorable – until the heat kicks in to bring the house down.

Usability: You better like the burn

We tried Reaper BBQ Sauce with both grilled steak and chicken, and it’s hellishly fiery, but tasty nonetheless for those that like extreme eating. It’s not a smoky sauce, nor is it sugary-sweet. This is a sauce all about a tasty tomato-sweet start and a whole heck of a lot of fire on the backend. It’s usability in the field is really gauged by your heat tolerance.

Overall: For the pepper scale tested…

The uninitiated to super-hot peppers are best to steer clear from Reaper BBQ Sauce. This isn’t the BBQ sauce for…well most people. This is a BBQ sauce for a specialized audience that enjoys extreme heat as simply another flavor nuance. This is for those that consider the habanero the “new jalapeño”, whose spice tolerance has been tested and found worthy for the upper end of the pepper scale.

If that’s you, you can pick up a bottle of Reaper BBQ Sauce from Pepper Palace’s website.

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