Texas Pete Hot Sauce Ingredients: What Makes It Tick?

Texas Pete Original Hot Sauce is not actually from Texas. This hot sauce is made by TW Garner Food company in Winston-Salem North Carolina and has been in production since 1929. It was introduced by Sam Garner, who operated the Dixie Pig barbecue stand. According to legend, the name “Mexican Joe” was the first name suggested for the sauce. The idea was that it would evoke the spicy nature of Mexican food. The sauce’s North Carolinian inventor preferred a name that was more American and decided on Texas Pete instead since Texas also had a reputation for spicy food.

In the years since it has been on the market, Texas Pete has become the third best-selling hot sauce in the US. Let’s take a look at what makes it so popular.

The ingredients in Texas Pete Hot Sauce

  • Vinegar
  • Aged peppers (peppers, salt, and vinegar)
  • Water
  • Xanthan gum
  • Benzoate of soda

The pepper in Texas Pete Hot Sauce

The type of pepper used to make Texas Pete Hot Sauce is the cayenne pepper. According to the Texas Pete website, the original sauce used at the Dixie Pig barbecue stand was much milder. This prompted a customer to request a hotter sauce and cayenne was used to make the Texas Pete that we know today.

The cayenne pepper originated in French Guiana and gets its name from the Tupi Indians. These peppers have been cultivated since prehistoric times and spread throughout the world as a result of the European colonization of what is now Latin America. While Texas Pete is relatively mild at only 747 on the Scoville scale, the pepper used to make it is much hotter. Cayenne peppers typically clock in at between 30,000-50,000 Scoville heat units.

Cayenne peppers are considered very healthy and much of their benefits come from their capsaicin content. Capsaicin has been shown to cause the death of certain types of cancer cells and is thought to help reduce low-density lipoprotein, which is also known as bad cholesterol. In addition, it is also beneficial for the digestive system.

The cayenne peppers in Texas Pete have been aged, which means that they have been fermented to give them a deeper and more complex flavor.

The other Texas Pete Hot Sauce ingredients

Vinegar is the first ingredient in Texas Pete’s list of ingredients and is used as a flavoring agent to give the sauce a zesty tang. It also helps to create the runny texture required for this style of hot sauce. Note that Texas Pete is actually a Louisiana-style hot sauce despite being made in North Carolina and having Texas in the name.

Along with the aged peppers, Texas Pete has more vinegar along with salt. These were included with the peppers in the fermentation process. The salt is crucial for flavor, especially since there are only three flavoring ingredients in the sauce.

The next ingredient is water. Water can be used to ensure a thinner texture for the sauce without clashing with the other flavorings.

Xanthan gum typically comes from corn and used as both a thickener and as a stabilizer to keep the sauce from separating.

The final ingredient is benzoate of soda, which the label says is to preserve freshness and flavor. Benzoate of soda is also known as sodium benzoate and is a widely used preservative. It is mainly used to preserve acidic foods including fruit juices, jams and sodas.

Photo credit: Texas Pete! | evan p. cordes | Flickr

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

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Thank you for this well-written breakdown. Never knew the history of this sauce but was a huge fan most of my young adult years. Now in my 50’s, I have discovered it again and am enjoying it every day. Thanks again. Great article


where can one purchase these items to make this sauce?