Let me begin by saying that I am absolutely not a hot sauce fanatic. I’ve never been one to kick up my red beans and rice with multiple glugs of Crystal or douse my burrito in a bath Cholula. Sure, I’ve been to Avery Island, Louisiana, home of the Tabasco production plant—it’s a gorgeous nature preserve, after all—but I’ll never be one to geek out over the latest episode of Hot Ones for the spicy shock value. My husband might have a bed in our garden entirely devoted to growing obscure peppers (yes, really) but you won’t find me scorching my tongue for the sake of novelty. If I’m going to use a hot sauce, it has to be delicious.
Secret Aardvark Habanero Hot Sauce is that good.
Packaged in an unassuming squeeze bottle plastered with a cutesy drawing of a blue aardvark with its snout dipped into a hot sauce container, at first glance, Secret Aardvark seems like just another boutique hot sauce trying to flame throw its way into the greater public consciousness. But one taste and you’ll understand why this Portland, Oregon-based hot sauce wasn’t built for the company of other hot sauces: It was built for regular rotation condiment glory, alongside your favorite mustard and, you know, ketchup. Because you’re going to want to put it on—and I cannot stress this enough—everything.
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Secret Aardvark has a roasted tomato and carrot base, giving it a squeezable, Sriracha-like texture and a foundation of sweetness that works to see-saw against the lingering heat of the habanero. Billed as a half-Caribbean, half-Tex-Mex flavor profile, there’s a jolt of tang from the white wine vinegar that allows the slow burn of the sauce to linger in a pleasant way that doesn’t feel overwhelming or leave your tongue numb.
It’s also an ideal accomplice for pretty much any dish, working to ramp up even the simplest meal with its complex flavor profile. I’ve used it to zhuzh up frozen pizza, regularly whip it into scrambled eggs and find it delightful alongside a spread of cheeses, nuts and fruits. It can replace your favorite wing sauce—with delicious results—or be mixed with sour cream to create a crudité-friendly, appetizer-ready dip. It’s even delicious in a Bloody Mary, or my favorite, the Red Snapper, which swaps out the Bloody Mary’s vodka for gin.
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And I’m not alone. It’s one of the most popular hot sauces on Amazon, with glowing reviews and legions of fellow “Aardvark Advocates” ready to sing the praises of the $10 showstopper. Because even if you don’t understand the Scoville Scale and you’re never going to chomp down on a ghost pepper—this is so much more than a hot sauce.
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