5 Caribbean Hot Sauces That Need To Be On Your Food

We’ve been collecting, tasting, and sweating so you’ll know which bottles to grab before flying home.

When you spend a significant amount of time eating your way through the Caribbean like I do, every month is National (Insert Food or Drink Item) Month. Margaritas, mai tais, pina coladas, hamburgers, tacos, pizza—we are already constantly celebrating it all, so we sometimes let a special occasion slip through the cracks. But National Sauce Month? That's one I'll make a point to set aside a day or two for busting my many bottles out of the cabinet and fridge for a little taste test festival.

I'm especially fond of hot sauces, as I try to collect a prominent bottle from every destination I visit, even if it means just grabbing a random bottle from the airport gift store on the way home. Fortunately, when I have the chance to spend time with an island's talented chefs, I learn a little more about personal and local favorites, and on the rarest occasions I might even bring home a one-of-a-kind bottle.

The biggest thing I look for in hot sauce isn't the fire but the flavor. There's no point in ruining a meal with something meant to punish the consumer, so I collect the bottles that bring a little sweat to my brow, but also a smile to my face. Here are five that I'm especially fond of and hope fellow travelers will love as well. 

Llewellyn’s Guava Pepper Sauce

When I recently visited St. Kitts, one of my most important side missions was acquiring a bottle or two of the legendary Llewellyn's Hot Sauces, created by Llewellyn Clarke of the Four Seasons Resort Nevis. I was worried that these were only sold on neighboring Nevis, since these flavors were conceived in Rawlins Village, but I was elated to find the guava and mango pepper sauces in the lobby shop at the St. Kitts Marriott Resort

In fact, when I entered the store, the incredibly friendly clerk asked if I was looking for something specific, and I immediately said, "Hot sauce" to which she replied, "Then you'll want..." and I finished her sentence by shouting, "Llewellyn's!" Both flavors are magnificent, but the guava has been my personal favorite from anywhere in the Caribbean, so much so that when we have guests, I hide it from everyone. Order your own, friends.

Hot Delight Papaya

Aruba's Hot Delight Papaya sauce is, simply put, one of the best things in the world. Since trying it for the first time four years ago, when a Dutch chef made ice cream with it at Divi Aruba's Michelin Pop-Up event, I have been downright hooked. A mild flavor, this is as versatile as a sauce can get, because it goes well with chicken, pork, fish, beef, and especially vegetables, and the flavor is so vibrant I even throw a little on my eggs in the morning to wake me up when the cold brew isn't working.

Of course, I also love hot sauce with a kick, so whenever I'm leaving One Happy Island, I grab a Hot Delight two-pack from the airport gift shop, so I have a bottle of madame as well. A much hotter flavor, this bottle always lasts longer than the papaya, because I'll drown a meal in that stuff. 

Baron West Indian Hot Sauce

I call this St. Lucia bottle my "hamburgers and fries sauce" because I love adding a little dash and drizzle to an ordinary meal at home. Some people aren't fond of mustard-based hot sauces, so this might be an acquired taste, and I admit it took me a few dishes to build my appreciation for it. 

But the most important thing to know about Baron West Indian Hot Sauce is: get ready for some heat. It isn't overbearing, but I have found myself sweating each time I've taken this bottle from the pantry, so novice hot saucers should be careful and build a tolerance.

Alvin’s Hot Sauce

This bottle might be found in a lot of big city restaurants—and on Netflix's Restaurants on the Edge—but the eponymous creator was born in Trinidad and raised in St. Croix, so the Caribbean influence is undeniable. And the experts agree, because this bottle has been celebrated at a variety of food competitions and hot sauce awards events.

Alvin's Hot Sauce slaps from the moment you open the bottle, as the aroma of Scotch bonnet peppers can take over a room. But again, we don't want to suffer when eating a nice dish, and this doesn't make the consumer regret the decision. As for which dish, this is by far my favorite to use on homemade wings, and sometimes I'll combine it with some Frank's just to really make it pop.

Spika Oil

It wasn't long into my first visit to Curaçao last year that I became obsessed with the Dutch Caribbean island's culinary scene. After a few meals, I realized I was in foodie Valhalla, and so I was excited to try the local hot sauces. Of course, when there are so many talented chefs on one island, you'll learn quickly that they all make their own sauces. In fact, the head chef at the Curaçao Marriott Beach Resort's phenomenal Zala Gastro Lounge filled a water bottle with his own recipe for me to bring home.
But when it came to finding a local brand's bottle that I could enjoy, I asked my friends at the tourism board for a recommendation, and they handed me a small bottle of Sonja's Artisan Spika Oil with a message: "Trust us." I'm glad I did, because while this isn't a traditional hot sauce—the ingredients are canola oil and Curaçao hot peppers—it is an exceptional item that goes well with any dish. Best of all, you can only get it at the island's fresh markets, so that means more trips to Curaçao in the future.