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Bottled fire: Navigating Through Costa Rica Hot Sauce

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Spice is pretty much secondary in Costa Rican cuisine. Although food here has a wonderful variety of ingredients, textures and flavors, you won’t find a hot kick in most dishes. However, Costa Rica has a wide range of hot sauces.  In every cafeteria or restaurant, there’s usually a trusty bottle of artisanal hot sauce that you may add to your food for that extra twist. 

You can find your fair share of chiles here as well. From the classic jalapeño or the yellow scotch bonnet to spicier to more intense varieties such as the Carolina Reaper - local and foreign varieties are grown easily. If you’re looking for the hottest hot sauce, however, there is a thing or two you need to know about your Costa Rica hot sauce.

hottest hot sauces

Zazel made a hot sauce from a chile that grows in the wild.

The chilera, your faithful companion

Technically, this is not a hot sauce but a mixture of pickled vegetables and chiles. It’s typically cooked in vinegar and sugar, although there are some variations with vinegar and mustard or vinegar and ketchup. As for the vegetables, the sky’s the limit! You can add cauliflower, carrots, onions, bell peppers, green beans and even cucumber to your concoction. 

This is not an exclusive recipe, but rather a variation that’s available throughout the Central American region. Regardless of how you make it, you can find a Costa Rican chilera in every cafeteria across the country. It’s mixture of heat and tartness makes it the perfect accompaniment for your casado or tamal. 

Chileras are so common that you don’t have to bother in making your own. Of course, having your own chilera at home is always a great idea. But if you don’t have the time for it, you can find them at any local supermarket or store. Bear in mind that, if you’re more into intense spice and heat, the chilera won’t really work.

hottest hot sauces

The story of Zazel’s Chile Perro is as fascinating as it’s flavor.

Say Hello to Artisanal Hot Sauce

The best thing about the hot sauce is it’s versatility. There are as many recipes as tastes. Some prefer dried chilies in oil and herbs for a more aromatic touch to your dish. Others favor flavor over spice, and love adding unexpected ingredients to the mix. Mango and habanero? Yes. Curry and jalapeño? Enticing.

Artisanal hot sauce is the best bet for unique flavors. If you’re not convinced, you may wish to take a look at Zazel’s Chile Perro Hot Sauce. This hot sauce is made using a species of wild chile that grows in certain neighborhoods of San José. In order to ensure a more stable production, the owners of Zazel found a way to domesticate this plant and thus ensure fans of the sauce will always have it at their table. 

Looking For The Hottest Hot Sauces

Making the perfect hot sauce is an elaborate business, as people often invest a great deal of time in improving their recipes and looking for the best chilies. Hence, a bottle of artisanal hot sauce is a great handcrafted gift for all those who love a fiery meal.

Some enjoy a hot sauce that goes overboard in the Scoville Scale. For those who enjoy burning their taste buds on a regular basis, finding the spiciest sauce can become a challenge. It really depends on the recipe, the process and, of course, the selection of chilies. Supermarket brands may please certain palates, but the spiciest, more unique sauces are not always found here.

Local Keeps offers Capitan Picante’s Sr. Scorpion, a sauce that uses naranjilla or lulo as a base, combined with scorpion peppers - one of the hottest chiles available in nature. The result is an extremely hot but also very flavorful hot sauce. This is ideal for people who are looking for both spice and taste.

hottest hot sauces

Local Keep’s BBQ Kit

Yet, if you are looking for a more elaborate culinary experience, you may also plan a spicy barbecue lunch. You can go one step further with Local Keep’s BBQ Kit, which includes a series of hot sauces, spicy olive oil, marmalade and an assortment of flavored salts to create the perfect hot marinade. 

Whether it’s a bottle of an artisanal hot sauce or a meal made with the bold flavors your friends love, you know the perfect handicraft gift is one made with love and spice. 

Local Keeps is the best Costa Rica online store to find high-quality and impactful gifts... and the hottest hot sauces!. Navigate our Sauces and Spices category to find your favorite hot sauce or write to us at if you have any questions!

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