Sriracha is a hot chili sauce that emerged from Si Racha, Thailand.
Some still dispute the original recipe for sriracha and its exact origins, but sriracha is now a beloved culinary staple in many parts of the world.
This article explores what sriracha is used for, its flavor, ingredients, nutritional profile, and more.
Sriracha — usually pronounced “see-rah-jah” or “see-ra-cha” — is a spicy sauce made from chili paste, garlic, vinegar, sugar, and salt.
Chili peppers and vinegar are often used as the base of hot sauces like sriracha.
What sets sriracha apart from other hot sauces is its specific combination of ingredients that create the flavor, texture, and color it’s known for.
Outside of Thailand, some people associate sriracha with the sauce sold by the Huy Fong company. This sriracha comes in a squeeze bottle with a green cap, is bright red, and is nicknamed “rooster sauce” after its well-known label.
The brand grew in popularity around the world so quickly after its inception 40 years ago. Some might even be surprised to learn the Huy Fong classic is not the only, nor the original, sriracha sauce on the market.
Indeed, many other brands of sriracha chili sauce are also available.
Some popular brands of sriracha include:
- Sriraja Panich
- Lee Kum Kee
- Crying Tiger
- Kim Tu Thap
- Sky Valley
- Huy Fong (“rooster sauce”)
Sriracha is a spicy hot sauce made by combining a paste of chili peppers and garlic with vinegar, sugar, and sometimes salt. Many brands of the sauce are available today, but the Huy Fong brand (aka “rooster sauce”) is one of the most recognized.
Most hot sauces, including sriracha, are low in calories.
They might contain a few calories or grams of carbohydrates, but they typically don’t have much protein, fat, or fiber.
Here’s the nutritional profile for a 1-teaspoon (5-gram) serving of Huy Fong’s classic sriracha sauce (
- Calories: less than 1
- Carbs: 1 gram
- Protein: 0 grams
- Fat: 0 grams
- Fiber: 0 grams
- Sugar: less than 1 gram
- Sodium: 75 mg (3% of the Daily Value (DV))
- Calcium: 1 mg (less than 1% of the DV)
- Potassium: 17 mg (less than 1% of the DV)
Because sriracha and other hot sauces are usually consumed in small amounts, between 1 and 3 teaspoons at a time, they don’t tend to contribute many nutrients to your diet overall.
Since sriracha is generally eaten in small amounts, the condiment doesn’t add many nutrients to your diet overall. It does contain a few carbs and vitamins and minerals, like salt.
Each brand or variation of sriracha sauce has a slightly unique flavor, texture, and color that is determined by the type of chilis used, recipe variations, and the length of time the sauce has aged.
Generally, though, most sriracha chili sauces are defined by the melding flavors of:
- chili peppers
- vinegar (or another acid)
The sweet but spicy and slightly sour flavor of sriracha is what sets the sauce apart from others.
Variations of the hot sauce may be more or less tangy, sweet, or garlicky. Huy Fong rooster sauce is known for having a thicker texture than many other srirachas, but this may not be the case for all srirachas.
Sriraja Panich uses prik chee fah (also known as spur chilis) for flavor, but other Thai chilis, and even jalapeños, are used in other versions of the sauce.
The flavor of sriracha is often described as spicy, sweet, and tangy or sour. The final flavor of the chili sauce can vary between batches and brands and is highly influenced by the type of chilis used.
One great thing about sriracha is that it’s made with a classic set of flavors: chili peppers, garlic, and vinegar. When combined with sugar and salt, that original trio creates a condiment that pairs well with so many other foods.
Sriracha is great for dipping, topping, and marinating just about any food you could imagine benefiting from a bit of heat.
These days, sriracha is not only used as a sauce or condiment, but it’s also used to flavor all kinds of other foods, like chips, popcorn, chocolate, kale, pickles, peanuts, hummus, and more.
Sometimes it’s also mixed with ingredients, like ketchup, mayonnaise, or sour cream, to create spicier versions of these traditional condiments.
More foods traditionally paired with sriracha include:
In Thailand, sriracha is often used as a dipping sauce for seafood, spring rolls, and other meals. Around the world, sriracha is used for everything from replacing ketchup on french fries to flavoring chocolate.
Sriracha sauce has not been linked to specific health benefits, but some of the nutrients it contains have.
Capsaicin has been studied in depth for several beneficial properties:
- Analgesic. Studies find capsaicin supplements moderately effective at relieving pain from diabetic neuropathy and osteoarthritis (
8, 9, 10, 11).
- Antihistaminic. Capsaicin treatments may relieve symptoms of nonallergic rhinitis, including sneezing and nasal congestion, but more research is needed (
- Apoptotic. In both test tube and animal studies, capsaicin displays antitumor and anticancer effects against skin, prostate, and breast cancers, as well as others (
14, 15, 16, 17).
- Health-promoting. Capsaicin’s potential to reduce inflammation and improve metabolism might help prevent obesity, diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and other inflammation-related chronic conditions (
18, 19, 20, 21).
However, despite the impressive set of potential health benefits contained in capsaicin, it’s important to note that most of these studies investigate how large supplemental doses of capsaicin affect health.
You’re very unlikely to consume such amounts of capsaicin from sriracha alone. Therefore, sriracha is likely healthiest when it’s considered as one small, nutrient-rich part of an overall healthy diet.
Pairing the hot sauce with other nutrient-dense foods, like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins, will boost its nutritional value.
The chili peppers used to make sriracha are a good source of capsaicin. The nutrient is responsible for the strong flavor of chilis, and it may have health benefits. However, it’s unlikely you’ll consume enough capsaicin to provide you with these benefits.
For most of us, sriracha doesn’t have many risks and is generally safe to consume — though some people might need to limit their consumption of the sauce.
Specifically, pregnant people and folks with gastroesophageal reflux disease, chronic gastritis (stomach inflammation), intestinal ulcers, and IBS might experience adverse side effects from sriracha and spicy foods in general (
What’s more, some sriracha brands contain more sodium than others.
Even though the amount per serving likely won’t contribute too much to your daily intake, it may be worth comparing a few different brands if you’re trying to limit sodium in your diet.
Lastly, some brands of sriracha, including Huy Fong’s rooster sauce, contain preservatives like sodium bisulfite, an ingredient that people with sulfite sensitivities could potentially have an adverse reaction to (
Sriracha is safe to consume for most people. However, if you’re trying to limit sodium in your diet, or if you’re susceptible to heartburn and acid reflux, it may be best to also limit your intake of any spicy sauces.
Sriracha chili sauce is a spicy, versatile, culinary treasure of Thailand that’s used to spice up foods all around the world.
Its unique spicy, sweet, and sour flavor has made it a very popular condiment.
For most people, the hot sauce is safe to eat in moderate amounts, though it may be best to limit your intake if you’re susceptible to side effects from spicy foods, like heartburn and acid reflux.
Just one thing
Try this today: Thai food is a cuisine that’s both healthy and flavor-filled. Learn more about the nutrition of Thai staples, like papaya salad and spring rolls, here.