KANSAS CITY — The popularity of hot sauce  is skyrocketing, as hot sauce companies are finding increasingly creative ways to incorporate the condiment into every category.

Bold and intense flavor experiences are expected to be a popular trend in 2023, according to the Specialty Food Association’s Trendspotter Panel.

“What began in the hot sauce category is exploding into honey, spreads, confections, beverages, and snacks, snagging new markets like younger consumers, especially, and inspiring specialty food companies to introduce heat and spice into existing product lines,” said Mikel Cirkus, global creative director at Firmenich Inc. and a member of the SFA trends panel.

Hot sauce category development is a strategic priority for McCormick & Co., Hunt Valley, Md. In a February 2022 presentation, the company said it intends to make hot sauce “the condiment of the next generation.” The company’s portfolio includes both the Frank’s RedHot and Cholula brands. McCormick also announced it will be partnering with the Campbell Soup Co.’s Goldfish brand to relaunch Goldfish Frank’s RedHot crackers, which made its debut in May 2021. The collaboration marks the first time the Goldfish brand has brought back a limited time offering.

Companies like Ujjo are expanding the applications of hot sauce. The company launched its hot sauce, which is formulated to be used in drinks, specifically in coffee. Using a mix of sweeteners and a blend of chili, the hot sauce is available in two varieties: dark roast, with tasting notes of cinnamon, cocoa, vanilla and molasses, and light roast, which has more “zing,” according to the company, with notes of citrus and ginger. It may be used to flavor coffee beverages like lattes and mochas, as a glaze for roasted vegetables, or as a topping on breakfast tacos or ice cream, according to the company.

“Putting hot sauce in drinks may seem weird, even though it’s no weirder than putting hot sauce on foods,” said Lauren D’Souza, founder of Ujjo. “But to make it work in drinks, you have to do a few things differently. I love that by challenging some conventions about what it means to be a hot sauce, we’ve made a condiment that works with something totally unexpected — coffee — but that customers love in other drinks and foods, too.”

Click to view recent hot sauce innovations.