Contest & Festival Facts

Contest & Festival Facts
Photo by John Anderson


The Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival requests that you pay an admission fee in the form of three nonperishable food items to be donated to the Capital Area Food Bank of Texas. A collection site will be set up at the entrance to Fiesta Gardens.


At the heart of The Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival is the contest itself. The blind-tasting competition for individuals, restaurants, and commercial bottlers is conducted by some of the top chefs in the state. They take hot sauce seriously, and so do most of the people who enter. Several previous winners in the individual category have gone on to start their own hot sauce companies.

The contest has three classes of competition: individuals (homemade), restaurants, and commercial bottlers. This gives us a good chance to recognize homemade sauces in a class by themselves. It also lets us consider salsas made fresh daily in restaurants, apart from those made for grocery store shelves. The categories in each class are designed to leave enough room for a wide variety of styles. In the past, special variety sauces have included fruit salsas, dried-pepper salsas, and even a purple sauce.

Restaurant, commercial, and individual hot sauces that have been made in a commercial kitchen are available for tasting by the public in the tasting pavilion at the center of Fiesta Gardens. Due to health department regulations, individuals' salsas cannot be served to the general public unless they were made in a commercial kitchen.

Entry and Judging

All entrants: Please bring a container of your best hot sauce to the check-in area at Fiesta Gardens between 10:30 and 11:30am on Sunday, August 24.

Restaurants: Please bring 1 quart of hot sauce.

Individuals: Please bring 1 pint of hot sauce if you made it at home, or 1 quart if you made it in a commercial kitchen. See info and entry form below. (All entries will be judged by our panel of judges, regardless of where they were made.)

Our judges pick winners in each of 11 categories:

Homemade red

Homemade green

Homemade special variety

Restaurant red

Restaurant green

Restaurant special variety

Commercial bottler red

Commercial bottler green

Commercial special variety

Commercial pepper sauce

Commercial super hot sauce

Winners will be announced at 4:45pm from the festival stage.

People's Choice Awards for Commercial Salsas

Commercial hot sauces are available at separate booths around the park (marked by blue numbers on the map, available online and distributed at the event).

The public is invited to vote in these categories:

Commercial red sauce

Commercial green sauce

Commercial special variety

Commercial pepper sauce

Voting: The People's Choice voting for the best commercial bottler sauces will take place under the balloting tent to the west of the Tasting Pavilion.

Vote for your favorites by 4pm. Winners will be announced at 4:45pm.

Capital Area Food Bank Sizzling Summer Raffle

All proceeds help to feed our hungry friends and neighbors throughout Central Texas!

T-Shirts, Caps, & Koozies

Commemorative Hot Sauce Festival T-shirts will be for sale under the Chronicle tent for only $10-15 each, along with festival caps ($15), and Hot Sauce Festival koozies and bandannas ($3).

Commerical Kitchen Access

One of the most popular features of The Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival is the giant tasting area in the middle of the grounds, full of tasty sauces free for the sampling! In order to have as many different kinds of sauces as possible in that area, we need your help!

The Austin Chronicle is working in conjunction with Just Add Chef to allow individual hot sauce makers to make their sauces in a commercial kitchen so our volunteers can put them out for the general public to sample.

On Saturday, Aug. 23, Just Add Chef's commercial kitchen will be available for FREE so you can make your sauce. YOU MUST BRING ALL OF YOUR OWN INGREDIENTS as well as your own containers, and please plan to make 1 quart of sauce. Once you are finished, you will get a receipt verifiying that your sauce was made in a commercial kitchen. Please BRING THIS RECEIPT WITH YOU when you check in on the morning of the event. ALL ENTRIES WILL BE JUDGED BY OUR PANEL OF JUDGES regardless of where they were made, but we cannot serve samples to the public unless they were made in a commercial kitchen.

Just Add Chef is located at 3505 N. I-35. Hours of availability: Saturday, Aug. 23, 9am-6pm. Call Herb at 512/708-1125 to schedule your appointment.

Sign up for the Chronicle Cooking newsletter

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

If you want to submit a recipe, send it to

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle