2015 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 or a $5 cash donation. A collection site will be set up at the entrance to Fiesta Gardens.

No Dogs - No Coolers - No Smoking


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' hot sauces 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 and 11am on Sunday, August 23. 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 below and entry form above. (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 Hot Sauces

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.

Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts Hot Sauce Demo Tent

Head on over to the demonstration tent and watch local chefs make their specialty hot sauces. See p.54 for more info.

12:30pm: Iliana de la Vega (El Naranjo), salsa de tomatillo y naranja

1-2pm: Paul Macry (Le Cordon Bleu), tropical fruit salsas for shrimp or chicken

2-3pm: Rob Snow (Greenhouse Craft Food), "Sixto" salsa

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).

The Best of Austin: Restaurants ballot is here! Nominations can be made now through Monday, July 18, at midnight. Vote now at vote.austinchronicle.com.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 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  

MORE Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival
Hot Sauce Festival Winners 2020
Hot Sauce Festival Winners 2020
The judges have spoken (and scorched their palates)

James Renovitch, Aug. 30, 2020

2020 Hot Sauce Festival Judges
2020 Hot Sauce Festival Judges
Meet the tastemakers for this year's competition

Jessi Cape, Aug. 28, 2020

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

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Behind the scenes at The Austin Chronicle

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