2016 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 Central Texas Food Bank 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 top chefs, food writers, and notable personalities. 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: individual (homemade), restaurant, and commercial bottler. 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 21. 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 10 categories:

Individual red

Individual green

Individual special variety

Restaurant red

Restaurant green

Restaurant special variety

Commercial red

Commercial green

Commercial special variety

Commercial pepper 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.

Chef Demo Tent and Pluckers Wing King Competition

Some of the state's best chefs turn up the heat with special Hot Sauce Festival recipes. Stick around to see who wins $1,000 and becomes Pluckers' new Wing King. See "Cooking Tent Demos" for more info.

Noon: Joe Anguiano (El Burro, VOX Table)

12:45pm: Alma Alcocer-Thomas (El Alma, Alcomar)

1:30pm: Lorenzo Morales (Jazz, TX – San Antonio)

3:10pm: Pluckers Wing King competition

Central Texas Food Bank Sizzling Summer Raffle

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

Commemorative Merchandise

Commemorative Hot Sauce Festival T-shirts will be for sale under the Chronicle tent for only $15-20 each, along with other merch.

The 26th annual Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival takes place Sunday, Aug. 21, 11am-5pm, at Fiesta Gardens (2101 Jesse E. Segovia St.).

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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


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