The Austin Chronicle

2018 Hot Sauce Contest & Festival Facts

Everything you need to know

August 24, 2018, Food


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.


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, Aug. 26. 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. No glass containers! 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:

Individuals: Red, Green, Special Variety
Restaurants: Red, Green, Special Variety
Commercial: Red, Green, Special Variety, Pepper Sauce

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

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.

Festival FAQ

Do you take credit cards?
Some vendors will accept credit cards, but entry and the bars are cash only. There are two ATMs on-site for your convenience.

Can I bring my kids?
Yes, this is a family-friendly event, but please note that it's going to be super hot out, and plan accordingly.

Where is contest check-in?
Check-in is located at the intersection of Anthony and Jesse E. Segovia streets.

When will winners be posted online?
Monday, Aug. 27, visit for winners. Feel free to post about your win and use #HotSauceFest.

When do the bands start?
Chulita Vinyl Club ATX - 11:30am
Big Wy's Brass Band - 12:30pm
Altamesa - 1:30pm
El Tule - 2:30pm
Little Joe y La Familia - 3:30pm

Can I bring my dog?
No way.

Can I bring water, snacks, and my cooler?

Can I smoke at the festival?
Hell, no.

For more information, go to

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