2019 Hot Sauce Contest & Festival Facts

Everything you need to know to attend the celebration of spice

Photo by John Anderson

2019 Hot Sauce Contest & Festival Facts


The Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival requests that you pay an admission fee in the form of a $5 donation to the Central Texas Food Bank. Every dollar helps provide meals for those in need. 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 purple sauces.

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 9:30 and 11:30am on Sunday, Aug. 25. 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 on 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:

Photo by David Brendan Hall

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.

2019 Festival Merchandise

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

Festival FAQ

Do you take credit cards?
Credit cards will be accepted for entry, bars, merch, and at most vendor booths. There are also 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 – so plan accordingly.

Where is the 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. 26, visit austinchronicle.com/hot-sauce for winners. Feel free to post about your win and use #HotSauceFest.

When do the bands start?
Batty Jr. - 12:30pm
Mariachi Capitál - 1:30pm
Harry Edohoukwa - 2:30pm
Bruce Robison & Kelly Willis - 3:30pm

Can I bring my dog?
No way.

Can I bring water, snacks, and a cooler?

Can I smoke at the festival?
Hell, no.

For more information, go to austinchronicle.com/hotsauce.

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

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

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