Fill in the blank: Franks is to America what Cholula is to Mexico what Sriracha is to Vietnam what ______ is to Italy.

One of my recipes which is a spin on Orichiette with Rapini, calls for hot sauce. I usually use Sriracha since it tastes good but I do find it's a clash of flavors sometimes. I'd like to replace it with an alternative that's representative of Italy. I have no experience with Italian hot sauces, what are the popular ones?

I know "sauce" has an additional meaning when it comes to Italian cuisine: I'm not looking for arrabiata or red sauce or anything like that. I mean something that comes in a bottle, perhaps crushed peppers and chilis with vinegar.

  • 10
    Bottled/canned foods are in general considered low class in Europe, and chances of Italians, notorious for food elitism, having a favored bottled sauce brand is close to zero.
    – Davor
    Commented Jul 13, 2020 at 17:40
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    By the way, Sriracha is American, not Vietnamese (invented by a Vietnamese immigrant who gave it a Thai name). Looks like they have started selling it in Vietnam in the past few years: latimes.com/world/asia/… Or are you saying that Sriracha tastes like typical Vietnamese hot sauces? That may be true.
    – Juhasz
    Commented Jul 13, 2020 at 23:32
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    @Juhasz I thought sriracha was a type of hot sauce and the brand sriracha is just a sriracha sauce?
    – gator
    Commented Jul 14, 2020 at 0:53
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    Ugh. Obscure product placement? I've lived 45 years in North America, never saw a Franks sauce before this post. I wouldn't call it quintessential. :-)
    – Jeffrey
    Commented Jul 14, 2020 at 12:53
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    Here in the Pacific Northwest, Frank's is definitely available. According to USA Today, "McIlhenny [maker of Tabasco] has a 17.1% market share; Reckitt Benckiser, maker of Frank's RedHot, has 11.3% and Huy Fong Foods [Sriracha] has 8%"
    – Juhasz
    Commented Jul 14, 2020 at 20:43

3 Answers 3


Bottled hot sauce is not much in demand in Italy. I'm in central Italy, but I think in the south where spicy food is popular, chili is added fresh or dried to a dish rather than through a bottled sauce. I did find one example from Delizie di Calabria which is a common brand: http://www.deliziedicalabria.it/notizie/145-nd-sauce-la-salsa-piccante-senza-compromessi but I wouldn't call it typical. In my local supermarket (Tuscany) the only hot sauce available is Tabasco! Again, I welcome anyone from the south to correct me if I'm mistaken, but hot sauce is definitely not a thing here.Sauce shelf, Carrefour Market, Lucca

  • 2
    I know harissa isn't Italian, but with such close geographic proximity to Tunisia, is harissa a common condiment in Italy?
    – gator
    Commented Jul 13, 2020 at 18:29
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    I don't know if you can find harissa in the south of Italy, but I've never seen it available in central/northern Italy. I have found harissa (imported from Tunisia) in Oslo, Norway though! Commented Jul 13, 2020 at 20:51
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    @gator no, harissa is now widely known in Italy.
    – fqq
    Commented Jul 14, 2020 at 1:20
  • @gator - simply, no. Distances don't work like that in Europe. England couldn't be closer to France, but look at the two eating patterns.
    – Fattie
    Commented Jul 15, 2020 at 12:22

I have family both in the very north and the very south of Italy.

In the north, spicy food is not super common but there is usually a jar of dried chilies in olive oil somewhere in the kitchen and they are available in restaurants.

In the south there is always either fresh/dried/in-olive-oil/powdered chilies on the table (at home and in restaurants).

But I don't recall seeing a bottle of "hot sauce" anywhere (except maybe some tabasco).

  • 2
    That seems to be the consensus: chilis in oil. It reminds me of a Chinese cuisine staple: a very good Chinese restaurant near me has a little bowl of some menacingly red chili oil at every table, crushed chilis and lots of chili flakes with some spices in oil. I guess something similar is the closest hot sauce equivalent to Italy.
    – gator
    Commented Jul 14, 2020 at 13:14
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    Seems like chili oil is indeed the answer you were looking for. Sidenote : be aware that chili color has little to no relation with heat level. Commented Jul 14, 2020 at 13:18
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    @gator There is a Calabrian chili paste that is basically chilis in oil crushed to a smooth paste. Not really a hot sauce, but maybe helpful! It is a little tangy and quite delicious. Commented Jul 15, 2020 at 0:52

The only one I know of is the Calabrese Spread/Sauce.

Whenever I see spicy food in Italy they mostly use hot chili.

Other than that, oil flavored with spicy chili.

  • 1
    do you mean 'nduja?
    – fqq
    Commented Jul 14, 2020 at 16:15
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    no, nduja is a soft sausage.
    – Max
    Commented Jul 14, 2020 at 16:26
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    What do you mean by "the Calabrese Spread/Sauce" then? (btw, 'nduja is soft to the point that is mostly used as a spread)
    – fqq
    Commented Jul 14, 2020 at 16:31
  • 'Nduja is sold in jars as a paste made from the (soft) sausage and oil, and is very often used as a 'spread' on pizza. In short, it's exactly what @Max is describing here.
    – 568ml
    Commented Jul 15, 2020 at 9:26

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