October 13

What is Tiger Sauce? A Comprehensive Guide

Written by: Dolly

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Tiger Sauce has taken over the world, and all we can do is sit back and pour ourselves another dollop. Not a bad life after all, huh? 

This cherished sauce is in the pantries of millions around the world, topping sandwiches and wings alike. However, even though its popularity has only started to grow, it’s getting harder and harder to find. 

So, if you’ve heard about the elusive yet idolized Tiger Sauce, you’ve come to the right place. Here, we’ll go over everything you need to know about Tiger Sauce – including where you can buy your next bottle. 

What is Tiger Sauce?

spring-rolls-and-sauce

Tiger Sauce is not new. In fact, it’s been around since the 1800s, though the company has changed hands a few times. Although the original recipe was created by TryMe sauces, there are dupes and copycat recipes everywhere now. 

This venerated sauce is best described as a sweet and sour or sweet- heat sauce. Though its heat comes from cayenne peppers, it’s not spicy at all. I’d say it ranks as more of a mild or medium-spice hot sauce.

Since the sauce is fairly thin, it’s very malleable and can be used in a variety of ways. Food for thought (literally): Tiger Sauce is delicious in dips, seafood, poultry glazes, grilled veggies, soups, or even slathered on a hearty sandwich.


What Does Tiger Sauce Taste Like?

red-sauce-on-plate

Although cayenne peppers are the main heat source, they are not the star of the show. 

Tiger Sauce is more of a sweet hot sauce than anything else. Some have even gone so far as to compare it to General Tso’s, where the sweetness is the main seller. 

The true flavor comes in through the sugar and vinegar, accented by a slight hint of cayenne. Truly the ultimate tangy, sweet and sour sauce. 

It’s tasty, but it’s not spicy, so if you’re looking for a kick, this sauce isn’t the one for you. Sure, you’ll feel it in the back of your throat, but you won’t be tasting it. 


How Hot is Tiger Sauce?

Tiger Sauce is not going to make you sweat or guzzle milk. This sauce is more about tangy flavors and combining sweet and sour with a slight spice. So, if you regularly add chili powder to your favorite meals, Tiger Sauce might taste like straight sugar to you. 


Tiger Sauce Scoville Units 

Unfortunately, the masterminds behind Tiger Sauce do not report or list the actual Scoville rating on their website. 

However, based on several users' estimations, Tiger Sauce is most likely around 500 SHU. For some context, cayenne peppers, the main pepper in Tiger Sauce, usually clock in around 30,000 - 50,000 SHU. So, clearly, this ain’t hot at all! 

Psst – poblano peppers are rated at 1,500 SHU, and they’re one of the mildest peppers out there! This sauce is beyond family-friendly. 


Tiger Sauce Recipe

cayenne-peppers

This coveted sauce is notoriously hard to recreate. There are hundreds of copycat recipes out there, but few come close to the original. 

If you think you’re up to the challenge, I recommend getting a bottle of Tiger Sauce and thinking long and hard about what you’re tasting. Then, find a recipe online, like this one, to use as your base and go from there. 

You can also check out the ingredients (listed below) and try and make your own. Whatever you end up doing, best of luck! 


Tiger Sauce Ingredients

Here are the ingredients for the original Tiger Sauce taken straight from the site: 

  • Cayenne peppers

  • Sugar

  • Distilled vinegar

  • Water

  • Salt

  • Crushed red peppers

  • Xanthan gum

  • Chili peppers

  • Caramel color

  • Sodium benzoate

  • Hydrolyzed corn protein

  • Tamarind extract

  • Natural flavor (with anchovy)

  • Oregano

  • Cumin

  • Garlic powder

Now, that tamarind extract definitely adds some sweetness! 


Tiger Sauce Uses

dip-with-croutons

Given its flavor profile, it’s fair to say that Tiger Sauce can go with just about anything. Whether you’re glazing poultry, making a po’boy, or trying out a new spicy shrimp pasta, a dollop or two of Tiger Sauce is always a welcome addition. 

It’s most commonly used alongside meats and seafood, but let it be known, there are recipes a-plenty out there. You can make some delicious dips with it, throw it over some chicken wings for a nice tangy flavor, or even roast nuts in it!

If you’re plant-based, I highly recommend dousing your tofu scramble in some Tiger Sauce. Talk about taking it up a notch! 

Tiger Sauce bloody mary, anyone? 


Where to Buy Tiger Sauce

grocery-store-aisle

You can buy Tiger Sauce online here, or find a store with the sauce in stock. 

You can usually find them at your local grocery store (Homeland Store, Market Basket, etc.) or a Walmart. But fair warning – this sauce is very popular, so it may already be sold out! 

And, if you’re already addicted, you can always buy it in bulk from Amazon. 


Crying Tiger Sauce vs Tiger Sauce

These two sauces may share a similar name, but that’s about where the similarities end. 

Crying Tiger Sauce (Sua rong hai) comes from Northeastern Thailand, not the South. This dipping sauce is served with thin slices of rare brisket. Some say the name comes from the belief that this sauce is so hot it could make a tiger cry, but there are several other origin stories out there. 

The sauce itself is a combination of umami-flavors, lime, and some intense heat from Thai chilis. Right up my alley! 

Tiger Sauce is American-born and not nearly as hot as crying tiger sauce. Plus, its uses are more varied. Although both are thinner, Tiger Sauce is very versatile, whereas crying tiger sauce is for this one specific dish. 


Tiger Bite Sauce vs Tiger Sauce

Tiger bite sauce shares many of the same ingredients as crying tiger sauce, like Thai chilies, cilantro, fish sauce, oyster sauce, and lime. But not the American-born Tiger Sauce. 

Hmong chef and restauranteur, Yia Vang, popularized tiger bite sauce in the U.S., specifically in Minnesota where he’s based. For some context, the Hmong people are nomadic and migrated throughout Southeast Asia. Since crying tiger sauce came from Thailand, it only makes sense that the tiger bite sauce, also from Southeast Asia, would share some ingredients. 

Tiger bite sauce is going to be a whole lot hotter than Tiger Sauce thanks to those Thai chilies. It’s often served with pork and adds a spicy, acidic flavor to the table. 


Tiger Sauce Substitutes

sweet-chili-sauce

As you may know by now, it’s extremely hard to find Tiger Sauce in stock at your local grocery stores. It’s so dang popular that everyone’s scooping up bottles too fast for production to keep up! 

So, if you’re dying for that tangy flavor but don’t have a bottle on hand, here are some substitutes to consider. 

  • Pickapeppa Sauce

  • Cajun seasoning

  • Sweet chili sauce

  • Hot sauce & honey

I love Pickapeppa sauce, and I think it’s a perfect substitute. Those Jamaican flavors are sweet, sour, and always leave you wanting more, just like Tiger Sauce. 

Throwing some Cajun seasoning on top of your poultry or grilled vegetables can replicate the tang and heat of Tiger Sauce! But if you’re looking for a sauce-like texture, you’re not going to get that here.

Sweet chili sauce is a staple in my household–salmon with sweet chili sauce, cilantro, and green onions is a weekly dinner–so I had to include it here. Although it’s a fair amount sweeter than Tiger Sauce, it can still work in a pinch. 

Last but not least, we have the make-your-own option! This is great if you want some sweet heat. Take your favorite hot sauce (Tabasco, Sriracha, etc.) and throw in some honey or another mild sweetener, and see what happens! 


Does Tiger Sauce Need to Be Refrigerated?

Nope, it doesn’t need to be refrigerated, though the shelf life may be a little longer if it is. It allegedly lasts around 60 days outside of the fridge, which isn’t too bad! 

But here’s the thing–most likely, you will have eaten it long before those 60 days are up, so does it really matter?  


Is Tiger Sauce Gluten-Free?

Yes! Per the ingredients listed, Tiger Sauce is inherently gluten-free. However, that doesn’t mean it was made in a gluten-free facility. If you have celiac or gluten intolerance, check before purchasing. 


Conclusion

This sweet heat sauce is the perfect addition to most pantries – for hotheads and sweet tooths alike. 

The beauty of Tiger Sauce is its malleability. You could glaze your chicken in it, dip your soft pretzel in it, or whatever else floats your boat! 

So, I don’t know what you’re waiting for. Send a prayer to the culinary gods and rush to your nearest grocery store – maybe, just maybe, there’ll be a bottle waiting for you there.

Dolly 


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About the author

Dolly is a student at Goldsmiths, University of London and an avid cook. After managing a miniature organic farm for a year, she fell in love with the art of cooking and the taste of homegrown greens. Dolly first became plant-based eight years ago, and she is now a full-blown vegan; her plant-based journey has made her creative and experimental in the kitchen. If she’s not writing or cooking, Dolly can be found on her front porch, strumming her guitar and singing for anyone who will listen.

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