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Los Calientes Barbacoa – Getting Back to Original BBQ

Los Calientes is one of our very favorite hot sauces of all time. We have included it on many, many lists of our top picks, and it is with good reason. It just goes well on everything (the one job of any truly great sauce).

Now, in 2021, Hot Ones has released a 3rd iteration of Los Calientes hot sauce, this one deemed ‘Barbacoa.’ The claim is that this sauce harkens back to the very roots of BBQ, focusing on Earthy tones, smoked peppers and fresh herbs & spices.

Los Calientes Barbacoa hot sauce

Heat: 2.5/5 Right up the middle, perfect for a reasonable heat seeker.
Flavor: 5/5 Familiar flavors, but oh soooo good.
Value: 4/5 Unique, rich flavors like this are worth every penny.
Overall rating: 4.5/5Nothing much new other than a name, but still amazing!

Los Calientes Barbacoa Review and Flavor

We haven’t been counting, but we must have devoured 6 or 7 bottles of the previous Los Calientes sauces. The original blew us away, then the Rojo edition made it even better with more heat and an improved flavor.

So you could probably guess that we were super excited to hear that yet another iteration was approaching. We ordered a couple bottles on day 1, and sampled them as soon as they arrived.


  • Smoked peppers
  • Sweet apricot and agave
  • Tangy tomatillos and lime

How to Use It…

  • Baste it onto grilled chicken
  • Mac n cheese never felt so right…
  • Top off a pulled pork sandwich

Los Calientes Barbacoa Ingredients
Los Calientes Barbacoa (left) and Los Calientes Rojo (right).

The first taste was right off a tasting spoon, and it was not immediately obvious that anything had changed… This isn’t necessarily bad, but we were admittedly hoping for a bit more variation.

However, after a few more spoonfuls, the subtle differences could be distinguished. There is a bit more of a zing from the lime, and a slightly deeper smokiness from the chipotles and the applewood smoked jalapeño.

I believe the addition of ‘chipotle’ is to blame for the darker color. However, smoked jalapeños are pretty much just chipotles, so we’re not sure what is different (and we’d be curious to learn more).

Los Calientes Barbacoa vs Los Cal Rojo
Los Calientes Barbacoa color vs Rojo.

The brilliant balance of complex spices seems unchanged, with a few ingredients being swapped in order. The earthy undertones paired with the sweet apricot still hits just right.

Los Calientes Barbacoa Scoville Scale

Heat is slightly reduced when compared to Rojo, but only a bit. We feel that this sauce falls somewhere just below the original Los Calientes, which is a nice spot to be in.

Los Calientes Barbacoa has an official Scoville rating of 33,000 SHUs, making it slightly less spicy than the original Los Calientes hot sauce. In our opinion, all of the Los Cal sauces fall right in the sweet spot of usable heat.

Historically, Los Calientes always filled the #5 spot on the Hot Ones YouTube show. However, when the Barbacoa sauce was released, it was bumped down to #4. This is likely just due to hotter and hotter sauces filling the back half of the lineup.

Consistency & Texture

Once again, texture and consistency don’t seem to have changed much. Los Calientes Barbacoa has a thick, slightly syrupy texture with small chunks of peppers and apricots mixed in.

Los Calientes Barbacoa sauce
Los Calientes Barbacoa texture.

The sauce is not runny, but is very easy to pour from the standard woozy bottle spout. The sugar content helps keep the sauce from splashing around, while the lime juice and vinegar thin it out for an all around smooth finish.

Where To Buy Los Calientes Rojo

The price hasn’t changed either – the Barbacoa edition of Los Calientes costs $12, right in line with all the other all-natural sauces from Hot Ones. For now, this version of the sauce is available exclusively on Heatonist.

Los Calientes Barbacoa vs Los Cal Rojo

While Los Calientes Barbacoa is not much of a departure from the original, it is still an excellent sauce. And frankly, it probably would have been more disappointing than anything else if Karma Sauce had made too many changes.

Enter Our Hot Sauce Giveaway!

Calvin Thumbnail


One of the original Pepper Geeks! When Calvin isn’t gardening or learning more about peppers and botany, he might be traveling new places or playing some music.

Kelly Johnson

Sunday 15th of January 2023

How do you get the hot sauce smooth? Mine has good flavor but it is a bit gritty. I am a new 'fermenter' and am very grateful for the information on your website.


Tuesday 17th of January 2023

A more powerful blender helps a lot (we use a vitamix). You can also strain away the solids for a more watery/splashy texture