Let me clear some space in the room before we proceed. If the merest suggestion of tabasco has you wincing, this one isn’t for you. Move along please, there’s nothing to see here. On the other hand, if your eyes widen at scovilles, your heartbeat flutters over habaneros, let me remind you that Utah is home to some of the best hot sauces in the country – courtesy of Ogden based Z’s.
At first blush, Utah might seem a perplexingly poor choice of operation for a hot sauce company; a state known for its duvet-clutching fear of anything spicier than ketchup. Therein lies the magic though. Much like our ABV-cuffed brewers, the challenges the Beehive presents only makes our local makers that much more keener and smarter.
While Z’s don’t borishly follow the capsaicin cult of the machismo crazed of many a hot sauce brand (we get it bro, that sauce will like kill you, high five) these still aren’t for the feint of tongue. All of Z’s sauces pack a solid uppercut, but crucially, there’s plenty of brain to balance out the brawn. Each of the sauces have a distinct favor profile that makes them all uniquely useful in your pantry arsenal. At least that’s what I tell my wife when she questions why a third of our fridge is reserved for sauce.
You can find Z’s at various farmers markets around the state, or if you’re afraid of mornings like me, online at their Etsy.com store (we get a referral fee if you make a purchase).
So what to do with all these sauces you ask. We’ll, aside from the obvious (put them on everything duh) here a few of my personal favorites.
Z’s Green Man Sauce
Tangy tomatillo leads the charge on this thick sauce. Sold in a large format bottle its on the milder side of the spectrum heat wise; lime sharpens the green veggieness of the jalapeño and serrano heat. I use this one to add flavor to sauces and stews and beans. In the pic below I used it to add some dimension to a panful of simmered black beans. They found themselves loaded up with leftover rotisserie chicken in a home made chimichanga. Extra shout out to the St George based Wild Coyote who make a fun and cooling cilantro lime ranch.
Z’s Lemon Ghost Pepper Hot Sauce
Fiery ghost pepper brings the spark here, with gobs of sunshine bright lemon flavor illuminating every droplet. Any dish that needs a cutting edge and lift will benefit from this one. Below I used it to bring some interesting zip to a mix of Impossible/Gardein meat in red pasta sauce. Yeah that’s Chinese Sichuan chili flakes on the orzo, because I am that kind of savage; below that some home made chicken shawarma, marinated over night and then glazed with Z’s just before digging in.
Z’s Restaurant Style Salsa
I literally buy this the red salsa by the brace. We get through it so fast, I can never buy enough, and start to get the cold sweats and shakes when we’re running low. The name is a little misleading as it’s nothing like any restaurant salsa I’ve tried, there’s no sickly sweet undertone or sadly limp tomato lumps. The runny sauce is a blend of jalapeño, serrano, Fresno and habanero. There’s garlic, lime, cilantro and a little tomato – and there isn’t a taco, burrito or enchilada we cook at home without it in some fashion.
Z’s N.E. Carolina Style BBQ Sauce
A bit of an outlier in the overall line up, the N.E Carolina sauce is more spiked vinegar that sauce per se. I use this one anytime a dish needs some twang or earthy warmth.
As with any handcrafted product, availability of specific sauces can wax and wane. There’s also a few surprises out there too. Z’s make hands down the best Bloody Mary mix in Utah, and a recent collab saw them partner with Gerome’s Market for a limited run of scorpion, reaper and ghost pepper powered sausages. And yes, they’re the thermonuclear threat you’d expect that triumvirate to deliver.
Z’s are currently appearing at both the Ogden and Wheeler Farm markets at weekends; if you can’t make and purchase online at their Etsy.com store (we get a referral fee if you make a purchase) shipping is free on orders $35+
Hi, I’m Stuart, nice to meet you! I’m the founder, writer and wrangler at Gastronomic SLC; I’m also a former restaurant critic of more than five years, working for the Salt Lake Tribune. I’ve worked extensively with multiple local publications from Visit Salt Lake to Salt Lake Magazine, not least helped to consult on national TV shows.
I’m a multiple-award winning journalist and have covered the Utah dining scene for the better part of fifteen years. I’m largely fueled by a critical obsession with rice, alliteration and the use of big words I don’t understand. What they’re saying about me: “Not inaccurate”, “I thought he was older”, “I don’t share his feelings”. Want to know more? This is why I am the way I am.
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