Meatless Rochester-style Meat Hot Sauce

In the Western New York city of Rochester, ordering hot sauce on an item will often get you something you may not have expected — a meat-based spicy “sauce” that more closely resembles chili without the beans and veggies. It’s mostly found in Rochester’s “hots” restaurants — greasy spoon joints that serve hot dogs, burgers, and other picnic-type menu items.

In Rochester, we celebrate this hot sauce by slathering it on everything from burgers and dogs to macaroni salad, french fries, and even omelets. So you could imagine how a meat-eater turned plant-based guy like me would be on a mission to “veganize” this regional specialty.

So yeah, I did it. And yeah, I served it to local meat eaters. And yeah, they came back for more!

This recipe is based off the original Nick Tahou’s meat sauce recipe but uses no meat, no oil, and is completely plant-based. Try it on my Ultimate Oil-Free Vegan Garbage Plate!

vegan meat hot sauce

Meatless Rochester-style Meat Hot Sauce

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Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 12

What you’ll need

  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 tsp garlic, minced
  • 12 oz package meatless crumbles (I use Lightlife Smart Ground because it’s a finer consistency which works well for this sauce)
  • 1 cup water
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp raw sugar
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp allspice
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves

How you’ll do it

  • In a small pot, cook onion and garlic in a bit of water until soft and translucent.
  • Add crumbles and break apart into small bits.
  • Add remaining ingredients and stir well until tomato paste and spices are distributed evenly.
  • Simmer sauce for about 30 minutes to allow flavors to develop. Stir often.
  • If needed, add water to keep sauce moist but not soupy. If there’s too much water, simmer until you get the consistency you’d like.

Did you make this? Well, what did you think? Leave a comment and let me know how it came out, or if you have a question about the recipe, fire away!

Do you have a favorite recipe you’d like to share on KevCooksPlants? Send it to me at and I’ll take a look (and of course credit you when it’s posted).


  1. Pingback: The Ultimate Oil-Free Vegan Garbage Plate - KevCooksPlants

  2. Jim says:

    This sounds really good. I hadn’t thought to use allspice, cinnamon or cloves. I will have to give this a try.

    I make something very much like this as a spicy bolognese sauce for pasta and baked potatoes. However rather than crumbles I use one and a half cups cooked French lentils or beluga lentils (since they stay firm when cooked) or if in a rush a 15 oz can of lentils. Also I use 2 tbsp of date sugar rather than 1 tbsp refined sugar. Date sugar is just powdered whole dates, so it still a whole (or at least very minimal processed) food.

    Date sugar doesn’t really dissolve like sugar. Rather the tiny date pieces rehydrate. Some of the sugars leach out into the rest of the food, but most stays in the pieces. Date sugar works well with a thick sauce like this, but I can say from experience it doesn’t work *at* *all* in coffee. Just sinks to the bottom doing nothing until the last chewy swallow.

  3. Pingback: Meat Hot Sauce Recipe - Garbage Plate Sauce Recipe | Allrecipes

  4. Michelle Restivo says:

    This is SO GOOD! I live in Rochester and am so thankful to have found a meatless meat sauce recipe to make our plant based plates at home! Our kids have moved to California and I just shared the recipe with them-they cannot wait to try it! Thanks!

    • KevCooksPlants says:

      Hi Michelle, thanks for the comment. I’m glad you like the “meat” sauce! I try to have this on hand all summer long.

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