Farmers Market Profile: Jess Dalton of Saucy Lips Handcrafted Gourmet Sauce

Great sauce can do wonders for an average meal.

Saucy Lips’ Jess Dalton understands this well. Dissatisfied with the processed ingredients typically found in store-bought sauces, Dalton and his wife created a vegan, gluten-free, preservative-free habañero hot sauce. Originally sold in Flagstaff, the sauce was a hit.

“We started getting requests for other kinds of products,” Dalton said. “So the Zesty Cilantro came quickly after.”

Slowly, Saucy Lips began expanding into Phoenix and eventually to Tucson. Dalton found himself in a unique niche with demand for fresh, handmade suaces.

“Our main goal is to use all fresh ingredients. We don’t cook our products other than heating the oil. The produce comes from markets and farms across Arizona. We do get some things from California, but our goal is to stay as local as possible.”

Sauce production is a two day event. On Mondays, the team makes all of the sauces by hand and Tuesday is spent bottling. Saucy Lips is still small enough to maintain its family oriented, personal touch. Dalton’s wife, Gabriela – and son, Jess Jr. – are both integral parts of the business.

The farmers market is an important part of the company’s success. Dalton enjoys the opportunity of meeting all sorts of people and gives them a fresh experience through his products.

“I do believe people go to the market to have a good time. I enjoy talking to everyone and laughing with them. Some may come in a bad mood, but they leave my booth with a smile.”

Saucy Lips’ products include a spicy line of sauces and a milder line. Spicy sauces include Jalapeño-Green Apple, Habañero-Carrot, and Ghost Pepper-Tamarind. The non-spicy sauces include Tangy Mango, Peppery Strawberry, Pineapple Thai, and Zesty Cilantro.

“Our most popular sauces are the Zesty Cilantro and Thai Pineapple. The Ghost Pepper sauce has also done tremendously well,” Dalton says.

The success of Saucy Lips can be credited to the Dalton family’s energy and hard work. Having lived abroad for most of their lives, Dalton says this type of business would not be possible anywhere but America.

“The mix of people and tastes allow us to do different things with our sauces. Other countries don’t deviate from their standard flavors much. But here, everyone has so many different points of views stemming for various cultures. I couldn’t imagine creating a jalapeño and green apple sauce anywhere but here.”

Find Saucy Lips at St. Philip’s Plaza farmers market every Sunday. For more information, and to make a purchase, visit Saucy Lips products can also be found on Amazon. Keep up with Saucy Lips on Instagram.

Jennifer Rothschild is an aspiring freelance food writer by night.