Getting a Sriracha substitute to get the same hot and spicy flavor is a tough ask. There are countless hot sauces on the market, so getting the heat isn’t that big a problem. But it is the spicy touch that sets Sriracha apart and that’s why the alternatives need deeper thought.
To be fair, Sriracha isn’t overly complex. Originating in Thailand, the hot sauce has chili peppers, vinegar, garlic, and sugar as its primary ingredients. Its flavorful simplicity sets this sauce apart.
Sriracha Sauce has become very popular in the US over the last decade or so. It’s especially common in Thai and Japanese cuisine, often used with fried rice and spiced mayo.
So, let’s see what the best options are.
Top Choices For A Sriracha Substitute
The Korean chili paste Gochujang can be a good replacement for the hot and spicy Sriracha Sauce. This traditional condiment is spicy hot and includes fermented soybeans, chili powder, and rice. Gochujang tends to vary in its heat level, so take a taste test before adding it to food.
It’s often used as a rice topping, usually with the popular Korean dish bibimbap. It has a touch of sweetness and a good texture but doesn’t quite go overboard with the heat. On average, gochujang has a Scoville heat score of 1000 units. That’s very hot, but not quite as hot as Sriracha sauce.
2. Tabasco Hot Sauce
Tabasco is the old favorite and perhaps the most popular hot sauce. Made in Louisiana, this pepper sauce is made from high-quality jalapeno peppers. While it comes in several variants, the Tabasco Original Hot Sauce works best if you don’t have Sriracha sauce at hand.
The color and texture are usually spot on and so is the heat. The exact numbers can vary, but the conventional Tabasco Original Hot Sauce has a Scoville score somewhere between 2500 to 5000 units.
Famed for its hot sauces, the company offers many variants. These include a Tabasco Sriracha Sauce. You can also go for spicier or milder versions. The sweet and spicy variant is pretty good if you want something mild. It’s a good choice when you want a hot sauce but don’t have a tolerance for the chili.
3. Sambal Oelek
Sambal Oelek is a close relative to Sriracha Sauce. Originating in Indonesia, it includes chili peppers, garlic, ginger, and lime. As you notice, it has several ingredients in common with Sriracha sauce and that’s what makes it a notable substitute.
There are some differences between both these condiments. Sambal Oelek is somewhat chunkier and has no sugar, which makes it feel spicier. Although, technically speaking, Sambal Oelek is about as hot as sriracha. Both these sauces clock around 2000 units on the Scoville scale. Another point of difference is garlic in taste. While Sambal Oelek has some garlic, it doesn’t exactly have the same garlic-y notes as Sriracha Sauce.
Conventionally, you can replace these in a 1:1 ratio. However, it may be desirable to add some minced garlic (or garlic paste) if you want a similar profile as Sriracha.
4. Chili Garlic Sauce
The unassuming and simple chili garlic sauce (or garlic chili sauce if you prefer that naming) will act as a replacement without much trouble. The classic chili garlic sauce is hot and spicy. With the flavor of garlic, it gets pretty close in flavor to Sriracha sauce.
A conventional chili garlic sauce is chunkier and will have more of the garlic flavor as compared to Sriracha sauce. So, there is a slight difference in taste and texture. However, the easy availability and a rather close taste profile all work in favor of the chili garlic sauce.
This one’s also easy to DIY at home and there are several recipes available. The sauce gets pretty close in flavor to Sriracha, with the larger difference being the fermentation. Sriracha is usually fermented, while chili garlic sauce isn’t.
5. Tapatio Hot Sauce
This Mexican-American hot sauce gets quite close to being as popular as Tabasco. Though many prefer the taste of Tapatio hot sauce over Tabasco. Conventionally, Tapatio’s uses were limited to Mexican cuisine. The sauce is seeing a surge in popularity and has made inroads into several dishes and cuisines.
The flavorful hot sauce finds use in a lot of dishes, including marinades and chicken wings. Its texture is somewhat similar to Sriracha sauce, though there is a variation in taste. Interestingly, Tapatio hot sauce scores 3000 SHU for heat, making it slightly hotter and spicier than Sriracha.
6. Peri-Peri Sauce
The best thing I like about Peri-Peri sauce is its name! It sounds like something absolutely fun. Well, for those who love spicy hot food, that description would be pretty accurate! It gained popularity with Nando’s restaurants, though this Portuguese condiment has been around for a while.
Peri-Peri has a tang to it, which comes from the addition of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice. Other ingredients include smoked paprika and roasted red Peri-Peri (or piri-piri) peppers. It has a slightly lower heat than sriracha sauce and a somewhat sweeter taste.
The difference isn’t really troubling, and in most cases, you can do a replacement with a 1:1 ratio.
7. Cayenne Pepper
In a pinch with no other alternatives available? Cayenne Pepper flakes/powder will do. It isn’t the ideal choice since it’s neither a sauce nor a paste. What it is, is a quick and easy way to add heat to a dish without changing its flavor.
Using Cayenne Pepper is an emergency maneuver. It won’t bring the same texture or taste, but if all you want is some heat, it can get the job done. Other options include chili peppers, chili flakes, and similar spices or condiments.
8. Spicy Tomato Ketchup
This is a bit of a wildcard option, but spicy tomato ketchup (or tomato sauce, for that matter) can work surprisingly well as a sriracha sauce replacement. Ketchup has the sweetness of sriracha and a similar texture, though it lacks the heat and nuanced flavor.
The lack of heat is easier to handle. You can use a commercial hot and spicy ketchup variant. If that isn’t possible, mix up some red chili flakes (or cayenne pepper powder) into regular ketchup. Going the DIY route makes it possible to customize the heat to your taste buds, but it isn’t as elegant as the commercial mixes.
Choosing tomato ketchup as a sriracha sauce substitute shouldn’t be your first choice. In fact, this is the point of a last-ditch effort rather than a culinary great idea. Still, it can be a half-decent alternative for meals like curries and stir-fries.
What Is Sriracha? Being In The Know
Sriracha is a hot sauce or chili sauce. Though there is some shade on its origin, it is generally believed to have been first developed in Thailand. It started as a popular condiment there, then in neighboring Vietnam, and has since gained popularity globally.
The sauce is generally made as a paste of chili peppers, garlic, sugar, salt, and distilled vinegar. Some fermentation is usually involved and it plays a role in giving Sriracha its unique taste and flavor.
While its naming suggests a sauce, this is better treated as a condiment. The hot sauce has heat around 1000-2500 SHU. This is technically considered low but is high enough for consumption to make Sriracha a very well-known hot sauce.
Sriracha vs Hot Sauce
Okay, let’s be clear here. Sriracha is a hot sauce.
Hot sauce is a general category that includes sauces and condiments with high heat on the Scoville Scale and is usually spicy. In such cases, hot sauce is an umbrella term for all products and food items that fall in the hot and spicy category, provided they have the consistency of a sauce.
All of us may have a preference of what the hot sauce is, but there is no single hot sauce.
Are There Any Variants Of Sriracha Sauce?
Yes, there are many options and variants of Sriracha Sauce. The conventional Sriracha Sauce is usually red and is a paste made from chili peppers, garlic, sugar, salt, and distilled vinegar. It’s usually fermented, which adds another part to the process.
How much of a specific ingredient is used is up to the maker/manufacturer of the sauce. That brings some variations in the taste and flavor even when the underlying ingredients remain the same.
Some versions are milder/hotter than the conventional Sriracha Sauce. There are other variants like green sriracha, which uses green chili peppers in place of red. You’ll also find variants like mayo sriracha, gochujang sriracha, and many more!
Zooming On The Right Alternative
As we see here, you can have many Sriracha alternatives. They range from specialty and gourmet foods to more common items. Some of these are popular in certain regions around the world and form a part of their native cuisine. You should be able to find an alternative that fits your needs from the choices listed here.