Sweet chili sauce is one of the most popular condiments in Thai cuisine. Its main ingredient is red chili but additional ingredients such as rice wine vinegar, garlic, fish sauce, and a sweetener like fruit, refined sugar or honey make it taste sweet, sour and spicy at the same time.
Sweet chili sauce is basically used as a dip with Asian dishes including spring rolls, egg rolls, dumplings, shrimp, vegetables, wontons, grilled, baked or fried chicken and fish and many more.
You can also use it with many other dishes of different cuisines. It pairs well with grilled poultry and meats, stir-fries, stews, soups and marinades and may become one of your favorite spicy-sweet condiments.
If this sauce is not available in your local stores, then here are the sweet chili sauce substitutes to try: hot sauce + honey, sriracha sauce, spicy soy sauce, BBQ sauce, plum sauce and hot sauce, chili sauce and sweetener as well as chilies with rice vinegar and honey.
12 Substitutes for Sweet Chili Sauce To Try
1. Hot Sauce + Honey
Most hot sauce is made of chili pepper, vinegar and salt and if you add some honey to sweeten it, it will resemble sweet chili sauce.
This is the easiest and most popular alternative for sweet chili sauce and if you have these two ingredients in hand then you can make it quickly and without any effort.
If you want to add more flavor or make it spicier, then add garlic. Mix 1 teaspoon of hot sauce and 1 teaspoon of honey and substitute it with 1 teaspoon of sweet chili sauce.
2. Sriracha Sauce
Sriracha sauce is another Thai sauce with a hot and tangy flavor. The store-bought version of this sauce is made of chiles, sugar, salt, garlic, vinegar, potassium sorbate, sodium bisulfite and xanthan gum. It has a low-medium spiciness, slight sweetness and comes with a thick texture.
You can use it the same way as sweet chili sauce with the same dishes. It works well both as a dip and as a marinade. You can add it to soups, stews and drinks as well.
3. Spicy Soy Sauce
Since spicy soy sauce is made of soy sauce, chili paste, sugar or honey, ginger powder, jalapeno pepper and additional ingredients such as sesame oil, onion and garlic it has a complex and rich taste similar to sweet chili sauce. It is spicy enough yet with some sweet undertones.
If you have all the ingredients, you can make it at home. Thanks to the addition of soy sauce, this substitute is a good one to use with seafood and many Asian dishes calling for sweet chili sauce.
4. BBQ Sauce
Another easy-to-find substitute is BBQ sauce. You may even have it in your fridge as an everyday-to-use condiment for roasted and grilled dishes. BBQ sauce is used as a dipping, marinade, topping or just a condiment for many dishes.
When buying, pay attention to the ingredients list. If it contains chili powder, chili peppers and sugar it’s probably the best variety to try instead of sweet chili sauce.
It may also contain additional ingredients such as tomato, vinegar, mayonnaise, and mustard which make it taste a little bit different but still keep it spicy and sweet.
5. Chili Sauce and Sweetener
Consider the fact that sweet chili sauce is made of chili sauce and a sweetener and use your fantasy when making it at home.
Mix chili sauce with a sweetener like honey, sugar or a fruit that has both sour and spicy notes. This will provide you with a kind of homemade sweet chili sauce with a unique combo of flavors.
6. Chili Powder-Flakes or Red Chilies + Rice Vinegar + Honey
Another homemade substitute is the blend of minced or crushed red chili or chili flakes/chili powder (whichever you have at home), rice vinegar and honey. This will create the same flavor and you’ll have the desired taste.
You can mix a half teaspoon of chili powder, chili flakes or minced chilies with 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar and half tablespoon of honey to replace sweet chili sauce in a 1:1 ratio.
7. Plum Sauce + Hot Sauce
Plum sauce is known for its complex flavor and when mixed with hot sauce it can provide a similar taste to sweet chili sauce. Mix it in a 1:1 ratio and use it with noodles, wings, coconut shrimp and salmon.
Because of the dark burgundy color of plum sauce, your dish may look different, but it’s not a matter if you are after the taste.
8. Fresno Chile + Sweetener
Dried crushed Fresno chile mixed with a sweetener of your choice can be the next alternative for sweet chili sauce. 7-10 Fresno chilies are enough to make this sauce. Other ingredients are a half cup of water, half cup sugar or any other sweetener, half cup vinegar, ¼ teaspoon of salt.
Fresno chile tastes like jalapeno with some grassy, smokey and slightly fruity notes. It comes in red color and can provide the same appearance to your sauce as sweet chilies.
9. Ancho Chile + Sugar + Vinegar
Ancho chile can be used to make a sauce similar to sweet chili sauce. You can mix ancho chilies with sugar and vinegar and use a dipping for finger foods, dumplings, shrimp and wings.
Ancho chile has a smoky flavor when dried and is well suited with marinades and chili pastes. So, you can use this mixture instead of sweet chili sauce with many dishes.
10. Tabasco Sauce + Vinegar + Honey
With the help of this blend you can reach a similar flavor to store-bought sweet chili sauce. Tabasco sauce has a medium spice level and it’s used with wings, ribs, tacos, pasta sauces, grilled steaks and chicken and many more.
It has a hot kick and very spicy finish which you can break with the help of vinegar and honey. As a result, you’ll get another substitute.
11. Harissa Sauce
Made of roasted red peppers, chili peppers and garlic paste, harissa sauce is meant to add spiciness to dishes. It also includes olive oil, coriander seeds, cumin, vinegar or lemon juice.
It tastes like sweet chili sauce but is one the spicier side and you may use it if you like spicy sauces. It goes with roasted and grilled meats and can be used with almost all dishes that go with hot and very spicy sauces.
12. Homemade Sweet Chili Sauce
And your final bet is homemade sweet chili sauce. If you have all the necessary ingredients then make it at home and enjoy with your favorite dishes.
The ingredients are as follows: red pepper flakes, chili powder, garlic, sweetener of your choice (sugar, honey or fruit extract), vinegar or lemon juice and fish sauce. Mix all well, store in an airtight container.
If you are a big fan of spicy-sweet sauces then you’ll love many of these sweet chili sauce substitutes as they come with interesting mixtures of sweet, spicy and sometimes even sour flavors that can enrich the taste of any savory dish.
Although this combination of flavors is typical to Asian cuisines, the substitutes mentioned above will add a unique touch to other dishes too. Just give them a try.