If you’re into the sweet and spicy flavor that sweet chili sauce brings but find yourself without any on hand, don’t panic. There are quite a few sweet chili sauce substitute options out there that you likely already have stocked in your pantry. And the best part? You can whip up your own version of this beloved Thai condiment using simple ingredients you’ve already got on hand. Interested? Join us as we explore the world of popular sweet chili sauce substitutes.
What Is Sweet Chili Sauce Made of?
Ingredients in sweet chili sauce can vary, but typically, sweet chili sauce is an integral blend of honey or sugar, red chilies, rice vinegar, fish sauce, and sometimes, garlic.
This sweet sauce is often seen accompanying breaded dishes such as burgers, tacos, rice, and chicken, and is often used as a dipping sauce for foods like spring rolls and egg rolls.
What Can I Use If I Don’t Have Sweet Chili Sauce?
Sweet chili sauce is a one-of-a-kind, sweet, and slightly spicy addition that tastes great on entrees that call for it. But what if you don’t have any on hand?
Thankfully, there are several alternatives that you can use as sweet chili sauce substitutes that work great. These include:
- A Red Pepper, Honey, and Red Pepper Flakes Blend
- A Hoisin Sauce, Red Pepper Flakes, and Rice Vinegar Blend
- A Honey and Hot Sauce Blend
- A Plum Sauce and Hot Sauce Blend
- An Apple Cider Vinegar, Soy Sauce, Honey, and Red Pepper Flakes Blend
A Red Pepper, Honey, and Red Pepper Flakes Blend
Blending these ingredients together yields a surprisingly similar result in terms of taste and texture to sweet chili sauce. You’ll need to be careful to dice your red pepper ultra-fine though, in order to keep the sauce from being too coarse and crunchy.
A Hoisin Sauce, Red Pepper Flakes, and Rice Vinegar Blend
Hoisin sauce is sweet and dark and lends itself as the perfect substitute for sweet chili sauce when combined with red peppers flakes and rice vinegar. Those who are naturally fans of hoisin sauce will likely enjoy this blend of sauce and spice.
A Honey and Hot Sauce Blend
The simplest of all of the substitutes, mixing honey and hot sauce together yields a surprisingly similar taste to sweet chili sauce. But without the pepper flakes.
If the sauce is still too hot for your liking, feel free to add a little water to tame it a bit. The best ratio for the honey and hot sauce blend tends to be about one tablespoon of honey per 1.5 teaspoons of hot sauce. But feel free to play around with it and adjust according to your taste preferences.
A Plum Sauce and Hot Sauce Blend
Plum sauce when combined with hot sauce can be delicious, but know that your wings or chicken pieces may look slightly different if you coat them with this dynamic duo. The deep purple color of the plum sauce may not look as appetizing as a red or orange hue, but we promise you, the taste is magnificent!
An Apple Cider Vinegar, Soy Sauce, Honey, and Red Pepper Flakes Blend
This lovely blend of spices and sauces may be more complicated than the last few, but the payoff is well worth it. Combine tangy apple cider vinegar with the signature flavor of Asian soy sauce, paired with honey and red pepper flakes for a sweet and spicy kick, and you’ve got an unstoppable sauce that can complement a variety of dishes.
Healthy Alternative to Sweet Chili Sauce
Combining hot sauce and honey are great ways to substitute for sweet chili sauce because both are much better for you than sweet chili sauce refined sugar varieties. You may also wish to try the soy sauce, honey, apple cider vinegar, and red pepper flakes combination mentioned above, as this would also yield a delectable flavor without the use of refined sugar or high fructose corn syrups.
How to Make Sweet Chili Sauce Substitute
*Adapted from Fitbilly DIY Sweet Chili Sauce Recipe
You will need:
- 1 tsp of Ginger Powder (adjust as needed according to preference)
- 1 cup of Honey
- 1 cup Rice Vinegar
- 4 tbsp of Chili Paste
- 1 tbsp of Cornstarch
- Combine and heat
Combine the first three ingredients in a pot and heat to boiling.
Reduce heat and stir until thickened.
With the heat on low, stir in the chili paste.
- Combine slurry
Combine the cornstarch with an equal amount of water to make a slurry in a separate bowl. Add the mixture to your sweet chili sauce.
- Cook, cool, serve
Continue to cook for 1-2 minutes until fully combined and thick. Let cool and serve.
No, Sriracha isn’t the same as sweet chili sauce.
However, you can use Sriracha in place of sweet chili sauce in a pinch. Just be sure to note that Sriracha won’t be nearly as sweet as sweet chili sauce, and will pack quite a punch in terms of heat.
If the dish is being served to children or those sensitive to heat, you may wish to skip Sriracha as a replacement for sweet chili sauce.
Be careful; chili sauce and “sweet” chili sauce are NOT the same things!
Sweet chili sauce is sweet with a little heat, while chili sauces like Heinz Chili Sauce are made mostly from tomatoes, and thus, have a less sweet flavor.
In America, it has become popular to make a sauce that combines grape jelly and chili sauce to coat meatballs with. These are often called “cocktail” or “grape jelly” meatballs and are served at a variety of events including baby showers, potlucks, and more. But this kind of sauce still isn’t recognized as a “true” sweet chili sauce.
When comparing ketchup and sweet chili sauce, know that the two are very different. Ketchup is tomato-based while most sweet chili sauces won’t contain tomatoes at all. Having said that, your standard chili sauce, like Heinz, is more similar to ketchup and thus, can be used the same way
In a real pinch you could try substituting ketchup for sweet chili sauce, but just be sure to add red pepper flakes to the mix if you wish to maintain the heat that chili sauce often brings.
Sweet and sour sauce is very similar to sweet chili sauce. However, sweet chili sauce contains heat that sweet and sour sauce does not. Thus, you won’t see little flecks of red peppers in sweet and sour like you would sweet chili sauce.
Sweet Chili Sauce Substitutes Are Plenty!
To conclude, there are many sweet chili sauce substitutes available, and many of them are quite healthy. We recommend you play around with substitutes if you have no sweet chili sauce on hand, or simply whip up a batch of your own! You may find you like it more than the real thing!
Related “saucy” posts for you!