Disclaimer: Anya's Eats is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

7 Best Sweet Chili Sauce Substitutes to Try at Home

Sweet chili sauce has a sugary flavor with notes of sour and spicy. It commonly consists of vinegar, dried red chili flakes, and sweeteners. Additionally, honey and sugar are usually used for the sauce. 

This sweet and spicy sauce is versatile and can be used in any dish you please. It can be used for seafood, beef, pork, poultry, and veggies.

Also, it’s relatively simple and easy to make. Fill a pot halfway with water and vinegar; bring to a boil over high heat. Cook for 5 minutes after adding the sugar, ginger, chili pepper, ketchup, and garlic. Stir in cornstarch. After the sauce thickens, remove it from heat, transfer it to your container, and refrigerate. 

This flavor bomb of a sauce is a popular condiment used in various dishes, from stir-fries to noodles. However, it can be difficult to find in stores, and it can be expensive. Luckily, a few sweet chili sauce substitutes might already be in your kitchen.

Keep reading to discover more about 7 chili sauce substitutes you can try at home!

7 Best Substitutes For Sweet Chili Sauce

You’re probably wondering, “Can I make a sauce similar to sweet chili?” The answer is YES! However, you may not have all the ingredients. Fortunately, I’ve gathered 7 recipes that can be a substitute for sweet chili sauce below. Let’s start!

1. Hot Sauce and Honey

Hot Sauce and Honey

Run out of your favorite sweet and spicy sauce, but have honey and hot sauce on hand? Then you have what you need to make an amazing sweet chili sauce substitute called spicy honey.

This honey and hot sauce combo has a similar taste to sweet chili sauce but is sweeter, but you can alter the recipe according to your taste. All you need to do is mix the two ingredients together and use it as you would any other sauce.

The recipe includes 1/4 cup of honey, 1/8 cup of water, and ⅓ cup of hot sauce for half a cup of chili sauce. Depending on your favorite,  you can use whichever hot sauce you want but carefully taste it first because it may dominate the other flavors. Additionally, you may add 2 tablespoons of vinegar or lemon juice to add a bit of tanginess to your sauce.

Hot sauce and honey can be used to substitute for sweet chili sauce in many recipes.  This option is ideal for preparing foods like coconut shrimp, chicken wings, or spring rolls. 

If you don’t like the sauce’s spiciness, dilute it with a little water and then blend it with honey. Use 1 tbsp of this mixture as an alternative to 1 tbsp of sweet chili sauce.

2. Spicy Ketchup

Spicy Ketchup

Because it has a similar flavor and aroma to sweet chili sauce, spicy ketchup is a great replacement. The most common ingredients of spicy ketchup are onion, allspice, coriander, cloves, cumin, garlic, and mustard. 

Spicy ketchup has all of the same flavors as sweet chili sauce, but with an extra kick.  Spicy ketchup has a more prominent tangy taste than sweet chili sauce because of its main ingredient (tomatoes). Generally, it can be used as a dip or in marinades, sauces, soups, stews, and other meals.

If you just have plain ketchup, add chili powder or flakes to make it spicier! Combine 1/3 cup of regular ketchup and ⅛ cup hot sauce to make half a cup of spicy ketchup. You can also add honey to make it sweeter. 

The best way to enjoy this dish is by substituting sweet chili sauce with spicy ketchup by 1 tbsp of spicy ketchup instead of 1 tbsp of sweet chili sauce.

3. Sriracha

Sriracha

Sriracha can be used as a substitute for sweet chili sauce in many recipes because of its versatility.

It is made from garlic, red chili peppers, vinegar, salt, and sugar and can be used to add spice and flavor to anything from noodle soup to chicken wings. Moreover, it will be great as a marinade for beef, pork, and poultry and can also be served as a dip. 

The flavor and consistency vary by brand, Sriracha with bright red coloring and spicer is most commonly associated with Vietnamese, Chinese, and Thai cuisine. However, you might notice that western kinds are slightly milder. 

It has a consistency similar to ketchup and is typically spicy with a tangy, sweet flavor and aromatic garlic undertones. It is another great substitute for sweet chili sauce because it already has a similar spice and aroma. 

Although the flavor of Siracha can be a bit more pungent than your typical sweet chili sauce, you can add sweeteners like white sugar or honey to balance it out. This sauce is good for marinating meats and usually good with buffalo wings. 

When substituting Sriracha for sweet chili sauce, it is important to taste the dish before serving to ensure that the flavors are balanced. You can mix 1/3 cup of Sriracha with 1/2 cup of honey for a sweet chili sauce substitute. This will help to maintain the sweetness and balance the heat of the Sriracha.

4. Tomato Chili Sauce

Tomato Chili Sauce

Another best substitute for sweet chili sauce is tomato chili sauce. The main ingredient is tomatoes which give this sauce that sweet and tangy flavor. While it resembles spicy ketchup in terms of taste and texture, most people use it as a cooking ingredient rather than a condiment.

The tomato chili sauce is not as sweet and equal in flavor as sweet chili sauce, but it will add depth and spicy taste to your recipes. The key is to find a tomato chili sauce that is not too spicy and has a nice balance of sweetness and acidity. 

To prepare tomato chili sauce, cook the tomatoes or use stewed tomatoes in a large saucepan over medium heat for 1 hour. Scoop out any extra liquid or foam using a skimming motion. 

Add 1 whole onion, 3-5 medium size tomatoes,  ⅛ cup of vinegar, 2 tablespoons of lime juice, ⅛ cup of white and brown sugar, 3 chili peppers, 1 bell pepper, and a pinch of salt to taste. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 3 to 5 hours until the liquid has reduced and thickened. 

Start removing the chili sauce from the heat and scoop off any foam that has formed. This recipe will make half a cup of chili tomato sauce. Here you go, a delicious substitute for sweet chili sauce is ready to satisfy your taste.  Remember to use tomato chili sauce with the same amount of 1:1 ratio to substitute for sweet chili sauce. 

5. Harissa Sauce

Harissa Sauce

Harissa is a North African chili pepper paste that can be used as a substitute for sweet chili sauce. It is made from garlic, olive oil, lemon, and chilies. This flexible harissa recipe is somewhat sweet, smokey, acidic, and spicy but not overpowering. In fact, it is very similar to ketchup and tomato chili sauce because of its tomato base.

It doesn’t have the exact sweet chili flavor, but it will surely give your dish a smokey, savory flavor.

One way to incorporate this sauce is by cooking it with chicken, but any meat will do. However, it is also excellent for seasoning fish, meat, or vegetables for grilling or baking.

Add a couple of teaspoons of homemade harissa to your soup or stew to add a bit of kick to your dish.

To make your Harissa sauce, rehydrate 1 cup of dried chilies in lukewarm water before removing the seeds. Roast tablespoons of coriander and cumin seeds and ground them in a food processor. If you don’t have a food processor, simply grind them by hand in a mortar and pestle and mix them afterward. 

After that, add garlic, salt, and smoked paprika and mix again before adding 1/8 vinegar and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice while blending into a paste. Pour olive oil and mix until it gets velvety and smooth. This Harissa sauce recipe will make 1 cup of sweet chili sauce substitute. Use 1 teaspoon of this recipe instead of 1 teaspoon of sweet chili sauce that you can add to your dishes.

>>> RELATED TOPIC: 15 Best Easy Ways To Substitute For Tomato Sauce | Anya’s Eats

6. Sambal Oelek

Sambal olek

Sambal Oelek is a fiery red pepper-based Indonesian chili paste. It is commonly prepared with fiery red chile peppers, salt, and vinegar. Some versions may include onion, lemon, sugar, and more. Additionally, several Asian and Western cuisines have acknowledged its excellence.

Sambal Oelek is less refined than sweet chili sauce but can be used as a substitution in recipes. It is thicker and has fewer flavors, such as no garlic. Additionally, Sambal’s pure chili flavor appeals to many hot sauce enthusiasts. It is not as sweet as the common sweet and spicy sauce, but you can combine ⅛ cup of honey and ⅓ cup of Sambal Olek for your sweet chili sauce.

You can add a spoonful of your homemade Sambal Oelek to your fried rice and enjoy its feisty flavor, or use it as a condiment for almost anything. From ramen to pizza, it will surely bring that spicy flavor you’re craving. Or even swap it out for hot sauce in your favorite recipe for buffalo wings.

If you’re out of sweet chili sauce, add 2 tbsp of Sambal Oelek, a tbsp of honey, and 1/3  cup of water to create 1 cup of sweet chili substitute. Use 1 cup of this recipe instead of a cup of sweet chili sauce and add more ingredients according to your preferences.

7. Plum Sauce with Hot Sauce

Plum Sauce with Hot Sauce

Take the humble Chinese plum sauce and elevate it with a good kick of chili. The result is an easy chili plum sauce that you can use on everything and can be a great substitute for sweet chili sauce.

This tastes like sweet chili but has a fruity undertone with a beautiful deep plum color that will surely elevate your dish.

Plum sauce is a sweet-sour sauce with a thick texture and a light brown color. The recipe includes 3-5 pieces of plums, ⅛ cup of ginger, ⅛ cup of vinegar, chilis, ⅛ cup of sugar, half a cup of hot sauce, and a pinch of salt. It can, however, be made from other fruits like pineapple, peach, or apricot.

To make this substitute, put all the ingredients in a big, heavy saucepan to make your plum sauce. Stir continuously without boiling over medium heat until all of the sugar has dissolved. Turn up the heat and simmer the mixture for about 45 minutes until the plums are soft and the mixture is pulpy. 

Remove the mixture from the heat and strain it to get the stones out of the plums. The strained mixture should be put back on the stove and cooked for 10 minutes to thicken. 

Put the sauce in the sterile jars, then keep it in the refrigerator. This recipe is a great sweet chili sauce substitute that makes up to 3 cups of sauce and is great for roasting, stir-frying, and spring rolls. Half a cup of this sauce is a great alternative to half a cup of sweet chili sauce that you can use for cooking.

Homemade Sweet Chili Sauce Recipe

This DIY sweet chili sauce recipe will become a household favorite! It is adaptable, quick, additive-free, and tastes MUCH better than store-bought food!

Common Ingredients: 

  • 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled and minced to add more 
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar (or a bit of honey) to add sweetness
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained or can replace with chili flakes
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth (optional)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons water

Instruction: 

  1. In a small saucepan, combine all of the ingredients and bring to a simmer while stirring often. When the sugar has been dissolved, add the cornstarch mixture to thicken the sauce.
  2. The sauce will thicken after about a minute of stirring.
  3. Pour the sauce into an airtight jar after letting it cool completely.
  4. It will last up to 5-7 days in the refrigerator when kept in an airtight container.

Here are some ways to use your sauce:

  • Pasta sauce
  • Wonton dip
  • Pork/beef/poultry/seafood marinade
  • Ramen add-on
  • Sweet and sour fish filet
  • Sweet and spicy wings
  • Fried rice
  • Chicken nugget dip

There’s no wrong way to use this sauce. Depending on your taste, you can experiment and try new dishes with the sauce.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is sriracha and sweet chili sauce the same?

They are completely different sauces. Sriracha is spicier and more intense than sweet chili sauce, distinguished by its sweet garlic flavor. The flavor profile is identical except for the lack of chili; however, sriracha sauce differs from other hot sauces such as Tabasco.

2. What’s the difference between chili sauce and sweet chili sauce?

These sauces are both unique in their ways. Chili peppers and sugar make sweet chili sauce, giving it a sweet flavor. On the other hand, chili sauce is more similar to ketchup because it’s tomato-based.

3. What Can I Substitute For Thai Sweet Chili Sauce?

Thai cuisine is well-known for its use of chili, particularly in the preparation of sauces. If you love Thai sweet chili sauce but don’t have any on hand, there are a few Thai sweet chili sauce substitutes depending on what you’re looking for. If you want a similar flavor, you could try using Sriracha sauce or even regular chili sauce. If you are looking for something with a sweeter taste, you could try using honey or agave nectar. Lastly, if you want something with a bit more of a kick, you could try using Sambal Oelek chili paste.

My sum up

Among the 7 sweet chili sauce substitutes, Spicy Honey is a go-to favorite to many. The mixture is versatile and can add your twist and flavors. It tastes great on cheese, pizza, empanadas, tacos, burgers, and chicken sandwiches. Additionally, it will complement an excellent charcuterie board.

Now, with the substitutes given above, you won’t have to go to the store and get sweet chili sauce when you run out. Good luck and happy cooking!

 

Photo of author

Anya Kaats

Hi! I’m Anya, a San Diego-based Holistic Health Coach and Marketing Consultant on a mission to share good food, health & happiness with as many people as possible. I am a graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN) and have worked in the natural & organic products industry for my entire professional career with companies such as Suja Juice, Brad’s Raw Foods, and Mamma Chia. While my life may be totally consumed with healthy food now, nutrition wasn’t always a passion of mine.