Hot sauce is widely enjoyed and loved — even though it burns our lips and makes our eyes watery.
We “hot heads” always add a little extra spice to our burgers, eggs, and chicken wings — it’s a sensation we just can’t live without. But what if you discover you’re out of hot sauce in the middle of making a meal?
Tragic, indeed! Anyway, you can still save your meal because there are a handful of spicy alternatives that you can swap hot sauce for.
Hot Sauce Alternatives
- Mexican hot sauce
- Chili powder
- Green pepper sauce
- Sambal oelek
- Red pepper flakes
- Chili-garlic sauce
- Curry Paste
Mexican Hot Sauce
Mexican-inspired hot sauces have a lower acidity than the beloved classic hot sauce. As a result, these sauces have a stronger chili taste and slightly less tang.
Additionally, they may also appear thicker than regular spicy sauces. If you enjoy thicker sauces with a peppery flavor, this one is a great option.
In this category, well-known brands that stand out in terms of taste and texture are Valentina, Cholula, and Tapatio.
A nice chili powder will do just fine if all you want is just a touch of dry heat.
There are different types of chili powder substitutes to choose from. Cayenne pepper, for instance, isn’t super hot but has a strong peppery taste that’s excellent for adding spice to dishes.
Paprika spice is another chili powder option to consider. This spice can add a sweet, spicy, or smokey taste.
Sweet paprika is often used with chicken soups and beef stews for a sweet peppery aroma. It’s not uncommon to put it on top of avocado toast, eggs, or mashed potatoes, either.
Hot paprika is a Hungarian kind of paprika that gives a peppery, fiery bite to any meal.
Smoked paprika is prepared from dried, smoked peppers and has a deep, smokey taste. The heat level of this spice ranges from moderate to medium to super hot.
This brilliant red sauce originated in Thailand in the beach town of Si Racha. Its recipe includes garlic, sugar, and the three primary hot sauce components — chilly peppers, salt, and vinegar. It has a thick texture that some compare to ketchup.
Sriracha is milder in terms of heat than traditional hot sauce, but it’ll undoubtedly provide a peppery flavor with a touch of heat, followed by a sweet tang.
Sprinkle this sauce on burgers, tacos, burritos, or anything else that goes well with something that’s on the sweeter side.
Green Pepper Sauce
Green pepper sauces have a distinctive green tint and are produced from green Jalapeno chili peppers.
The red chili peppers used to make our traditional hot sauce are more potent than green chili peppers. As a result, green pepper sauce is less sweet, has a more “vegetable” flavor, and its heat is more subtle.
Some of the most renowned brands that make green pepper sauce are Cholula and Tabasco.
This green pepper sauce pairs perfectly with Mexican-inspired dishes, especially burritos, empanadas, and enchiladas.
Introducing an Indonesian delicacy and another top hot sauce substitute on our list, sambal oelek.
This is a thick sauce made with fresh chili peppers, salt, and a dash of vinegar.
Because it contains entire pepper seeds, it’s thicker and slightly chunkier than the classic hot sauce.
This peppery sauce may be added as a topping to burgers and hot dogs, but it also works well as a cooking ingredient in stews, marinades, or stir-fries when you don’t have any hot sauce on hand.
Red Pepper Flakes
Red pepper flakes are one of the most common hot spices. Bell, cayenne, Jalapeno, Fresno, and other peppers from the chili pepper family are used to make red pepper flakes.
Depending on the pepper combination, their heat level can range from mild to quite spicy.
The quantity of seeds in red pepper flakes also impacts the heat level, with more seeds equaling higher heat.
Gochujang is a dark red paste created from red chili pepper flakes, fermented soybeans, salt, and sticky rice.
It’s a famous staple in Korean cuisine and has a rich tomato flavor that’s sweet, sour, and mildly spicy.
In terms of consistency, Gochujang is thicker than hot sauce, but you can always mix it with a bit of water if you prefer it to be more watery.
Gochujang goes well with chicken wings, roasted veggies, and tofu. It also complements stir-fries and stews.
We dedicate this hot sauce substitute to all garlic enthusiasts out there.
Chili-garlic sauce has a very similar consistency to Sambal Oelek, thanks to the presence of crushed chili peppers. But this one is much more flavorful because of the inclusion of — you guessed it — garlic.
Chili garlic sauce is less fiery than regular hot sauce since it includes fewer chili peppers.
Nevertheless, its sweet, spicy, garlicky taste will perfectly complement Chinese dishes like shirataki noodles. You can also use it as a dipping sauce for chicken or fish sticks.
This spicy alternative is certainly recognizable to those who are familiar with North African food or, more specifically, Tunisian cuisine.
Harissa is a thick and somewhat gritty chili paste that consists of ground red chili peppers, cumin, coriander, and a little olive oil.
Harissa differs from a lot of the other hot sauces on our list due to the addition of spices like cumin and coriander, as well as the rich olive oil.
Compared to hot sauce, it has a deeper taste that’s sweeter and smokier, as it has the right amount of spice complemented by lemon and garlic.
One of the nicest things about harissa is how versatile it is. You can use it to perk up a chicken breast or sea bass, or mix it into a simple tomato or marinara sauce.
This essential ingredient in Thai cuisine may be a fantastic substitute for adding lots of flavor and spice to a meal.
Curry pastes come in red, yellow, and green varieties. The spiciest is the red curry paste, which contains up to 20 different dried chilis.
Green curry paste gives a mild spiciness that is both rich and herbaceous and contains many of the same chilies as red curry paste.
Meanwhile, yellow curry paste is hearty and slightly sweet, and the spiciness varies based on the type of chili used.
As fans of hot sauce are well aware, no hot sauce substitute is exactly alike.
Each one is unique in its own way and was specially developed to attain a certain flavor character.
For example, sambal oelek is thicker, Mexican hot sauce is more peppery than tangy, while green pepper sauce will add a veggie flavor to your recipes.
For spice fans who want a garlicky aftertaste, Sriracha and chili-garlic sauce are great options.
If you want your spice aromatic, then opt for either curry paste, gochujang, or harissa.
The sauces can be used during cooking or as a dip, while the dry alternatives, like chili powders or red pepper flakes, can be sprinkled on top of dishes.