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5 Incredible Substitutes For Sweet Chili Sauce

Maria Foster
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by Maria Foster

Sweet chili sauce is a sweet and sour condiment that is often used as a dipping sauce. It’s made with vinegar, sugar, and red chili paste which gives it Thai-inspired flavors.  

5 Incredible Substitutes For Sweet Chili Sauce

If you’re out of sweet chili sauce, the best substitutes are homemade sweet chili sauce, sriracha, chili garlic sauce, spicy ketchup, and sambal oelek

A tablespoon of CaloriesFatProteinCarbsSugarRatio
Homemade Sweet Chili Sauce190.5 g0.5 g5 g0.5 g1.1
Sriracha150.2 g0.3 g3 g1.9 g1.1
Chili Garlic Relish200 g0 g5 g4 g1.1
Spicy Ketchup230 g0 g5 g5 g1.1
Sambal Oelek90.3 g0.6 g0.9 g0.9 g1.1

 What Does Sweet Chili Sauce Taste Like?

Sweet chili sauce has both sweet and spicy flavors. The condiment resembles sweet and sour sauce, with the extra kick from red chili paste

The sauce is also made with sugar, which gives it a nice sweetness. Some bottles may vary in spice, depending on their sugar-to-spice ratio. In most cases, however, sweet chili sauce is mild with a touch of spice. 

Vinegar is another important ingredient, as this adds an acidity that cuts through the other ingredients. This gives the sauce its sour, sharp, and tangy feel. 

Other notable ingredients include paprika, ginger, garlic, and cilantro. Though the sauce is mainly sweet, these ingredients give the sauce savory notes. 

Sweet chili sauce is thick and pleasantly sticky, making it a natural addition to East Asian dishes, like spring rolls, chili chicken, or vegetables. Some people like to top grilled fish with sweet chili sauce as well.

Sweet Chili Sauce Nutritional Value

A tablespoon of sweet chili sauce contains:

  • 35 calories
  • 0 g fat
  • 8.8 g carbs
  • 8.4 g sugar
  • 0 g fiber
  • 0 g protein

Sweet Chili Sauce Substitutes

  1. Homemade sweet chili sauce
  2. Sriracha
  3. Chili garlic relish
  4. Spicy ketchup
  5. Sambal oelek

Homemade Sweet Chili Sauce

The best sweet chili sauce is the homemade version. This will depend on whether you have some staple ingredients in your pantry. 

You only need three ingredients to make this substitute: maple syrup (or vegan honey), white vinegar, and chili flakes

As you mix them, you’ll create a basic version of sweet chili sauce. This will have the main sweet, spicy, and sour notes that you’re looking for, without needing to shop for a new bottle. 

To make this substitute, mix a tablespoon of maple syrup (or vegan honey) with a tablespoon of white vinegar and a teaspoon of red pepper flakes. 

Use a 1:1 ratio to substitute sweet chili sauce for this blend. 


Sriracha is a tangy, spicy, and slightly sweet condiment. It’s a nice starting point to use in place of sweet chili sauce, but you’ll need to change it so it resembles the sauce better. 

Sriracha is spicier and sharper compared to regular sweet chili, so you’ll need to mix in a little sugar or sweetener. This will give the condiment the sweet notes that you’re looking for. 

Use sriracha in a 1:1 ratio in place of sweet chili sauce. 

Chili Garlic Relish

Chili garlic relish is made with garlic, chili peppers, salt, and rice vinegar. You can purchase this from East Asian supermarkets, online, or make a homemade version at home. 

Chii garlic sauce has comparable spicy notes to sriracha and sweet chili sauce, so it can work well in its place. 

However, note that chili garlic relish has a lot more garlic compared to regular sweet chili. This gives the sauce a distinct garlic flavor, in addition to the spicy, sweet, and sour notes. 

The relish does have similar qualities to sweet chili sauce, but it’s a lot chunkier, with chili seeds and pieces within it. 

Substitute chili garlic relish for sweet chili sauce in a 1:1 ratio. 

Spicy Ketchup

Spicy ketchup is available at larger grocery stores and specialty stores. If you can find this in your area, this can work as a sweet chili sauce substitute. It doesn’t taste exactly like sweet chili, but it has comparable spicy-sweet notes. 

If you can’t find spicy ketchup, simply mix regular ketchup with a little hot sauce, chili powder, or chili flakes. Add the spicy ingredients gradually to prevent it from tasting too spicy. 

Substitute spicy ketchup for sweet chili sauce in a 1:1 ratio. 

Sambal Oelek

Sambal oelek is a chili sauce that originates from Indonesia. This is made from a mix of sugar, garlic, and fresh chilies, in addition to other spices.

Sambal oelek is thick and viscous, as it has little chili pieces and seeds running through it. It’s chunky and garlicky compared to regular sweet chili sauce, but it will work in a pinch if you can’t find any other substitutes.

Sambal oelek is primarily spicy, so it’s best to add a little maple syrup (or vegan honey) to give it sweeter notes. 

Substitute sambal oelek for sweet chili sauce in a 1:1 ratio. 

5 Incredible Substitutes For Sweet Chili Sauce

Sweet chili sauce is often used in Thai and other East Asian cuisines. Its sweet, sour, and spicy flavors work well in many recipes, like these four classic examples.

Sweet Chili Salad Dressing

If you want to update your salad and give it a little spice, try making this sweet chili dressing. It’s a nice change from regular vinaigrettes, as it’s packed with lots of tasty Eastern flavors. 

The sweet chili sauce mixes with Dijon mustard, soy sauce, and honey, creating a sweet, salty, and slightly spicy dressing. This goes well with a lot of different salads, but it also tastes great drizzled over roast vegetables as well! 

Sweet Chili Shrimp

These shrimp are sticky, sweet, and savory, making them a great side dish alongside other Eastern dishes. 

Lime juice works well against the chili sauce, giving the shrimp a pleasant tang. You can have this recipe ready in just 15 minutes, so it’s great to whip up when you’re in a rush. 

Sweet Chili Chicken

Chili chicken is a common sight on Thai menus, but you can make it easily in your own home. This dish involves coating crispy chicken pieces with lime juice, garlic, and sweet chili sauce. 

If you’re a spice fan, top with red chili slices to add a nice kick, but you can swap these for green onions if you prefer. 

Sweet Chili Nuts

If you’re after a tasty snack with a slight spiciness, give these sweet chili nuts a try. 

You’ll be coating cashews with seasoning and sweet chili sauce, then baking them in the oven until they’re toasted. The result is crunchy, sweet, and spicy nuts that are sure to keep your tastebuds happy. 

Remember to keep an eye on the nuts as they roast, as they can brown quicker than expected. 

Spicy Sweet Chili Veggie Noodles

This vegan recipe is perfect for quick weeknight dinners, as well as healthier weekend lunches. 

Tasty ingredients, like mushrooms, noodles, and courgettes, are coated with a sweet chili sauce, peanut butter, and sriracha blend. You’re left with a creamy, sweet, and spicy dish with a pleasant nutty undertone. 

This recipe takes just 20 minutes, so it’s great for serving others in a hurry! 


Sweet chili sauce is tasty and versatile, as you can make a lot of different recipes with it. Nevertheless, if you ever run out of the sauce and need a substitute ingredient, there are lots of things to use in its place!

If you have a few kitchen staples lying around, you can make a quick DIY sweet chili sauce. This has the main flavors you’re looking for, but if you can’t make this at home, you can opt for other ingredients instead. 

Sriracha, chili garlic relish, and spicy ketchup have similar flavors, though you may need to modify each ingredient to give them a light sweetness. Try a few substitutions out at home and see which ones you prefer. 

We hope that you find a sweet chili substitute that works in your recipes! 

About Maria Foster
Maria Foster
Maria Foster is a mother of 3 and she and her husband of 23 years share their home with 2 faithful dogs. Besides being CEO of the household and active in her community, Maria is the lead contributor to Food Champs and loves to try new food ideas and kitchen accessories to make easier and more delicious meals.
Maria Foster
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