substitutues for sweet chili sauce

8 Best Sweet Chili Sauce Substitutes

Referred to as Nam Chim Kai in Thai, sweet chili sauce has seen a meteoric rise in popularity in Afghan, Malaysian, and Western cuisines. 

It is made from ingredients such as dried chili flakes, fish sauce, and rice wine vinegar, alongside a sweetening ingredient like honey or sugar. This condiment is a must-try when you need to add a unique spicy kick to your Asian and Thai dishes. 

But what do you do when you’re out of it? I have listed out the best sweet chili sauce substitutes which will beat running to the store any day of the week! 


8 Best Sweet Chili Sauce Substitute

1. Hot Sauce and Honey Mix 

Starting the list off with two pantry staples, a mixture of hot sauce and honey is my first recommendation. 

It does not replace sweet chili sauce entirely of course, but in a pinch, it will definitely satisfy that flavor craving. This mix works both as a condiment and as a dipping sauce. Remember to add a small bit of vinegar to this as well. 

The brand of the hot sauce does not matter, and the heat can be of your personal preference. If texture is the main factor, then this mixture is best suited for you as it comes without the mouthfeel of raw pepper flakes. 

How to Substitute:

Mix 1 ½ teaspoon of hot sauce with 1 tablespoon of honey. Adjust to preference. The mixture can substitute for sweet chili sauce in a 1:1 ratio.  

2. Plum Sauce with Hot Sauce/Red Peppers 

Plum Sauce with Hot Sauce

An option for when you desperately need sweet chili sauce for a marinade or binding ingredient, the mixture of plum sauce with something hot will certainly do the trick. 

Plum sauce is a light brown, sweet-and-sour condiment. Although using this in your recipe can alter the final look of your dishes, it more than makes up for it with its distinct flavor. This substitution method is versatile, letting you choose between hot sauce and chopped-up red peppers. 

Also Read:  9 Best Substitutes for Chili Garlic Sauce

The plum sauce and chili mixture can be used to make noodles, roasted duck, wings, shrimp, salmon, and so much more. 

How to Substitute: 

Mix 1 tablespoon of plum sauce with 1 teaspoon of hot sauce or ½ teaspoon of chopped/crushed red peppers. This mixture can substitute sweet chili sauce in a 1:1 ratio. 

3. Hoisin Sauce with Red Pepper Flakes and Vinegar 

Made with fermented soybeans, garlic, sesame oil, sugar, and a few spices, hoisin sauce is a common ingredient in many Asian cuisines. 

Hoisin sauce is mainly used as a marinade for its salty and umami flavor profile. Adding a significant amount of heat with a small dash of rice vinegar can really change how this sauce tastes. You can now use this for meat glazes, dipping sauce, stir-fry, etc. 

Alongside its taste, its thick texture perfectly matches that of sweet chili sauce. If the color of your dish isn’t an issue for you, this hoisin sauce mix is an extremely viable alternative. 

How to Substitute:

1 tablespoon of hoisin is mixed with ½ teaspoon of red pepper flakes and 1 teaspoon of rice vinegar to make this. 1 tablespoon of this mixture can substitute for 1 tablespoon of sweet chili sauce. 

4. Chopped Red Pepper with Red Pepper Flakes and Honey Mix

For dishes where the color is an important factor, you can use this mix of chopped red peppers, red pepper flakes, and honey to emulate that. 

Perfect for making spring rolls, shrimp, brussel sprouts, stir fry, and more, this mix can prove to have a variety of uses in every recipe. Depending on the texture you want, you can either chop the red peppers into small cubes for an extra crunch or finely dice them to incorporate them fully.  

You can substitute red pepper for red jalapenos, and change the sweetener to something like agave. But keep in mind this does affect the overall taste of your dish.  

Also Read:  11 Best Substitutes for Paprika

How to Substitute: 

Dice 1 large red pepper and mix with 1 teaspoon of rice vinegar, 1 tablespoon of honey, and ½ teaspoon of red pepper flakes. This mix can substitute sweet chili sauce in a 1:1 ratio.

5. Soy Sauce with Apple Cider Vinegar, Chili Sauce, and Honey

soy sauce

An option for the health-conscious, spicy soy sauce is a perfect option for getting added nutritional benefits from your sauce. 

This mixture is certainly a medley of flavors with the tangy taste of apple cider vinegar, the saltiness from the soy sauce, sweetness from honey, and the spicy kick from the chili sauce. You can even go a step further and add garlic, ginger, and other spices of your choosing. 

Although this won’t be as sweet as sweet chili sauce, this mixture adds a complex flavor profile to anything it is added to. 

How to Substitute:

Mix 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with ½ teaspoon of red pepper flakes, honey, and soy sauce. This mixture can substitute for sweet chili sauce in a 1:1 ratio. 

6. Spicy Ketchup

Spicy Ketchup

Going a different direction from our last few entries, we move to a direct substitution which needs no prep-time. 

Spicy ketchup is a condiment made from tomatoes, red chili puree/powder, sugar, vinegar, and other seasonings and spices. This sauce is everything from spicy to sweet, tangy to salty. The texture is thick enough to replicate sweet chili sauce. 

Compared to other mixes, this is a perfect option to make dips from. You can always add a finely diced red chili pepper if the heat isn’t up to your liking. 

How to Substitute: 

1 tablespoon of spicy ketchup can substitute for 1 tablespoon of sweet chili sauce. 

7. Tomato Chili Sauce with a Sweetener 

Tomato Chili Sauce

If you’re in a pinch and you can genuinely find nothing else, a mixture of a tomato-based chili sauce with a sweetener can save the day.

Also Read:  15 Best Substitutes for Oregano

Although not my preferred substitute for sweet chili sauce, this can certainly recreate the same flavor profile. Like spicy ketchup, tomato chili sauces have a slightly sour aftertaste, which is present in Thai sweet chili sauces too. Add some honey or maple syrup to your sauce of choice to achieve your desired flavor profile.

 When choosing sauces, you can go with several other non-tomato-based options, like tabasco, harissa sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and so on. Remember to adapt to every flavor profile of the different sauces and sweeteners.

How to Substitute:

1 tablespoon of tomato chili sauce mixture can substitute for 1 tablespoon of sweet chili sauce. Adjust quantities of tomato chili sauce to personal preference. 

8. Sriracha Sauce 

sriracha sauce

Finally, we have another direct substitution to replace Thai sweet chili sauce. Sriracha sauce is possibly the name you hear whenever someone calls for hot sauce. 

Made from red chili peppers, garlic, vinegar, and sugar, Sriracha sauce goes well with just about any savory dish. It is spicy and slightly tangy, with a thick texture. It is perfect to make dips, marinades, seasoning rubs, and even cocktails! 

Sriracha can prove to be slightly spicier than sweet chili sauce. So use a smaller amount of the former when substituting sweet chili sauce. Alternatively, you can add just a little bit of honey to make the sauce sweeter.

How to Substitute:

½ tablespoon of Sriracha can substitute for 1 tablespoon of sweet chili sauce.


Thai sweet chili sauce lends a unique taste to any dish it is added to and can seem hard to replicate. But with a little ingenuity and improvisation, you are sure to find a substitute for sweet chili sauce whenever you’re in a pinch!

What’s better, you can follow some of these recipes and experiment to find the perfect personalized sweet chili sauce for you. 

Scroll to Top