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Substitute for Chili Sauce

When a recipe calls for chili sauce, it can get confusing, especially since that name calls many other ingredients. But more important is what to do when you don’t have any around. Some people would make some chili sauce with ketchup as a base ingredient. Others may consider using sweet chili sauce in its stead. But a more accessible option would be to consider close substitutes that would deliver the same level of hotness and body to your recipe.

What is Chili Sauce?

The closest description of an authentic chili sauce would be any sauce made up of tomato sauce and chilies, with added spices and ingredients like vinegar and sometimes even sugar. The blend of peppers in the mix makes it hot, though the vinegar taste isn’t too strong. And regarding its consistency, it flows almost like regular ketchup.

Chili Sauce Uses in Recipes

Most times, chili sauce is added to recipes to give it a level, not hotness. Because of its spicy nature, it helps lift the flavor of a dish or enhance the taste effect. And it can be used in a wide range of recipes, including baked goods. It’s also a splendid addition to dishes that mainly consist of meat and fish and works perfectly in grilled recipes.

Chili sauce is also helpful in recipes that need to be simmered, especially if you want the spicy taste to be fully incorporated into the recipe. It can also be used as a topping or mixed into some to boost the heat level. The culinary applications of chili sauce are so numerous; you’ll find it as a regular addition to recipes, including;

  • Sauces
  • Pasta
  • Hot wings
  • Barbecue
  • Red curry
  • Meatloaf
  • Steak
  • Lamb chops
  • Pork chops
  • Soups
  • Glazes
  • Shrimp dishes
  • Chicken ramen
  • Dips
  • Tacos
  • Burgers and sandwiches
  • Hotdogs
  • Pizzas
  • Nachos
  • Rice recipes
  • Spicy salad dressing
  • Baked thighs

Chili Sauce Substitutes

Whenever you run out of chili sauce, you can pick some suitable substitutes for your recipe. But it would help if you took note of two factors; heat level and the quantity called for in the recipe. When a recipe demands that you use chili sauce in small amounts, it’s best to find a spicy substitute to feel the concentrated heat. But when the recipe says to use lots of it, like, say, a cup or two, it’s best to consider if adding that much heat to your food is something you can handle. And if not, you can substitute with a milder alternative, like the ketchup-like types.

Regular Hot Sauce

Goya Salsa Picante Regular Hot Sauce


With a classic hot sauce, you can substitute for chili sauce in every recipe. But note that regular hot sauce comes in various heat levels, depending on the brand, so choose wisely. And since you can find these at any grocery store, you should read the label first before buying to confirm how hot it is. This way, you can decide if you’d prefer one that’s mildly spicy or extremely hot.

Sriracha Sauce

Huy Fong Foods Sriracha Chili Sauce


This famous Thai sauce is made from jalapeno peppers, garlic, and vinegar, with some sugar added to the mix. You can find a good bottle of sriracha sauce in grocery stores around you, and if you already own a bottle, you can use it as a substitute for chili sauce in all recipes. Sriracha sauce is robust, so if you’re not used to a lot of heat in your recipes, use less of it and work your way up. But if you can stand a spicy dish, substitute in equal amounts for chili sauce.

Chili-Garlic Paste

Chili garlic paste


You could also make a quick chili sauce substitute by blending equal parts of chili pepper and garlic cloves in a blender. And what’s more, you can store any excess in a jar for you to a week for future use. This substitute is a fantastic option if you’re making a rice recipe, a glaze, or spicy chicken or beef. And to get the best taste, roast the chilies first or use dried ones.

Spicy Ketchup

With a bottle of spicy ketchup, you can make up for the absence of chili sauce, especially in soups. Here, you’ve got two options; buy a ready-made bottle, or make some at home. The second option isn’t as hard as it sounds since all you need to do is make regular ketchup spicy. Do this by mixing the amount you wish to use with some chipotle powder or cayenne pepper. You can also use chili flakes to bring up the heat if that’s what you have. Or blend some freshly chopped chilis into the ketchup. And you can increase the heat to however you like by adding more pepper, but the overall mixture will be sweeter than regular chili sauce because of the ketchup content.

Spicy Tomato Sauce

An ideal substitute for chili sauce in soups, stews, and pasta sauces is spicy tomato sauce. You’ll be lucky if you already have a jar of it sitting in your fridge. And it works for pizzas and other recipes that pop with added tomato flavor. You can also make yours from home by adding pepper to tomato sauce as you wish. You can use cayenne pepper, fresh jalapenos, red pepper flakes, or even chipotle powder based on your heat preference.

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Substitute for Chili Sauce

Homemade Chili Sauce

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At your leisure, you can blend your supply of chili sauce right there in your kitchen.


  • 1 cup red chili peppers, dried or roasted
  • 1 cup jalapeno peppers, dried or roasted
  • 1 tomato, large and chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon oregano, ground
  • 1 teaspoon pepper powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  1. Saute the roasted chilies, jalapenos, and garlic. Add the tomatoes, vinegar, oregano, sugar, and salt. Stir, and cover for about 15 minutes.
  2. Put the mixture down, and allow to cool for about 25 minutes. Then, put in a blender and puree into the desired consistency.
  3. Store in a jar or container and keep in the fridge. This homemade chili sauce can keep for up to 3 months if stored properly. Also, leaving the seeds in the chilies before blending makes it spicier.
  • Author: Bobby

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is chili sauce the same as hot sauce?

No, they’re different. Hot sauce is more liquid in consistency compared to chili sauce. Also, chili sauce tends to have bits of flesh from the peppers it’s made and is thicker and richer than hot sauce.

Is chili sauce the same as sweet chili sauce?

No, they aren’t. Sweet chili sauce contains lots of sugar, and this is prevalent in the taste. It also makes it less spicy than regular chili sauce.

How hot is chili sauce?

The hotness of chili sauce varies with the brand, but on average, it ranges from 500-1000 scope heat units (warm) to 2000 scope heat units (hot). Anything between these is considered spicy.


Need to add some heat to your recipe, but you don’t have chili sauce? Don’t worry, because any of these substitutes will work just as well. Some perform better than others in different recipes, but you get a wide range of heat levels to apply to your cooking in the end.