Substitute for Red Chili Paste

Red chilis and mortar and pestle on wooden surface.

Red chili paste, a spicy, crimson, and fiery paste, is a staple in Asian cooking, and it is one of my pantry’s must-have ingredients.

This simple paste is used in recipes from all over the world, including Chinese, Thai, Malaysian, Vietnamese, and Korean cuisines. Red chili paste adds a fiery bite and depth of flavor to any dish it’s put to, taking the flavor to new heights.

Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.

Save this

Enter your email below and I'll email this post to you -- no strings and no further emails unless you ask for them.

Even though it is readily available on the market, it is such a bummer when you find out you don’t have any available at home when you need to fix up a recipe that calls for it.

Read on as you can learn more about some excellent substitutes for red chili paste highlighted in this article for days you are in a pinch.

Red chilis and mortar and pestle on wooden surface.

What Is Red Chili Paste

Notably, red chili paste is made with dried red chilies, garlic, and seasonings; you may adjust the heat level to your taste.

Fresh or dried red chilies are used to make chili paste, a spicy, flaming red condiment with a solid texture with a strong flavor and color, unlike chili sauce.

It may also be seasoned with other spices like garlic, ginger, vinegar, sesame seeds, or other seeds. Chilli garlic paste, in particular, is an integral ingredient of Indo-Asian cuisine and enriches the flavor of any dish.

Moreover, red chili paste is a popular condiment for making spicy, flavorful, and delicious Indian, Mexican, Asian, and Chinese dishes.

This paste should be a must-have in every cabinet for those who enjoy spicy dishes and strong flavors. What a lovely combination of flavor and color it brings to any dish.

Red Chili Paste Uses in Recipes

Like spice mixes and rubs, Chile pastes aren’t technically sauces, but they are often used in salads, sauces, and marinades and put on dishes before grilling or roasting.

I have compiled a good list of delectable dishes and recipes you can use red chili paste in:

Red Chili Paste Substitutes

A decent chili paste will offer a unique level of heat and flavor to your dish that you won’t find anyplace else. You can get it at the grocery store, but it’s a burden when you run out of it with a recipe at hand.

You can consider these remarkable red chili paste substitutes in a pinch.

Red Pepper Flakes 

McCormick Organic Crushed Red Pepper, 7.75 Oz
  • USDA Certified Organic; Non-GMO Project Verified
  • Crushed organic red pepper works in any recipe that calls for fiery chili peppers
  • Easy-to-handle bottle for refilling spice jars; larger size so you always have on hand
  • TRY THIS: Season olive oil with red pepper, oregano and Parm. Serve with Italian bread
  • From Americas #1 Herb and Spice Brand

Crushed red pepper flakes are indeed a simple replacement for red chili paste. It adds an extra layer of heat to your recipe; moreover, you most likely already have this ingredient on hand.

Cayenne chilies, dried and crushed, make up these fiery flakes. Each jar of spice contains many seeds, which gives this product an extremely fiery flavor.

While crushed red pepper flakes can be used in place of chili paste, they lack the consistency of chili paste, which may be vital for the cuisine you’re making.

You could add additional sugar and soy sauce to your flakes if you need a pastier replacement. This results in sweet and spicy chili paste comparable to gochujang.

If you want your cuisine hot and spicy, you can even add some flakes on the top when it’s time to serve.


In a pinch, Sriracha is a good culinary substitute for red chili paste.

Before choosing this option, keep in mind the modest changes in consistency and flavor between these two spicy condiments. When compared to red chili paste, Sriracha is significantly thinner and runnier.

If you wish to thicken your sauce, add a pinch of sweet paprika to the mix. Many hot sauces have a tangy vinegar flavor, making them less ideal condiments. Sriracha sauce, which has more of a garlic flavor and a thick, paste-like consistency, knocks out many other spicy sauces for this reason.

You can add one teaspoon of sweet paprika to every teaspoon of Sriracha that replaces a red chili paste in your recipe.

Spicy Ketchup

Spicy ketchup may not be the best substitute for red chili paste; however, if the consistency of the chili paste is important to you, this ingredient could be a solid backup.

You will need to add some pepper flakes or chili powder to your recipe because tomato paste lacks the spice of red chili paste. Keep in mind that this stand-in ingredient gives your recipe a characteristic tomato flavor, comparable to ketchup, as well as an acidic tang.

Nonetheless, spicy tomato ketchup can be used instead of the red chile paste in your recipe. If you wish to increase the heat, add a dab of pepper flakes or chili powder, or both, to your tomato paste.

Ketchup and Ground Cayenne Pepper

Amazon Brand, Happy Belly Cayenne Red Pepper, Ground, 2.75 Oz
  • 2.75-ounces of ground Happy Belly Cayenne Red Pepper
  • Hearty flavor, bold taste and vibrant aroma
  • Common in many different regional styles of cooking
  • Use in soups, stews, dips, spreads, meat loaf, pot roast, sauces, taco seasoning, seafood, egg dishes, souffles and more
  • Kosher certified

Since the two condiments have a similar texture, ketchup is an excellent substitute for red chili paste.

Ketchup is primarily made from ripe red tomatoes and may also contain distilled vinegar, high-fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, salt, spice, onion powder, and natural flavorings.

Notably, the flavor characteristics of ketchup and chili paste are vastly different. Red chili paste contains more heat than ketchup, which has a sweet undertone.

You can give your ketchup substitute the sharp edge it needs to keep the zest in your dish by adding some cayenne pepper to the mix. Cayenne pepper is a type of hot chili pepper commonly used by chefs to increase the heat level in savory recipes.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is there a difference between red chili paste and chili sauce? 

Red chili paste has a slightly thicker consistency and typically contains more chili peppers as its main ingredient. Meanwhile, chili sauce has a thinner consistency and frequently contains additional seasonings.

Is red chili paste hot or mild?

Red chili paste is typically hot and spicy. However, red chili paste has a wide range of flavors. Some of the mixes are hot and spicy, while others are sweet and spicy.

Can I use chili paste instead of chili sauce?

Chili pastes can be used to substitute several chili sauces. Chili sauces can be thickened to make them more suitable as alternatives for chili pastes.


Chili paste gives a meal a strong pepper flavor. Therefore, if you are one of those folks who enjoy anything with a strong chili flavor, having chili paste on hand will prove essential.

However, what do you do when you find that you have run out of red chili paste in the middle of preparing a meal? You don’t need to worry; opt for any substitutes highlighted here.

Last update on 2023-06-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API