substitute for chili garlic sauce

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Looking for a suitable substitute for chili garlic sauce? How about 10 incredible chili garlic sauce substitutes? Keep reading to find out how you can use ingredients in your kitchen or other similar sauces as a stand in for chili garlic sauce. 

substitute for chili garlic sauce


Chili garlic sauce also sometimes called chili garlic is a type of sauce made with ingredients like coarsely ground red chiles, lots of garlic, vinegar, salt, sugar, and a cornstarch slurry.

This sauce is hot and tangy and it can be used for a variety of foods including stir fry dishes, pizza, pasta, soups, meats, eggs, shrimp, and even as a spicy condiment.

But, what if you run out of the stuff? You must be wondering how exactly to sub for chili garlic sauce. And, we’re here to help you out!

In cases like these sometimes the best substitutes are concoctions that you can throw together with ingredients you find in your kitchen. Some store-bought substitutes work well too!

So, today, we will list up to 10 amazing substitutes for chili garlic sauce, including store-bought options and homemade concoctions so you have a variety of options to choose from.

Best substitutes for chili garlic sauce

Sriracha sauce

Sriracha sauce


A great chilli garlic sauce substitute worth trying put is sriracha sauce.

Sriracha sauce is a chile-style sauce made from ingredients like red chiles, garlic, vinegar, a sweetener like sugar, dates or raisins, and salt. These are all the same ingredients used to make chili garlic sauce. This sauce is also spicy, sweet, and tangy with garlicky notes, which is also great. 

While sriracha has the consistency of ketchup rather than the chunkier texture of chili garlic sauce, this sauce can replace chili garlic sauce as a dipping sauce, in salads, meats, fish, and even in stir fry dishes. 

Chili paste

Chili paste


Chili paste is another suitable alternative for chili garlic sauce. Chili paste is very similar to chili garlic sauce, except in texture.

Chili paste is made with some of the same ingredients as chili garlic sauce – chili peppers, distilled vinegar, garlic, and salt.

It is of a thicker consistency, but it works great with stir fry dishes, marinades, soups, sandwiches, burgers, and more.

Chili sauce

Chili sauce


Chili sauce also makes a suitable substitute for garlic chili sauce. Chili sauce is usually made with ingredients like chili peppers, vinegar, sugar, and salt. This sauce thus has a flavor that is sweet and spicy.

In order to make it a better substitute for chili garlic sauce, add some minced garlic to this sauce and use it.

Homemade chili garlic sauce with red chiles

Homemade chili garlic sauce with red chiles


A homemade chili garlic sauce made with red chiles is another ideal alternative for store-bought chili garlic sauce. For this, you will need chile peppers, fresh garlic cloves, sugar, vinegar, and salt and pepper. This homemade sauce can be used in the exact same way you would use the store-bought sauce. You can find a simple recipe for this sauce here.

Homemade chili garlic oil with red pepper flakes

Homemade chili garlic oil with red pepper flakes


Another great substitute for chili garlic sauce is a homemade chili garlic oil made with red pepper flakes.

To make it you will need about vegetable oil, red pepper flakes and fresh cloves of garlic, minced. This sauce is quite easy to make and can be used to in pretty much the same way you use store-bought chili garlic sauce on a 1:1 ratio. Find a great recipe for homemade chili garlic oil made with red pepper flakes here.

Harissa sauce 

Harissa sauce 


Harissa sauce also makes an acceptable replacement for chili garlic sauce too. Harissa sauce which is made from ingredients like dry red Chile peppers, garlic, onions, vegetable oil, citrus, and seasonings like cumin, caraway seeds and sweet paprika.

This sauce is smoky, tangy, slightly spicy and sweet. This means that the flavors are not exactly like that if chili garlic, as it contains additional flavors, nonetheless it can make a suitable replacement. Harissa sauce works in marinades, meats, soups, sauces and so much more.

Sambel oelek chili paste 

Sambel oelek chili paste


If you happen to have sambel oelek on hand, this is another item that can be used in place of chili garlic sauce. This chili paste is made with hot red Chile peppers, salt, and vinegar.

This chili paste is quite spicy in flavor. In fact, it is spicier than both sriracha and chili garlic sauce, so use less in recipes where the heat isn’t welcome. Also, sambel oelek chili paste has no garlic so you won’t get that garlic flavor that you’ll find in a chili garlic sauce.

Sambel oelek can replace chili garlic sauce in stir-fry dishes, on vegetables, eggs, for pizza, pasta dishes, grilled hamburgers, grilled meats, and even added to other sauces for flavor and heat. 

Chiu chow sauce (or Chiu chow chili oil)

Chiu chow chili oil


Chiu chow chili oil is a chili oil or chili sauce made from preserved or fresh chiles, fresh garlic, chili flakes, and oil. This chili oil has a little bit of spice, although it is not very spicy.

It also does have an umami flavor with hints of garlic and fruitiness. Use this Chinese chili oil for dishes like spaghetti, stir-fries, dumplings, ramen, as a drizzling oil, as a dipping sauce, and more. 

Hot sauce



Use hot sauce in place of chili garlic sauce as well. Hot sauce only works because of the kick of spiciness it can add to a dish.

Unfortunately, there is no garlicky flavor from hot sauce, but, if this is all you have access to at the moment feel free to add some freshly minced garlic to the hot sauce to infuse some garlic flavor into it. It makes an okay garlic chili sauce substitute.

Sweet chili sauce

Sweet chili sauce


As a last resort, sweet chili sauce can be a substitute for chili garlic sauce. Sweet chili sauce is made with some similar ingredients, but contains no garlic. Therefore, if you intend to use sweet chili sauce as a substitute, feel free to add some minced garlic into the sauce.

FAQs about chili garlic sauce

Is chili garlic sauce the same as Sriracha sauce?

No, those two sauces are not the same. While chili garlic sauce and sriracha sauce are made with almost all the same ingredients, they taste somewhat different.

Sriracha is also usually made of fermented chiles, while chili garlic sauce is made from fresher ingredients. Also, chili garlic sauce has a thicker, chunkier consistency and brighter flavor than sriracha sauce which has a texture similar to ketchup.

Can I use chili paste instead of chili garlic sauce?

Yes, you can use chili paste in place of chili garlic sauce. They’re made of pretty much the same ingredients although chili paste has a very thick and uniform consistency compared to chili garlic sauce. A good brand of chili paste worth using is the Dynasty Thai chili garlic paste.

Final thoughts

When making substitutes in certain sauces, the focus doesn’t always have to be on finding perfect flavor matches. In this case, we’ve shared 10 amazing sauces and concoctions that may not have the exact same flavor profiles as chili garlic sauce, but, they can be adjusted and work in most recipes that call for chili garlic with great results!

More sauce substitutes worth trying

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