When you eat Thai food, you certainly include sweet chili sauce among your staple ingredients. However, not everyone can find this sauce everywhere and it may be a bit too spicy for others. Regardless of the reasons, there are many other foods to use in its place.
- What Is Sweet Chili Sauce?
- Why Replace Sweet Chili Sauce, Anyway?
- What Can I Replace Sweet Chili Sauce With?
- DIY Homemade Sweet Chili Sauce Recipe
What Is Sweet Chili Sauce?
Also known as Nam Chim Kai in Thai, this sauce is common in Thai, Afghan, Malaysian, and now Western foods. It consists of red chili peppers, rice vinegar, garlic, fish sauce, and either sugar or honey.
You can find this sauce accompanying egg rolls, lettuce wraps, chicken wings, and spring rolls.
While this sauce is now common in many grocery stores, Asian markets, and restaurants, you can still find it hard to buy it at times. Some brands also add more or less heat than others, so it can be hard to gauge the spice you are adding to your dishes.
Why Replace Sweet Chili Sauce, Anyway?
There are many reasons why some people need to substitute sweet chili sauce, here are some:
- Chili Pepper Allergy: Some people with allergies to bell peppers, eggplants, tomatoes, or cayenne pepper may also have an allergy to chili peppers. This can be extremely dangerous and this sauce should be avoided.
- Heat Intolerance: Not everyone likes spicy food, and if that is the case, sweet chili sauce can be a little too strong.
- Diet: In some cases, sweet chili sauce may contain fish sauce or other ingredients that make it unsuitable for vegans and some vegetarians.
What Can I Replace Sweet Chili Sauce With?
If you can’t find it or want another type of flavor, then these Thai sweet chili sauce substitutes are meant for you:
For Coconut Shrimp, Wings, and Salmon
#1. Hot Sauce + Honey
In a pinch, this is the best option to get a very similar flavor and texture. All you need to do is mix about 1 ½ teaspoon of hot sauce with one tablespoon of honey. You can pick the hot sauce you prefer, but make sure to taste it first, otherwise, you can overpower the rest of the flavors.
If you like cooking things like coconut shrimp, wings, or springs rolls, this choice works well. If you don’t like the hot sauce as much, add a touch of water to it and then mix it with honey, so you can dilute the heat.
See More: Honey Substitutes
#2. Plum Sauce + Hot Sauce
This choice seems a bit unconventional and could result in a different color, but it works wonders in terms of flavor. Mix a tablespoon of plum sauce with one teaspoon of the hot sauce of your choice.
You can find plum sauce in any grocery store, usually by the international food aisle or Asian food section.
Use this mix of sauces when you want to prepare wings, coconut shrimp, salmon, and noodles. Keep in mind that plum sauce is a dark burgundy color, which can alter the final aspect of your dish.
See More: Hot Sauce Shelf Life
#3. Chopped Red Bell Peppers + Red Pepper Flakes + Honey
If you want to mimic the appearance of sweet chili sauce, then a good option is to use red bell peppers and red pepper flakes. What you will need to do is chop the red bell peppers into very small cubes, mix in the honey, and then add the red pepper flakes.
This choice is sweeter than the others, but it adds great flavor to your coconut shrimp, salmon, spring rolls, or wings.
You can skip the bell peppers if they add too much crunch, but they are a good way to change the flavor and add texture. If you prefer, you can also change the honey for rice syrup or agave, but keep in mind that the level of sweetness will also change.
For Stir-Fry, Fish, and Brussels Sprouts
#4. Hoisin Sauce + Red Pepper Flakes + Rice Vinegar
If you like hoisin sauce, then this is a great opportunity to use it. Like a plum sauce, hoisin sauce is sweet and dark in color. You can mix one tablespoon of hoisin sauce with one teaspoon of vinegar, and ½ teaspoon of red pepper flakes.
As you can imagine, this mixture is less spicy than other choices, but it creates the perfect balance of sweet and tangy. Use this option when you are making a stir-fry, cooking fish, or preparing Brussels sprouts.
See More: Hoisin Sauce Alternatives
#5. Apple Cider Vinegar + Soy Sauce + Red Pepper Flakes + Honey
This is a healthy version of sweet chili sauce that you can make at home in only a few steps. Mix one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with ½ tablespoon of soy sauce, half a teaspoon of red pepper flakes, and ½ tablespoon of honey.
You can also add other ingredients for more flavor, such as ginger, and garlic.
If you don’t want to use apple cider vinegar, then try rice vinegar instead. You can also change the red pepper flakes for a dash of hot sauce if you prefer it. Use this choice when you cook vegetables, stir-fries, fish, and for dipping egg and spring rolls.
See More: Best Substitutes for Apple Cider Vinegar
DIY Homemade Sweet Chili Sauce Recipe
Even though it seems complicated, at the end of the day you can always try to make your sweet chili sauce at home. You will need 2 tablespoons of chili paste, ½ cup sugar or honey, ½ cup rice vinegar, water, ½ tablespoon cornstarch, and ginger to taste.
To prepare it, boil the vinegar, sugar, water, and garlic until they become a thick syrup. Slowly add the cornstarch and chili paste. Stir often until the consistency is thick and all ingredients are mixed, let stand and cool, and serve chilled.
Your best bet is to mix a hot sauce with honey, or honey with red pepper flakes and vinegar. All of these options have a similar sweet and spicy taste, but the color and texture may be different.
These two sauces are very similar, but technically not the same. A sweet and sour sauce is tangy and sweet, but it is mostly orange or red and has no chili flakes. Sweet chili sauce, on the other hand, is sweet, sour, and has a spicy kick to it due to the chili flakes in it.
You can use sriracha in place of sweet chili sauce, but to mimic the texture and flavor, you may want to add a bit of vinegar and honey. Also, keep in mind that sriracha may pack more heat than a traditional sweet chili sauce.
When you are a fan of Thai food, you are surely also a fan of sweet chili sauce. Still, sometimes this sauce can be hard to find, and you’ll be left stranded at the time of cooking. Instead, try any of these 5 options that are easy to make and very tasty.
Up Next: Substitutes for Sriracha Hot Sauce
Photo by depositphotos.com/AndreySt