7 Of The Best Chili Sauce Substitutes

For lovers of spicy food, there isn’t one ingredient that’s quite as important as a good chili sauce. Not only does it provide a delicious kick of heat, it also adds an extra layer of flavor to a dish. 

However, there’s no need to stress if you don’t have any chili sauce readily available in your kitchen, as there are a number of suitable substitutes you can use instead. 

With this in mind, our guide will take an in-depth look at seven of the best replacements you can use if you’re running low on chili sauce. What’s more, we’ll also look to answer some of the frequently asked questions related to the delicious ingredient. 

1. Regular Hot Sauce 

The first chili sauce substitute on our list is regular hot sauce. This is the most straightforward of all the replacements considering that all grocery stores have a wide range of ready-made hot sauces to choose from. 

There are several sauces which are extremely spicy and will likely blow your head off, while there are just as many that are considerably milder in heat for those who prefer a more subtle spice. 

Before making your decision, it’s a good idea to take a closer look at the label for both the ingredients and the spice level, as this will help guide you towards the sauce which is best-suited for your individual needs. 

2. Sriracha Sauce 

Sriarcha sauce originally came from Thailand during the 1930’s, and has since become one of the most popular hot sauces around the world. The sauce is made from red jalapeno chili peppers, garlic, vinegar, and sugar. 

Considering these are the only main ingredients of the sauce, you can quite easily try making it at home and have your own homemade sriracha. 

If you’re new to sriracha, it’s probably best to only try a little bit of the sauce at first, and then slowly work your way up depending on how you feel with the heat. This is because it’s relatively spicy compared to many of the similar condiments. 

3. Chili Powder And Flakes 

Chili flakes and chili powder are incredibly easy to find in stores and markets, and are usually packaged as a seasoning in a bag or jar. 

Just keep in mind that both powder and flakes can vary quite a bit in heat, so it’s always recommended to check the label and see whether the spice is suitable for you. 

For example, if you prefer a milder kick, you should aim for anaheim peppers and banana peppers, whereas if you’re looking for a super spicy flavor, aim for chili flakes and powder made from ghost peppers, jalapeno peppers, and Carolina Reaper peppers. 

What’s more, you can also make your own chili flakes by either roasting or drying chili peppers. Just grind them with the use of a food processor, blender, or mortar and pestle, and keep the chili flakes in an airtight container. These are great because they can last for as long as a year. 

4. Harissa Paste 

Harissa is a hot chili pepper paste that’s packed full of character and flavor. It can be used as a chili sauce replacement for a wide number of recipes, and its main ingredients are dried chili peppers, cumin, caraway, coriander, as well as plenty of herbs and spices. 

The heat provided by harissa paste is similar to sriracha, so it’s a little hotter than most of the other alternatives. With this in mind, it’s probably wise to take it easy at first if you’re not the biggest fan of spice. 

5. Chili-Garlic Paste 

If you have some spare red chilis and garlic in your kitchen, then this next substitution is perfect for you. What’s more, a chili-garlic paste is incredibly easy to make at home as all you need is a mortar and pestle. 

Before pounding the chili and garlic cloves together, it’s a good idea to either roast or dry the chilis and chop them into smaller pieces. If you don’t own a mortar and pestle, you can use a food processor or blender just as effectively. 

Once you’ve made the chili-garlic paste, you can get a week’s worth of usage so long as you store it in a clean jar. If you want to add some extra flavor to the paste, you can also add salt, pepper, and olive oil. 

This chili sauce replacement is ideal for several dishes, including hot chicken wing glazes and rice bowl toppings. 

6. Spicy Tomato Sauce 

For this next chili sauce substitute, you can simply open a jar or can of regular tomato sauce, and then add either fresh chili or chili powder to mix through the sauce, providing a stronger heat. 

It’s worth noting that a number of chefs use this technique when adjusting their pasta sauces to give them a little extra kick. 

Using this method also allows you to adjust the spiciness of the sauce to suit your taste preferences, giving you considerably more freedom than using a ready-made chili sauce. 

7. Spicy Ketchup

The final chili sauce substitution on our list, and by certainly no means the least, is spicy ketchup. This replacement ingredient is an excellent choice if you prefer a paste-like spicy condiment rather than one in powdered form. 

If you only have regular ketchup on hand, you can simply add some fresh, chopped chilis into the sauce and mix them together. Similarly, you can add chili flakes or powder to make the ketchup a little spicier. 

To make things easier, there are also readily available bottles of spicy ketchup that you can purchase at most grocery stores. These bottles are a better option because of their longer shelf life, as well as their ease of use for pouring on meats, hotdog buns, and other dishes. 

Making A Homemade Chili Sauce 

Knowing how to make a delicious homemade chili sauce can save you a fair amount of time and stress in the kitchen. Therefore, listed below are the main ingredients, as well as a trusted cooking method to keep in mind when trying to create the perfect chili sauce for your dish. 

What You Need: 

  • 1 x cup of red chili peppers
  • 1 x cup of jalapeno peppers
  • 1 x large tomato 
  • 3 x garlic cloves 
  • 1 x tablespoon salt 
  • 1 x tablespoon pepper 
  • 1 x tablespoon ground oregano
  • ¼ x cup of vinegar 

Method: 

  • To begin with, it’s a good idea to either roast or dry the chilis in the oven, removing the seeds if you’d prefer a milder sauce. 
  • Then, it’s time to heat the pan and start sauteing both the roasted chilis and the garlic, before adding the rest of the ingredients.
  • Mix everything together and cover for around 15 to 20 minutes to cook. 
  • Following this, remove the chili sauce mixture from the heat and let it cool down for roughly 20 to 30 minutes. 
  • Then, transfer the chili sauce and puree to either a food processor or blender for further reduction. 
  • Once you’ve achieved your desired consistency, store the chili sauce in a clean airtight container – preferably in the fridge to avoid contaminants from spoiling the sauce. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

Can I use salsa instead of chili sauce? 

Yes, salsa can be used as a good replacement for chili sauce. Just be mindful when purchasing salsa to look for one which is low in added sodium. If you’re able to do this, you can add the salsa to a blender or food processor to get your desired consistency. 

Where would chili sauce be in a grocery store?

The first areas to check are the Latin, Middle Eastern, Indian, and Asian products. If you can’t find a suitable chili sauce there, have a look in the condiment aisle, near all of the sauces. 

What’s the difference between Heinz chili sauce and Heinz cocktail sauce? 

For chili sauces, the main ingredient is usually a chili-like ingredient such as a red chili pepper or chili flakes. These sauces are also likely to have onion, sugar, green pepper, vinegar, and spices.

On the other hand, cocktail sauce typically gets its kick from horseradish. The other ingredients often include hot pepper sauce such as Tabasco and lemon juice. 

What’s the difference between chili powder and paprika? 

The main difference between the two is all down to their ingredients. Chili powder is used as a seasoning and is made with a chili pepper base, as well as a combination of cumin and garlic powder. In contrast, paprika is made solely of chilis or a mixture of chilis, and provides a unique sweet flavor. 

Is chili sauce good for you? 

Chili sauce can provide several health benefits if you consume it in moderation. This is largely down to capsaicin which has shown to offer antioxidant, anticancer, and anti-inflammatory properties. 

Is chili sauce good for weight loss? 

Yes, the kick of spicy chili sauce can be beneficial for healthy weight loss. Several studies have shown that capsaicin, one of the main active ingredients in chili sauce, can speed up the body’s metabolism, helping it to burn calories at a much faster rate.

Jess Smith
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