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9 Best Substitutes For Sweet Chili Sauce + DIY Recipe

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There are so many condiments that bear the name “chili”, but chili sauce is a classic. Not only can you add it to almost all Mexican dishes, you can also use it in almost any other food that’s trademark is “hot and spicy”. 

However, some people are not that into burning their taste buds, so the sweet version known as sweet chili sauce has been created for them. It is a perfect balance of sweet and spicy, and it can be used as a dip, condiment, in marinades, and so on. 

Unfortunately, you might not always have it on hand, or like me, you just want something else that is similar. 

The good news is that there are plenty of substitutes for sweet chili sauce and this article is here to help you choose the best one for your delicious dish. 

1. Hot Sauce + Honey

hot sauce honey

Sweet chili sauce is a combination of sweet and spicy flavors. When you think about it, when blending these two, you are combining the spiciness of hot sauce with the sweetness of honey, so it is quite logical that it can serve as a great alternative. 


• Although the exact level of heat will depend on the hot sauce you choose, every type will provide a certain level of hot and spicy. 

• Adding some honey in the blend helps to balance out the spiciness of the hot sauce, providing a touch of sweetness similar to sweet chili sauce.

• Both sauces can be used as a condiment, marinade, or dipping sauce in various different dishes. 


• Although similar, their flavor profiles are not the same, as the blend of hot sauce and honey lacks the tanginess and garlic flavor that are characteristic of sweet chili sauce. 

• The blend of hot sauce and honey has a thinner consistency and may not provide the same texture as sweet chili sauce.

• The blend of hot sauce and honey, while simple and tasty, may lack the depth and complexity that the multiple ingredients in sweet chili sauce can provide.

How To Use As a Substitute: 

When blending these two ingredients, you can use any type of hot sauce, such as cholula sauce, tabasco sauce, or even Frank’s hot sauce. There are really no limits. 

When it comes to the honey, you can even use vegan honey, or if you don’t have honey at all, maple syrup can serve you just fine. 

You just need to mix 1 tablespoon of hot sauce with 1 tablespoon of honey. If you like it sweeter or spicier, you can adjust the amount of both ingredients a little bit. 

You can even add some red pepper flakes if you have any, in order to mimic the flavor better. 

Use this blend in a 1:1 ratio. You can use it as a dipping sauce, glaze, or marinade for meats, stir-fries, or other dishes that call for sweet chili sauce. 

2. Chili Sauce + Sweetener

chili sauce sweetener

Similar to the previous combination, this one is also very logical. You are combining a chili sauce with a sweetener of your choice to mimic the sweet and spicy flavor profile of sweet chili sauce. 


• The blend of chili sauce and sweetener and sweet chili sauce offer a sweet element to the flavor profile.

• By using a chili sauce in the blend, you can introduce a similar level of heat.

• The blend and sweet chili sauce both offer a nice contrast between sweet and spicy flavors.


• Although they have similar flavor profiles, they are not exactly the same. 

• The texture of this blend can be adjusted, but in general, it has a slightly thinner consistency and may not have the same texture. 

How To Use As a Substitute:

As with the previous blend, you first need to make this specific condiment in order for it to work. 

It is made by combining the same amount of chili sauce and sugar. The chili sauce is there to provide the spiciness, and sugar is there to balance out that spiciness with some sweetness. 

If you want a healthier alternative, you can also try agave syrup or honey instead of regular sugar. This blend is perfect for tacos, burritos, stir-fries, nachos, etc. 

Just add the same amount and your dish will be perfectly fine. 

3. Plum Sauce + Hot Sauce

plum sauce hot sauce

Once again, the combination of sweet and spicy is the key, and the blend of plum sauce and hot sauce will do the trick. It is a bit of a different sweet source, but the sauce made from plums will certainly add adventurous sweet notes. 


• Like with sweet chili sauce, this blend is a good balance between sweet and spicy flavors. 

• Although not the same, this blend also has depth and complexity, something the previous alternatives lack to some extent. 

• Plum sauce often includes ingredients like plum puree, vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, and ginger, which can provide tanginess to the blend. 


• Plum sauce brings a fruity component to the blend, which is not typically present in sweet chili sauce. 

• The plum flavor can be distinct and different from the overall flavor profile of sweet chili sauce, which may not be suitable for some recipes. 

• Depending on the plum sauce used, the texture of the blend may be a bit different. 

How To Use As a Substitute:

The plum sauce also has a thick consistency, so you don’t have to worry about that when making a substitute. 

It also has some sweetness from the plums, as well as a slight tanginess from the vinegar. However, it lacks hotness and spiciness, but the same amount of hot sauce is there to provide it. 

If you worry about the fruity flavor from plums, you can add a bit more hot sauce. Also, if it is not as sour as you perfer, a few additional drops of rice vinegar can fix the problem. 

Once the blend is ready, freely use it in a 1:1 ratio. You can use it as a dipping sauce, but it also works great in various Chinese recipes and stir-fries.  

4. Sriracha Sauce

sriracha sauce

Sriracha sauce originated in Thailand but has gained widespread popularity and is now used in various cuisines around the world. It can be a decent alternative especially because sriracha is beneficial to your health.


• Although the levels are different, both condiments provide spiciness and heat to some extent. 

• Both sauces are quite versatile, as you can use them as dipping sauces, glazes, or marinades, or add them to various recipes to enhance their flavor profile. 

• Both sriracha sauce and sweet chili sauce commonly feature chili peppers as key ingredients, so their base is practically the same. 


• As you might have guessed, the level of sweetness of sweet chili sauce is much higher, and the level of heat is almost always much lower. 

• While it may have some acidity from the vinegar, the sriracha sauce is not as tangy as sweet chili sauce. 

• While sweet chili sauce is also quite thick, sriracha sauce tends to have a thicker consistency, similar to a paste or puree. 

How To Use As a Substitute:

When it comes to spiciness, sweetness, and tanginess, sriracha sauce has it all. But, it has it in different ratios. Namely, it is much spicier, so it needs to be adjusted. 

In order to do that, it is not out of hand to add some type of sweetener, like maple syrup or vegan honey, for example. Just mix 1 tablespoon of sriracha sauce with ½ tablespoon of one of these ingredients, and it should work fine. 

If you like it more spicy, you can just add some creamy condiment, like Greek yogurt or mayonnaise, as it will mellow out the heat just a little bit, without breaking it down with sweetness. 

When using it as a substitute, use it in a 1:1 ratio. 

Sriracha sauce is also great because it doesn’t go bad so easily if you store it the right way. 

5. Harissa 

harissa sauce

Harissa is a spicy and flavorful chili paste that originated in North African cuisine, particularly in Tunisia and Morocco. It shares some of the main ingredients of chili sauce, so it’s no surprise that it can be used as a substitute in some cases.


• While the intensity may vary, both sweet chili sauce and harissa provide a certain level of spiciness. 

• You can use both to add flavor and spiciness to a wide range of dishes. They can be used as marinades, glazes, dipping sauces, or condiments for meats, vegetables, and other dishes.

• While the specific flavors differ, both sweet chili sauce and harissa have a complex taste profile. 


• While sweet chili sauce is known for its distinct balance of sweet, tangy, and spicy flavors, harissa is known for spicy, smoky, and earthy flavors. 

• Sweet chili sauce has a milder to moderate level of heat, while harissa is generally hotter and can range from medium to very spicy. 

• Contrary to smooth sweet chili sauce, harissa is usually a thick paste or sauce with a slightly grainy texture due to the presence of spices and ground chili peppers. 

How To Use As a Substitute:

You first have to be aware of the fact that this food that starts with H has a much higher level of heat, so feel free to make some adjustments before adding it to a dish that calls for sweet chili sauce. 

In order to do that, you can dilute the harissa with other ingredients like yogurt, sour cream, or citrus juice. If you want to mimic the sweet flavor of sweet chili sauce, you can add some type of sweetener as well. 

When using it as a substitute, I would recommend adding a slightly lower amount, so that those smoky and earthy flavors don’t become overpowering. 

After these adjustments, you can use harissa as a dipping sauce, sandwich spread, or as marinade or glaze. You can also add it to stir-fries and noodles, as well as roasted vegetables. 

6. Spicy Ketchup

spicy ketchup

As a variation of traditional ketchup, spicy ketchup combines the classic tomato-based ketchup with a spicy kick, creating a condiment that offers a balance of sweetness, tanginess, and spiciness. The exact balance that we need in this case. 


• Similar to sweet chili sauce, spicy ketchup combines the sweetness and tanginess of regular ketchup with the added heat from chili peppers or hot sauce. 

• Both sauces are well-suited for dipping sauces.

• They both provide an extra flavor boost and enhance the overall taste of similar types of food. 


• While sweet chili sauce is primarily there to provide a good balance of sweetness, tanginess, and spiciness, spicy ketchup primarily focuses on providing heat and spiciness. 

• Spicy ketchup is generally hotter than sweet chili sauce, while sweet chili sauce is specifically formulated to have a pronounced sweet flavor. 

• Spicy ketchup is used more in American-style dishes, while sweet chili sauces are mostly used in Asian cuisine. 

How To Use As a Substitute:

The great thing about spicy ketchup is that you can buy it from the grocery store, but you can also easily make it at home with just a few simple ingredients. 

If you bought it from the grocery store or have some at hand, just use it in a 1:1 ratio as a sweet chili sauce substitute. If your goal is to make your dish a bit hotter, you can add a little more of it. 

On the other hand, if you don’t have any, you can make it yourself by combining just 2 or 3 simple ingredients. 

Mix 1 tablespoon of regular ketchup with 1 tablespoon of chili flakes. If it is not as sweet as you like, you can also add ½ tablespoon of maple syrup. 

Spicy ketchup works especially well with fries or breaded chicken by providing them with a sweet-spicy kick. 

But you can also use it to make marinades, in burgers and on sandwiches, or as glaze or sauce for meatballs or meatloaf. Cooking meatloaf at 375 degrees F won’t take too much of your precious time. 

Incorporating it into homemade dressings or dips for salads, wings, or vegetable platter is also a great idea. 

7. Hoisin Sauce, Vinegar, and Red Pepper Flakes

hoisin sauce

Hoisin sauce is a thick, dark brown sauce that comes from China. This sauce alone wouldn’t be a perfect match for dishes that call for sweet chili sauce, but with a few other ingredients, like vinegar and red pepper flakes, it can do a decent job. 


• Hoisin sauce, a key component of the blend, provides a sweet element similar to sweet chili sauce.

• The vinegar adds a tangy taste, similar to the tanginess present in sweet chili sauce. 

• Spiciness comes in when red pepper flakes are added, and we all know that sweet chili sauce is also spicy to some extent. 

• Both the blend of these ingredients and sweet chili sauce has sweet, tangy, and spicy elements that help to create a complex and well-rounded flavor profile.


• The blend of hoisin sauce, vinegar, and red pepper flakes doesn’t provide the same level of sweetness as sweet chili sauce does. 

• This blend may have a slightly different consistency, i.e., it might be thicker or have a different texture compared to sweet chili sauce. 

• Although quite similar, the flavor profiles of these two condiments are different, mostly because of the absence of certain sweeteners in the blend. 

How To Use As a Substitute:

First, it is important to add the right amount of each ingredient. To make a perfect blend, add 2 tablespoons of hoisin sauce, 1 tablespoon of vinegar (rice vinegar or white vinegar), and ½ teaspoon of red pepper flakes. 

If you perfer ot more spicy, you can also add 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes. Stir the mixture well to ensure that all the ingredients are thoroughly combined and let it sit for a few minutes to ensure the flavors mix. 

You can use it in the same amount. Hoisin sauce is mostly used for meat, poultry, and fish, but when combined with these ingredients, you can use it in many dishes that call for sweet chili sauce. 

However, I would recommend you use it as a marinade because hoisin sauce and vinegar are perfect for this purpose.  

8. Chili Powder Flakes, Rice Vinegar, and Honey

Chili Powder Flakes, Rice Vinegar, and Honey

Chili flakes and red pepper flakes are quite similar, so it is no surprise that they can be used as a substitute. With the addition of rice vinegar and honey, the blend is completed and ready to be used in many dishes. Not to mention the health benefits of rice vinegar.


• Both the blend and sweet chili sauce provide a sweet taste.

• Chili powder flakes add a level of spiciness to the blend, similar to the heat found in sweet chili sauce.

• Rice vinegar adds a tangy note to the blend, mimicking the tanginess present in sweet chili sauce.


• Contrary to the smooth and thick texture of sweet chili sauce, this blend may have a slightly grainy or chunky texture, due to the presence of red pepper flakes. 

• The flavor profile of sweet chili sauce is more complex than that of this simple blend of three ingredients. 

• Sweet chili sauce is readily available at the store, while the homemade blend requires sourcing the ingredients and preparing it yourself.

How To Use As a Substitute:

As with the previous blend, you first need to combine all the ingredients. 

Mix 1 tablespoon of chili flakes with 1 tablespoon of honey, and stir the mixture until the ingredients combine. The honey will help balance the heat of the chili flakes. 

Gradually add rice vinegar to the mixture, stirring continuously. The amount of rice vinegar will depend on your desired consistency. Start with a small amount, such as 1 tablespoon, and adjust to your taste.

Continue to stir until the mixture reaches a smooth consistency. If you prefer a thicker sauce, you can simmer the mixture over low heat for a few minutes until it thickens slightly, but that is up to you to decide. 

This is a truly versatile condiment that can be used as a marinade for various types of meats, but you can also use it as a dipping sauce. 

9. Worcestershire Sauce: In The Absence Of Other Options

worcestershire sauce

My final recommendation is a fermented condiment that originated in England. Worcestershire sauce is a dark, savory sauce that adds a complex flavor to a wide range of dishes. Although it is not an ideal alternative, it can work in some cases.  


• Both Worcestershire sauce and sweet chili sauce offer a complex flavor profile. 

• Both sauces are versatile condiments that can be used in various recipes and cuisines. 

• Both sauces are commonly used in sauces and marinades to add flavor and complexity.


• Worcestershire sauce has a tangy, savory, and slightly sweet flavor with a distinct umami richness, while sweet chili sauce combines sweetness, tanginess, and spiciness. 

• Worcestershire sauce does not typically provide that spiciness for which all chili sauces, including its sweet variation, are known. 

• While Worcestershire sauce may contain a small amount of sweetness from ingredients like molasses, it is not primarily known for being sweet, which can be a problem in some dishes that call for sweet chili sauce. 

How To Use As a Substitute:

You can use this sauce in a 1:1 ratio, but bear in mind that the flavor will be different, so it is not out of hand to add some type of sweetener.

Worcestershire sauce is most commonly used in sauces and marinades for adding flavor and complexity to the dish. It can be used to enhance the taste of barbecue sauces, steak sauces, and meat marinades.

Homemade Sweet Chili Sauce

I believe that you have at least one of these condiments in your kitchen pantry. But if, for some reason, you don’t want to use it, but don’t have a bottle of sweet chili sauce, you can always make some of your own. 

And I am here to provide you with a recipe: 

Homemade Sweet Chili Sauce (1)

Homemade Sweet Chili Sauce


  • 6-8 red chili peppers (such as Thai or red jalapenos), finely chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch, dissolved in 2 tablespoons of water (optional, for thickening)
  • Salt to taste


    1. In a saucepan, combine the chopped chili peppers, minced garlic, white sugar, rice vinegar, water, and soy sauce. Stir to combine.

    2. Place the saucepan over medium heat and bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. Let it simmer for about 5-7 minutes until the peppers and garlic are softened.

    3. Taste the mixture and adjust the seasoning with salt if desired. Keep in mind that the sauce will become slightly less spicy as it simmers and thickens.

    4. If you prefer a thicker consistency, you can add the dissolved cornstarch to the saucepan and stir well. Allow the sauce to simmer for a few more minutes until it thickens to your desired consistency.

    5. Remove the saucepan from the heat and let the sweet chili sauce cool down completely. It will continue to thicken as it cools.

    6. Once cooled, transfer the sweet chili sauce to a sterilized jar or airtight container. Store it in the refrigerator, where it will continue to thicken and develop flavors over time.


The heat level of the sweet chili sauce can be adjusted by adding more or fewer chili peppers, and you can also remove the seeds if you prefer a milder version.

Additionally, feel free to experiment with the ingredients and adjust the ratios to suit your taste preferences.

9 Best Substitutes For Sweet Chili Sauce + DIY Recipe
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