If you’re a fan of spicy dishes and cuisines, like Thai cuisine, chili paste becomes a must-have ingredient.
It imparts a variety of flavors ranging from hot to sweet depending on the recipe. Hence, this makes it a bit tricky to find the right substitute for the dish and I totally understand that!
However, certain chili paste substitutes work well like crushed red pepper flakes, Sriracha sauce, tabasco sauce, ketchup with cayenne pepper, spicy tomato sauce, homemade chili paste, curry paste, paprika powder, harissa sauce, or Louisiana-style hot sauce.
To know more about these substitutes and how to use them in place of chili paste, read on! I’m sure you’ll find the right one depending on your requirements.
Best Chili Paste Substitutes
There are times when you just aren’t able to find chili paste around you or you simply don’t like its basic taste. In such situations, chili paste substitutes are a great idea to retain the recipe’s original taste. Given below is the list of the 10 best chili paste substitutes for you.
1. Crushed red pepper flakes
Crushed red pepper flakes are one of the easiest and the most readily available substitutes for chili paste. Many of us already have them at our homes.
The reason why crushed red pepper flakes are a good chili paste substitute is that they can add subtle spiciness to any dish, just like chili paste. Moreover, they also offer versatility in use.
You can use crushed red pepper flakes in any way and quantity. You can directly sprinkle them on top of noodles, soups, or any other dish.
However, if you want a slightly sweet taste, I recommend making a sweet paste out of red pepper flakes. All you need to do is grind up red pepper flakes with a dash of soy sauce and a pinch or two of sugar. You’ll get a thick and sweet red pepper paste just like chili paste!
Keep in mind that red pepper flakes may get somewhat spicier than chili paste. Thus, you can decrease the quantity as per your preference.
2. Sriracha sauce
Hot sauces, like Sriracha sauce, don’t have the thick texture of pastes. But, if you’re more concerned with the taste rather than the texture, then I suggest Sriracha sauce.
Sriracha sauce has a striking resemblance to the flavor of chili paste. Both of them are quite spicy and add heat to any dish. They also impart a sweet and tangy flavor to dishes. Moreover, Sriracha is also thicker than other hot sauces.
You can use Sriracha sauce in place of chili paste in soups, dips, or any type of Asian dish! Normally, you can use around two tablespoons of Sriracha with any dish. However, this quantity may change depending on the recipe and your preference.
3. Tabasco sauce
If you want to use another hot sauce in place of Sriracha for substituting chili paste, then go for Tabasco. It has slight differences in the taste and texture to chili paste but it can blend well with dishes.
Tabasco sauce has a spicy taste that is similar to chili paste. It also has tanginess which is a big plus. Hence, you can easily use it with soups, noodles, dips, sandwiches, and salads.
But, unlike Sriracha sauce and chili paste, Tabasco lacks sweetness. So, you may want to add slight ketchup or sugar to your Tabasco sauce if you like sweet undertones.
You also need to know that the Tabasco sauce consists of distilled vinegar along with red pepper. This may make your dishes slightly tangier than required. Hence, it’s better to add 1 tablespoon of Tabasco if the recipe calls for 2 tablespoons of chili paste.
4. Ketchup with cayenne pepper
If you’ve got Cayenne pepper and ketchup at home, well you’re sorted! This combination is one of the best chili paste substitutes.
The sweet flavor of ketchup with the slightly hot and spicy flavor of cayenne pepper can replace the original chili paste. Moreover, ketchup also has a very similar texture and consistency to chili paste which makes it even more suitable.
So, how do you use ketchup and cayenne pepper in place of chili paste? Well, all you need to do is add about two teaspoons of cayenne pepper to one cup of ketchup. Then, mix them to form a paste.
You’re ready to use this ketchup paste as a dip, with sour cream and mayonnaise, soups, stews, and even sandwiches! If the dish calls for more spiciness, just increase the content of cayenne pepper and decrease ketchup.
5. Spicy tomato paste
If you’re not a fan of tomatoes, you may want to try out the other substitutes. But if you love them, then this is just the substitute you’re looking for!
A spicy tomato paste can work well in place of chili paste owing to its tangy and spicy taste. You can easily prepare a spicy paste by adding one to two teaspoons of chili powder in tomato paste, along with some pepper flakes.
However, note that you’ll get to taste the basic flavor of tomatoes here. Hence, it’s more ideal for dips or recipes where you don’t require a lot of chili paste. For soups and noodles, the tomato flavor may slightly alter the original recipe’s taste.
6. Curry paste
Curry paste is also a great chili paste substitute mainly for Thai and other Asian cuisines. You can use red curry paste as it’s quite spicy with delicious flavors of ginger and garlic as well. It also has a similar consistency to that of chili paste.
Moreover, curry paste is a great substitute if you want your dishes to taste extra spicy! But, if you cannot tolerate extreme heat or spiciness in your dishes, you may have to use curry paste in limited quantities in place of chili paste.
You can substitute chili paste with curry paste is mostly Asian-based recipes such as Asian noodles, soups, stews, seafood dishes, and many more.
7. Homemade chili paste
If you want to keep things healthy and as per your taste, then I highly recommend that you try a homemade chili paste. It has a similar texture and you can customize it as per your liking. Then, you can use it with dishes like soups, noodles, stews, sandwiches, etc.
Here’s how you can prepare homemade chili paste:
- Finely chop chili peppers, garlic, and onion with a food processor or simple knife.
- Take a container or pot and add some olive oil to it. Then, add the finely-chopped vegetables inside it.
- Cook the pot on low flame for about 20 minutes till the contents simmer slightly. Add more oil if you feel the need.
- Add any other seasonings or sugar if you want. Then, cook it for 5 minutes more.
- Once done, simply transfer the chili paste to a jar and let it cool slightly.
You can refrigerate your homemade chili paste for about 15-20 days in the fridge or over 6 months in the freezer.
8. Louisiana-style hot sauce
The Louisiana-style hot sauce is somewhat similar to Tabasco. Hence, it can also work as a substitute for chili paste in various dishes such as stir-fry dishes, noodles, dips, etc.
Louisiana-style hot sauce is spicy but its spiciness is somewhat milder than Tabasco. It’s also much thicker in texture. So, it’s a good chili paste substitute option if you don’t want your dish to have too much heat.
Moreover, this sauce also contains vinegar which offers a tangy flavor. Again, note that the vinegar’s taste here is slightly overpowering. Therefore, if you’re adding it in place of chili paste, use slightly less amount than recommended.
9. Harissa paste
If you want more of a generic chili paste instead of Asian, then use Harissa paste. It isn’t exactly like traditional chili paste. However, you can still use it in certain dishes like stews, salads, and as a dip too.
It comes from North African cuisine and contains ingredients like red chilies, garlic, oil, lemon juice, coriander, cilantro, and cumin. Thus, it’s spicy and tangy just like other chili pastes but different than the sweet and spicy Asian chili pastes.
Hence, you can also try out Harissa paste in recipes that call for chili paste. Make sure that you taste it first as some are extremely spicy and smokey in flavor.
10. Paprika powder (non-spicy substitute)
If you’re looking for a substitute that can resemble chili paste’s taste and also not make your dish too spicy, then go for paprika powder.
Paprika is available in various varieties, including both sweet and spicy. You can opt for a sweet one to avoid too much spiciness.
Sweet paprika offers slight sweetness and mild spiciness to your dish and can act as a good chili paste substitute. However, note that there might be slight differences in the overall taste.
You can use paprika by sprinkling it on top of dishes such as soups, noodles, and stews. Moreover, you can add it as per your taste preferences. Just make sure that you don’t go for a hot or spicy paprika mix.
So, this brings us to the end of the chili paste substitutes list. Be sure to use any of these as per your requirements to add a hot and unique flavor to your dish.
Can you use Sriracha in place of chili paste?
Yes, you can use Sriracha sauce in place of chili paste as it’s spicy and sweet. It also has a great texture.
What is chili paste made of?
Chili paste is available in various types. The basic ones consist of dried red chilies, along with some vegetables like garlic and ginger.
What can I use instead of Thai red chili paste?
You can either go for Sriracha sauce or Tabasco sauce to replace Thai red chili paste.
Is chili paste the same as chili sauce?
The major difference between chili paste and sauce is the texture as chili paste is often thicker than chili sauce. Also, chili sauce contains more ingredients than chili paste.
Chili paste is a unique ingredient as it adds a unique heat and spiciness to dishes. It’s also one of the main ingredients in Asian cuisines. However, if you cannot find it, you can either prepare it at home or use some of the substitutes given in the list above!