10 Best Chili Garlic Sauce Substitutes

Chili Garlic Sauce

Although chili garlic sauce originated in Asian cuisines, it is now widely used in dishes all around the world because it is delicious and versatile. You can use chili garlic sauce as a condiment, as a marinade, or even as a cooking ingredient.

If you can’t get your hands on any chili garlic sauce, many alternatives will give you an equally exciting zinger and flavor. So, what are the best substitutes for chili garlic sauce?

Some of the best substitutes for chili garlic sauce include chili sauce, garlic sauce, sriracha, harissa sauce, hot sauce, chili flakes, or some of the following ingredients.

Keep reading to have all your questions about each of these substitutes answered!

What Is Chili Garlic Sauce?

Chili garlic sauce is a condiment that is prepared with chili peppers and garlic.

You can find different variations of chili garlic sauce across different cuisines in the world. Extra ingredients like seasoning, spices, seeds, herbs, oils, and other sauces are used to add different flavors to chili garlic sauce.

Chili garlic sauce can differ in texture and have many uses.

It is most commonly served as a condiment along with a wide range of foods. However, you can also use it to add flavor while and after cooking, as a marinade and glaze for meat, and so on.

Best Chili Garlic Sauce Substitutes

Now that you know what exactly chili garlic sauce is, let us take a closer look at some of the best substitutes that you can use as its substitute.

1. Chili Paste

chili paste

It might not be surprising to see chili paste at the top of this list.

You can find an endless number of variations of chili paste. So, you can substitute a less spicy or even more tangy chili paste substitute as per your liking.

The best part? You can use chili paste in any dish that you desire!

2. Garlic Paste

Garlic Paste

For people who are not fans of spicy foods, garlic paste is the best substitute.

You can easily find garlic paste in grocery stores or even make it at home. It is not suitable to be served as a condiment but can be added to any dish to make it more flavorful. 

3. Sriracha Sauce

Sriracha sauce

Sriracha sauce is a great substitute for chili garlic sauce as it is prepared mainly with chili peppers, garlic, and other ingredients like vinegar, sugar, salt, etc.

Additionally, sriracha sauce can be used as a dipping sauce and a topping for foods like omelets, burgers, rice, noodles, pasta, etc. Sriracha sauce is also added to soup for a touch of zinger.

4. Harissa Sauce

Harissa Paste

Harissa is a red chili hot paste that is native to North African cuisines.

The preparation of this sauce often includes garlic paste and other ingredients like pepper, cumin, coriander seeds, cumin as well as other herbs and spices.

It is mainly used as a condiment and can be an interesting substitute for chili garlic sauce.

5. Hot Sauce

Chili Sauce

Hot sauce is perhaps the most easily available substitute for chili garlic sauce.

The best part about using hot sauce as a chili garlic substitute is that it is highly versatile and suits everyone’s liking.

Moreover, if you want to add a closer touch of chili garlic sauce to the hot sauce, you can also add some chopped chili pepper and garlic to it.

6. Chili Flakes

Another easily available substitute for chili garlic sauce is chili flakes.

Chili flakes can surely increase the spice level of a dish but do not give the same taste as chili garlic sauce.

So, you can always add some chili flakes and finely chopped garlic to the oil over medium heat. This will give you your very own chili garlic sauce substitute.

7. Black Bean Sauce

Black bean sauce

Black bean sauce is a spicy condiment that is commonly used in Chinese cuisine.

It is made with soybean can tends to have a salty taste. However, since it does not have a taste similar to chili garlic sauce, you should also add a zinger to any dish you add it to. It is commonly paired with fish and other seafood.

8. Spicy Ketchup

Tomato ketchup

Another suitable and easily accessible substitute for chili garlic sauce is spicy ketchup.

If you wanta dipping sauce that has less heat than chili garlic sauce, spicy ketchup is the way to go. The best part is that you can also easily make spicy ketchup at home by adding some chili pepper (and even garlic to go all the way) to regular ketchup.

9. Sambal Sauce

Sambal Oelek

Sambal sauce is also substituted with the same ingredients as chili garlic sauce.

The preparation of sambal sauce heavily relies on shrimp paste and palm sugar. Therefore, you might not get exactly the same taste and spice level as chili garlic sauce.

However, if you are looking for a substitute with a slightly different taste, this sauce is the way to go!

10. Sweet And Sour Sauce

Sweet and sour sauce is commonly used in Asian cuisines.

Although using sweet and sour sauce will not give you the same taste as chili garlic sauce, it is a good alternative for people who have a low spice tolerance.

Moreover, this versatile sauce can be used as a dipping sauce and as a cooking ingredient. 

When To Use Chili Garlic Sauce?

Now, let’s take a look at the different uses for chili garlic sauce.

  • It can be served as a condiment with any dish. You can eat it with rice, noodles, pasta, to chicken wings, burgers, salads, etc. Basically, you can serve a dollop of chili garlic sauce with any dish that you feel needs a touch of flavor and zinger!
  • Chili garlic sauce can be used as an ingredient while cooking. You can also add some of this sauce to add more flavor to foods such as rice, noodles, pasta, etc. Or you can pour some chili garlic sauce on these dishes before serving.
  • You can add a scoop of chili garlic sauce to other condiments and dressings to spice up your usual meals. In fact, you can directly spread some chili garlic sauce inside burgers and sandwiches to make them pop.
  • Chili garlic sauce goes well with meats. You can use it while grilling your favorite meats as a glaze, a dipping sauce, or a marinating sauce.

How To Make Chili Garlic Sauce?

Although many substitutes come close, none of them can give you exactly the same spice and flavor as chili garlic sauce. So, if you want your dishes to taste exactly how you envisioned, you can always make some chili garlic sauce at home instead.

Homemade Chili Garlic Sauce Recipe

Just follow the next steps and you will have a delicious homemade chili garlic sauce in no time!


  • Chili pepper
  • Garlic
  • Salt
  • Oil
  • Vinegar or soy sauce (Optional)
  • Shallots (Optional)
  • Sugar


Start by heating garlic in one or two teaspoons of oil over medium heat. Then, add small pieces of red chili pepper or chili flakes.

After a few minutes of stirring, add a pinch of vinegar, or soy sauce and finely chopped shallots into the mix. You can also add any other herbs and spices if you wish to.

Keep stirring the ingredients over medium heat until they start to blend together. Finally, add a pinch of salt and sugar depending on your taste preference.

Take the chili garlic sauce off the stove and let it rest before serving. Voila! You now have some homemade chili garlic sauce to enjoy with your next meal.

Non-Spicy Substitute for Chili Garlic Sauce

Sweet Soy Sauce

If you do not like intensely spicy food and condiments like chili garlic sauce, pick some of the non-spicy alternatives like chili garlic sauce include garlic paste, sweet and sour sauce, soy sauce, and sambal sauce.

Chili Garlic Sauce Vs Sambal Oelek: What’s The Difference?

Both chili garlic sauce and sambal oelek consist of chili peppers, garlic, and extra ingredients like shallots, garlic, sugar, etc. But there are a few differences that make these sauces distinct in taste and texture.

The traditional recipe for sambal paste includes shrimp paste and lime juice as the primary ingredients. Chili garlic sauce does not include these ingredients. Moreover, the making of sambal oelek consists of burning the shrimp paste in order to release its aroma.

Another key part of making sambal oelek is adding palm sugar. This is done to reduce the spice level of this sauce. Therefore, if you prefer a less spicy option out of chili garlic sauce and sambal oelek, you know which one to go for.

Chili garlic sauce and sambal oelek are versatile but can be interchanged in many foods. You can use them both as condiments, cooking ingredients, glaze for meats, marinades, dressings, pasta, burgers, etc.

Related Questions

Is Chili Garlic Sauce The Same As Sriracha Sauce?

Chili garlic sauce is not the same as sriracha sauce. Both sriracha sauce and garlic sauce contain chili peppers, garlic, salt, and sugar, but they have different methods of making. The ingredients of sriracha sauce are fermented to give them their signature taste.

Can I Substitute Chili Paste For Chili Garlic Sauce?

You can easily substitute chili paste for chili garlic sauce. However, if you want your chili paste to give the same texture as the sauce, you will need to add some garlic and water to the chili paste while stirring over medium heat for no longer than ten minutes.

What Is Chili Garlic Sauce Made Of?

Chili garlic sauce is made primarily made using chili peppers, garlic, water, salt, sugar. However, it often contains additional ingredients like soy sauce, corn syrup, vinegar, and other spices and seasonings like garlic, shallots, dried chili, and more.

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