5 Best Chili Garlic Sauce Substitutes

chili garlic sauce substitute
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chili garlic sauce substitute

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Spice lovers constantly want to elevate every single food with their favorite chili garlic sauce.

People with a sweet tooth aren’t the only ones addicted to the taste of their food; capsaicin lovers pour truckloads of hot chili garlic sauce on top of every savory dish. 

The number one condiment for such people will inevitably be their favorite bottle of sauce, as a condiment, on eggs, pizza, pasta, French fries, meat dishes, pastries, vegetables, as a dip for fried chicken, burgers, bread, noodle dishes, sandwiches.

Chili garlic sauce also adds a delicious kick to soups and marinades.

Chili garlic sauce
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Chili garlic sauce isn’t only a condiment to be used as a dip or a spread, in many street-style Asian cuisines, it is used in the sauce bases or as a marinade, added while cooking in the food instead of only as a condiment.

For the spicy food fanatics, it’s true how the number one condiment on every mealtime is always chili garlic sauce. It complements every dish perfectly whether it’s meat or vegetables.

If your favorite bottle of chili garlic sauce has run out, we are suggesting some viable alternatives. Add these with any food item and add spice to your palate. All of these alternatives can remain in your pantry or fridge for a long time.

Chili Garlic Sauce Substitute

1. Chili Paste

Chili Paste
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Instead of adding pre-made and processed chili garlic sauce to your dishes as a base or a condiment, chili paste is the route to take.

Whether you like your tongue to be on fire, or just want that subtle tingling to coat your tongue, chili paste is a viable alternative.

Chili paste doesn’t mean your average Texas hot sauce, Tabasco, or any other over-the-counter bottle (those can work well, however).

We mean the chili paste as a condiment, with roasted crushed tomatoes, crushed chilies, sugar, vinegar, other spices added to make a delicious paste.

Instead of heat on top of savory foods to make them spicy, chili paste gives you the option of cooking with spice already added to your dish.

There are many types of chili pastes all across Asia to choose from, ranging in flavors such as sweet, salty, sour, and of course, spicy.

Whether you like umami flavors or earthy, warm flavors, you are sure to find a chili paste to your liking. Many people who love cooking with spice have chili pastes lying around in their pantry to make any dish better.

2. Harissa Sauces

Harissa Sauces
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This sauce is made with vinegar, garlic, red chilies, and a manner of other spices. Originating from North African flavors, especially Tunisia, this sauce has a wonderful flavor and aroma.

For a better chew and crunchy bits of chilies that you love in sauces like chili garlic sauce, you can add caraway or sesame seeds, and even dried chilies to your Harissa sauce.

If you can’t find Caraway seeds, you can leave them out. The sauce will be just as delicious.

To make the sauce, roast your cumin and coriander seeds to draw out their flavor, and soak your red chilies in hot water. Combine the ingredients, and add lemon juice and paprika.

There are a number of recipes for harissa sauce that you can follow online, and store-bought sauce is also very good. You can add it in stews, soups and enjoy it as a marinade or a dip as well.

3. Sriracha

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If you have any liking for spicy food at all, you might be very familiar with the taste of the iconic Huy Foing Sriracha sauce.

It is a popular addition to Thai, Laotian and Vietnamese cooking because it draws from authentic Asian chili flavors. Sriracha is not just a hot sauce, but an American pop culture icon.

The red bottle with a green cap and the rooster on the front is not only the choice condiment but is added to restaurant menu dishes and has inspired chip flavors as well.

Though many copycat hot sauces have hit the market, none are as memorable or as good as Sriracha. It has garlic, spices, and a tinge of sweetness that many spice lovers appreciate.

The key ingredients are vinegar, chili peppers, salt, sugar, and garlic. Sugar is fermented to create the sour tinge of the sauce. If you love the key flavors or chili garlic sauce, you will enjoy the ingredients in Sriracha equally.

While it is similar in essence to the chili garlic sauce, it has a stronger distilled vinegar taste and a different flavor profile.

4. Regular Hot Sauce

Regular Hot Sauce
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The easiest alternative to chili garlic can be the regular store-bought hot sauce. However, choosing a good ready-made hot sauce is quite the challenge, especially since there’s so much variety.

They range from mild sauces to high levels of spicy which may burn the tongue. Make sure that you read the spice levels on the bottles before you add them to your shopping cart.

5. Black Bean Sauce

Black Bean Sauce
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This Chinese delight is the hidden secret behind Sichuan cuisine, with its fermented flavor and rich, earthy taste. It is also known as doubanjiang and is made of soybean oil, water, chili, and salt.

If you’re planning on making any Sichuan dish at home, black bean sauce is a must-have ingredient.

Simpler Alternatives that You Can Find

If you want to find an alternative quickly and without putting in a lot of effort, you can also use the condiments that may already be in your kitchen.

  • Ketchup with Garlic

Ketchup with Garlic
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The iconic combination of tomato sauces, especially sweet and tangy ketchup is made all the better with garlic. You can create your own garlic sauce without the chili.

Although we think there is no fun in that, this sauce is redeemed by using fresh garlic paste and a good bottle of ketchup to make it.

Red Pepper Flakes
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While this is not a sauce, it very much belongs on the list for spice lovers. Chili powders and flakes are available in every supermarket easily.

The flavor profile of both is nearly the same, though powders dissolve into the sauce and flakes remain to pack a punch. It is very important to know the flavor profile of chilies before purchasing them.

Korean chilies, Thai chilies, ghost pepper are all incredibly spicy. For milder flavors, you should buy citrusy peppers, poblano, Anaheim, and banana peppers.

You can make your own chili flakes or powders by roasting your favorite fresh chilies and grinding them.

  • Homemade Chili Garlic Sauce

Chili Garlic Sauce
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All you need to do is crush some fresh peppers, add a dab of garlic, a couple of tablespoons of vinegar, and season with salt, sugar, and pepper.

Once you’ve mixed and matched this delicious concoction, you can pair it with a whole load of dishes, as a condiment, ingredient, topping, and any other way.

Different Sauces that can be used as Substitutes

These are a few varieties of sauces that could enhance your palate and add that tangy spiciness to your meals.

  • Sambal Oelek

Sambal Oelek
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This classic Indonesian condiment lies somewhere between a sauce and a paste, with its brawling red color and thick consistency.

This sauce is all-natural, made with fresh chilies and no artificial ingredients. You can quite literally use Sambal on any and everything, from pizza, eggs, pasta to veggies or meat dishes.

  • Gochujang

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This globally adored Korean paste is truly one of a kind. Made of fermented soybeans and crushed Korean red peppers, it has a unique, slightly funky, and extremely spicy taste that you can’t get anywhere else.

Gochujang works best as a marinade for brisket, steak, pork, or chicken, and pairs extremely well with garlic, ginger, sake, and wine.


These are some alternatives to chili sauce that can be enjoyed by everyone. People with different palates and preferences can also try out some of these mixtures and enhance the taste of their meals at any time.

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