This homemade sweet chili sauce is guaranteed to become a favorite staple in your home! It’s versatile, is quick and easy to make, is free of additives, and tastes WAY better than the store-bought stuff!
As with most everything, nothing beats homemade and Sweet Chili Sauce is no exception. Not only is it super quick and easy to make, it’s cheaper, doesn’t have any additives or preservatives, you know exactly where the ingredients come from, AND it tastes better than the bottled stuff. That’s a win-win! This homemade sweet chili sauce recipe is sure to become your go-to whenever you’re craving this deliciously versatile sauce!
WHAT IS SWEET CHILI SAUCE?
Sometimes also referred to as Thai Sweet Chili Sauce or Asian Sweet Chili Sauce, it’s a simultaneously sweet, savory, tangy and spicy sauce incorporating red chilies, garlic, ginger, sugar and vinegar.
You can find bottled sweet chili sauce in most grocery stores but if you’re like me once you open the bottle it ends up sitting in the fridge forever and forgotten about until it’s time to toss it. One of the several advantages of making you’re own (besides no junk ingredients, fresher, tastier) is that you can regulate how much you make. This recipe makes about 1 cup which is usually enough for whatever you have in mind and if you need more you can simply double it. As quick and easy as it is to make there’s simply NO excuse to buy it!
One of the ingredients used in sweet chili sauce is pickled red chili. I’ve found that between using a chili paste like sambal oelek and adding some vinegar that same flavor is fully replicated. Most grocery stores carry sambal oelek but if you cannot find it you can use dried red chili flakes. Chili flakes are considerably spicier than sambal oelek so be sure to cut back on them unless you like it really hot.
CAN YOU SAY “UMAMI”?
Sweet chili sauce often has all the “high notes” of sugar and white vinegar without the “low notes” of umami for balance. While this sauce does have garlic (a umami ingredient), we’re also going to add a splash of tamari (or soy sauce), which is a fermented product simply oozing umami. It adds depth and makes the overall flavor more interesting. If you’re gluten-free be sure to use tamari.
HOW DO I GET MY SAUCE TO LOOK RED LIKE THE BOTTLED STUFF?
If you’re using a chili sauce like sambal oelek that will give your sauce a nice red color. Without it your sauce will not be as red. Is there another way to give it that aesthetically attractive red color? Yes, if you want a little red color boost you can use food coloring but if you’re going to I strongly recommend using natural red coloring (usually made from beet or paprika extract). You can find natural food coloring here.
CAN I USE A SUGAR SUBSTITUTE FOR MAKING SWEET CHILI SAUCE?
Yes, you can use honey, agave syrup or brown rice syrup if you prefer. Since these are liquids you will need to add a little extra cornstarch to thicken it. Honey in particular is also sweeter than sugar so I recommend using a little less and adding some water in its place to dilute the sweetness.
For a diabetic alternative you can use a powdered/granular sweetener of your choice, such as erythritol.
HOW DO I USE SWEET CHILI SAUCE?
Here are a few things you can enjoy with your homemade sweet chili sauce, either as a dip, marinade or added to it:
- Steamed dumplings and potstickers
- Spring rolls
- Egg rolls
- Chicken Wings
- Grilled, baked or fried chicken or salmon
- Grilled or battered shrimp
- Chicken nuggets
- Fried calamari
- Fried or baked tofu nuggets
- Chicken/meat/seafood kabobs
- Mozzarella sticks
- Stir fries
- Fried rice
- Mixed with cream cheese and served with crackers
- …and more!
This sauce is as versatile as your imagination!
WHAT ARE SOME OTHER “MUST TRY” ASIAN SAUCES?
These are some of our most popular Asian condiment recipes – you’ll LOVE them!
- Homemade Teriyaki Sauce
- Homemade Black Bean Sauce
- Homemade Hoisin Sauce
- Homemade Chinese Plum Sauce (Duck Sauce)
- Homemade Kecap Manis
HOW DO I STORE SWEET CHILI SAUCE?
You can store the sauce in the fridge for about a week or in the freezer for two to three months. The sauce will congeal if you freeze it. But if you gently heat it up (on the stovetop or in the microwave) and stir it, its texture will return to normal.
Let’s get started!
Place all of the ingredients except for the cornstarch mixture in a small saucepan and bring it to a boil, stirring regularly. Once the sugar is dissolved stir in the cornstarch mixture, stirring continually.
Continue stirring for about a minute until the sauce is thickened.
Let the sauce cool completely, pour into an airtight jar.
Store in an airtight jar in the fridge where it will keep for up to a week.
BEST Sweet Chili Sauce
- 1/3 cup rice vinegar
- 1/3 cup water
- 1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons cane sugar
- diabetic alternative: use granular sweetener of choice (e.g. erythritol)
- 1 tablespoon rice wine (can substitute dry sherry)
- 1 tablespoon sambal oelek (use more or less according to taste)
- OR 1-2 teaspoons dried red chili flakes (these are very hot, start with less and add more if desired)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons finely minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon finely minced ginger
- 1 teaspoon tamari or soy sauce (use tamari for gluten free)
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch dissolved in 1 tablespoon water (the sauce will thicken more once cooled)
- 1-2 drops natural red food coloring (optional)
- Place all of the ingredients except for the cornstarch mixture in a small saucepan and bring it to a boil, stirring regularly. Once the sugar is dissolved stir in the cornstarch mixture, stirring continually until thickened, about 1 minute. Let the sauce cool completely, pour into an airtight jar and store in the refrigerator. Will keep for up to a week. Makes about 1 cup.