8 Best Substitutes For Chili Garlic Sauce

Chili Garlic Sauce

Who doesn’t relish sauces? They are the magical potions that can transform an ordinary dish into an extraordinary one. Among all the sauces that exist in this big world, chili garlic sauce is one of my personal favorites for many reasons.

Mix some hot chili peppers with a pinch of sugar, garlic salt, and vinegar, and you get what the fieriest sauce variety is; chili garlic sauce. It is a very popular condiment from Vietnamese cuisine, a cuisine now adored all around the globe.

The sauce finds its uses in many dishes and adds that fiery touch to it. For example, you can add some heat to some meatballs or stir fry you’re making.

But imagine you are making meatballs, and you are out of chili garlic sauce. Must you be desperate to find a replacement, right? Well, some of the best substitutes for chili garlic sauce are harissa sauce, sriracha, chili paste, red pepper flakes, and chili garlic paste.

Quick Peek: Chili Garlic Sauce

Chili Garlic Sauce

Let us talk about chili garlic sauce before getting onto its substitutes, shall we?

What Is Chili Garlic Sauce?

Chili garlic sauce is a variety of sauces prepared using chili peppers (of your choice), sugar, garlic, vinegar, and salt. Many assume sriracha and chili garlic sauce to be the same, but they are not.

Describing Chili Garlic Sauce: Flavor and Texture

Chili garlic sauce obviously has a hot, spicy flavor with a tang of garlic as well. It is incredibly spicy that you might have to keep a water bottle handy. It has a thick, syrupy consistency that is characteristic of sauces.

Uses of Chili Garlic Sauce

Chili garlic sauce guarantees an ultimate delicious flavor to your recipes. It complements whatever you have on hand – sandwiches, burgers, pizzas, pasta, noodles, stir-fries, or oven-roasted, grilled, or fried meat and veggies.

It adds a great texture and balances the flavors in your recipes. Not to mention the fiery, reddish visual appeal that it delivers!

Health Benefits of Chili Garlic Sauce

Chili garlic sauce, apart from adding texture and flavor, has health benefits as well. Being a spicy condiment, it can control hunger pangs to a great extent. 

Also, it aids in boosting metabolism. It is helpful in combating cold inflammation and contributes to longevity.

But what happens if you reach your pantry and you find the bottle of chili garlic sauce empty? The list of substitutes given below will help you save the day. Let us talk about them now.

8 Best Substitutes For Chili Garlic Sauce

The eight best substitutes for chili garlic sauce are as follows:

1. Harissa Sauce

Harissa Sauce

Harissa sauce is the closest, best substitute for chili garlic sauce. It is a North African hot chili sauce made using red chilies, garlic, vinegar, and other spices. It is a popular sauce used as dips or marinades.

It has a strong peppery flavor with a garlicky finish. With a flavor and texture close to chili garlic sauce, harissa sauce can be your alternative for chili garlic sauce in any savory delicacy.

2. Sriracha


Sriracha is a kind of chili sauce made from jalapeno peppers, distilled vinegar, sugar, salt, and garlic. It has a thick, oily texture and a spicy tang with a punch of sweetness.

Sriracha is a very famous condiment from Asian cuisine but is now loved by many across the globe. You can use sriracha to replace chili garlic sauce in small amounts, keeping in mind the pungent flavor of vinegar it has.

You can use sriracha to make awesome recipes using sriracha, like some spicy cashew chicken. Here’s the recipe for spicy cashew chicken with soy-sherry sauce. It’s spicy and amazing!

3. Chili Paste

Chili Paste

If you are unfortunately out of all sauces, you can go for chili paste which is just chilies ground into a smooth paste. It is available in various flavors – sweet, spicy, and extremely spicy!

For a flavor close to chili garlic sauce, add either crushed garlic or garlic powder while using chili paste as an alternative.

4. Red Pepper Flakes

Red Pepper Flakes

Those who adore spicy food hardly have the mind to let go of red pepper flakes. It is a much loved, versatile spice condiment that comprises dried and crushed red chili peppers.

Red pepper flakes differ from chili flakes in the type of pepper used – the former is a blend of two or more peppers, while the latter comprises only one type of pepper.

Red pepper flakes have a unique spicy flavor that can easily emulate the flavor of chili garlic sauce with added garlic powder. Plus, it is easily available too!

Add some red pepper flakes to some rice and make some delicious and spicy Cajun rice. Make restaurant-style Cajun rice at home, here’s the recipe.

5. Chili-Garlic Paste

Chili Garlic Paste

Chili garlic paste is an easy substitute for chili garlic sauce if you have some chilies and garlic in your kitchen. You can pound a few chilies and garlic in a mortar and add a few seasonings of your choice to prepare chili garlic paste.

Chili garlic paste will have a thick consistency and an enhanced spicy flavor, unlike chili garlic sauce which has a syrupy consistency. However, it works fine as a substitute for chili garlic sauce as dips, marinades, or stir-fries.

6. Spicy Tomato Sauce

Spicy Tomato Sauce

We all love tomato sauce, be it sweet or spicy. Opt for a spicy tomato sauce if you are out of chili garlic sauce, and I am sure you will love the flavor.

If you want an exact flavor of chili garlic sauce, add garlic powder with tomato sauce. Tomato sauce by itself has a mild, sweet flavor, and it definitely would complement your pizzas or sandwiches.

7. Hot Sauce

Hot Sauce

Another spicy condiment that is a good alternative for chili garlic sauce is hot sauce. Made from chilies and other seasoning spices, hot sauce has a spicy, smoky flavor and a thick texture.

Hot sauce is available in various types, and you can choose one for replacing chili garlic sauce based on your flavor preferences. Make delicious Hoffman House cocktail sauce with hot sauce. Here’s the recipe for it!

8. Black Bean Sauce

Black Bean Sauce

Black bean sauce is a cooking sauce prepared using fermented and salted soybeans. It is prominently used in Chinese cuisine. This brown-colored sauce has a strong salty, spicy flavor with a tinge of sweetness. 

Although there exists a slight difference in the flavor, color, and texture of black bean sauce, it can be your last resort as an alternative for chili garlic sauce, especially when you are out of other types of sauces.

Final Word

Most of the substitutes for chili garlic sauce listed above are helpful in their own ways to simulate the flavor of chili garlic sauce. 

However, consider the type of sauce, its brand, and flavor profile before choosing one. It should totally be based on the nature of your recipe. Try them out and let me know the results. See you soon!

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