5 Best Chili Paste Substitutes That You Can Use

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Out of chili paste and looking for chili paste substitutes? I understand your plight. I, too, have suffered the dread of running out of chili paste while cooking my favorite spicy and saucy chicken. This very situation calls for a quick run to the market or a quick surf on the internet to find the best substitutes for chili paste.

Chili Paste In A Bowl

Chili paste, made from spices and chili peppers, is a great addition to many dishes. It helps add a spicy kick to many cuisines like Chinese, Thai, and other Asian cuisines. If you love Oriental food, this paste becomes a must in your kitchen cabinet. But what do you do if you don’t have it?

Look for substitutes, of course, and I am here to tell you just that. Some of the best chili paste substitutes are crushed red pepper flakes, sriracha hot sauce, spicy tomato paste, and ketchup with ground cayenne pepper. 

This is just an overview of what’s to come. I’ll tell you all about chili paste and also about how and why you can use the substitutes. So, let’s begin with an in-depth talk about chili paste.

Quick Peek: Chili Paste

Chili Paste

This section will tell you about chili paste, including its taste, flavor, uses, and health benefits. This will give you an overall idea about this much-loved condiment. Let’s start then.

What Is Chili Paste?

Chili paste is a spicy and flavorful condiment that adds a spicy kick and delicious flavor to the dishes. It is pretty simple to make. In addition to chile peppers, this paste contains onion, oil, and salt. The chili peppers are ground along with garlic and oil until a paste is formed. Then, heat the oil in a pan and add the paste.

Season with salt and cook for a while. Some other varieties of chili paste are the Korean variety gochujang and the North-African variety harissa. Sometimes tomato paste and vinegar are also added to it. If we talk about Asian chili paste, it contains sugar and shrimp paste in addition to onion, salt, and oil.

Describing Chili Paste: Flavor and Texture

Chili paste has a hot, spicy flavor with warm and earthy notes of onion and garlic. The spicy flavor comes from the ground dried chili peppers. A little salt adds the savory notes, and the oil just adds a more rich flavor. 

When tomato and vinegar are added, it makes the paste more acidic and adds tangy notes to it as well. The Asian chili paste has a spicy flavor with sweet undertones and a rich umami flavor from added shrimp paste.

When we talk about texture, chili paste is a thick puree. There’s no liquid ingredient; it is also cooked to make it thicker. This is because chili paste is used as an addition to bases and broths. Let’s talk more about the uses of chili paste.

Uses Of Chili Paste

As I said, chili paste is used in bases, broths, and soups to add that extra spice and a hot punch. It makes them more flavorful. Other than that, many people mix it with other sauces to make spicy dips and marinades. They are also used as a spread to make zing-filled sandwiches, and it isn’t uncommon to use them in stir-fry and saucy recipes.

Chili Paste On The Health Radar | Looking Through The Wellness Telescope

The health benefits of chili paste are directly linked to its primary ingredient, chili peppers. The chili paste is rich in antioxidants and vitamin C. Chili peppers are also known to prevent malicious diseases like cancer and stomach ulcers. 

The ability to create heat in the body by the chili peppers is linked to weight loss and reduces the risk of type 2 Diabetes. Not only that, red chili peppers, rich in beta-carotene and pro-vitamin A, are known to improve one’s immunity and promote the health of mucus membranes.

Why Use A Substitute For Chili Paste?

If you want to add spice, flavor, and zing to your recipes but are out of chili paste, then it becomes important to look for condiments or ingredients that resemble the taste of chili paste. In some recipes that call for chili paste-like spicy curries, you can add these substitutes to recreate the spicy flavor.

Other Food Substitutes You Can Try

5 Best Chili Paste Substitutes

Now that we have discussed everything about chili paste, let’s see what you came for. Here is a list of chili paste substitutes you can use in your recipes.

1. Crushed Red Pepper Flakes

Crushed Red Pepper Flakes

If you want a simple solution to your chili paste woes, you can just add some crushed red pepper flakes to your recipes. The pepper flakes are nothing fancy but dried and crushed cayenne peppers. The pepper flakes come with many seeds that are actually the spice bombs that add the hot taste to your recipe.

If you don’t want to add them directly, you can add the red pepper flakes to some tomato ketchup and then add them to your dishes. If you want an Asian twist, you can add some soy sauce and sugar to get heat, sweet, and savory flavors. If you want to add umami notes, you can add some shrimp paste and fish sauce. Use the mixture in a 1:1 ratio.

2. Sriracha Hot Sauce

Sriracha Hot Sauce

Sriracha hot sauce may not be the best chili paste substitute when it comes to texture, but it is a good one if you just want to recreate its taste and spice. Chili paste has a thick puree-like consistency, while hot sauce has a liquid consistency.

However, hot sauce has a spice and heat factor similar to chili paste. If you add it to a recipe where texture is irrelevant, hot sauce can prove to be one of the best substitutes for chili paste. Due to its thin consistency, you might need to add more than chili paste.

3. Spicy Tomato Paste

Spicy Tomato Paste

When it comes to a chili paste substitute that comes close to its texture, we talk about spicy tomato paste. Spicy tomato paste is simply tomato paste mixed with red pepper flakes or chili powder. You can add the spice until you get the desired heat, and then you can add it to your recipes.

You can also cook the tomatoes in oil and add the spice to make it a little closer in flavor to chili paste. But normal tomato paste mixed with spices also works. It can work as your last resort if you are out of other options.

4. Ketchup With Cayenne Pepper

Ketchup with Cayenne Pepper

You can also make a quick chili paste substitute by mixing ketchup with some cayenne pepper. Ketchup couldn’t have a more different flavor profile than chili paste. But it comes pretty close to its texture and thickness.

Ketchup is made mainly with tomatoes with the addition of spices and vinegar that gives it its tangy and savory notes. Add some cayenne pepper, and it gets the spice it is lacking and can make a great addition to your recipes. It is also customizable as you can add your desired amount of pepper.

5. Homemade Chili Paste

Homemade Chili Paste

Last on the list is a solution, not a quick one but a good one. If you want the same taste of chili paste, then it is better to make some at home. All you need is some dried chili peppers. You can go with cayenne peppers or Mexican chile peppers.

Add your chili peppers with some onion in a food processor to finely chop. Then, add them to hot oil to cook them for about 15 minutes. After that, add this mixture to a blender, add your seasonings, and, if you want, some shrimp paste. Then, blend everything, and your homemade chili paste is ready.

Short Recap For The Best Chili Paste Substitutes

Here is a short recap of the best chili paste substitutes for your better understanding

Best Chili Paste Substitute In Terms Of Flavor-

  • Sriracha Hot Sauce
  • Homemade Chili Paste

Best Chili Paste Substitute In Terms Of Texture-

  • Spicy Tomato Paste
  • Ketchup with Cayenne Pepper

How To Use Chili Paste Substitutes In Recipes

Chili Paste In A Bowl

Chili Paste Substitutes

Chili paste, made from spices and chili peppers, is a great addition to many dishes. It helps add a spicy kick to many cuisines like Chinese, Thai, and other Asian cuisines.
5 from 1 vote


  • Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
  • Sriracha Hot Sauce
  • Spicy Tomato Paste
  • Ketchup With Cayenne Pepper
  • Homemade Chili Paste


  • Go through the substitutes and see which one seems fit for the recipe.
  • Collect your ingredients and use your preferred substitute.
  • Use the substitute in the required amount and proceed to make the dish according to the recipe.
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Final Word

So, these are the best chili paste substitutes you can use in your recipes to recreate their taste. It’s always better to add a bit of substitute than to add nothing at all, am I right?

This was all I had to say. Let me know in the comments which substitute you thought was best. You can also drop your suggestions in the comments. I’ll see you another time. Until then, happy cooking!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can I use crushed red pepper flakes instead of chili paste?

Yes, you can use crushed red pepper flakes instead of chili paste to add spice to your recipe. You can also mix it with some tomato ketchup to give it volume.

What are some of the best chili paste substitutes?

Some of the best chili paste substitutes are crushed red pepper flakes, sriracha hot sauce, spicy tomato paste, and ketchup with ground cayenne pepper.

What do I need to make chili paste at home?

You’ll need dried chili peppers, onion, oil, salt and sugar. If you want you can also add some shrimp paste. If you want a tangy taste, you can add tomato and vinegar.

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