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The 8 Best Substitutes For Chili Paste

Do you love the heat of chili paste?

If so, you know how it can take your dishes to the next level.

But what if you don’t have any chili paste on hand?

Don’t worry – there are plenty of substitutes that will work just as well.

From sambal oelek to Thai red curry paste and more, I’ll be exploring some of the best substitutes for chili paste in this article.

So if you want to add a little bit of spice and flavor to your recipes without having to buy chili paste, read on!

What is Chili Paste?

Chili paste is a type of condiment, generally made from fresh or dried chilies and other ingredients such as garlic, ginger, fish sauce, and vinegar.

It has a thick consistency similar to that of jam or jelly and can range in flavor from mild to extremely spicy.

The main purpose of chili paste is to add heat and flavor to dishes, but it is often used as an all-purpose seasoning in many cuisines around the world.

  • Chili paste is commonly used in Thai cuisine for soups like Tom Yum Goong (spicy shrimp soup), curries such as Panang Curry, stir-fries like Pad Krapow (Thai basil stir fry), noodle dishes such as Pad See Ew (rice noodles with vegetables) and more.
  • In Chinese cooking, it may be added to hot pots or used as dipping sauce for dumplings or egg rolls.
  • In Mexican cuisine, it can be strained into a smooth sauce for enchiladas or tacos. It can also be blended with oil for marinades or sauces.

The heat level of chili paste varies depending on the variety of chilies used – ranging from mild Jalapeños to fiery Habaneros.

In general, the more seeds that are included in the mix, the spicier the paste will be. Some chili pastes also contain additional spices, such as cumin and coriander, to further enhance the flavor.

Chili paste is widely available in both Asian and Latin markets, as well as in the international aisle of most grocery stores.

It also can be made at home by blending chilies with other aromatics and ingredients and cooking it down to a thick paste.

The 8 Best Substitutes For Chili Paste

Chili paste is an essential ingredient for many dishes, but it can be hard to find in stores.

Fortunately, there are several alternatives that can be used as substitutes.

Here are eight of the best chili paste substitutes:

1 – Crushed Pepper Flakes

Crushed Pepper Flakes

Crushed pepper flakes are a great alternative to chili paste for adding heat and flavor to dishes.

The flakes are made from dried red chilies, which have been ground into small pieces.

They provide a spicy kick with subtle sweetness and smokiness.

Pepper flakes can be used in many recipes that call for chili paste, such as stir-fries, marinades, sauces, soups, and stews.

They also make an excellent topping for pizza or pasta dishes.

When substituting crushed pepper flakes for chili paste, it’s important to keep in mind that the former is much spicier than the latter – so start with less than you would normally use when cooking with chili paste.

2 – Sriracha Hot Sauce

Sriracha hot sauce

Sriracha hot sauce is a spicy condiment made from chili peppers, garlic, sugar, vinegar, and salt.

It has a tangy flavor with just enough heat to give your dishes an extra kick.

The bright red color of the sauce makes it easy to spot in any dish.

Sriracha can be used as a marinade for meats or added to soups and sauces for extra flavor. It also works well as a dipping sauce for fried foods like spring rolls or chicken wings.

When substituting sriracha hot sauce for chili paste, it’s important to remember that sriracha is much spicier than chili paste so you may need to adjust the amount accordingly.

For those who love the heat but don’t want too much spice, try adding just a few drops of sriracha instead of using chili paste altogether!

3 – Spicy Tomato Sauce

Spicy Tomato Sauce

Spicy tomato sauce is a great replacement for chili paste in many dishes.

This thick and flavorful sauce is made from tomatoes, garlic, onions, and various spices like cumin and chili powder.

It has a robust flavor with a hint of sweetness that adds depth to any dish.

The heat level can be adjusted by adding more or less chili powder depending on your preference.

Spicy tomato sauce can be used as an ingredient in stews, soups, marinades, and sauces.

It pairs well with meats such as beef or chicken, as well as vegetables like peppers or eggplant.

Try using it to spice up tacos or burritos for an extra kick of flavor!

4 – Tabasco Sauce

Tabasco Sauce

Tabasco sauce is a spicy condiment made from aged red peppers, vinegar, and salt.

It has a unique flavor that’s both tangy and smoky with a kick of heat that can range from mild to intense depending on the variety you choose.

Tabasco sauce is an excellent substitute for chili paste in recipes because it provides the same depth of flavor without being overly spicy.

It can be used as an ingredient or condiment to add zing to dishes like tacos, burgers, and wings.

For an extra kick of heat, try combining Tabasco with other ingredients such as honey or soy sauce.

Its versatility makes it great for spicing up any dish – just remember to start small and adjust according to taste!

5 – Hot Curry Paste

Hot Curry Paste

Hot curry paste is a spicy blend of herbs and spices that can be used to infuse flavor into any dish.

It typically contains chilies, garlic, lemongrass, galangal (a type of ginger), turmeric, cumin, coriander seeds, and shrimp paste.

The combination of these ingredients creates a complex flavor profile with sweet and savory notes.

When substituting hot curry paste for chili paste in recipes, it’s important to keep in mind that the heat level will be much higher than what you’re used to with chili paste.

Hot curry paste can be added directly to dishes or blended with other ingredients like coconut milk or fish sauce for an extra kick of flavor.

This versatile condiment is perfect for spicing up soups, curries, marinades, and stir-fries – the possibilities are endless!

6 – Ketchup with ground cayenne pepper

Ketchup with ground cayenne pepper

Ketchup with ground cayenne pepper is a great substitute for chili paste when you’re in a pinch.

Ketchup has the perfect balance of sweet and tangy flavors, while adding some heat from the cayenne pepper will give it an extra kick.

The combination of ketchup and cayenne can be used as a marinade for meats, or mixed into sauces to add depth and complexity. It also works well as a dipping sauce or spread on sandwiches.

The amount of cayenne added should depend on your preferred level of spiciness, but start small and work your way up until you get the desired flavor profile.

This simple substitution is sure to bring some zing to any dish!

7 – Ketchup with crushed red pepper

Ketchup with crushed red pepper

Ketchup with crushed red pepper is a great substitute for chili paste.

To make this condiment, simply mix ketchup with a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes.

The combination of the sweet and tangy flavor from the ketchup and the spicy kick from the red pepper makes this an ideal replacement for chili paste in many dishes.

It can be used to add some heat to tacos, burgers, fries, or even pizza!

This easy-to-make substitution will give your meals a unique twist without compromising on taste.

8 – Spicy tomato paste

Spicy tomato paste

Spicy tomato paste is a great alternative to chili paste, providing a similar flavor and heat.

This thick, concentrated sauce is made from tomatoes that have been cooked down until they are reduced to a paste-like consistency.

It has an intense flavor with notes of sweetness, tanginess, and spice that can be adjusted depending on the amount of chilies used in the recipe.

Spicy tomato paste can be used as a base for sauces or marinades, added to soups or stews for extra depth of flavor, or even spread onto pizza dough for an extra kick.

Its versatility makes it a great pantry staple that can help you create delicious dishes without needing to rely on chili paste every time.


In conclusion, if you’re looking for an alternative to chili paste, you have plenty of options.

From crushed pepper flakes and sriracha hot sauce to spicy tomato sauce and ketchup with crushed red pepper, there are numerous substitutes that can be used to add heat and flavor to your dishes.

While each substitute will provide a slightly different flavor profile, they can all be used to make delicious dishes without having to buy chili paste.

So next time you’re in need of a chili paste substitute, you know you can look to any of these eight alternatives.

chili paste

The 8 Best Substitutes For Chili Paste

When you're out of chili paste and need an alternative, look no further than this list of the 8 best substitutes for chili paste. I'm a big fan of spicy food, and I know how important it is to have the right ingredients to get the perfect flavor. In this article, I'm sharing my favorite chili paste substitutes, from Sriracha to gochujang, so you can recreate that signature flavor in any dish. I'll also provide tips and tricks for how to use them for the best results.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Course Substitutes
Cuisine American
Servings 4 people
Calories 45 kcal


  • Crushed Pepper Flakes
  • Sriracha Hot Sauce
  • Spicy Tomato Sauce
  • Tabasco Sauce
  • Hot Curry Paste
  • Ketchup with ground cayenne pepper
  • Ketchup with crushed red pepper
  • Spicy tomato paste


  • Pick your favorite substitute from the list above.
  • Follow cooking directions for your selected substitute with the proper ratio of ingredients.