9 Best Substitute For Chili Garlic Sauce

Chili Garlic Sauce Substitute

Chili Garlic Sauce is an iconic blend that elevates any dish with its tangy heat and robust flavor. Originating from Asian cuisine, it has become an international staple, enhancing dishes with its complex blend of spicy chilies and aromatic garlic. Despite its widespread popularity, there might be occasions when it’s unavailable or doesn’t suit dietary preferences, prompting the need for a suitable substitute.

This article provides an in-depth exploration of the best alternatives to chili garlic sauce. It offers an engaging journey through global cuisines, highlighting sauces that can mimic or even enhance the fiery kick of chili garlic sauce. Each substitute comes with a detailed description, presenting their unique flavor profiles, and practical uses. Whether you’re a novice cook experimenting with flavors or an experienced chef seeking to innovate, these substitutes can bring diversity and creativity to your culinary repertoire.

What is Chili Garlic Sauce?

Chili Garlic Sauce is a piquant blend of coarsely ground chilies and garlic, popular in Chinese and Southeast Asian cuisines. A signature product of Huy Fong Foods, it has a robust flavor profile with a good balance of heat from the chilies and a strong aroma from the garlic. The sauce is often used as a condiment or in cooking, where it’s added to stir-fries, marinades, and sauces to bring in a spicy-garlicky punch.

Flaming Alternatives: A Snapshot of Chili Garlic Sauce Substitutes

  • Sriracha
  • Sambal Oelek
  • Harissa
  • Gochujang
  • Fresh Chilies and Garlic
  • Tabasco Sauce
  • Homemade Chili Garlic Sauce
  • Red Pepper Flakes with Garlic
  • Jalapeno Hot Sauce
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Best Substitutes For Chili Garlic Sauce

Let’s now delve into these fiery substitutes and their unique characteristics. Each substitute has been explored in detail, highlighting their flavors, usage, and preparation methods.


Sriracha, the renowned Thai hot sauce, makes a fantastic substitute for chili garlic sauce. Known for its vibrant red color, it derives its heat from red jalapeno peppers and its sweetness from sugar. Its ingredients include garlic, but in smaller quantities than in chili garlic sauce.

Using Sriracha as a replacement involves some adjustments. It’s sweeter and less chunky compared to chili garlic sauce, but its heat and garlic notes create a similar profile. Adding some minced garlic could further emulate the flavor of the chili garlic sauce. It’s a versatile condiment that could be used in stir-fries, soups, marinades, and as a dipping sauce.

Sambal Oelek

Venturing into Indonesia, we discover Sambal Oelek, a chili paste traditionally made using fresh chili peppers, salt, and vinegar. The primary flavor is the bright, fresh heat from the chilies, with the salt and vinegar enhancing its taste.

Compared to chili garlic sauce, Sambal Oelek lacks the garlic component. However, by adding freshly minced or roasted garlic, you can create a close alternative. Its fresh chili flavor makes it a great base for marinades and stir-fry dishes, adding a burst of spice to any recipe.


Our culinary exploration takes us next to North Africa, where Harissa, a hot chili pepper paste, is a staple. It is typically made from roasted red peppers, Baklouti pepper, serrano peppers, and other hot chili peppers. Garlic, coriander seed, saffron, and sometimes caraway or cumin are added for extra flavor.

Harissa is generally spicier and more complex in flavor than chili garlic sauce due to the additional spices. However, its strong chili and garlic presence makes it a viable substitute. Harissa can be used as a condiment, in marinades, and in cooking to add depth and heat to the dishes.

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Moving to Korea, we find Gochujang, a spicy and slightly sweet paste made from chili powder, glutinous rice, fermented soybeans, and salt.

While Gochujang lacks the garlic component and is sweeter than chili garlic sauce, its spiciness and depth of flavor make it a compelling alternative. Incorporating minced garlic into dishes using Gochujang will closely mimic chili garlic sauce. This sauce is fantastic in stews, marinades, dips, and stir-fries.

Fresh Chilies and Garlic

Sometimes, the simplest solutions are the best. A straightforward blend of fresh chilies and garlic can serve as an excellent replacement for chili garlic sauce. This combination offers a fresh and vibrant flavor, although it lacks the depth and complexity of a fermented sauce.

Choose chilies based on the heat level you prefer. Combine minced chilies and garlic, add a splash of vinegar and salt, and you have a quick, fresh substitute. Use this mixture in any recipe that calls for chili garlic sauce, adjusting quantities based on your heat tolerance.

Tabasco Sauce

Tabasco Sauce, a famous American hot sauce, is a potential substitute for chili garlic sauce. It’s made from tabasco peppers, vinegar, and salt, resulting in a sauce that’s spicy, tangy, and slightly fermented.

Although it lacks the garlic flavor and has a thinner consistency, Tabasco’s spiciness can fill the void left by chili garlic sauce. Try adding some fresh or powdered garlic to your dish to compensate. Use it in soups, sauces, dips, and other recipes for a fiery kick.

Homemade Chili Garlic Sauce

If you’re a DIY enthusiast, making homemade chili garlic sauce could be the route for you. By controlling the ingredients, you can replicate the flavors to suit your taste.

Making your own chili garlic sauce involves using red chilies, garlic, salt, vinegar, and a little sugar. These ingredients are ground together and then simmered until they form a thick, flavorful paste. This homemade sauce can be used directly in place of store-bought chili garlic sauce.

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Red Pepper Flakes with Garlic

Red pepper flakes combined with garlic is another simple yet effective substitute. This mixture has a dryer texture compared to the original sauce but brings a similar balance of spiciness and garlicky notes.

Mix equal parts of garlic powder and red pepper flakes, adding a pinch of salt for taste. This mix is best used in stir-fries and pasta dishes where it can be directly sprinkled on the food.

Jalapeno Hot Sauce

Last on our list is Jalapeno Hot Sauce, a flavorful hot sauce made from jalapeno peppers. While it has a milder flavor profile compared to chili garlic sauce, the addition of garlic to the recipe can bring it closer.

Jalapeno Hot Sauce can be used as a condiment or in cooking to give a mild heat and tanginess to dishes. By adding garlic, you can emulate the garlic punch found in chili garlic sauce.

Substitutes for Chili Garlic Sauce: Nutritional Profile

Let’s take a quick glance at the nutritional profile of these substitutes (in ¼ cup):

Sambal Oelek401.5g8g0.5g0gYes
Fresh Chilies and Garlic300.2g7g1.1g1.3gNo
Tabasco Sauce350g9g0g1gNo
Homemade Chili Garlic Sauce1202g25g2g3gNo
Red Pepper Flakes with Garlic50g1g0.5g0.2gNo
Jalapeno Hot Sauce200g5g1g0gYes

Wrapping Up: The Spice of Life

As we conclude, remember that each substitute brings its unique taste and heat. There are many ways to replicate the flavor of chili garlic sauce, from traditional sauces across different cuisines to a simple blend of fresh chilies and garlic. While some substitutes might need minor adjustments, they’ll undoubtedly add a spicy kick to your dishes. So, next time you run out of chili garlic sauce or want to experiment, you know what to do!

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