Best Substitutes For Chili Paste

Chili paste is a fantastic and versatile ingredient for many recipes which can be used in various ways.

However, what happens if you see a recipe that calls for chili paste, but you don’t have it stored at home?

In this case, we have listed the best ingredients which you can substitute for chili paste that can save you a trip to the supermarket.

What Is Chili Paste

Chili paste is sometimes confused with chili sauce. Still, they are very different and could be called in recipes for specific purposes.

In fact, chili paste is a condiment made from red chilies that are puréed and blended with oil, garlic, and salt.

The red chilies are either fresh, dried, or roasted. Other ingredients are often combined, so there are many variations of red chili pastes.

When a recipe calls for chili paste, and it happens to run out, there are a few alternative options available that can save you a trip to the supermarket.


It’s important to remember that there are different types of chili pastes with unique flavors and can be called for a specific kind of cuisine.

For example, there’s Mexican chili paste and Korean chili paste, which may sound alike, but are entirely different in how they’re used for a recipe.

Therefore, if you’re looking for a substitute for chili paste, you will have several options depending on the type of paste you’re looking to replace.

This article lists ingredients that can replace general chili pastes.


Chili paste is called for in many recipes, which is mainly for flavor and spice. Here are some prime examples of what chili paste is used for:

  • Add to soups for extra flavor
  • Use as a rub or marinade for meat
  • Sandwich spread
  • Top it up on a spicy burger
  • Mix it with mayo
  • Great for many Asian dishes

The Best Chili Paste Substitutes

Homemade Chili Paste

The best substitute for chili paste is to make your own chili paste because it requires minimal ingredients, and all you need is a basic food processor.

Homemade chili paste is also very fresh, natural, and delicious, which can help you save money by making large batches.

Another advantage is that homemade chili paste doesn’t require stabilizers that you will find in store-bought jars.

The main ingredients you will need are red chili, extra-virgin olive oil, garlic cloves, and salt – minimal ingredients that you can easily purchase from any supermarket.

Here is how you can make chili paste at home:

  1. Add to your food processor the red chilies, onion and garlic cloves.
  2. After you blitz the ingredients add olive oil and blend again.
  3. Transfer the ingredients to a saucepan.
  4. Cook on low heat for 20 minutes.
  5. Stir the mixture frequently.
  6. Add extra olive oil if you feel the paste is starting to burn.
  7. Transfer to an air-tight storage container and allow it to cool down.
  8. Refrigerate or use right away.

Sriracha Hot Sauce

Using a hot sauce like sriracha is a fantastic substitution for chili paste. It has similar flavors and is a close resemblance.

Although chili paste and hot sauces are different in texture and the way they are used, sriracha sauce has a slightly thicker consistency than most hot sauces and can replace it.

For example, suppose the recipe calls for adding chili paste on top of a burger. In that case, you can easily add a hot sauce like sriracha, and you might not notice much difference.

Red Pepper Flakes

Red pepper flakes get a mention because it’s a seasoning that almost every household has stored in their pantry.

This substitution is versatile because red pepper flakes are ideal for spice rubs and marinades, replacing chili paste in specific recipes.

Therefore, if you have soy sauce at home, you can mix that with chili flakes and create a marinade. Or you could mix chili flakes with a sauce like ketchup or mayo.

Spicy Ketchup

Spicy ketchup is simply tomato ketchup mixed with red pepper flakes, red chili powder, or cayenne pepper, closely resembling a chili paste in terms of consistency and flavor.

Again, tomato ketchup is almost always stored in a pantry and readily available, along with spicy seasonings.

Mixing 1 cup of tomato ketchup with 3 to 4 teaspoons of the spicy seasoning of your choice can help substitute a chili paste in most recipes.

Spicy Tomato Paste

A similar option to spicy ketchup is spicy tomato paste which is simply tomato paste mixed with red pepper flakes, red chili powder, or cayenne pepper.

The main difference is the consistency and flavor because tomato paste is thicker and potent, which means you should use less tomato paste to make it spicy.

You could also add garlic powder and onion powder to add flavor because tomato paste is powerful.

Frequently Asked Questions

Chili Paste vs Chili Sauce

Chili paste and chili sauce are different in many ways but are often considered the same in confusion.

Chili paste has a far thicker texture compared to chili sauce and is made from minimal ingredients which uses less liquid.

Chili sauce is smoother and had extra liquid because it usually contains vinegar. For example, this peri-peri sauce recipe calls for red wine vinegar.

As a result, the flavor is also different due to the extra liquid in the chili sauce recipes and there’s many variation of chili pastes and sauces.

They are used in different ways, however, in some recipes, you can use either as a direct replacement. For example, if you want to add chili paste to your burger, you can simply use chili sauce.

Is Chili Paste Vegan?

Yes, chili paste is vegan, and almost every variation is vegan-friendly. The most basic chili paste is made from red chilies, olive oil, onion, and garlic. Variations may include different types of red chilies.

Store-bought versions will include stabilizers, but most brands nowadays don’t include preservatives and artificial colors.

Is Sriracha the same as chili paste?

No, sriracha is not the same as chili paste because sriracha is a hot sauce that includes distilled vinegar in its ingredients.

However, in some recipes, sriracha can be an excellent substitution for chili paste because it has a thicker consistency than most hot sauces.

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