6 Best Substitutes When You Can’t Use Chili Sauce


Be it a seasoning product, a dip, or a topping; chili sauce seems unmatchable when adding a great bright and fiery flavor to any dish. Chili

sauce may be available in many variants; green, red, extra hot, mild, hot and sweet, and more.

However, chili sauce may not always be available to you to use in recipes, or maybe you are looking for alternatives for other reasons.

Best Substitutes for Chili Sauce

The best substitutes for Chili Sauce are – Ketchup and Cayenne, Chili Garlic Sauce, Sriracha, Harissa, Fresh Peppers, and Spicy Mayo. They are discussed in detail here –

Ketchup and Cayenne

This alternative works best if used as a dip and is great as a replacement in texture and flavor.

This makeshift ‘chili sauce’ will be sweeter and tangier than regular chili sauce and yield a red color. This alternative is also customizable.

Ketchup and cayenne can work well in recipes with intense flavors and seasonings.

This combination is a very easily available alternative and is cost-effective too. You can use it in virtually any dip, dressing, marinade, or topping.


Ketchup and cayenne can replicate both the flavor and the texture of chili sauce. It works well in dips, dressings, marinades, and toppings and is cost-effective and easily available. It is customizable too.

Chili Garlic Sauce

Chili garlic sauce is a great alternative for cooking instead of chili sauce. It has the additional flavor of garlic and is usually sweeter and milder than chili sauce.

You may need to add some extra chili flakes or powder to reach the desired level of spice.

You can use this alternative in place of chili sauce in dips, as a topping, or as an additive condiment in cooked recipes as well.


Chili garlic sauce is a good alternative to use instead of chili sauce. You may have to add extra spice to reach the desired level of heat. This is sweeter and milder and has a distinct flavor of garlic.


Sriracha is a bottled chili sauce that originates from Thailand. This substitute contains vinegar, garlic, salt, and other secondary ingredients. Sriracha is a good substitute.

It can be added to any recipe in place of chili sauce.

It is quite hot; it is made of dried red jalapeno peppers. It can be watered down or be mixed with buffer sauces- soy or ketchup, or maybe added to mayonnaise to make spicy dips.

Sriracha is slowly gaining popularity among chili enthusiasts as a flavorful sauce.


This is a great alternative to use instead of chili sauce; it’s complexly flavored due to the high quantity of secondary ingredients it contains. It is a lot hotter than chili sauce.


This is a spicy paste made of Baklouti chili peppers, with various ingredients like cumin, caraway, coriander, and more. This ingredient originates from Tunisia.

It works very well in middle-eastern, southeast Asian, and African cuisines.

Harissa works best as a condiment added into recipes during the cooking process. It may be added into marinades, dressings and be added to dips to add heat as well.

It is significantly hotter than chili sauce.


This is a premade paste that contains a lot of spices. It is complexly flavored and works well in marinades, dressings, or dips.

Fresh Peppers

Fresh peppers are the best substitute to use instead of chili sauce if you’re looking to avoid secondary ingredients like flavorings, sugar, salt, or vinegar; ingredients present in high quantities in regular chili sauce.

Fresh peppers are easy to access, affordable, and, to the largest extent, work best as a customizable ingredient to use as a substitute. Fresh peppers are great for use in any recipe in place of chili sauce.

Simple chop it up or grind it into a paste and use it in place of chili sauce.


If you want a pure chili flavor with no additives, fresh peppers are an excellent alternative to use in place of chili sauce. They are cheap, easily available, customizable, and extremely versatile.

Spicy Mayo

This alternative has a few limitations but can work excellently in some recipes. Spicy may is known for working particularly well in dips, as a topping, and in salad dressings.

Spicy mayo is also customizable to a good extent. It works well in burgers, as a dip for fried snacks, and to spread in sandwiches.

However, this alternative may not work very well in recipes involving cooking with a lot of heat since the texture of mayonnaise changes when it comes to heat.

Moreover, this alternative contains a large number of additional ingredients.


This alternative is good to use as a spread, dip, salad dressing, and topping. It may not work in cooked recipes. It is customizable.


What can I use instead of chili sauce for a topping?

Sriracha comes the closest to texture, color as well as a flavor as a topping. This alternative also works well in beverages like the elusive bloody mary.

What can I serve as a dip instead of chili sauce?

Spicy mayo is a good replacement as a dip or a spread you can serve instead of chili sauce in virtually any recipe. This alternative is not as hot as chili sauce and can be customized to your desired heat level.

Can I substitute ketchup for chili sauce?

Ketchup can make an adequate replacement instead of chili sauce in dips or dressings but bear in mind that it is not hot at all and will add no spice or heat to your recipe. You may have to add some cayenne or paprika to add heat to your recipe in addition to ketchup.

Can I make chili sauce at home?

Yes. Chili sauce is easy to make and needs minimal ingredients to make. It isn’t an immediate alternative since processing and cooking fresh or dried peppers takes time. There are many recipes available to follow that you can use to make your chili sauce.

Bottom Line

There are many ways to add heat to your recipes. Chili sauce is a good ingredient to do just that.

However, it may not always be available easily or quickly. In that case, there are many alternatives available, some of which you may already have in your pantry!

Hopefully, you find that you can use one of these alternatives in your recipes to add a fiery flavor as per your requirement.

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About Barbara Foster

Barbara is a traveler who has traveled to more than 25 countries. She loves the variety of food she gets to experience on her trips and maintains detailed journals of her travels which she plans to publish as a book someday. She loves to bake. Her favorite cuisines are Italian, French, and Mexican.

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