Bring on the Heat: What's A Good Chili Garlic Sauce Substitute?

December 31, 2022
Last updated on January 31, 2023
Bring on the Heat: What's A Good Chili Garlic Sauce Substitute?

The chili garlic sauce is a culinary enigma, a veritable explosion of flavor and heat in every dish it touches. Be it stir-fry, marinades, sauces, or any other delectable creation, this sauce has become an integral part of modern cooking. The harmonious balance of pungent garlic and spicy chili peppers creates a unique flavor profile that is both audacious and versatile. Hence, it's no wonder that chili garlic sauce is a staple in many kitchens.

But what if the pantry runs low, or you crave a more wholesome, natural substitute? Fear not, there are multiple options that can emulate the heat and taste without compromising the dish's quality.

Chili Garlic Sauce Substitute: 6 Sizzling Alternatives

Have no fear, as there are numerous alternatives that can provide a similar taste and heat level. Let's delve into some options.

1. Fresh Chili Peppers

Fresh chili peppers can replace the chili garlic sauce in many recipes. They bring a fresh and lively flavor, and the highest level of spiciness for those who love the heat. To use, chop the peppers into small pieces, removing seeds for milder heat, and incorporate into the dish at the start of cooking or blend into a paste for easier substitution.

2. Hot sauce

Hot sauce offers a consistent, albeit milder, flavor compared to fresh chili peppers. Heat levels between brands can vary, so choose wisely and adjust the quantity to match desired heat.

3. Salsa

Salsa is a suitable option for those seeking a chili garlic sauce substitute. Choose a salsa with desired heat level and use in place of the sauce. Salsa provides a more complex flavor and added vegetables like onions and tomatoes. Keep in mind, salsa can add moisture to the dish, so drain or cook to desired consistency.

4. Chili Paste

Chili paste, made of chili peppers, vinegar, and spices blended into a thick paste, is another chili garlic sauce substitute. It has a higher concentration of chili peppers than hot sauce and can be used in a similar manner, adding heat and flavor to dishes. Heat levels can vary between brands, so taste and adjust.

5. Black Bean Sauce

Black bean sauce, a rich and flavorful sauce commonly used in Asian cuisines made from fermented black beans, garlic, ginger, and spices, is a milder substitute for chili garlic sauce. It has a distinct umami flavor and can be used in stir-fries, sauces, marinades, or as a dip. Keep in mind, it has a more complex flavor profile that may alter the dish's flavor. Use sparingly to taste.

6. Harissa Sauces

Harissa sauce, a traditional North African condiment made from chili peppers, spices, garlic, and olive oil, is another substitute for chili garlic sauce. Harissa has a bold and spicy flavor that combines heat with earthy spices. Use in place of chili garlic sauce in stews, soups, marinades, and more. Heat levels vary, so taste and adjust to desired level. Harissa offers a unique twist on the classic chili garlic sauce flavor.

Homemade Chili Garlic Sauce

Homemade chili garlic sauce is an excellent option for those who want complete control over the ingredients and heat level of their sauce. To make chili garlic sauce, simply blend fresh chili peppers, garlic, vinegar, salt, and any other desired spices or seasonings into a smooth paste.

You can adjust the heat level to your preference by using milder or spicier chili peppers, and the flavor can be customized with the addition of seasonings like ginger, cumin, or coriander.

Homemade chili garlic sauce will have a fresher and more vibrant flavor compared to store-bought options, and it can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a few weeks. Whether you're looking to control the ingredients, heat level, or simply want a fresh, homemade option, making your own chili garlic sauce is a great choice.


In conclusion, chili garlic sauce is a versatile ingredient that adds heat and flavor to a variety of dishes. However, there may come a time when you find yourself without this beloved ingredient or desire a different flavor profile. In such cases, you can choose from a range of substitutes, including fresh chili peppers, dried chili flakes, hot sauce, or salsa.

Each option offers its own unique flavor and heat level, allowing you to customize your dish to your liking. So, whether you're a fan of a milder heat or a spice-lover seeking the ultimate kick, a chili garlic sauce substitute is just a few steps away. Don't be afraid to experiment and discover your own personal favorite substitute for this tasty ingredient.

Profil Picture Annie Shepherd

Annie Shepherd is a 38-year-old woman who loves reading, swimming, and practicing yoga. In her free time, she enjoys writing a blog about all things related to the kitchen and food. When she's not busy working or keeping up with her hobbies, Annie can be found trying out new recipes and experimenting with different ingredients in the kitchen.

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