Made with only 5 ingredients, this Sweet Chili Sauce Recipe is an easy way to enjoy affordable, and better tasting than store-bought. This copycat sauce is a little bit sweet, a little bit spicy, and can be used in a variety of ways.
What is Sweet Chili Sauce?
Sweet Chili Sauce is an Asian condiment sometimes referred to as Thai Sweet Chili Sauce or Asian Sweet Chili Sauce. It is made with vinegar, red chilis, sugar, and garlic to create a thick, tangy, slightly spicy, and perfectly sweet sauce that is perfect for dipping or drizzling and adds tremendous flavor to endless dishes.
Homemade Sweet Chili Sauce is the Best
There are many brands of Sweet Chili Sauce on the market and it is easy to find in just about any grocery store, but just like most things, homemade is best.
Not only is the flavor of Homemade Sweet Chili Sauce exceptional, but this recipe for Sweet Chili Sauce is made without the addition of preservatives or red dye and is much more affordable than anything store-bought.
Notes on Ingredients
This recipe for Thai Sweet Chili Sauce is made with only 5 ingredients--6 if you count water.
- Sambal Oelek: Sweet Chili Sauce is classically made using dried red chilies. However, not only are they hard to find at most local grocery stores, they take a bit of time and effort to rehydrate and process. Instead, I opt to use Sambal Oelek, which can be found in the Asian section, next to soy sauce, at most grocery stores. It is an affordable condiment that is made using red chilies and gives replicates the authentic flavor of Sweet Chili Sauce perfectly. Bonus: You can store red chili sauce in the refrigerator for months and add it to everything from stir-fries or marinades for a pop of flavor.
- Sugar: Granulated sugar is best for this recipe. It will dissolve easily into the sauce and sweetens the sauce, rather than flavoring the sauce like honey or maple syrup would do.
- Rice Vinegar: Rice Vinegar is made from fermented rice and the flavor is tart, tangy, and essential to this recipe for Sweet Chili Sauce. You can find rice vinegar in any major grocery store, alongside the other kinds of vinegar or in the Asian food section. I don't recommend substitutions for rice vinegar, as the flavor is not quite the same.
- Garlic: Garlic is an optional addition, but in my humble opinion, adds incredible flavor. Some brands add garlic, some do not, but I highly suggest the addition--as long as you like garlic!
- Cornstarch: Cornstarch is used to give this Sweet Chili Sauce the thick consistency that makes it perfect for dipping. If you have a corn allergy, use equal parts of tapioca or arrowroot starch, in place of the cornstarch. This is another great reason to make Sweet Chili Sauce at home-- you can make it suitable for your dietary needs.
How to Sweet Thai Chili Sauce
- First, you want to prepare a cornstarch slurry, which will help to thicken up the sauce. To prepare the cornstarch slurry, simply whisk together the cornstarch and water together until the cornstarch is dissolved. Set the cornstarch mixture aside.
- In a small saucepan, whisk together the sugar, water, Sambal Oelek, vinegar, and garlic. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook just until the sugar is dissolved. This should only take a minute or two.
- Once the sugar is dissolved, whisk in the cornstarch slurry, and simmer until the mixture is thickened, whisking constantly. It should only take a minute.
- Allow the sauce to cool, and then give it a quick taste test to see if you need to add a pinch of salt. The sambal oelek sauce has added salt, so I find this addition unnecessary myself.
- Once the sauce has cooled to the touch, serve or transfer it to a container or jar for storage in the fridge.
Storing Sweet Chili Sauce
This recipe for Sweet Chili Sauce can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up two weeks. If you find that the sauce has thickened too much after refrigeration, gently heat the sauce in a saucepan over medium-low heat to thin.
Sweet Chili Sauce Serving Suggestions
This all-purpose Thai Sweet Chili Sauce can be used in a wide range of dishes, from soups to stir-fries to serving alongside fish, chicken, or noodles to liven up your meal. While the options for how you use this sweet chili sauce are endless, below I am sharing with you some of my favorite uses.
- Sweet Chili Sauce is the perfect dipping sauce for Baked Coconut Shrimp, Egg Rolls, Pot Stickers, and Spring Rolls.
- Instead of classic buffalo-flavored chicken wings, toss Instant Pot Chicken Wings or Boneless Chicken Wings in the sweet chili sauce after cooking.
- Use this sauce as a dip for Baked Chicken Tenders or Oven Baked Fries.
- Top grilled meat or sauteed tofu with a tablespoon of the Sweet Chili Sauce, for a flavorful, simple dish.
- Use for seasoning Asian Lettuce Wraps or in place of the soy sauce in Stir-Fried Chicken and Bok Choy.
- Add 1-2 tablespoons to Fried Rice for extra flavor.
- Skip the classic Peanut Dipping Sauce, and serve Spring Rolls with Sweet Chili Sauce instead.
If you tried this recipe for Sweet Chili Sauce, I would love for you to leave a comment and rating below.
Sweet Chili Sauce
- ⅓ cup water + 1 tablespoon
- ⅓ cup sugar
- ⅓ cup rice wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Sambal Oelek
- ½ teaspoon minced garlic
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch with 1 tablespoon of the water until dissolved. Set aside.
- In a small saucepan, whisk together the sugar, ⅓ cup water, Sambal Oelek, vinegar, and garlic. Bring the mixture to a boil and boil just until the sugar is dissolved.
- Once the sugar is dissolved, whisk in the cornstarch slurry, and cook until the mixture is thickened, whisking constantly. It should only take a minute.
- Cool the sauce and then serve immediately or transfer to a storage container.
I had serious doubts thinking this would not turn our right and it was delicious! I substituted white wine vinegar because I didn't have rice wine but it was still amazing. Thank you.
I am so glad it was what you were looking for Kim!
Fantastic recipe. I use this sauce all the time!
Bookmarking to use again! I usually need to run to the store to buy chili sauce. This is so simple to make at home. Perfect for dipping shrimp. Thank you!
So glad you found this easy Sandra! Glad I can help save you a trip to the store.
Marna V Jordan
I find your recipes very interesting.
YAY! So glad you found this recipe Sara!