What is the best substitute for chili paste?

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Set the alarm! This time, we’ve got a hot one on our hands.

Chili paste is one ingredient that seemed to be popping up everywhere these days, and your recipe collection is surely not immune to this hot substance that is now sweeping the globe. The trouble is that chile paste isn’t exactly a typical household product for most people, which means you may not have it on hand when you’re making a meal that asks for it.

As a result, we’ve put together a list of the finest chili paste replacements, each of which will provide a comparable punchy taste to your meals while saving you a trip to the shop!

What is Chili Paste?

Chili paste is exactly what it sounds like: a paste prepared from fiery chilis. The apparent simplicity, however, stops here, since chili paste may vary greatly in terms of components and procedure from there. Some of this is due to regionality, since chili pastes are often produced using whatever chilis and spices are indigenous to any particular region or cuisine, but chili pastes may also be adjusted to personal preferences.

The majority of chili pastes are created from dried chili peppers that have been roasted and rehydrated before being mixed. Some chili pastes are combined with oil, while others are combined with a tomato basis. Some chile pastes are quite hot, while others are rather sweet! Yet, some chili pastes are high in complimentary tastes such as extra spices, soy sauce, herbs, and seasonings, and others are high in smokey or fermented flavors.

Note: chili paste should not be mistaken with chili sauce, which, in most cases, is not as fiery as chili paste but is still delicious and wonderful!

What is Chili Paste Used For?

The aim of a chili paste variation stays the same, regardless of the precise components or preparation: to provide fiery taste to any food! It is also widely accepted that chili paste varies from hot sauce in one significant way: viscosity. Hot sauce is very thin and liquid, and it is often administered in a dasher bottle, drop by drop, to regulate the flow. Chili paste, on the other hand, is thick and not easily poured. Instead of squeezing or shaking a few drops out, chili paste involves spooning and stirring to distribute the chili pepper flavor throughout your food.

Types of Chili Paste

Many people envision a little amount of red-hot material atop a bowl of ramen or served with it when they hear the term chili paste. The reality is that there are several varieties of chili paste available! The following are some of the most prominent chili pastes used across the globe, as well as the locations from where they originate.

It goes without saying that the list below should be your first port of call when looking for a chili paste alternative. If your recipe asks for one kind of chili paste and you happen to have one of these or another that we didn’t list, feel free to substitute it! Just keep the heat level in mind and start slowly until you know how spicy you want your dish to be.

  • Gochujang is a deliciously complex Korean chili paste. Gochujang is as unusual as it is pungent, due to the incorporation of fermented soybeans and the addition of sticky rice for texture. Don’t forget about the fiery red pepper flakes that make up the major taste characteristic of this thing.
  • Harissa: a famous red chili paste in North African and Middle Eastern cuisines, this red chili paste offers a variety of complementing tastes owing to the addition of garlic, olive oil, and toasted spices such as cumin and coriander.
  • Sambal Oelek is an Indonesian vinegar-forward chili paste that is likely to be what you envision when you think of traditional chili paste. Sambal Oelek is often seen on the top ramen bowls and other hot soups.
  • Ancho Paste: Made from dried Mexican hot chilies known as ancho peppers, this kind of chili paste is used in Mexican spicy meals and has a sweet, spicy, and smoky taste.
  • Thai Chili Paste: There is a wide variety of Thai chili pastes to pick from. Thai red chili paste is the most popular form, which typically incorporates distinctive ingredients such as tamarind, fish sauce, and sugar to balance off the intensity.
  • Green Chili Paste: Although many chili pastes are derived from red chilis, green chili paste is often seen in Indian cuisine! Many green chili pastes are relatively basic, consisting just of hot green chilis and salt, although other versions may incorporate garlic, fresh herbs, or even a little amount of oil.

Things to Consider When Substituting for Chili Paste

When deciding which of these chili paste alternatives is your best choice, there are various elements to consider in order to get the greatest match, or build a substitute that will infuse some new, but equally complementing tastes and textures into your dish.

1. The Heat Level

This will be difficult to regulate since the heat level of various chili pastes and spicy substitutes might vary from product to product. In fact, the heat level differential between two individual peppers of the same species may be rather considerable!

Chili pastes and chili paste replacements are similarly difficult to completely taste while cooking (unless you want to burn your taste buds), but it is worth the effort to taste just a bit and confirm it has the desired impact in your dish. You may also depend on other details to evaluate whether the outcome is equivalent. You can tell a lot about two components just by smelling them or observing their surfaces. Believe your intuition!

2. Tomato or not To-mato?

Several of the chili paste substitution choices we’ve mentioned here involve tomato components, as you’ll see. It is important to consider this carefully since you do not want to use tomato components in any recipe where their acid level and reactivity may pose a problem, such as meals that will be cooked or blended in an aluminum or copper vessel. Tomato interacts with certain metals and may make the final meal taste metallic, so avoid using them or replace out the pots and pans if necessary.

3. Texture and Moisture

The texture of chili paste is one of its most essential qualities. It’s not as dry as pepper flakes and spices, but it’s also not as watery as regular hot pepper sauce. Chili paste has an amazing, well, paste-like texture that makes it great for creating the foundation of sauces, adding into soups, used as a spread, rubbing into meats and poultry, and a variety of other uses. As a result, while looking for a chili paste alternative, keep texture and moisture level in mind and modify as appropriate.

6 Top Chili Paste Substitutes

The ideal chili paste alternative will depend on what ingredients you currently have on hand, what is available at your local market or specialty shop, and, probably most significantly, how spicy you want it!


With all of this discussion about scorching hot peppers, you’re not wrong if you think using ketchup as a chili pepper alternative sounds a bit silly! Although ketchup is not hot, it does have a thick texture similar to chili paste, as well as a tomato-y base taste that many chili pastes have.

The catch here is that you must provide your own heat! Yes, it is more effort for you, but on the positive side, you can tailor this chili paste replacement to your own preferences. Try 1 tablespoon of any of the following spicy ingredients to every half-cup of ketchup: powdered cayenne pepper, chili powder, crushed red pepper flakes, or chipotle seasoning. You may also crush and utilize whatever sort of dried chili pepper you have on hand to produce your own pepper flakes; just be sure to cut or ground them as much as possible. To balance the heat, add a pinch of smoked or sweet paprika.

Let the flavors to mingle in the refrigerator for about an hour, and you’ll have one of the greatest chili paste alternatives available. Congratulations! You’ve effectively just manufactured your own fast, DIY chili paste!

How Much to Use

1:1 ratio! You may replace an equivalent amount of your spicy ketchup combination for any amount of chili paste called for in a recipe.


Tomato Paste

The concept of utilizing tomato paste as a chili paste alternative is similar to that of ketchup, with the additional bonus that the texture is more similar to that of actual chili paste. The negative is that tomato paste adds a very powerful tomato taste to meals, which might possibly overpower them.

However, tomato paste is an excellent substitute for chile paste. Just season with the same ingredients you used to season the ketchup in option 1: ground cayenne pepper, chili powder, crushed red pepper flakes, or chipotle spice. The difference here is that due to the strong taste of tomato paste, you won’t need to use as much of the total combination in your recipe. As a result, for a quarter-cup of tomato paste, we suggest just 1 tablespoon of spices.

The resulting hot tomato paste will be considerably spicier than a same quantity of ketchup, but it will need less of it. This spicy tomato paste has a terrific texture, a hot taste, and will perform similarly to chile paste in your dish.

How Much to Use:

We propose a 2:1 ratio here due to the intensity of the tomato taste and the strong use of spices. If your recipe asks for 1 tablespoon of chili paste, start with half a tablespoon and see if you need more.


Hot Sauce

As you would anticipate, you can simply replace hot sauce with the chili paste! There are several hot sauces to select from, ranging from tabasco sauce’s powerful pepper taste to the vinegary and fiery simplicity of Louisiana style hot sauce. Most hot sauce variations will give a punch of spice and a blast of heat that is similar to chili paste.

You are allowed to substitute your preferred hot sauce for the chili paste, however our favorite substitution is sriracha hot sauce. Some regard sriracha to be a form of chili paste, while others say it is too watery to be considered a real chili paste. In any event, its thicker consistency, as compared to other forms of hot sauce, makes it ideal for substituting for chili paste. Sriracha, in addition to its heat, has a lot of garlic and sugar, giving it a spicy-sweet-savory flavor all in one.

or minced garlic to balance out the harshness. If you choose a spicy sauce with a higher vinegar and pepper content as an alternative, you may wish to add a pinch of sugar and salt.

How Much to Use:

To be honest, it all depends. Certain spicy sauces, such as sriracha, are mild and sweet. Some spicy sauces are scalding even with a little amount! Start little and keep tasting your recipe until you are pleased with the heat level.


Chili Crisp or Chili Oil

Whilst chili crisp and chili oil are distinct products, their resemblance (and frequent existence in the same jar!) causes us to consider them interchangeable for the purposes of substituting chili paste. Chili crisp, like hot sauce, comes in a variety of flavors and brands, but the basic concept is that it is a combination of roasted dried chilies or crushed red pepper flakes with oil. Other pungent components included in chili crisps include fried garlic and fermented soybeans. The phrase chili crisp refers to the complete combination, however scooping off the solids from a jar of chili crisp yields lots of flavor-rich, super-spicy, crystal-clear chili oil.

This oil content is what distinguishes these items from other spicy substances we’ve studied thus far, such as hot sauce and chili paste, which are vinegar-forward and pepper-forward, respectively. If you use chili crisp with a lot of solids, the effect will be more like chili paste. If you use pure chili oil, it may take a little longer to produce the desired amount of heat in a chili paste alternative, and you will be doing it without the addition of any textural aspects.

How Much to Use:

To substitute chili paste in any dish, use a 1:1 ratio of chili crisp. If you just have chili oil (or the oil left over from a jar of chili crisp), use a 2:1 ratio of chili paste to chili oil to prevent an overly greasy taste and texture.



Indeed, salsa may be a wonderful alternative for chili paste since it is generally filled with fiery, fresh peppers! This is fantastic news, since who doesn’t have a jar or two of this stuff in their fridge or pantry? To substitute chili paste in a dish, we suggest using any hot and spicy salsa, and the secret here is to boil the salsa to eliminate extra moisture. Simmer it in a nonreactive pot or saucepan, stirring often, since the sticky texture of salsa as it boils down may cause it to burn. Over some time, your salsa will thicken and become paste-like.

Similar with swapping chili paste for ketchup or tomato paste, using salsa will add some tomato flavor to your dish, so keep that in mind as you examine your alternatives. If your salsa is on the milder side and you want to kick it up a notch, consider adding some extra ingredients like chopped dry cayenne peppers, pepper flakes, or chili powder.

How Much to Use:

It’s difficult to tell since the heat level of salsas varies so much, and it also relies on how long you can simmer your salsa and what sort of consistency you end up with. Our best advise is to start with a 1:1 ratio and then add more as required to attain a similar degree of heat and taste.


Other Spicy Pastes–Such as Curry Paste or Wasabi Paste

Chili paste isn’t the only spicy paste available! Curry paste and wasabi paste are two alternative pastes that may be used in place of chili paste. Curry paste is an excellent option since it contains the same chili peppers that make chili paste so hot.

Wasabi, on the other hand, does not include chili peppers or the chemical component capsaicin, but it does give the tongue and sinuses a comparable intense sensation. Odds are, your tube of wasabi paste is derived from horseradish and hence rather fiery, but if you happen to have a bottle of the genuine thing, thank your fortunate stars, since its taste is unparalleled.

If you use any of these pastes, or other less common hot pastes such as ginger paste, bear in mind that the amount of peppery taste in your dish will be much lower than if you used a chili-based replacement. Still, the end product may be delicious!

How Much to Use:

Since the heat factor of these alternative pastes differs much from that of chili paste, begin with a 2:1 ratio of chili paste to other paste, or use half the quantity specified in the recipe.

Choosing the Best Chili Paste Substitute: The Bottom Line

As you can see, you have a variety of possibilities when it comes to choosing a chili paste replacement! There are several ways to add heat to any dish, ranging from tomato-based choices like ketchup and spicy tomato sauce or paste to out-of-the-box solutions like wasabi paste or salsa.

When deciding on a chili paste alternative, evaluate if your recipe and cooking vessels can withstand the addition of tomato flavor and acidity level, or whether you should go with a tomato-free solution. Also, you can always modify these substitutions to your taste level, which is one of the finest elements about substituting! If you don’t like a lot of spice, simply use a modest quantity of your substitution, or stick to more moderate choices like paprika or ginger.


What is chili paste made of?

Chili paste is more intensely flavored than most powders and spicy sauces since it is formed from roasted and reconstituted dried chilies. It’s a key ingredient in meals like Texas Red Chili, in which the meat is cooked in a basic sauce of chili paste and stock.

Is chili sauce and chili paste the same thing?

What exactly is the difference between chili paste and chili sauce? A chili paste has a significantly thicker consistency and often contains more chili peppers as the main component. A chile sauce is thinner in consistency and often contains additional ingredients.

What’s another name for chili paste?

Gochujang, or red chili paste, is a fermented condiment that is savory, sweet, and spicy. It is produced using chili powder, glutinous rice flour, meju (fermented soybean) powder, barley malt powder, and salt.

What can I use instead of chili paste in soybean oil?

Chili paste in place of soybean oil

Try tomato flavor or other chili pastes with sweet overtones. As an alternative, you may use chili garlic sauce, sambal oelek, or sriracha.

What chili paste does Bobby Flay use?

Flay includes coconut milk, soy sauce, sesame oil, and another sort of spice in his Asian ingredient section: Gochujang, a Korean fermented spicy chili paste.

Where do you find chili paste in the grocery store?

Chili pastes from all around the globe may generally be found on the foreign aisle. Look for items from South America, India, the Middle East, and Asia. Next, search in the condiment section, most likely among the spicy sauces. If it isn’t there, look in the spice and canned food sections.

Is chili paste like Sriracha?

To substitute sriracha, you may use chili paste, crushed chili flakes, or even cayenne pepper instead of sambal oelek. While these replacements are not as fiery as Sriracha and do not have the same thick consistency, they fulfill the same essential goal.

What does chili paste do?

Chile pastes, like spice blends and rubs, aren’t strictly sauces, but are more typically used as components in dressings, sauces, and marinades, as well as to put over dishes before grilling or roasting. Reconstituted and puréed dried chilies form an excellent paste.

What is the taste of chili paste?

This fresh ground chili condiment is often chunkier, full of seeds and texture, and frequently flavored with a sour, sweet, or umami ingredient such as lime, palm sugar, fish sauce, or shrimp paste, or a combination of all three. Typically eaten raw, but may also be prepared. Sometimes sweet, sometimes acidic, sometimes spicy, sometimes moderate.

What is Mexican chili paste called?

This is a versatile chili paste produced using ancho and guajillo chili peppers. It may be used to season soups and stews, pasta sauces, slow cooker meals, and much more.

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