This homemade sweet chili sauce is full of flavor, but it’s not too spicy — great for dipping your favorite foods! It’s easy to make and tastes SO much better than store-bought, with no high-fructose corn syrup!
Thai Sweet Chili Sauce
Sweet chili sauce (nam chim kai) is a classic condiment served with southeast Asian cuisine, especially in Thailand. It can be used as a dipping sauce, a marinade, a glaze, and more. It’s my go-to for spring rolls, but I also use it to jazz up fried tofu! Honestly, it’s good on EVERYTHING!
These days, you can find sweet chili sauce in the international aisle at most grocery stores. However, these store-bought sauces often contain additives or things like high-fructose corn syrup.
Stop paying for bottles at the store when you can make this Homemade Sweet Chili Sauce with ingredients you probably already have in your pantry! This delicious, zesty sauce is not only super flavorful, but it is also vegan, gluten-free, and low in sodium. When you make it at home, you know exactly what goes into the jar!
If you haven’t tried sweet chili sauce before, you are going to love this recipe! You’ve never had a sauce with so much depth of flavor, from such simple ingredients!
Is Sweet Chili Sauce the Same as Sweet and Sour Sauce?
Though they are similar in purpose as a dipping sauce and marinade, sweet and sour sauce and sweet chili sauce have different ingredients and flavor profiles.
Sweet and sour sauce is pineapple-based, with no heat (spice). It is naturally brown in color, and red food coloring is added to give it the distinctive color you might be used to seeing in restaurants or in bottles at the store.
Sweet chili sauce, on the other hand, incorporates red chilis and does have hint of spice. How spicy depends on how much and what type of pepper is used. It also contains a fair amount of sugar, which tones down the heat.
As a kid, I loved sweet and sour sauce. As a grown-up, I appreciate a bit of spice! Sweet chili sauce is one of my favorite condiments and I always keep some on hand.
- 1/2 cup rice vinegar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
- 4 teaspoons red pepper flakes or red chili flakes
for the Corn-starch slurry
- 3 teaspoons cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons water
In a small bowl, whisk together the corn starch and water to form a slurry; set aside.
- Toast the red chili flakes in a medium saucepan on the stovetop for about 3 minutes over medium heat. This helps to develop the flavors of the spice.
- Add your vinegar, water, sugar, minced garlic, and soy sauce and bring this mixture to a boil. Allow to boil for 4 minutes, stirring as needed to keep from boiling over.
- Reduce heat to low. Slowly add the cornstarch slurry, whisking until fully incorporated.
- Remove pan from heat. The sauce is ready to use right away, but it will continue to thicken as it cools. Allow sauce to cool to room temperature before transferring to an airtight container and storing.
7 New Ways to Use Sweet Chili Sauce
Sweet chili sauce is well-known as an egg roll dipping sauce, or accompaniment for chicken satay. But have you tried it with burgers? Here are some of our favorite unique ways to use this umami sauce:
- Dipping sauce for fries
- Glaze on chicken wings
- On top of cream cheese as a dip for crackers
- Sauce for grilled salmon
- Dipper for chicken nuggets
- Flavoring stir-fries
- Spread for sandwiches
Frequently Asked Questions
Does this Sweet Chili Sauce Need to Be Refrigerated?
Yes, your homemade sweet chili sauce needs to be kept refrigerated. It is made without added preservatives like you’d find in a store-bought bottle, however, the high vinegar content does help it keep longer than most homemade sauces. When stored in a glass jar or food storage container in the refrigerator, your sweet chili sauce should stay good up to a month.
Are Red Pepper Flakes and Red Chili Flakes the Same Thing?
Red pepper flakes and red chili flakes are essentially the same thing and can be used interchangeably. The main difference is the type of pepper used: chili flakes are made from red chili peppers, while red pepper flakes can be made from a combination of peppers.
Since they can be made from a variety of peppers, the red pepper flakes have potential for being spicer. If you’re new to spice, I recommend sticking with red chili flakes, which are more predictable. You could also look for red pepper flakes that are labeled as mild.
On the other hand, if you want a spicier sauce, use red pepper flakes labeled as hot. Trying different varieties of peppers allows you to experiment with spice levels.
More of our Favorite Homemade Sauce Recipes
- Fresh Chimichurri Sauce
- Thai “Secret” Sauce
- KFC Brown Gravy
- Homemade Mayonnaise
- Copycat Chick-Fil-A Honey Mustard
Grab a free printable copy of our Thai Sweet Chili Sauce Recipe:
If you like this recipe, please rate it! We’d also love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
Homemade Sweet Chili Sauce
- 1 Saucepan
- 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1 Tablespoon garlic minced
- 1 Tablespoon light soy sauce
- 4 teaspoons red chili flakes or red pepper flakes
for the Corn-starch slurry
- 3 teaspoons corn starch
- 2 Tablespoons water
- Whisk together cornstarch and water to form a slurry and set aside.
- Toast red pepper flakes in a medium saucepan over medium heat for about 3 minutes, to enhance flavors.
- Add vinegar, water, sugar, minced garlic, and soy sauce to the saucepan and bring to a boil. Cook for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent boiling over.
- Reduce heat to low. Slowly add cornstarch slurry to sauce, whisking until fully incorporated.
- Remove pan from heat. Sauce will thicken as it cools. Allow to cool to room temperature before storing.
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