The Best Substitutes For Chili Paste (#2 You Might HAVE NOW!)

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If you love spicy food and cuisines, you’ll love chili paste.

It’s a must-have ingredient because of its spiciness and variety of flavors.

You can get hot to sweet chili paste, which goes well in many recipes.

Because of that, it gets a bit challenging to replace chili paste for your dish. No worries, we totally understand, and it’s quite a predicament.

But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to find the most suitable alternative.

If you ran out of chili paste or couldn’t find any in the grocery store, we’ve got you covered. Read on as we will show you our list of the best chili paste substitutes below:

What’s chili paste made of?

Chili paste is made of different ingredients, depending on the brand you get. The most basic types of chili paste are made of dried red chilies and certain vegetables like ginger and garlic.

Traditional chili paste is made of ground chili peppers with other ingredients to intensify the flavor.

Sometimes, chili paste is seasoned with only salt, while others have different herbs and spices for that unique, spicy flavor.

You can even find chili flavor with dried shrimp for added umami flavor!

Fun fact: There are many kinds of chili paste out there, depending on the country! You can find traditional Asian chili paste, Thai chili paste, green chili paste, and more. These chili pastes have different textures and flavors, some on the sweeter side, even tasting sourer or spicier.

With the many varieties of chili paste, finding the ideal substitute means figuring out what kind of chili paste you’re after.

The 6 Best Chili Paste Substitutes

We cover different substitutes for chili paste with varied flavors and textures, such as:

1. Hot Sauce

When you’re out of chili paste, you’re obviously looking for something hot to replace it. That’s where the hot sauce comes along and saves your day!

Sure, the hot sauce won’t have that rich consistency you’re after with chili flakes, but it will deliver the intense peppery flavor necessary.

We highly recommend using sriracha hot sauce among all the different kinds of hot sauces available!

Not only does it provide a similar hot flavor, but it’s a thicker sauce compared to other hot sauces.

We love using sriracha instead of chili paste in Asian dishes, soups, and dips, making it the best hot sauce when substituting chili paste.

Of course, you can always opt for most hot sauces, like Tabasco, for the strong pepper flavor.

While it tastes slightly different and doesn’t have the thicker consistency you’re after, it’s still a good substitute for chili paste.

Plus, you probably have Tabasco sauce sitting in your pantry or fridge already. Tabasco offers the spicy taste that chili pastes have and its tanginess.

That’s why you can use it in soups, noodles, sandwiches, salads, and dips.

However, note that Tabasco isn’t as sweet as chili paste or sriracha, so we suggest adding a bit of sugar or ketchup for the sweet undertones.

You can use an equal amount of sriracha to replace for chili paste.

With tabasco, which is made of red pepper flakes and distilled vinegar, you’ll want to cut the amount in half when your recipe calls for chili paste.

Learn more:

2. Spicy Tomato Paste

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If you aren’t a fan of tomato flavor, we recommend scrolling down for another substitute. But if you love tomatoes, then spicy tomato paste is worth trying!

This substitute has a tangy and spicy taste you’ll appreciate.

All you need to do is mix one or two teaspoons of chili pepper powder or hot sauce to the tomato paste, along with a few pinches of pepper flakes.

Note that you’ll have the basic flavor of tomatoes with tomato paste, so it isn’t the best if the recipe calls for more chili paste.

Also, if you use tomato paste on spicy soups and noodles, the tomato-ness might slightly alter the expected flavor.

Fun fact: Besides tomato paste, you can also try spicy tomato sauce, though it has a more liquid consistency. All you need to do is mix chili peppers or hot sauce with your tomato sauce!

3. Red Pepper Flakes

Crushed red pepper flakes (chili flakes) are among the best chili paste replacements.

These are basically crushed dried cayenne peppers containing small cayenne pepper seeds. As a result, you get a peppery and spicy flavor!

We love using crushed pepper flakes to warm or cold dishes, whether as a topping on pizza, on a favorite Asian dish, among other recipes.

If you want the paste consistency, simply mix one tablespoon of red pepper flakes with a pinch of sugar and a dash of soy sauce. Mix, and you’ve for a paste-like texture to mix with your dishes.

4. Ketchup with Ground Cayenne Pepper

image of Ketchup with Ground Cayenne Pepper

You most likely have ketchup at home, along with chili powder like cayenne pepper. So why not combine chili peppers with your favorite condiment?

Ketchup and cayenne pepper is some of the best substitutes for chili paste as you get the sweet flavor from ketchup and hot flavor from chili pepper to replace the paste.

Plus, ketchup shares a similar consistency, making it a good replacement for chili paste.

You won’t get the exact same flavor, but we still appreciate how it adds a sweet and spicy taste to dishes.

Simply mix two teaspoons of cayenne chili peppers with one cup of ketchup, and you can use it as a dip or add it in soups, stews, or sandwiches. If you want more spice, add more cayenne chili powder and decrease the ketchup.

5. Curry Paste

Curry paste is an interesting and effective substitute, especially when making Asian dishes, mainly Thai.

We recommend using red curry paste as it’s a bit spicier with great flavors of garlic and ginger.

You also get a similar consistency of chili paste!

Note that this ingredient is very spicy, so you may want to add less of it if you have low heat tolerance. But if you love the heat, use equal amounts of it to Asian-based recipes like soups, stews, noodles, seafood, and more!

6. Homemade Chili Paste

image of home made chili paste

No store-bought chili paste? Don’t let that ruin your dish! Achieve the most authentic flavor by making your own chili paste!

Making chili paste won’t take too much time, and you most likely have the ingredients at home!

Here’s a homemade chili paste recipe to follow. Simply adjust the ingredient quantities according to your tastebuds:

  • Chili peppers (you can use Mexican hot chilies or other kinds of chilies and fresh peppers, it’s your choice)
  • Salt
  • Sugar
  • Oil of your choice (we recommend using olive oil)
  • Garlic
  • Onion
  • Fish sauce, shrimp paste, or something similar to those two
  • You’ll need equipment like a food processor or blender, cooking pan, stove, and a jar


Follow these directions:

  1. Process your fresh peppers and onions/garlic using your blender or food processor. You can also use a knife until your ingredients are finely chopped.
  2. Add your chili and onion/garlic mixture to a pan with a bit of olive oil, cooking on medium heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. While the mixture cooks, add in your spices, seasonings, and fish sauce. Add a bit more olive oil as you see fit.
  4. Add your cooked ingredients to your food processor or blender. Blend until you achieve a smooth and paste-like texture. You’re done!

Frequently Asked Questions

For those who still wonder about chili paste alternative, we share informative tidbits to take your cooking up to the next level:

Wrapping It Up

If you want to achieve the chili pepper flavor from chili paste, there are so many different substitutes to choose from!

Let us know what substitute was best for you in the comments section below.

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