by Olena

Thai Sweet Chili Sauce

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Olena Osipov
4.9 from 28 votes

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This Thai Sweet Chili Sauce recipe uses just 6 simple and affordable ingredients, is naturally vegan and gluten-free, heat-adjustable, and takes just 10 minutes to prepare. The result is a homemade sweet chili sauce with tons of flavor but is refined sugar-free and contains just a fraction of the sugar in store-bought options!

This homemade sweet chili sauce isn’t the only healthier homemade sauce always in my fridge. You might also like this healthy BBQ sauce (or Hawaiian BBQ sauce), chimichurri, or tartar sauce!

Thai Sweet Chili Sauce dripping from the brush

10-Minute Homemade Thai Sweet Chili Sauce

I’m no stranger to making homemade sauces and dressings (like this healthy ranch, Asian salad dressing, poppy seed dressing or these 10 favorites). They take minutes to prepare, contain no preservatives, and can be made far healthier than their store-bought alternatives. For example, this Thai sweet chili sauce contains no refined sugar and is heat-adjustable for a tastier and healthier version of your favorite Asian sweet chili sauce.

I love Asian sweet chili sauce- it’s sweet, sour, tangy, with a kick of heat, and makes for a delicious condiment or sauce. Now you can learn how to make sweet chili sauce at home with just a few all-natural, cost-efficient ingredients and just 10 minutes of your time! Once made, store the leftovers in the fridge for several weeks or the freezer for up to three months. No more lingering bottles at the back of the fridge!

Sweet chili sauce (also referred to as Thai sweet chili sauce/Asian sweet chili sauce or nam chim kai in Thailand – which means ‘dipping sauce for chicken’ and is perfect for almond breaded or coconut breaded chicken) is a thick sweet and sour sauce/condiment with a kick of heat. It commonly can contain chili, rice wine vinegar, sugar, and sometimes garlic and fish sauce. For this version, I kept the recipe gluten-free and naturally vegan. But check out my optional add-ins section for more suggestions!

Maybe I’m a little biased, but I honestly think this is the only Thai sweet chili sauce recipe you’ll ever need. It’s the best! Because not only is it super simple to prepare, but it’s also super adjustable. Swap out the chili, sweetener, and even vinegar based on what you have available and adjust the amounts to suit your personal taste. Did I mention it tastes better than store-bought versions, too? Because it does.

Once prepared, mix it into noodles, or serve it up with shrimp, chicken, fish, and any number of dishes (suggestions below). You won’t regret trying this recipe!

Why This Thai Chili Sauce Recipe Works?

  • This Thai sweet chili sauce recipe contains no additives or preservatives and tastes WAY better than lots of the super-sweet store-bought versions!
  • Fresher, tastier, and you don’t have to worry about forgetting the bottle sitting at the back of your fridge. Just make it as needed and store in the refrigerator or freezer!
  • In fact, you can store homemade sweet chili sauce in the fridge for 2-3 weeks or the freezer for up to 3 months!
  • Since it’s homemade, you can control both the amount and type of sugar and heat!
  • This homemade sweet chili sauce comes together in just 10 minutes!
  • This Thai sweet chili sauce recipe is naturally gluten-free, vegan, and refined sugar-free!

Sweet Chili Sauce in a jar

Ingredients for Homemade Sweet Chili Sauce

One of the best parts about this Thai sweet chili sauce recipe is that all ingredients listed below are affordable and easy to buy organic.

  • Maple Syrup: This Thai sweet chili sauce recipe relies on maple syrup rather than using tons of refined white sugar. Maple syrup is unrefined, has a lower GI, and even contains several antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. You could alternatively use honey or brown rice syrup, but each will affect the flavor and sweetness and may need adjusting with additional chili, etc. You could even make this with a sugar alternative like granulated erythritol, but it won’t be quite as ‘sticky,’ and the flavor will differ.
  • Vinegar: Rice vinegar is naturally milder and on the sweeter side, so it works perfectly for homemade sweet chili sauce. Check FAQs for alternatives.
  • Garlic: I use just one clove of garlic, but feel free to adjust the amount to personal preferences.
  • Red pepper flakes: Can’t have sweet chili sauce without chili. I used regular red pepper flakes (usually cayenne), but feel free to swap this out with other chili varieties if preferred. You could also use a mixture of dry and fresh (finely chopped) chili (seeds removed) or even some sambal oelek (a chili paste that’s milder than regular flakes) – it’s up to you!
  • Cornstarch: Needed to thicken the sauce. You could also potentially use arrowroot or tapioca starch, though I haven’t tried.
  • Water: To thin sauce.
  • Salt: For seasoning.

Keep reading below (after the recipe how-to) for more information on Thai sweet chili sauce recipe add-ins and seasoning variations!

thai sweet chili sauce ingredients

How to Make Asian Sweet Chili Sauce

  • Add the ingredients to a pan: Add all the Asian sweet chili sauce ingredients to a pan and whisk until well combined.
  • Thicken and reduce: Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce to low, and simmer for 7-10 minutes, or until thickened. Then, use immediately, transferring any leftovers to a clean glass jar.

Before transferring to a jar, give your Asian sweet chili sauce a quick taste test and adjust any elements if needed. i.e., more chili for heat, more maple for sweetness, a little more vinegar for tang/sourness, etc.

Optional Add-In’s and Variations

There are several ways you can increase the depth of flavor in this homemade sweet chili sauce, including:

  • Ginger: You can add 1-2 tsp ginger puree/paste for more depth of flavor/slight heat.
  • Fish sauce: 2-3 tsp fish sauce will provide a more authentic Thai flavor. You could use a vegan version (or coconut aminos) to keep the recipe vegan.
  • Soy sauce: Add 1-2 tsp soy sauce for umami (use tamari for gluten-free) – I’d use one or the other when it comes to soy and fish sauce, not both.
  • Fruit juice: you can swap out a little of the water (just a couple of tbsp) with orange, pineapple, or apple juice for more depth to the homemade sweet chili sauce flavor.

Tips for Best Results

  • To adjust the heat: Simply swap out the type of dried chili flakes used (Chinese or Korean chili flakes are usually very mild) and the amount used. Note that the less you use, the less of a gorgeous orange/red color the sauce will be. However, it will still taste delicious.

To avoid clumping in the sauce: You may want to create a cornstarch slurry with the starch and a little water before adding it to the pan. That way, you’ll avoid having any starch lumps in the sauce.

  • Adjust the sauce thickness: Adjust the amount of cornstarch to change how thick you want the sauce to be alternately add additional water for a thinner sauce.
  • Using sambal oelek: If you decide to use sambal oelek, you may find the taste closer to store-bought version, which often uses pickled red chili (sambal oelek is a pickled chili sauce).

FAQs

What Is sweet chili sauce?

According to Wikipedia, Thai sweet chili sauce translated from Thai means literally “dipping sauce for chicken”. You know that thick sweet and spicy orange in colour store-bought sauce that’s made up of mostly sugar? Well, sugar, chili, and sometimes garlic and fish sauce. This is a healthier homemade sweet chili sauce version with unrefined sugar and naturally vegan and gluten-free!

Is sweet chili sauce spicy?

Yes, but not overwhelmingly so as the main sauce is sweet and the chili flakes within stud it with heat. When making homemade sweet chili sauce, you can also adapt the amount of chili flakes used to personal preference.

What other vinegars can I use in chili sauce recipe?

I recommend using other milder, sweeter options like white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar. You could use a dash of red wine vinegar to further deepen the color of the sauce, but I wouldn’t recommend it as a sub for the entire recipe.

Can I use honey in sweet chili sauce?

Yes you can, but note that it’s sweeter than maple and has a stronger flavor, so less would be needed.

Can I freeze leftover chili sauce?

You sure can. I recommend freezing it in a silicone ice-cube tray so you can thaw just enough as needed each time. Just note that the sauces texture may change slightly upon thawing. To get it back to normal I recommend lightly heating it on the stovetop or in the microwave.

How do I make sweet chili sauce less spicy?

The easiest way is simply not to make it as spicy in the first place by using less chili or milder chili in the homemade sweet chili sauce. If you make it and find out after that it’s a little too spicy, then you may be able to neutralize it slightly with the addition of extra sweetener (one reader actually added orange marmalade!), serving it with milder foods, or even serving with a heat neutralizer like dairy (or coconut milk). You may even be able to neutralize it slightly with extra vinegar or lemon/lime juice.

Serving Recommendations for Thai Chili Sauce

When I say that the serving options for this Thai sweet chili sauce are endless, I mean it. Here are just a few of the ways I like to enjoy this homemade sauce.

Let me know in the comments what your favorite way of enjoying this homemade sweet chili sauce is!

Making This Asian Sauce in Advance

Storing:  You can store the Thai sweet chili sauce in the fridge for between 2-3 weeks (I’ve kept it for over a month previously, though, too!). It may thicken and become slightly cloudy during this time – no problem, just reheat it (as written below).

Freezing: I recommend freezing the sweet chili sauce in smaller ‘portioned’ amounts in a silicone ice-cube tray for 2-3 months. The sauce won’t freeze solid, which is why it’s best to use a silicone tray for easy removal.

Reheating: To reheat the homemade sweet chili sauce, do so on the stovetop or in the microwave. If it’s thickened up, you can even add a splash of water (or more) until you reach the desired consistency.  

More Healthy Thai Inspired Dishes to Try

Thai Sweet Chili Sauce

Thai Sweet Chili Sauce {Video}

This Thai Sweet Chili Sauce recipe uses just 6 simple and affordable ingredients, is naturally vegan and gluten-free, heat-adjustable, and takes just 10 minutes to prepare. The result is a homemade sweet chili sauce with tons of flavor but is refined sugar-free and contains just a fraction of the sugar in store-bought options!
4.93 from 28 votes
Print Save Rate
Course: Condiment
Cuisine: Asian
Prep Time: 3 minutes
Cook Time: 7 minutes
Servings: 12 servings
Calories: 40kcal
Author: Olena Osipov

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tbsp white or rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 small garlic clove grated
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp red chili pepper flakes

Instructions

  • In a small saucepan, whisk all ingredients until combined.
    Thai Sweet Chili Sauce
  • Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 7-10 minutes or until thickened.
    Thai Sweet Chili Sauce
  • Transfer to a glass jar and use with meat, fish, vegetables and for dipping. Highly recommend to make Thai Salmon that everyone will rave about for weeks!
    Thai Sweet Chili Sauce

Store: Refrigerate for up to a few weeks.

    Freezing: Freeze in smaller ‘portioned’ amounts in a silicone ice-cube tray for 2-3 months.

      Reheating: To reheat the homemade sweet chili sauce, do so on the stovetop or in the microwave, may need to add splash of water for consistency.

        Video

        Notes

        See recipe post for more tips and FAQs.

        Nutrition

        Calories: 40kcal | Carbohydrates: 10g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Sodium: 195mg | Potassium: 30mg | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 15mg
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        94 comments on “Thai Sweet Chili Sauce

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        1. 5 stars
          Delicious, easy recipe. I added soy sauce and ginger and next time I will put a little more garlic. Served it with basmati rice and asparagus. Really tasty!!!!!

        2. I am following a 30 day program and the only vinegar I can have is apple cider vinegar. Do you think that would work with the flavor profile of your recipe?

        3. 5 stars
          I love how simple and versatile this recipe is. I whipped it together to use with some egg rolls and it was the perfect accompaniment.

        4. 5 stars
          Thank you for this delicious recipe! The best salmon recipe I’ve tried! I paired it with brown jasmine rice. Amazing!!!

        5. 5 stars
          We ABSOLUTELY LOVE this recipe. I make it about every couple of weeks for our salmon. So much better than store bought, which is just full if sugar. I have added a wee bit more pepper flakes because we do like spicy. But be careful, overdid it once!

        6. 4 stars
          Very tasty, although I prefer a bit more heat, next time I’ll try it with 1 tsp. red pepper flakes. I also subbed half of the maple syrup with raw honey. Easy and quick!

        7. 5 stars
          Excellent sauce. Originally used for the salmon recipe but very versatile and elegant with many other dishes.

        8. 5 stars
          This is amazing! Next time I’ll have to double it cause it only lasted a day. My family started using it on everything like fried chicken and steamed veggies. Thanks for sharing!

        9. 5 stars
          Delish. It was a little spicy for myself and senior parents. I added 2T orange marmalade and 4 T soy. (Which thinned it a bit. Made it better to slather on the rice too!!! Lol)
          I will make again and again.
          On chicken tomorrow!!!
          Thank you

        10. 5 stars
          Wow what a great healthy way to enjoy a sweet chili sauce. Once I read the ingredients on the store bought one, I googled a healthy alternative and got this amazing and super easy recipe!! Thank you so much, Diane

        11. 5 stars
          Great recipe and finally one that is the closest to the store-bought Sweet Chili Sauce! But much healthier!
          I’m very happy with this recipe and how wonderfully easy it is.
          Though I did alter it slightly by using twice the amount of chili, adding some fresh ginger and frying the dry ingredients before adding the wet ones. It’s a teeny bit too sweet for my personal taste and did come out pretty thick, but I don’t mind.
          Thank you so much for sharing!

        12. 5 stars
          I’ve been making this recipe for a few years! It is my go to for chicken wings coming out of the ActiFry and anyone who has had it loved it! Sometimes if I’m running low on maple syrup I substitute it with agave syrup (its cheap at Costco) and haven’t noticed it affect the flavour. I also don’t add as much salt. It is my favourite dipping sauce!

        13. 4 stars
          Olena, you don’t know how often I go to your site to pick up healthy eating ideas. I am making Thai salmon this week, and I made this Thai Sweet Chili Sauce recipe. I cooked the sauce for 5 minutes, and it’s still kind of thick. I am doubtful it will slide off the basting brush without being reheated or something. Do you have to reheat it? (But on the side note, I have enjoyed licking the whisk because this sauce is AMAZING!).

          1. Happy to hear, Wendi.:) The more you cook, the thicker it is. Dilute with water and yes you could reheat it. Sometimes it comes out thicker for me too. It’s homemade food. Enjoy!

        14. 5 stars
          This sauce is kind of amazing!!! I have been looking for a recipe like this for a while now. The best part, it is healthy, and no weird ingredients. Your always my go to if I need a recipe and you never disappoint. Thank you Olena!!!

        15. White Vinegar and Cornstarch, can definitely not be placed as healthy in any category! Although Maple Syrup is all Natural, it still ain’t too good for you!

        16. 5 stars
          Delicious, clean, healthy dish… My wife is Thai and we’ve been using a similar recipe for some time. Love your too!

        17. 5 stars
          This is fabulous! I just made a batch with raw honey instead of the maple syrup. I added 2 dried Thai chili peppers that I minced and ginger. It is spicy but delicious. I am going to glaze Brussels sprouts with it. And as a side note it is amazing drizzled over plain yogurt. Thank you for sharing!

        18. Do you have to let the sauce cool in the glass jar before refrigerating it or should you refrigerate it right away?

          1. Yes. Let sauce cool. Generally everything has to be cooled before placed in the fridge. That is what I learnt. Warm food is not good for the fridge.

        19. Help! I have made the sauce three times now and I only got it right the first time. 🙁 I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong, but the last two times I made the sauce it is very jelly-like (i.e. it doesn’t spread/move) and is not smooth and saucy. Do all of the ingredients need to be room temperature? My maple syrup is refrigerated. Am I simmering too long? Any recommendations are greatly appreciated. I love this sauce and your salmon recipe. Thank you! 🙂

          1. Hi Cate. You are either cooking it too long or adding too much cornstarch. Use half amount cornstarch, or measure cornstarch properly and time yourself for cooking time. The jelly sauce you can fix by adding a bit water and extra salt. Don’t throw it away. I refrigerate my maple syrup too so that is not the issue. You are welcome.

          1. Yes, for sure. I use only organic cornstarch. I do not add that to ingredients otherwise all my ingredients would say “organic” next to them LOL. I rely on readers’ common sense.

        20. 5 stars
          Great recipe – perfect balance of salty/sweet! I substituted honey for maple syrup (bc I hate syrup) and warmed the water in microwave and mixed cornstarch in it before adding to pan to keep it from getting lumpy. My whole family loved it!

          1. Hi Sophie. If it is of same consistency as maple syrup then maybe. I have never worked with sugar free syrup for health reasons so can’t tell exactly how it behaves during cooking process.

          2. hi, i just notice this website, and your question is interesting, have you try the stevia instead. worst case you have to put more water and more corn starch into the recipe ;p

            1. I can’t imagine the sweet chilli sauce taste OK with large amount of stevia because sweetener is the main ingredient in this recipe.

        21. YUM! txs for sharing…
          Can I replace the cornstarch with corn syrup? I’m out of starch…and at a loss at what to replace it with ;p

          1. Honestly, I have never cooked with corn syrup because for health reasons, obviously my blog LOL. If it helps to solidify things then it should work. Use one last time and throw it out.:)

        22. 5 stars
          Thanks so much for this recipe! It is super yummy! I am going to be making stir fry and was thinking about making it in this sauce. Would you recommend cooking the sauce in the wok with the chicken and veggies as opposed to using the already cooked sauce?

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