by Olena

Healthy Thai Sweet Chili Sauce

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Olena Osipov
4.9 from 30 votes

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Homemade Thai Sweet Chili Sauce recipe uses 6 simple ingredients and takes just 10 minutes to prepare. It’s a healthy flavorful sauce that contains just a fraction of the sugar in store bought options!

Once prepared, use this sauce to make sweet chili salmon, cedar plank salmon or slow cooker Thai chicken thighs.

Thai sweet chili sauce dripping from a basting brush.

I’m no stranger to making homemade sauces and dressings like this healthy ranch dressing, Asian salad dressing, or healthy poppy seed dressing. 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.

It’s sweet and sour, tangy, with a kick of heat, and makes for a delicious condiment or dipping sauce. Now you can learn how to make it at home with just a few all natural, cost efficient ingredients and just 10 minutes of your time!

If you love homemade dressings as much as I do, browse through 10 of my favorite healthy homemade salad dressings to always have one on hand!

Thai sweet chili sauce stored in a jar.

What Is Thai Sweet Chili Sauce?

Also referred to as Asian sweet chili sauce or nam chim kai in Thailand it means ‘dipping sauce for chicken’ and pairs perfectly with almond crusted chicken or crispy coconut chicken.

It commonly may contain red chili paste (or sambal oelek), rice wine vinegar, sugar, and sometimes ginger and fish sauce. My version is a simplified version with easy to find ingredients plus it’s refined sugar free, gluten free and vegan.

Maybe I’m a little biased, but I honestly think this is the only sweet chili sauce recipe you’ll ever need. It’s the best!

Ingredients

One of the best parts about this homemade sauce recipe is that all ingredients listed below are affordable and easy to buy organic if desired.

  • Maple syrup: This chili Thai sauce recipe relies on maple syrup rather than using tons of refined white sugar. You could alternatively use honey, agave, or brown rice syrup, but each will affect the flavor and sweetness.
  • Vinegar: Rice vinegar is naturally milder and on the sweeter side, so it works perfectly for homemade Asian sauce.
  • Garlic: I use just one clove of garlic, but feel free to adjust the amount to personal preferences.
  • Red pepper flakes: I used regular red pepper flakes but feel free to swap this out with other chili varieties.
  • Cornstarch: Needed to thicken the sauce. You could also potentially use arrowroot or tapioca starch, though I haven’t tried.
  • Water: To thin sauce, adjust to preference.
  • Salt: To enhance taste.
Maple syrup, rice vinegar, red pepper flakes, cornstarch, garlic, salt.

How to Make Thai Sweet Chili Sauce

Only a few easy steps and this healthy sweet chili sauce is ready to use!

  • Add the ingredients to a pan: Add all the Asian sweet chili sauce ingredients to a pan and whisk until well combined.

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.

Maple syrup, rice vinegar, red pepper flakes, garlic and cornstarch in pot on stove.
  • Thicken and reduce: Bring the chili Thai mixture to a boil over medium heat, reduce to low, and simmer for 7-10 minutes, or until thickened. Then, use immediately, transferring any leftovers to a clean glass jar.
Sauce boiling in a pot on the stove.

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, or a little more vinegar for tang/sourness.

Can I Use A Sugar Free Substitute for Making This Sauce?

Yes, you could make this with a sugar free alternative like granulated erythritol, but it won’t be quite as ‘sticky’. You could also try a liquid monk fruit or a sugar free syrup alternative. The flavor might differ.

Can I Use Fresh Red Chillies?

Yes, especially if you desire your Thai sauce to be a more red color similar to those found in store bought bottles. Use Thai red chillies if you can find them and be aware they are more spicy so you may want to remove the seeds before you process them into a paste.

Alternately, you could use sambal oelek which is a pickled chili paste. You may find you need to use less rice vinegar with this option.

I find that using a combination of red pepper flakes and rice vinegar is comparable to both of these, plus I always have them on hand!

How to Add an Umami Taste?

With it’s sweet and spicy ingredients, balancing sweet chili Thai sauce with umami flavor adds depth of flavor. While this sauce does already have garlic (another umami ingredient) you could add 1-2 tsp soy sauce (or tamari for a gluten free option) that will add additional savory taste.

FAQs

How can I adjust the heat of this Asian sauce?

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.

You also might be able neutralize the spice slightly with the addition of extra sweetener (one reader actually added orange marmalade).  

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.

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.

What else can I add for a more authentic Thai flavor?

You can add 1-2 tsp ginger puree/paste for more depth of flavor/slight heat or 2-3 tsp fish sauce.

How Do I Use This Sauce?

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

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

How Long Can It Be Stored?

You can store sauce in the fridge for between 2-3 weeks. It may thicken, just reheat it on the stovetop or in the microwave. You may need to add a splash of water to reach desired consistency.

I recommend freezing the 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.

More Must Try Healthy Thai Dishes

Thai chili sauce dripping off basting brush into the jar.
Healthy Thai Sweet Chili Sauce

Healthy Thai Sweet Chili Sauce

Homemade Thai Sweet Chili Sauce that contains just a fraction of the sugar in store bought options.
4.94 from 30 votes
Print Save Rate
Course: Condiment
Cuisine: Asian
Prep Time: 3 minutes
Cook Time: 7 minutes
Total Time: 10 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, add maple syrup, water, vinegar, cornstarch, garlic, salt, red pepper chili flakes and whisk until combined.
  • Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 7-10 minutes or until sauce has thickened.
  • Transfer to a glass jar to store. Use this sauce to make sweet chili salmon, cedar plank salmon or slow cooker Thai chicken thighs.

Store: Refrigerate for up to a few weeks.

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

      Video

      Notes

      • Sweetener: Honey, brown rice syrup, or agave may work, but taste may be sweeter.
      • For umami taste: Add 1 – 2 tsp soy sauce (or tamari for gluten free). 
      • Deeper red color: Use fresh red Thai chillies that have been deseeded and made into a paste. Alternately, use sambal oelek (pickled chili paste). 
      See recipe post for more tips and FAQs.

      Nutrition

      Serving: 2tbsp | Calories: 40kcal | Carbohydrates: 10g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Sodium: 195mg | Sugar: 8g

      Recipes and images are a copyright of ifoodreal.com. It is against the law to republish recipes without permission. Nutritional info is approximate.

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      98 comments on “Healthy Thai Sweet Chili Sauce

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      1. 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!

      2. 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!

      3. 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!!!

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