My Thai sweet chili sauce recipe has an irresistible combination of sweet and heat for dipping spring rolls, potstickers, chicken, shrimp, & more!
Thai sweet chili sauce (nam chim kai )
You have to make this easy Thai sweet chili sauce ~ if only for the spring rolls! It’s so irresistibly delicious and bears no resemblance whatsoever to the gloppy sauce you get with your take-out order. You basically dump everything in a saucepan and boil it down for a few minutes ~ and the results are so worth it. If you love to cook (or eat!) Asian food, you need this sauce in your life. And this sauce isn’t limited to Asian recipes…think chicken tenders, fries, and cheese curds 🙂
is this sweet chili sauce super hot?
No, it’s got a really nice balance of sweet, heat, and tang, with a little umami in the background. For such a simple sauce, it’s got a lot going on!
ingredients you’ll need for this Thai sweet chili sauce recipe
- rice wine vinegar
- this Asian vinegar is super mellow, I love to use it for salad dressings, too.
- sugar of course gives the sweet in the sweet and spicy flavor profile.
- chili flakes
- chili paste
- I used Sambal Olek.
- fresh garlic
- fresh ginger
- soy sauce
- fish sauce
- for vegan use a vegan fish sauce.
how to make homemade Thai sweet chili sauce
This process is so easy there’s no reason to ever buy the stuff in the bottle again. And since it only takes about 15 minutes from start to finish, you can make it while you wait for Doordash delivery. Better yet? Make your own easy Thai food, I’ve got lots of easy recipes to choose from.
step 1. combine ingredients in a pan and bring to a boil
Everything but the cornstarch goes into a pan. Stir to combine and bring it to a boil.
step 2. cook for about 5-6 minutes
You are reducing the liquid and blooming the flavors.
step 3. add cornstarch slurry to thicken
Stir cornstarch together with a little water and add to the sauce. Boil for a few minutes longer to thicken. Note that Thai sweet chili sauce is not meant to be super thick. It should be glossy and slightly thickened, but still drip easily off a spoon. The consistency, after chilling, is like maple syrup.
variations and substitutions
You can use a granulated sugar substitute.
Arrowroot powder can be used instead of cornstarch.
White vinegar or cider vinegar can sub for rice wine vinegar.
You can use honey instead of sugar, but use less: honey is actually sweeter than sugar.
Fresh red peppers can be used in place of the chili flakes…you can use Thai peppers or red jalapeño peppers.
There are vegan fish sauce substitutes if needed.
how you’ll use your chili sauce
It’s commonly used as a dipping sauce for fried foods such as summer rolls, spring rolls, chicken wings, and shrimp. Here are some other ways that Thai sweet chili sauce can be used:
- As a marinade: Thai sweet chili sauce can be used as a marinade for chicken, pork, beef, or fish. Simply coat the protein with the sauce and let it marinate in the refrigerator for several hours before grilling or baking.
- As a glaze: brush Thai sweet chili sauce onto grilled or roasted meats, fish, or vegetables for added flavor and a touch of sweetness. Try it over cream cheese with crackers as an appetizer, or use it to top some gooey baked Brie!
- As a dressing: Thai sweet chili sauce can be used in salad dressings ~ how about an easy Thai inspired slaw?
- As a dip: dip summer rolls, lettuce wraps, spring rolls, potstickers, chicken tenders, or raw veggies!
- As a condiment: use Thai sweet chili sauce as a condiment for burgers, sandwiches, and wraps. It adds a sweet and spicy kick to any dish, even scrambled eggs. Add it to your next cheese platter, too.
- As a stir-fry sauce: stir-fry vegetables or protein with Thai sweet chili sauce for a quick and easy weeknight meal.
more Thai inspired recipes
- 10 Easy Thai Recipes You Can Make at Home
- Thai Pineapple Fried Rice
- Thai Chicken Salad
- Spicy Thai Spaghetti Salad
- Thai Coconut Soup (tom kha)
- Steak Pad Thai Salad
- Spicy Pad Thai Recipe
- Thai Beef Salad
- How to Make Coconut Rice
Sweet Chili Sauce Recipe
- medium saucepan
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup water
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tsp fresh ginger, grated
- 1 Tbsp olek sambal (Thai chili paste)
- 1 Tbsp red chili flakes
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp fish sauce
- 3 tsp cornstarch
- Put everything except the cornstarch into a medium saucepan and stir to combine.
- Bring to a boil and boil for about 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add 3 tablespoons of water to the cornstarch to make a slurry and stir into the sauce. Continue to boil for a few more minutes to thicken. You're looking for the sauce to lightly coat the back of a spoon. It will thicken further as it chills. Note: sweet chili sauce is not meant to be super thick. When chilled it will have body but still be 'pourable'. Think maple syrup.
- Transfer the hot liquid to a clean jar and allow to cool. Cap tightly and refrigerate to chill.
- Sweet chili sauce will keep about 2 weeks, refrigerated.
Questions and Reviews
Can you can this recipe
This recipe is not formulated for canning ~ it would need more acid, and cornstarch is not recommended for canning because it interferes with the canning process. I did some quick research and did not come up with a canned sweet chili sauce from a reputable source that was anything like this one. I’ll dig a little deeper and add my findings to the post.
This looks likes like the dressing that comes with Tropical Smoothie’s Thai chicken salad. Is it the same?
I don’t know, I’ve never been to the Tropical Smoothie Cafe, I’ll have to check it out!
So glad you shared this! I love the sweet/sour sauce we get at our local Asian restaurant but it’s sometimes too hot for me. This way I can regulate how much hot there is.
That’s why I love recreating these kinds of sauces, not only can you customize, but they really do taste so much better than what you’re likely to get commercially.