Sweet, Savory, Spicy, Tangy, and Sticky, all at the same time, this Thai Sweet Chili Sauce (Nam Chim Kai) is a versatile Asian sauce that gets ready in 10 minutes and can be kept for 2 weeks in the refrigerator. Make this Asian staple using my easy recipe.
What is Sweet Chili Sauce?
Thai Sweet Chili Sauce also is known as Asian Sweet Chili Sauce is an authentic Asian condiment that is sweet, savory, spicy, and sticky. It is a very versatile sauce which is a classic condiment in Asian Cuisine especially Thai and Vietnamese
One of my favorite sauces from Thai cuisine, this Thai Sweet Chili Sauce (Nam Chim Kai) always amazes me with its impeccable taste and flavor.
This homemade dipping sauce is a thick, sweet, garlicky, and spicy sauce that is so versatile, it can be used almost everywhere. It is easily available at the supermarkets these days but making it at home makes a lot of sense because,
- Homemade is free of additives and preservatives. You can be sure what’s going in it, which means no preservatives, artificial colors, etc.
- Much Cheaper.
- Quick and Easy to make.
- Use basic ingredients which are mostly available easily.
- Taste much better than the store-bought stuff.
- Adaptable. You can control the quantity you want to make and also the spice level. The thickness of the sauce can be controlled too. You can keep it thick for dipping and thin for stir-frying.
- Can be easily doubled or tripled. It can be made in a big batch and refrigerated.
- Comes together in 10 minutes and can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks. It’s great for canning too.
You can use this Sweet Chilli Sauce extensively in Stir Fry Recipes, Noodles and as a dipping sauce with most of the crunchy appetizer dishes. Made using simple everyday ingredients, it is a delicious recipe that holds the promise to elevate the taste of any mundane dish.
This Thai Sweet Chilli Sauce is,
- Spicy Sweet Savory Tangy
- A Thai favorite
This Sauce is very easy to make at home and uses some of the most flavourful ingredients.
Tomato Ketchup – You can use any Tomato Ketchup. I use the store-bought one as it is thick and adds a nice flavor. But in case you have homemade tomato ketchup, you can use that too. Use gluten-free and vegan ketchup if these are of any consideration.
Garlic – This is one of the key ingredients that add a delicious flavor to this recipe. Crush the garlic and use it in the sauce. You can mince it too.
Red Chilli Flakes – Chilli Flakes are added for that much-needed heat and spicy taste. You can increase or decrease the amount of the same according to your taste.
Sugar – Use granulated sugar so that it gets mixed with the sauce nicely. You can replace sugar with Honey, Maple Syrup, Agave Syrup, or Brown Rice Syrup. Since these options are liquid, you will have to add a little extra cornstarch. Make the sauce sugar-free by replacing sugar with stevia. 4-5 drops of stevia should be good enough to sweeten the sauce.
Corn Starch – Corn Starch is mixed with water and added to the sauce to make it thick. If you have a corn allergy, you can use tapioca flour as well. Use the same quantity as mentioned for cornstarch.
Sambal Oelek – Sambal Oelek is a chili paste made using a variety of chilies and some added ingredients like vinegar, shrimp paste, etc. It gives a great depth to the sauce, but it is definitely not an essential ingredient.
If you don’t have Sambal Oelek, you can definitely add some Sriracha Sauce or Red Chili Paste to this dip.
Rice Vinegar – To add a little tanginess, add rice vinegar. If rice vinegar is not available, use regular vinegar. You can replace some or all of the vinegar with lime juice as well.
Fish Sauce – Fish sauce adds a nice umami kick to the sauce. Feel free to skip it for a vegan version.
How to make Sweet Chili Sauce?
Add sugar, garlic and red chili flakes, water, vinegar, salt, ketchup, sambal oelek, and fish sauce in a pan and bring it to boil.
Mix cornflour with little water to make a lump-free mixture.
Add it slowly in the pan.
Cook for 3-4 minutes until sauce thickens a bit.
Frequently Asked Questions
Some versions of this sauce like the one I have shared have fish sauce and soy sauce in it. In that case, it’s not vegan but you can easily replace it with vegan soy or tamari and make a vegan chili sauce.
When you use Chilli Sauce like Sambal Oelek, it gives a nice red color to this Thai chili Sauce. If you do not use the same, it will not be as red as the store-bought one. You can alternatively add a little red food coloring, but make sure to use natural food coloring.
Yes, you can either finely chop the same or make the paste to use in the sauce. Fresh red chilies can be very hot, you can remove the seeds and then use the chilies to decrease the amount of heat. Some of the fresh chilies that can be used to make this sauce are Thai Bird’s Eye Chillies, Cayenne, Finger Hot peppers, and Red Jalapenos. Adjust the amount of these chilies according to their spice levels. Approx 2 tbsp of chili paste should be good in the below-mentioned recipe.
You can also use dry red chilies to make this sauce. Just soak the dry red chilies in some water to rehydrate them. Make a coarse paste and then use it in place of red chili flakes.
Always wear gloves while handling red chilies to prevent burn.
There are two types of Sambal Oelek – Regular Chilli Sambal Oelek and Chilli Garlic Sambal Oelek. For a more authentic taste, use the regular one but if you want to experiment with the taste you can use the garlic one too. If using the one with garlic, reduce the amount of garlic that we are adding the recipe.
I practically use it almost always to dip anything I am munching at.
In Thailand, this sauce is served with steamed rice and grilled chicken or pork. You roll the meat in rice, dip it in the sauce, and gobble.
I always serve it with my homemade Vietnamese Summer Rolls and scallion pancakes.
A cheesy sandwich goes on the next level after dipping into this sauce.
You can use it as a marinade for tofu, chicken, shrimps, fish like salmon or tilapia, or beef before grilling them.
I also like to mix some of it with hung curd, cream cheese, or sour cream and churn up a quick dip for crackers and veggies.
Use it as a stir fry sauce for noodles and rice or veggies, chicken and shrimps.
Apply a little sweet chilli sauce on wraps to give a nice after kick.
Toss mushrooms, carrots, and bell peppers in this Thai sweet chili sauce and bake until done for delicious vegetarian sides.
I have a version of this sauce with Pineapple. Do check out Pineapple Chili Sauce.
If not refrigerated properly and stored in a contaminated container, this Sweet Chilli Sauce can go bad. Make sure to use a clean glass jar to store the sauce and keep it in the refrigerator at all times. This way, the sauce can be kept for up to a month.
This Sauce can be stored in a sealed glass jar in an airtight container, for about 2 weeks or you can freeze it for about 2 to 3 months in a freezer-safe container.
The sauce will become semi-solid while freezing, but if you heat it up gently in a microwave or pan, it will return to the normal texture.
You can can it as well. I am not an expert in canning but I have seen people canning this sauce and use it all round the year.
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Thai Sweet Chili Sauce Recipe
- ½ cup Granulated Sugar
- 3-4 cloves Garlic (Chopped)
- 2 tsp Red Chilli Flakes
- 1 cup Water
- ¼ cup Rice Vinegar
- ½ tsp Salt
- 2 tsp Sambal Oelek
- 1 tbsp Fish Sauce
- 1 tbsp Tomato Ketchup
- 1 and ½ tbsp Cornstarch
- Add sugar, garlic, red chili flakes, water, vinegar, salt, ketchup, sambal oelek and fish sauce in a pan and bring it to boil.
- Mix cornflour with little water to make a lump free mixture and add it slowly in the pan.
- Cook for 3-4 minutes until sauce thickens a bit.
- Remove the pan from heat and let it cool.
- Transfer in a glass bottle and refrigerate for about a month.
- Use as and when required.