5 Best Chili Paste Substitutes

Need a last-minute chili paste substitute? From sriracha to cayenne pepper, these five best alternatives will give you the spice kick you need.

Best Chili Paste Substitutes

Chili paste is the sweet, spicy condiment that elevates dishes with a dash of heat. Most commonly used in Asian cuisines, it works equally well as a cooking ingredient and a dipping sauce.

But what if you don’t have any at hand? These easy ingredient alternatives can replicate chili paste’s flavor, spice, and function. So much so that you won’t even miss it. These are the best chili paste substitutes.

Chili Paste in a Black Bowl

Ketchup & Ground Cayenne Pepper

Chilli paste has a distinctive red color. And so do both ketchup and cayenne pepper. The two mixed make an even better combination of colors. So much that it makes up for the color delivered by chili paste. This combination also makes a great substitute because ketchup has the same consistency as chili paste, whilie cayenne pepper matches the sauce’s heat.

To make this substitute paste, mix about two teaspoons of cayenne pepper with one cup of ketchup. You can then use this in equal amounts as chili paste.


Gochujang is the famous Korean chili paste that’s a staple in so many of the country’s dishes. Managing a beautiful combination of sweet, savory, and spicy, there’s nothing else quite like it.

Traditional gochujang sauce is made from red chili flakes, sticky rice, fermented soybeans, and salt. The kick that the chili flakes bring to the table makes it a fantastic ingredient replacement.

It can be used as a marinade. Since the two are both pastes, there won’t be a difference in the consistencies. The great thing about gochujang is that it’s not too hot, so this will work if you’re looking for a palatable chili paste. Use equal amounts to make the substitution, and then taste going forward if you need a bit more heat.

DIY Chili Paste

Yes, you can buy chili paste in a store, but you can also make your own. DIY chili paste is the best substitute as it can closely mimic store-bought versions better than any other ingredient. The plus side of doing this is that you determine how hot your paste will be and what other seasonings will go into your paste.

One of the other advantages is that it is simple to make. For our easy chili paste recipe, you need chili peppers, garlic, seasoning, and olive oil. Try not to go to town on the herbs or spices. This way, you allow the natural flavors of the chili peppers to come through. Store in the refrigerator for up to one month.

Hot Sauce

Various manufacturers also make hot sauce, so the taste can differ. Hot sauce and chili paste are not the same, even though they look the same. Hot sauce can be a great substitute, as it can be used as a condiment and as a marinade. Hot sauce is also thick, just like chili paste.

The similar consistencies make it easy to substitute. Also, hot sauce often has a similar color to chili paste, which means it won’t be too different when you use it as a garnishing paste instead of chili paste. To use it in place of chili paste, you can use equal amounts.

Spicy Tomato Paste

The main ingredient in spicy tomato paste is tomatoes and spices. The paste determines the level of heat that you choose. Since different manufacturers make it, you need to ensure that you look for a paste with the same color, taste, and consistency as chili paste. Look for a paste that will have red chili flakes. This way, you are almost sure that the heat level will be similar.

The downside, however, is that tomatoes are naturally acidic, which may throw off the taste of your recipe. To make the substitution, you use equal amounts. However, spicy tomato paste is not the best substitute for chili paste. It could alter your dish’s taste, and it may not be a shot as chili paste should be.

Chili Paste in a black bowl with fresh chilies

What is Chili Paste Used for?

Chilli paste has several different uses. Chili paste is a good bet as long as you want to have some kick in your dish. Chilli paste is a great way to add other flavors to a dish other than the basic salt and pepper to taste. It is therefore used in various ways. One of those is to use it as a base for spicy soups.

You can mix the paste into different recipes. It will give the recipe more heat and flavor. You could also spread it onto sandwiches and crackers and have a hot snack.

You can also drop a few dollops on a burger on a hotdog. If you want to use it as a dip, you can mix it with some mayonnaise. This will help tone down the heat. You can also use chili paste as a marinade so that when you cook the meat, it is already spicy, and the flavor seeps in. your other option is to put the paste in a stew. This is not an exhaustive list, but it covers most bases.

What is Chili Paste Made of?

It shouldn’t be rocket science to know that chilies are part of this recipe. Chilli paste is made up of chilies. The type of chilies you use will determine how hot the paste will be. To make chili paste using fresh peppers, combine the peppers of your choice and the other vegetables such as cloves and shallots that you want to combine, such as garlic, in a blender. Finely chop the mixture.

Then place the mixture in a pot with olive oil. Cook on low heat for about 20 minutes. Make sure the oil does not burn out. And if you need to, add more oil. You may also add seasonings of your choice. These variables make brands differ because each manufacturer will include different ingredients to make their chili paste stand out.

Then cool the paste, and blend it again until it is smooth. You can then bottle it and store it to use later. It is best stored in the fridge.