Homemade Chili Garlic Sauce in a glass bowl with a small condiment spoon on the table next to it

Love Spicy Food? Try My Homemade Chili Garlic Sauce Recipe

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You know those little bottles of chili garlic sauce at your favorite Thai or Vietnamese restaurant? I wanted to have it on other foods besides my favorite pho, so I worked up this homemade chili garlic sauce recipe.

I buy fresh Thai chilies at the City Market and noticed that the late summer ones are infinitely hotter. At the start of the season, I add a little more vinegar for some added kick but later crops sometimes need a pinch more sugar to offset the heat.

Tips when Making Chili Garlic Sauce

Hey, I know most of us don’t expect safety advice when making a condiment. But some of these I learned the hard way. I’m just trying to spare you.

  • Wear gloves. The dried peppers in this recipe contain oils that burn and they don’t wash off easily. I learned my lesson on this!
  • Or butter your hands well. The oils in butter will form a barrier on your skin to protect it, and you’ll be able to rinse all the mess away more easily.
  • Consider eye protection. Despite my glasses, the fumes from the peppers sometimes get so strong I end up in tears.

Now, don’t let all those pointers scare you off. Homemade chili garlic sauce is so worth it!

Serving Ideas

When using your homemade chili garlic sauce, your imagination is the limit.

  • Dollop it on scrambled eggs.
  • Stir some into homemade cottage cheese.
  • Add a little to steamed cauliflower.
  • Swap it for hot sauce in your favorite recipes.
  • Add a few drops to homemade pimento cheese.
  • Brush it on top of meatloaf or hamburgers.
  • Add it to stir-fries or soups.
  • Baste meatballs with it before baking.
Homemade Chili Garlic Sauce Recipe

Homemade Chili Garlic Sauce

Fiery chili peppers combine with garlic, vinegar, and salt to make this flavorful condiment found at every Thai or Vietnamese restaurant. 
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 1 cup
Calories: 86kcal
Author: Katie Berry
Course: Condiment
Cuisine: Asian
Keyword: freezes well, sauce, spicy


  • Food processor



  • 15 dried whole chili peppers OR 1½ cups fresh Thai chilies stems removed
  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic peeled
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar optional
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon fish sauce optional (to taste)


Rehydrate Dried Peppers

  • Put the dried chilies in a heat-proof bowl and add boiling water, covering them by 1 inch.
  • Place a small plate on top of the peppers to keep them submerged in the water. Soak the peppers in water for 30 minutes.
  • Drain in a colander, pressing gently with the back of a wooden spoon to squeeze out water. Let the peppers drain an additional 5 minutes and then proceed with the rest of the recipe.

Make Homemade Chili Garlic Sauce

  • Add peppers, garlic cloves, and 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar to the bowl of a food processor. Process until finely chopped.
  • Add salt, sugar, and fish sauce. Pulse a few times until well-combined.
  • Add additional vinegar until it reaches the desired consistency.
  • Transfer to an air-tight container. Stays good in the fridge for up to 1 month or in the freezer for 6 months.


Serving: 4.2g | Calories: 86kcal | Carbohydrates: 19g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 2573mg | Potassium: 140mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 15g | Vitamin A: 1985IU | Vitamin C: 4.2mg | Calcium: 11mg | Iron: 0.5mg
Did you try this?Leave a comment and tell me how it went!

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  1. Sally at Garden Valley Homestead says:

    We love this kind of chili sauce. I haven’t made any by scratch. But, I had to laugh at the apparent hazards. Thanks for the heads-up. We’ll get out our HazMat suits. LOL. Thanks for the recipe.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      LOL. It’s not quite that dangerous, Sally, but you know how it is: if I didn’t put warnings in there someone would leave me a message next week saying they’d rubbed their nose while making my chili garlic sauce and now they don’t have one. Or something like that. 😉

    2. I’m laughing so hard at these comments. “…now they don’t have one” bahaha! Just waiting on my hazmat suits to arrive so I can make this recipe 😛

  2. What is the shelf life?

    1. Katie Berry says:

      As it says in the recipe, “store in the refrigerator for up to 1 month or freeze for up to 6 months.”

  3. This recipe doesn’t say how much fish sauce.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Since it’s an optional ingredient, I typically don’t add an amount. I’ve updated it to indicate 1/2 to 1 teaspoon — to taste.

  4. 5 stars
    I love the Vietnamese chili garlic sauce but with this recipe as a base one can play with different chili’s and find all kinds of hidden gems. I’m enjoying that. Thank you.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      So glad you’re enjoying it!

  5. This was perfect in homemade ramen. I subbed coconut sugar for the sugar and did use the fish sauce. I used Japanese chili’s.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      I’m so glad you liked it, Lindsay!

  6. 5 stars
    I think you commented on the wrong recipe. 🤔

    I have been looking for a recipe just like this! I too like that it can essentially be used as a base. I’m making it, as is, right now, but very much looking fwd to the possibilities this summer! 👍 Next to figure out how to safely can! ty!!

    1. Katie Berry says:

      You’re welcome. Enjoy!

  7. 4 stars
    Holy crap…I made this with birds eye chilli’s and it’s mad hot 🙂

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Fresh is going to be hotter, especially since the oils in peppers vary by region and how long they’ve been off the plant. Hope you liked it! 🙂

  8. 5 stars
    Can this recipe be processed & canned in 1\2 pint jars? Sounds like an excellent recipe to make. Thank you

    1. Katie Berry says:

      I’m not a canning expert, so I don’t feel comfortable recommending it. If you’d like to store it long term, it freezes well.

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