Homemade Chili Garlic Sauce Recipe

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This homemade chili garlic sauce recipe packs all the same fiery flavor of the spicy condiment found at Thai and Vietnamese restaurants.

If you’ve tried making Asian recipes at home and just haven’t been able to get the same taste, this may be what’s lacking. A dollop of chili garlic sauce adds the slow-burn heat and umami so often missing from take-out fake-out recipes.

Why Make Chili Garlic Sauce at Home

Homemade Chili Garlic Sauce in a jar

Vary the Taste

Making your chili garlic sauce allows you to adjust the flavoring, adding sweetness to offset the heat (for a Sriracha flavor) or additional vinegar to bring out another dimension (for Sambal Oelek).

No Artificial Preservatives

Unlike the commercial stuff, this recipe doesn’t rely on sodium benzoate, a preservative that some people avoid due to its possible connection with hyperactivity in children and which, in combination with vitamin c (which chili peppers contain) produces the known carcinogen benzene.

Plus, it’s incredibly easy to make.

Chili Pepper Safety Tips

Protect Your Skin

Wear gloves. Peppers, even dried ones reconstituted in water, contain oils that can burn sensitive skin. These oils don’t wash off easily, which means once they’re on your hands, it’s only a matter of time before you rub your eye or nose and wind up in tears.

So, wear a pair of powder-free nitrile gloves or, if you don’t have any, slather your hands with butter before you begin working. The butter will act as a barrier between your skin and the peppers’ oils, which will come off your hands when you wash them.

Protect Your Eyes and Mouth, Too

Consider eye protection. This isn’t just about the occasional pepper squirting directly at your eye, which is a definite risk when you’re working with a pound of them. It’s also to protect you from the danger of forgetting that you’re working with hot peppers and rubbing your eye — you’ll poke your glasses instead.

Breathe through your mouth. I learned this the hard way: when you’re standing over your food processor whirring a pound of chili peppers, there are going to be fumes. Lots of fumes. Taking a deep breath through your nose at that point might clear your sinuses momentarily, as it did mine.

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Then it will produce an incredible burning pain that will lead to congestion like you’ve never known before. Protect yourself by breathing through your mouth!

Use Milk to Banish the Burn

If you’ve ignored all of the tips above and wind up with burning hands, whole milk will ease the pain. MythBusters put a variety of treatments for pepper burns to the test and found that whole milk works best, whether applied to the skin or guzzled down after eating something spicy.

Hopefully, these tips haven’t scared you off because this recipe is simple to make and incredibly delicious whether you use dried peppers or fresh ones. (I’ve included instructions for both.)

Homemade Chili Garlic Sauce Uses

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

  • Dollop it on scrambled eggs or toss steamed vegetables with it to give them a good spicy kick.
  • Swap it for hot sauce in your favorite recipes
  • Brush it on top of meatloaf or hamburgers.
  • Add it to stir-fries or soups.
  • Baste meatballs with it before baking.
  • It’s also great in my Shrimp Pad Thai recipe!

Homemade Chili Garlic Sauce

Fiery chili peppers (fresh or dried) combine with garlic, vinegar, and salt to make this flavorful condiment found at every Thai or Vietnamese restaurant. 
Print Recipe
Homemade Chili Garlic Sauce Recipe
Prep Time:5 mins

Equipment

  • Food processor

Ingredients

Ingredients

  • 15 dried whole chili peppers OR 1½ cups fresh Thai chilies
  • 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)

Instructions

  • Add stemless peppers, garlic cloves, and 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar to the bowl of a food processor. Process until finely chopped, adding additional vinegar as needed to reach desired consistency.
  • Add salt, sugar, and fish sauce (if using). Pulse a few times until well-combined.
  • Transfer to an air-tight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 month or freeze for up to 6 months.

Notes

To use dried peppers: Put 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.
To replace Sriracha: Add additional sugar and omit the fish sauce.
To replace Sambal Oelek: Reduce the sugar and consider adding another small splash of vinegar at the end.

Nutrition

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
Servings: 1 cup
Calories: 86kcal
Author: Katie Berry

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Recipe Rating




22 Comments

  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. Won’t you get some fermentation with this recipe?

    1. Katie Berry says:

      If you were leaving it out on the counter, it’s possible but the refrigeration or freezing called for in the recipe stops fermentation. If you’re looking for a fermented chili garlic sauce, here’s a good one from Nourished Kitchen.

  3. 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.”

  4. 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.

  5. 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!

  6. Is this recipe pressure can-able for shelf stable storage?

    1. Katie Berry says:

      I don’t know. Since there are so many potential dangers in canning food, I’d encourage you to look for a recipe specifically meant for canning.

  7. 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!

  8. Literally cannot wait for my chillis to get delivered tomorrow, the weekends
    Project to keep my sane during quarantine…

    Now I’ve just stumbled across the fermented recipe and going to do this the following week…

    Thank you

    1. Katie Berry says:

      What a fun and delicious way to spend the weekend. Enjoy!

  9. Moonshine Mike says:

    4 stars
    I just wanted to say that it sounds good on Paper, but I’ve been Fermenting Everything from Sauerkraut to Pickles, Fruit and Grains for Mash for making Distilled Brandies, and Moonshine for YEARS.
    I still can’t get over the fact that I’ve seen several Recipes calling for VINEGAR during the Fermentation Process. There’s an Obvious Issue with that. The Salt is Responsible for Breaking Down (Decomposing if you will) the Chili Peppers, and beginning to convert the Chili Peppers into Consumable Sugars. Which is Necessary for the Fermentation Process. The enzymes are converted to consumable sugars which are eaten up by the wild yeast that is present.
    Yes, it’s essentially turning into a form of Alcohol during the Fermentation Process.
    Vinegar is a By-product of allowing something to Ferment for too long, and is Generally added AFTER the Fermentation Process is Complete otherwise, your Fermentation Process is Disrupted and the Pickling Process Begins.

    1. 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!!

    2. Katie Berry says:

      You’re welcome. Enjoy!

  10. 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! 🙂