Chili Paste Substitute: Answered

Chili paste adds a bit of spice and warmth to any dish and is a popular ingredient in kitchens worldwide. This paste comprises ground chili peppers and is an excellent additive to stews and marinades. While it’s typically easy to make or find, plenty of chili paste substitute options are available.

Often used as a base seasoning for stews, soups, and curries, the heat of chili paste can vary from hot to mild. Chili paste also has a mild tinge of sweetness, which comes from the sugar added to store-bought pastes. However, it does enhance the flavor of the paste. 

In this article, we’ll explore all the best chili paste substitute options available and how to use them. 

What Is Chili Paste?

While there is no definitive origin of chili paste, it’s most commonly used in Asian cuisine, particularly Korean and Thai food. There are multiple varieties of chili paste, and each differs in the ingredients used to make the paste. However, it’s known and loved for its spicy kick. 

You can buy chili paste at your local grocer, but many make their own paste at home with their preferred ingredients. Traditionally, chili paste is made from dried red chilies pounded with a mortar and pestle. The paste not only adds spice to your recipe but also adds depth of flavor to your dish.

Chili Paste Substitute

Here you’ll find a list of ideal chili paste alternatives that match the required spicy taste, notes, and texture.

1. Chili Crisp

Chili crisp is a perfect substitute for chili paste, consisting of toasted dried peppers and oil. It has a similar consistency to chili paste and is packed with flavor and spice. Adding chili oil draws out the flavor of the chilis and adds a touch of sweetness to the condiment. 

You can replace chili paste in any recipe with chili crisp in a 1:1 ratio. If you only have chili oil, you can employ a 2:1 ratio of chili paste to chili oil. This will provide the perfect texture and spice for your dish.

2. Ketchup with Crushed Red Pepper

You can make an incredible substitute for chili paste by adding crushed red pepper flakes to a bowl of ketchup. The red pepper adds spiciness, and the tomato ketchup balances it with its sweetness. 

Due to the acidity of the tomato base, it may taste slightly different from traditional chili paste. You can replace the chili paste with a mixture of red pepper flakes and tomato ketchup at a 1:1 ratio. This will get you close to the spiciness of the paste and can be used in almost any recipe. 

3. Sriracha Hot Sauce

You can opt for hot sriracha sauce if you’re at a local store and cannot find your chili paste on the shelves. It makes an excellent chili paste substitute. However, the consistency of this sauce is thinner and runnier than the paste.

To thicken the sauce and enhance its flavor, you can mix it with a bit of sweet paprika powder. We recommend adding a level teaspoon of sweet paprika for every teaspoon of hot sauce. You can substitute the chili paste in your recipe with hot sriracha sauce at a 1:1 ratio. 

4. Ketchup with Ground Cayenne Pepper

The consistency of ketchup is close to that of chili paste, making it a good substitute for your recipe. Ketchup has a sweet undertone, which you can spice up by adding ground cayenne pepper. The cayenne pepper adds a kick to your sauce and maintains the spice level in your dish.

Cayenne pepper is one of the spiciest peppers on the planet. You could grind fresh whole cayenne peppers to ensure no preservatives are added to your sauce. Using two teaspoons of ground cayenne pepper for every cup of ketchup would provide the perfect consistency and spice level. 

5. Red Pepper Flakes, Soy Sauce, and Sugar

Most Asian households have a bottle of red pepper flakes in their pantry. These pepper flakes add instant heat to your recipe. And you can add dry red pepper flakes while cooking or use them as a seasoning before serving. 

Use red pepper flakes to make a paste that mimics the consistency and flavor of chili paste. Add a teaspoon of soy sauce, lots of red pepper flakes, and a pinch of sugar to make your paste. The result is a paste similar to chili paste’s texture and sweet and spicy flavor. 


Next time you can’t find chili paste at your local store, remember that there are plenty of easy-to-make alternatives. Chili crisp is the best choice as it adds consistency and spice to your recipe. However, any of the other chili paste substitute options will also offer excellent results.