Asian Style Sweet Chile Sauce

A quick and easy Asian sweet chile sauce |

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Once you see how easy it is to make an Asian sweet chile sauce (aka Thai sweet chili sauce), you’ll never buy it again.  I’ve been buying this for years and have gone through many, many bottles, but after looking through a variety of recipes and seeing how easy it is to make, I decided to give it a try. Using a few standard items from my pantry, the process from start to finish took less than 15 minutes and the result was better than what I have been buying!  By making it from scratch, I was able to adjust the sweetness, the spiciness, the flavor, and thickness to my preferences.

The recipe for Asian sweet chile sauce below makes just short of a cup of sauce, is less sweet, and thinner than what I buy.  I find the store bought sauce too thick for my needs so I’m always adding water to thin it.  If you like yours thicker, then just add an additional teaspoon of cornstarch to the recipe below.

So far, I’ve made this Asian sweet chile sauce using three different blends of chile flakes.  Each batch yielded a slightly different flavor and color.  Darker chile flakes like chipotle, made a darker, almost brown sauce even though I used only a few flakes.  The flavor was nice, but not what I was going for.  Aleppo flakes with urfa biber was a nice combination with a great flavor but didn’t provide enough of a spicy kick.  I think a chile pequin or Bird’s eye chile would have taken it from great to wonderful.  My favorite batch was with hot New Mexico red chile and a chile de arbol, but then I’m sure that doesn’t surprise you at all. 🙂 So if you have some chile flakes or dried chile pods in your pantry, you could be making this sweet and spicy chile sauce right now.

This Asian sweet chile sauce can be used in marinades or as a marinade, and as a dipping sauce for shrimp, springs roll or tofu bites.  You could add it to salad dressings, breads, stir-fries and noodle dishes.  Spice up some hummus or pour it on grill corn, asparagus or eggplant.  Last night I drizzled some on this Avocado, Orange, and Cucumber salad with quite enjoyable results.  The possibilities are endless.

Asian Sweet Chile Sauce

A quick and easy Asian sweet chile sauce made with New Mexico chiles. A great dip for egg rolls and spring rolls. #chile #sauce @mjskitchen |

Asian Sweet Chile Sauce Recipe
5 mins
10 mins
Total Time
15 mins
No need to buy Asian style sweet sauce when it's so easy to make at home.

"*" See Kitchen Notes for more information or links to special ingredients.

Course: Condiments
Cuisine: Asian
Yields: 1 cup (approximately)
Recipe Author: MJ
  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ cup rice vinegar
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 large garlic clove, smashed, minced
  • 1 ½ - 2 teaspoon red chile flakes*
  • 1/8 cup water
  • 1 ½ - 2 teaspoon cornstarch*
  1. Combine 1/2 cup water, the rice vinegar, sugar, garlic and chile flakes in a small sauce pan. Heat over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
  2. Bring to a simmer and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. In a cup or small bowl, make a slurry of the cornstarch and 1/8 cup water.
  4. After simmering the sauce for 5 minutes, slowly pour in the cornstarch slurry. Bring the sauce to a boil and boil gently for 1 minute, stirring constantly. If the sauce isn't as thick as you want, boil for another minute.
Kitchen Notes

This Asian sweet chile sauce keeps in the refrigerator for a couple of months; however, it will start to separate.  Therefore, just like the store bought variety, shake before reusing.


Red chile flakes – One 8 – 9 inch hot red chile pod plus 1 chile de arbol pod makes about 1 ½ teaspoons of flakes and yields a flavorful sauce with a spice level around 7 on a 1 – 10 scale.  To make it even hotter, add 1 teaspoons flakes and use hotter chile.  If you have the pods, you can make your own chile flakes.


Cornstarch – We like our chile sauce thinner than what you buy, so I use 1 ½ teaspoons cornstarch.  For a thicker sauce use 2 teaspoons.




A quick and easy sweet and spicy chile sauce |


 If you like this Asian Sweet Chile Sauce, then you’ll also like some of these recipes.

Red Chile Paste

Red Chile Strawberry Jam

Raspberry Molé Jam

Aji Panca Chile Paste

Olive Brine Hot Pepper Sauce

Chile Pequin Pepper Sauce


Garden Update

On Saturday May 2, Bobby and I planted our summer garden: 8 tomato plants, 10 chile plants from Fords Fiery Foods and Plants, 5 bell pepper plants and several flowers and seeds.  Everything looked SO good!  Two days later in the late afternoon, a surprise hail storm hit Albuquerque. Bobby snapped this picture during the storm from the shelter of the front porch. That’s hail flowing down the street. Once it was all over we had over an inch of hail in the garden beds and some sad looking stems from our transplants.  It was so sad that I just couldn’t bring myself to take a picture. 🙁  Oh the trials and tribulations of gardening.

The hailstorm that hit Albuquerque May 4, 2015


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68 Responses to “Asian Style Sweet Chile Sauce”

  1. Adina April 19, 2017 at 3:10 am #

    I’ve made this for the first time about two years ago and it was amazing. I have to make it again soon. I can only recommend it!

    • mj April 23, 2017 at 7:41 pm #

      I’m so glad you’ve made this! So glad you like it! Thanks Adina!

  2. Ruthi February 17, 2016 at 10:38 am #

    I made this last night to spice up some coconut chicken; what a great recipe!!! The best peppers I ever had was given to me by some AWANA leaders living in New Mexico; they sent us a wreath made of some red peppers. YUM!!!

    • mj February 17, 2016 at 1:24 pm #

      Thank you so much for your feedback Ruthi! Glad you enjoyed the recipe. Out of curiosity, do you know what type of peppers were on the wreath – the traditional larger NM red chiles or the smaller peppers like chile pequin or chile de arbol?

  3. nipponnin June 16, 2015 at 9:34 pm #

    Oh my…what a terrific pic of bottle chili sauce! I definitely try this recipe!

    • mj June 17, 2015 at 7:49 am #

      I hope you do! Thanks!

  4. Gloria June 6, 2015 at 3:03 am #

    bookmarked this recipe…was looking out for a perfect sweet chile sauce and Im glad i foun done..Hope yo doing well..So sorry about your garden

    • mj June 11, 2015 at 8:36 pm #

      Thanks Gloria! With lots of tender loving care, some of those hail beaten plants have actually survived.

      • Wendy June 30, 2015 at 4:56 pm #


        I just found your blog and I love it!

        So sorry about your garden, but relieved to hear that some of the plants survived. I hope that by now they are well recovered.

        Happy Gardening and Thanks So Much for Sharing your knowledge with us.

        • mj June 30, 2015 at 8:26 pm #

          Wendy, Welcome! So glad you found me and stopped to say Hello! It has taken a while, but about half of the plants have come back and the tomato plants are actually setting tomatoes. 🙂 Thanks for your comments and hope to see you again Wendy!

  5. michelle @ Boards&knives May 26, 2015 at 5:21 pm #

    Oh I’m so happy I found this recipe! I love Thai chili sauce, and I’m always buying those giant bottles of the stuff. Your version looks spot-on – thanks!

    • mj May 27, 2015 at 12:26 pm #

      Thanks Michelle! I hope you do give it a try.

  6. Helene D'Souza May 21, 2015 at 4:12 pm #

    Oh my the hail… so sorry MJ ;/
    I wished I could stand with you in your kitchen and learn from you all your chili tricks. Saving this one for later.

    • mj May 23, 2015 at 9:07 am #

      Thanks so much Helene! I’d love to have you join me in the kitchen. 🙂

  7. YogurtHydro May 21, 2015 at 1:47 pm #

    We love hot and spicy sauces (although sometimes our guests don’t!). Such a beautiful looking sauce, I need one of those little jars.:)
    I am definitely going to try this one out, thanks for the recipe!

    • mj May 23, 2015 at 9:05 am #

      Thank you YH! I have it much easier because most of my friends LOVE spicy. It’s something I rarely have to consider. Those jars are cute, aren’t they. 🙂

  8. Lindsey May 20, 2015 at 7:21 pm #

    How long can a batch typically last if you don’t eat it all?

    • mj May 20, 2015 at 7:58 pm #

      Lindsey, I would say that it should last at least 2 months if not longer.

  9. MIKE May 20, 2015 at 3:20 pm #

    We had that happen last year(Michigan). I had just bought and planted 2 peach trees. 2 days later a hail storm hit that put 3/4″ of hail on the ground. killed both trees. 🙁

    • mj May 20, 2015 at 7:57 pm #

      Oh Mike…so sorry to hear about your fruit trees. Loosing a few tomatoes plants is one thing but trees, that’s a whole another thing. Not good! 🙁

  10. Nami | Just One Cookbook May 18, 2015 at 11:23 pm #

    Although I used and like the bottled sweet chili sauce, it’s a bit scary what’s in there (and a bit too sweet for me). I love your version is ordinary pantry items. I made sweet chili sauce from scratch from this Thai book (for book review) and although it was delicious, I had to grind chilis and buy palm sugar and lemongrass, and it was a bit hassle to get the sauce… so I only made a few times so far. I’m going to make this recipe! I don’t mind 15 mins making this less sweet homemade sweet chili sauce AT ALL! Thanks for sharing this recipe with us! And hail… OMG! I think I’d be scared by the sound of it. It happened once when my son was in preschool, and he still remembers how terrified it was.

    • mj May 20, 2015 at 8:55 am #

      Totally agree Nami!! The ingredients can be scaring at times. 🙂 The recipe you make sounds delicious, but yes, a lot of work. 🙂 I hope you give this one a try. It’s not authentic, but for this southwestern gal, it’s quite good and satisfies my need for this chili sauce. And yes, hail can be terrifying especially for a young kid. I’m sure you gave him lots of comforting hugs. 🙂

  11. Bam's Kitchen May 18, 2015 at 10:03 pm #

    I love this gluten free and easy recipe for Thai sweet chili sauce and so glad you have made this for us today. For some crazy reason I was not getting your e-mail notifications but I have resigned up today so hoping that it works now. So sorry to hear about Mother Nature, I hope your plants survived the hail storm. Recipe Pinned!

    • mj May 20, 2015 at 8:53 am #

      Thanks Bobbi! Thanks for letting me know about the email notifications. I’m constantly struggling with that. I might need to use a different plugin.

  12. Maureen | Orgasmic Chef May 18, 2015 at 9:53 pm #

    Australians use Asian sweet chilli (yes two Ls) sauce by the bucket load. I can’t wait to give your recipe a try. I make it too and always bottle some up to give as hostess gifts.

    So sad about that hail – poor you!

    • mj May 20, 2015 at 8:52 am #

      What a great idea to give as hostess gifts! I’ll be remembering that one! Thanks Maureen!

  13. Shashi at RunninSrilankan May 18, 2015 at 9:56 am #

    UGH – so so sorry to hear about the hail damage to your plants! What crazy weather!

    I gotta say your Thai Sweet Chili Sauce recipe is very welcome! I buy a lot of Asian-style sweet chile sauce – but never thought to make mine! Thanks MJ!

    • mj May 18, 2015 at 1:37 pm #

      You are most welcome Shashi! Thanks for stopping by!

  14. Kelly @ Inspired Edibles May 17, 2015 at 2:27 pm #

    Oh NO, the hail storm MJ, and just after you planted your summer garden… that is sad. What was the ultimate result — were you able to salvage some plants or did they all die? 🙁 No hail here (yet?) but it’s been strangely cold, not sure what’s up with that. But onto happier topics, this is a delightful little homemade sauce and you’re so right, it couldn’t be easier! (and yay for bird’s eye chili – I think I may be not-so-mildly addicted) — yes, the store bought sauces almost always have some form of stabilizer/emulsifier/thickener action going on. I must give this lovely experiment a try. Thank you!

    • mj May 18, 2015 at 9:14 am #

      Oh Yes, a hail storm in May! Very unusual for this time of year. In fact, we’ve been unusually cold as well. Our heat still runs in the morning!! We’ve been seriously babying the damaged plants. Bobby sprayed them with some seaweed extract that really helped most of the tomatoes. So some of them have already put out quite a bit of new growth. Unfortunately, the chile plants aren’t showing any signs of survival. I’m giving them until the weekend, then I’ll pull them and replant. We went ahead and planted 4 more tomato plants just in case, so if the others survive, we’ll have 10 plants!! What am I going to do with all those tomatoes!?!! 🙂 We have friends and neighbors that I’m sure would appreciate some homegrowns. To the chile sauce…now a days, when I read the list of ingredients, if I can’t pronounce something, I put it the bottle back on the shelf. I mean…what’s wrong with “cornstarch”. Why do we need all that other stuff especially when the stripped down version is so easy to make at home. So another condiment for our chile addition. 🙂

      • Kelly @ Inspired Edibles May 23, 2015 at 12:57 pm #

        well I’m glad you were able to salvage the tomatoes — how interesting about the seaweed extract, I have to keep that one in my pocket. Love learning these garden tips from you MJ!

  15. Vicki Bensinger May 17, 2015 at 2:04 pm #

    You have no idea how much of the sweet chili sauce I go through. I can’t believe I never thought to make some myself. Leave it to you to come up with a nice blend. Try mixing it with equal portions of apricot preserves for a nice Asian dipping sauce or to spread over chicken or fish before grilling. It’s outstanding!

    I’m so excited to try this. I’m going to print it off now and save it to my PC.

    Thanks for this.


    • mj May 18, 2015 at 9:05 am #

      Thanks so much Vicki!! It’s really, really easy to make. I hope you give it a try. Oh, I love the idea of adding apricot preserves! I bet peach jam would be nice as well. Keeping my fingers crossed that the apricot blooms didn’t freeze. I would love to make some apricot preserves this year, just for this. 🙂 Thanks for the ideas! They sound wonderful!

  16. Adina May 17, 2015 at 4:42 am #


    I wanted to buy a bottle of chili sauce last week but after reading the list of ingredients, I decided to let it be. So full of stuff I don’t want to eat. I pinned this and will definitely give it a try.

    • mj May 18, 2015 at 9:03 am #

      I know what you mean Adina. If I can’t pronounce it, why would I want to eat it? 🙂 Thanks for the comment and the pin!

      • Adina May 20, 2015 at 11:38 am #

        Hi again,

        I just wanted to say I made your sauce yesterday and it was GREAT! We had it with spicy roasted potatoes and salad. I already posted the recipes because I loved everything so much.

        Thank you

        • mj May 20, 2015 at 7:55 pm #

          Oh Adina, thank you so much for letting me know! You made my day! So glad that y’all enjoyed it. Love it that you used it as a dipping sauce for roasted potatoes. Your potatoes look awesome! Thanks for your feedback!

  17. Janet May 15, 2015 at 3:46 pm #

    Perfect! Can’t wait to try this. It will cut down on hours of searching in various markets … And, like you said, I bet it tastes even better. Yippee!

    • mj May 16, 2015 at 5:16 pm #

      Thanks so much Janet! I hope you do give it a try! You’ll love it. I know what you mean about having to find it at the market. The only place I can find it is a Tai Lin. Hope you’re having a great weekend. Is it snowing out there?

  18. Anne@ASaladForAllSeasons May 15, 2015 at 3:11 pm #

    MJ….the color of this sauce is gorgeous! I love the idea of using it as a dipping sauce for shrimp! Though I think my younger son would be content with a straw! Since I’ve moved to an apartment, I miss my little garden in my old backyard. Gardening is pretty uneventful here in Maryland. So sorry to hear about the hailstorm. I hope you can recover much of what you planted? If not….perhaps a chile shaved ice is in your future? Hang in there my friend! : )

    • mj May 16, 2015 at 5:13 pm #

      Thanks so much Anne! I bet you don’t have much of a growing season in Maryland. Ours is just long enough, so I think some of the damaged plants might just make it. We’ve already got new growth in suckers on tomatoes so we’re going to let them stay. The pepper plants however, show no sign of coming back. I’ll be replanting those next week. Hope you’re having a wonderful weekend.

  19. Evelyne@cheapethniceatz May 15, 2015 at 2:39 pm #

    Hope your garden survives! I love homemade condiment recipes and this one looks great. Oh I do enjoy chile pequin, would give that a try.

    • mj May 16, 2015 at 5:10 pm #

      Thanks Evelyne! Glad to see someone else likes making condiments. 🙂 I find it quite rewarding.

  20. Angie@Angie's Recipes May 15, 2015 at 2:50 am #

    I didn’t know sweet chilli sauce was so EASY to make by yourself!!! Definitely give this a try.
    Sorry to see your garden get ruined :-((

    • mj May 15, 2015 at 2:25 pm #

      It really is easy Angie! Yes, you definitely should give is a try.

  21. Dedy@Dentist Chef May 14, 2015 at 11:15 pm #

    Simply damn delicious Thai chili sauce, lovin it all the way….

    • mj May 15, 2015 at 2:24 pm #

      Thanks Dedy!

  22. Diana May 14, 2015 at 11:16 am #

    Nifty recipe! I’ve never thought of making it myself…I will definately be trying this.

    Oh my, I hope the hail storm didn’t do too much damage. It was quite an afternoon for me too that day. I got caught in the storm trying to get to my car. Then I had to pull off to the side of the road for 20 minutes due to low visibility, mind you I was soaking wet! THEN when I finally got home I found that my yerba buena and basil (that I had just plated the Sunday before the storm) suffered a lot of damage, along with our poor pear tree. As we always say living in the desert “we need the water”, but It was indeed a sad afternoon.

    • mj May 14, 2015 at 8:12 pm #

      Thanks Diana! What an afternoon you had! At least we got the watch the hail doing it’s damage as we stood in a dry house. I can’t imagine being stuck in a car during a storm like that. Sorry about your plants and pear tree. Hopefully the pears were small enough to not suffer any damage. Crazy weather we’re having.

  23. The Wimpy Vegetarian May 13, 2015 at 9:15 pm #

    I love this sauce, MJ. I really want to make it. I have all the ingredients on hand. I can’t believe that hail storm, BTW!! That’s amazing. And I’m so sorry about your garden. By now I’m sure you’re completely replanted. The trials and tribulations of gardening indeed.

    • mj May 14, 2015 at 7:58 pm #

      Thanks so much Susan! If you make it, let me know how it goes. Yes, I have completely replanted and just keeping my fingers crossed. 🙂

  24. Minnie@thelady8home May 13, 2015 at 8:34 pm #

    I love this sauce. Its a fav of mine. Thanks for showing how to make one.

    • mj May 13, 2015 at 9:00 pm #

      You are welcome and thank YOU Minnie!

  25. Sissi May 13, 2015 at 5:31 am #

    Dear MJ, I swear I didn’t do it on purpose (even though I saw in your newsletter what you have already posted before me)… I think it’s not the first time we write about something soooo similar! Amazing!
    Anyway, your sauce looks fabulous! I was going to ask how you have managed to suspend the chilli in the liquid and cornstarch is probably the answer! So clever. It really looks so tempting… I’ll certainly be making your recipe very very soon.
    I’m stunned seing your snow photograph. To be frank I would never think there actually is snow at any time of the year in your region, given the warm-souding name 😉 Apparently we’ll be having some frost maybe this weekend (last frost of the year), so I must watch my balcony garden too. I hope your plants have survived in spite of this unpleasant surprise…

    • mj May 13, 2015 at 8:57 pm #

      That is SO funny! I saw your post notice today and just had to laugh. We sure do stay in line with each others food moods don’t we. 🙂 Thanks as always for your kind comments Sissi!! Yes, cornstarch is the secret to the suspension of the garlic and chile flakes. Pretty cool hey!? Actually, that’s hail, not snow. The hail was about chickpea size and very damaging. It was very unusual to get hail in May and it’s been even more unusual to have the cool weather we’re having. Our lows are still in the 40s and by now, they are normally in the 50s. With hail and cooler temps, it’s going to be slow going for the garden this year. 🙁

      • Sissi May 18, 2015 at 1:28 pm #

        Oh, hail! Sorry I have read too quickly. I hate hail! I remember last year we had hail which looked like walnuts (!). I was luckily at home and quickly started to cover the plants… but some of them died…

        • mj May 18, 2015 at 1:41 pm #

          Walnut size hail!! That’s some big hail! I certainly wouldn’t be standing outside with that coming down. 🙂 I’ve been quite surprised at how my tomatoes are coming back. We left them in the ground for a week and Bobby sprayed them with sea weed extract. Six out of 8 tomatoes were showing new growth after a week so we left them. It’s looks like they are going to make it! Unfortunately, it looks like only 2 of the 10 chile plants are going to make it. Oh well, I’ll replant this weekend.

  26. Nisa Homey May 12, 2015 at 10:45 pm #

    In love with your first picture! Its great to know that you can make these chile sauces at home and ditch the store-bought ones. So sorry about your garden.

    • mj May 13, 2015 at 8:49 pm #

      Thanks Nisa! I think many of us enjoy making things from scratch rather than buying ready-made.

  27. John@Kitchen Riffs May 12, 2015 at 9:17 pm #

    I’m not at all surprised that the winning batch had New Mexico chilies in it. 😉 This looks terrific — something I haven’t done, but should. Too bad about your garden! That picture is amazing — such a lot of hail. Poor you. Poor garden!

    • mj May 13, 2015 at 8:49 pm #

      I knew YOU wouldn’t be surprised because you know how good NM red is. 🙂 Yes, that much hail starts getting scary. At least we have the summer for the trees to come back after having their leaves beat up. Thanks for your comments John!

  28. Judy @Savoring Today May 12, 2015 at 5:10 pm #

    Oh MJ, I’m so sorry about your garden! We were pelted with days of rain and hail, even a tornado or two south of town. The skies were angry for almost a week and many of the perennials like my Iris were so broken and beaten I’m not sure they’ll recover this year. Luckily there are still a few leaves on the trees — few. Ugh.

    Love the sauce, it is an easy and delicious one for sure. 🙂

    • mj May 13, 2015 at 8:47 pm #

      thanks so much Judy! The beds are so sad, but we are starting to replant, so things are looking as little better. Sorry about your irises. I always love spring for the various bulbs. Lots of crazy weather we’re having. I’ve never seen this much moisture in May, but I’m not complaining because it’s going to put a lot of moisture in the forests keeping the fire danger down.

  29. The Duo Dishes May 12, 2015 at 3:30 pm #

    You’re so right about store bought sauce’s thickness. Must be the thickeners and all the sugar. It’s great to know how to make these sorts of things whenever you’re in a pinch! Or if you just want to avoid all the processed products out there.

    • mj May 13, 2015 at 8:45 pm #

      Thanks DD! When things are as simple of this it’s hard to buy the processed stuff.


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