By Angela Petulla

The Best Sriracha Alternatives

If you find yourself in the kitchen making a sriracha-based dish like sriracha mayonnaise, spicy noodles, or sriracha honey glazed salmon, only to realize you are missing the key ingredient, it's normal to worry if your culinary creation is ruined. Fortunately, there are plenty of sriracha substitutes available that you can use in a pinch. In this article, we will overview some of the most common sriracha alternatives that you can use to replace this spicy favorite.

What Is Sriracha?

Before we dive in to some of the best sriracha substitutes, it's important to understand what sriracha sauce is and its unique flavor profile so that you can best replicate it.

Sriracha is a type of hot sauce that has a slightly sweet and slightly garlicky flavor and a deliciously spicy kick. In its most basic form, sriracha is a blend of chili peppers, sugar, vinegar, salt, and garlic that has been fermented for a few days.

The Best Sriracha Substitutes and Alternatives

Because this fermented hot sauce is sweeter than many others, it can be a bit difficult to find the ideal substitute. However, we've put together a list to help you find the perfect sriracha replacement when you're in a pinch.

1.) Sambal Oelek + Sugar

Sambal oelek is an Indonesian chili paste that could be a solid sriracha alternative if used alongside sugar. Sambal oelek is thicker than sriracha and does not traditionally contain a sweetener, but because it's made with very few ingredients, it can more easily be crafted into the flavor profile that your recipe requires. For example, if you're trying to make a sriracha-based sauce for a noodle dish, you could substitute sambal oelek, a bit of sugar (or alternative sweetener), and garlic to get a similar flavor profile that the sriracha would have provided.

A couple of notes to keep in mind when using sambal oelek as an alternative:

  • Because it is thicker than sriracha, it will not make a good alternative as a drizzling sauce or stand alone condiment. Instead, this is a good alternative when you are substituting sriracha as a part of a recipe.
  • On a similar note as above, your sauce will not be as runny when using sambal oelek because it is a paste. If you want a thinner sauce, you can add water to get a similar consistency.

2.) Sweet Chili Sauce

Sweet chili sauce is a condiment that adds sweet heat to any dish. Because of its sugar content, it can be an excellent sriracha replacement, especially when your recipe relies on the sweetness of sriracha. Additionally, sweet chili sauce is often used as a standalone condiment, so if you are looking for an alternative that you can drizzle over your food, this may be a good option for you.

However, keep in mind that sweet chili sauce tends to be much sweeter than sriracha, and depending on how you intend on using it, this sauce can be quite cloying. If you'd like to tone down the sweetness of it, you can temper it with citrus juice, vinegar, or a bit of cayenne (use this option if you want to boost the heat even further).

3.) Gochujang

This staple Korean paste is spicy, savory, and just a little bit sweet, making its flavor profile relatively similar to sriracha. As with sambal oelek, the thickness of this paste will make it a poor alternative for drizzling, but it can be used as a substitute in recipes to develop a similar flavor. Additionally gochujang is not as acidic as sriracha, so if you find your dish is missing a bit of zingy-ness, you can incorporate a touch of vinegar or citrus juice to balance out the flavors.

4.) Cayenne

If you are simply looking to replace the spiciness in your dish with an alternative source, cayenne can be an excellent option. Because cayenne is made from dried peppers, it will not add the sweet, acidic, or garlicky elements that sriracha sauce will provide, but it will certainly kick up the heat of your dish.

5.) Hot Sauce + Ketchup

Mixing hot sauce and ketchup together can create a sauce that has a similar consistency to sriracha. By including ketchup, you'll get a milder heat level and a bit of sweetness, both of which are common elements in sriracha sauce.

The major downside to this sriracha alternative is that the final flavor will be subject to the type of hot sauce that you mix into your concoction. For example, if you blend a Louisiana-style hot sauce with ketchup, the result will be zingier than if you utilize harissa.

 6.) Hot Honey

Hot honey is going to be much, much sweeter than sriracha sauce, but if you are looking to bring a bit of spiciness and sweetness to your dish, this alternative could be effective. To tone down some of the sweetness, you may consider combining the hot honey with a bit of vinegar, water, or ketchup.

7.) Cayenne + Brown Sugar + Chopped Garlic + Ketchup

If you identify as a home cook, this combination may be your preferred option. This is not going to be a 1-to-1 substitution for sriracha, but it can bring each of the key elements to your dish. The cayenne pepper provides spiciness, the brown sugar provides sweetness, the chopped garlic provides savoriness, and the ketchup provides a good consistency.

An additional benefit of combining these ingredients is that you can adjust the combination to meet your preferences (for example, adding less brown sugar for a less sweet sauce), so it's more customizable for your recipe.

Sriracha Substitutes FAQs

Can I substitute hot sauce for sriracha?

You can certainly substitute hot sauce for sriracha! Sriracha is a type of hot sauce, so using another type can bring a similar spiciness to your dish. However, keep in mind that you may not get the same sweet and garlicky flavor when using another hot sauce.

What is a good sriracha alternative to Huy Fong Foods?

Here at Not Too Hot Sauce, we sell a sriracha that contains the classic flavors that you crave out of a sriracha sauce with a slightly toned down heat level. While we specialize in mild hot sauces, our Cha-Cha Sriracha is our spiciest sauce, coming in at a medium heat level that's comparable to Cholula or Valentina.

What's a less spicy substitute for sriracha?

You have a few options if you are looking for a milder sriracha sauce. You can use ketchup and incorporate some other elements that give sriracha its key flavors, such as garlic and vinegar. Additionally, sweet chili sauce tends to be more sweet and less hot than sriracha, so it could be an good alternative as well.

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