sriracha substitute

10 Best Sriracha Substitutes to Spice Things Up

If you’ve missed sriracha off the shelves in 2022, you may have had to contend with lackluster Bloody Marys, scrambled eggs, and ramen noodles. 

With a continued drought in Mexico affecting chili crops, sriracha production has come to a halt due to the shortage of red jalapeños. But don’t panic… 

We’ve got some of the best sriracha substitute ideas to help you see things through until your favorite spicy sauce makes it back to the shelves. 

There’s no need to have less-than-perfect cocktails, breakfasts, and chicken wings. Just grab one of the below alternatives instead.

What Is Sriracha Sauce?

This popular condiment is a chili pepper sauce made from red jalapeños paste, vinegar, sugar, salt, and garlic. It falls below cayenne pepper and habanero on the Scoville scale and is moderate in heat.

The sauce originated in Thailand in the town of Si Racha (after which it was named). 

In southeast Asian cuisine it is used as a dipping sauce for spring rolls, seafood, and omelets. However, it has made its way across the world into a host of dishes from burgers and marinades to avocado toast, salad dressing, and even sriracha-flavored potato crisps.

How to Choose a Sriracha Sauce Substitute

When choosing your sriracha alternative, consider the consistency, heat intensity, and other ingredients that may change the flavor profile of your dish. 

Some sauces may be thinner in consistency which might not give you the same stickiness you’re looking for in marinades. Other sauces may be a lot spicier and need to be diluted to prevent overpowering the flavors in your dish. 

Additionally, certain sriracha replacements may contain added herbs and spices, so ensure they pair well with the overall taste of your recipe.

What Is The Best Replacement for Sriracha?

Here are what you can use instead of sriracha sauce:

1. Tabasco

If you’ve got some Tabasco in the pantry, look no further. This classic American hot sauce is made from tabasco peppers, a variant of capsicum frutescens. 

While the two sauces aren’t identical, they are used in very similar applications from topping egg dishes, toast, and chicken wings to Bloody Marys.

Tabasco is hotter, less sweet, and thinner in consistency since it doesn’t contain any thickeners. This makes it best to use as a seasoning drizzled over dishes rather than as a dipping sauce or cooking component. 

If a dipping sauce is what you need, combine a little Tabasco with tomato puree or ketchup to get a thicker consistency and the sweetness that is lacking.

Tabasco comes in varying flavors so just be mindful that the variety you have matches the other flavors in your dish.

Since Tabasco is a lot hotter, you only need to use ¼ of the amount you are replacing.

Substitute quantity: For every one tablespoon required in your recipe, use only ¼ tablespoon of Tabasco Hot Sauce

2. Sambal Oelek

Sambal oelek is a thick Indonesian chili sauce made from Thai red peppers, vinegar, and salt. It is slightly thicker and spicier and does not contain any sugar. Since sambal oelek also doesn’t contain garlic, you may find the flavor less complex.

If heat is really what you’re after in your dish, this will make a great substitute on its own. However, if you want to replicate the flavor of sriracha, add some sugar, a pinch of garlic powder, and a few drops of lime juice or vinegar.

As a chili paste, without any other additions, sambal oelek is not a good option for dipping or topping but is ideal to spice up stews, sauces, meat, rice, and noodle dishes. 

Substitute quantity: For every one tablespoon called for in your recipe, use a ¾ tablespoon of sambal oelek

3. Sweet Chili Sauce

Sweet chili sauce is a popular sweet and only slightly spicy sauce used for dipping, topping, glazing, and adding sweet and spicy notes to meat or vegetable dishes.

It is made from rice wine vinegar, sugar, salt, garlic, and chili peppers. Store-bought versions often include onion and other spices. 

Opt for a spicier version or add some chili flakes if you want a good amount of heat since regular sweet chili is much milder than sriracha. Also keep in mind that sweet chili is a much sweeter condiment.

This is a great alternative on avocado toast, as a dipping sauce, in stir-fry, meat and vegetable marinades, glazes, and even to use in salad dressings and egg dishes.

Substitute quantity: Replace sweet chili sauce in equal quantities.

4. Tapatío

Tapatio is made from a variety of red chili peppers and has a similar, but slightly hotter, spice level with a sharp pepperiness. This Mexican-American hot sauce has no sweetness and pairs best with Mexican flavor profiles and tomato-based dishes.

If you prefer a slight sweetness with your spicy, mix in a drizzle of honey or a dash of brown sugar. Tapatio is great to use in breakfast eggs, potatoes, pasta, spicy cocktails, bean dishes, and stews. It can also be used in meat glazes.

Substitute quantity: Substitute Tapatio in equal quantities.

5. Harissa

Although harissa is void of sweetness it has an incredible earthy complexity and smoky depth of flavor. This North African pepper paste is made from dried chiles, coriander, garlic, and caraway. 

Different regions may have a slightly different spin on the paste with additions such as lemon, bell peppers, or sumac.

Harissa has a thick consistency and slightly punchier heat level depending on the variety. Since it comes in a paste form it is not suitable as a dipping sauce. It can however be used as a flavor component in sauces, stews, and used as a meat rub.

Since it contains other spices, be mindful that the flavors in your recipe work well together. Harissa is also available in powder form. This works well as a dry meat rub.

Substitute quantity: Replace harissa in equal quantities as a substitute for sriracha.

6. Louisiana Hot Sauce

Louisiana hot sauce is made by aging cooked and ground chili peppers together with vinegar and salt. It is very similar to Tabasco with a bright peppery flavor. Just a drop or two will be enough to spice up your whole portion of food, so use it sparingly.

Louisiana hot sauce is not suitable as a dipping sauce but rather as a component in other sauces or marinades.

Substitute quantity: For every one tablespoon required in your recipe, use only a ¼ tablespoon of Louisiana Hot Sauce

7. Ketchup Variations

Although ketchup in itself won’t make a good sriracha replacement, it has the right consistency and sweetness to form a suitable base — now all you need to add is some spiciness.

Adding some chili flakes or chili powder to ketchup can be a great quick fix when you’re in a pinch. You’ve got the heat and sweetness, but might just lack some complexity.

As an alternative, chipotle ketchup can be store-bought or homemade. This ketchup variety is sweet with a bit of smoky heat coming through at the end. 

It works well as a dipping sauce, spread, and in marinades. If you need a little extra heat, add some chili flakes.

Chipotle peppers are essentially smoked jalapenos. To make your own chipotle ketchup, combine canned chipotle chilis in adobo sauce with onion, garlic, a jalapeño (or sprinkle of chili powder), ketchup, sugar, and cumin. 

This should give you a well-balanced sweet, spicy, and complex condiment.

Substitute quantity: Substitute your spiced-up ketchup in equal amounts.

8. Gochujang

Gochujang or Korean hot pepper paste is made from ground red chili peppers, fermented soybeans, glutinous rice, and salt. It is not quite as sweet and lacks the vinegar element, however, the fermented soybeans bring a glorious umami depth.

If you can’t get this at your regular grocery store it is generally available at any Asian food store. 

This is a great option for meat marinades or rubs. It can also be added as a component in sauces, stews, and to spice up soups.

Substitute quantity: Replace Gochujang in equal quantities.

9. Dried Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne pepper is easily available from general grocery stores. The fine red powder has a good kick of heat, so taste as you go and add it in small quantities.

Cayenne pepper is a good option to add heat to a dish without affecting the flavor profile. This also means it will pair well with almost any flavor combination. 

For a little acidity, add a squeeze of lemon or lime juice. If you are missing garlic flavor, blend in a pinch of garlic powder.

Add a dash of cayenne pepper to sauces, dry rubs, marinades, stir fries, stews, or soup. If you really like things spiced up, sprinkle just a little over your avocado toast with a squeeze of lemon or even add a pinch to your scrambled eggs.

Substitute quantity: Use ¼ tablespoon of ground cayenne pepper for every tablespoon of sriracha.

See more: What to use instead of cayenne pepper?

10. Peri-Peri Sauce

Peri-peri sauce has a lot of additional spices which gives it a deeper and more fragrant profile. This South African-Portuguese sauce is made with peri peri peppers (also called African bird’s eye chili or piri-piri).

It contains lemon juice, sweet pimiento, bay leaf, paprika, black pepper, basil, and tarragon. Peri peri is bright and herby while being spicy enough to match up to sriracha’s heat level.

Traditionally it is used with chicken and seafood as a marinade or basting sauce. It is also thick enough to drizzle over meat, roast vegetables, or to use as a condiment with eggs or toast.

Substitute quantity: Replace peri-peri sauce in equal amounts.

FAQ

Should I refrigerate opened sriracha?

Sriracha can be stored in a cool dark pantry cupboard, however, it will last longer if kept in the refrigerator.

How long will a bottle of sriracha last?

Since sriracha contains ingredients such as vinegar which act as a natural preservative, it can last up to two years when kept in the refrigerator. When stored in the pantry, it will last between six and nine months.

My sriracha turned darker in color. Is it still okay to eat?

Red chilies left on the shelf for a few months will naturally start to dull. The longer it ages, the darker it will get. Despite the change in color, it can still be safe to consume. If it smells off or tastes different, discard it.

Will sriracha get hotter with age?

The chili peppers can increase in heat intensity as they age. Refrigerating your sauce will slow down the aging process. If you use the sauce regularly, it will most likely be gone before you notice a difference.

Can I make my own sriracha sauce?

Yes, you can make your own version of the iconic red rooster sauce using the same ingredients. For homemade sriracha, you will need to combine your chili peppers, garlic, brown sugar, vinegar, water, and salt (or soy sauce) in a food processor. Pour the blend into a jar and let it sit for three to five days to ferment and develop the same flavor.

Conclusion

Not being able to find your favorite spicy multi-purpose sauce anywhere is frustrating and disappointing especially when you crave the extra spicy flavor with your avocado toast, BBQ marinade, noodles, or morning eggs.

All is not lost, and while you wait for sriracha to grace the shelves once again, there are a wide range of hot sauces you can use to get that same spicy flair.

If you’ve never tried gochujang, sambal oelek, or peri peri sauce, why not get adventurous and try something new? 

If you’re in the middle of a cook and realize last minute that you’re out of your spicy chili garlic sauce, then cayenne pepper, a ketchup and chili pepper blend, tabasco, or sweet chili sauce can all stand in as quick-fix alternatives.

If you’re missing the vinegar flavor or find any of these alternatives to sriracha too sweet, add a few drops of apple cider or white vinegar. A squeeze of lemon can add some acidity while a pinch of extra chili powder or chili flakes can up the intensity if required.

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