Spicy Paste

9 Fantastic Ways to Substitute for Spicy Paste

Undoubtedly, one of the best ways to put heat in dishes is by using chili paste. This spicy and delicious paste works great with various dishes – good news for all spicy food lovers.

Chili paste is made from chili peppers, offering specific heat and flavor. It is an excellent way to add spice and depth of flavor to your food. You can easily find it in most grocery stores.

However, suppose I run out of spicy paste at home. In that case, I go for substitutes like ketchup with cayenne pepper, ketchup with red pepper, red pepper flakes, sriracha sauce, spicy tomato sauce, tabasco sauce, curry paste, etc.

What is Chili Paste 

Chili paste is one of the most popular and commonly used condiments. It is made from chili peppers that add flavor and spices to various dishes.

This spicy paste is ideal for making curries, stews, and soups. It is suitable for creating a marinade for fish and meat. It is also healthy, providing a significant load of antioxidants to fight free radicals and prevent illnesses. 

What are the Best Substitutes for Spicy Paste?

Spicy food lovers like me usually grab spicy paste to add flavor and spiciness to my favorite dishes, from sandwiches to saucy meat or seafood.

Meanwhile, do not be disappointed if you find no spicy paste in your pantry. Here are my top recommendations for tangy paste substitutes:

Sriracha Sauce 

4 Substitutes for Sriracha To Make Food Less Spicy

Sriracha sauce is one of the best substitutes for spicy paste. It is hotter. This sauce is made from chili peppers, salt, garlic, and sugar. It offers a unique flavor, a perfect mix of sweetness and spiciness.

There are slight differences between chili paste and sriracha sauce regarding taste and consistency. Sriracha is much runnier and thinner than a traditional chili paste.

I add sweet paprika to sriracha sauce to thicken it up. For every 1 teaspoon of sriracha, I add 1 teaspoon of sweet paprika. With sriracha sauce, I get a garlicky flavor.

Ketchup with Cayenne Pepper 

Ketchup and chili paste share the same texture, making the former an ideal substitute. Unlike chili paste with a pepper base, ketchup comes with a tomato concentrate from ripe tomatoes. It also includes other ingredients, such as onion powder, spice, salt, corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, distilled vinegar, and natural flavorings.

The two condiments have different flavor profiles; chili paste has more heat, while ketchup is known for its sweetness. So, I add cayenne pepper to the ketchup to get a sharp kick while keeping the necessary zest.

Cayenne pepper, a type of chili pepper, is effective in increasing every dish’s heat level. I usually add 2 tablespoons of cayenne pepper to every 1 cup of ketchup. If the dish usually calls for a small chili paste amount, I blend 1-2 teaspoons of cayenne pepper with a cup of ketchup.

Spicy Tomato Paste 

Spicy tomato paste

Spicy tomato paste is a suitable substitute for spicy paste if your main concern is consistency. This paste has a similar texture to chili paste.

Since tomato paste lacks spiciness, adding some chili powder or pepper flakes to the mixture would help. This stand-in ingredient has the same distinct tomato flavor and acidic tang as ketchup. 

Crushed Red Pepper Flakes 

You can get a milder heat with crushed red pepper flakes than chili paste. This substitute for spicy paste is made by grinding whole peppers, producing an intense flavor. It adds some spice to any dish without being overwhelming.

I typically use crushed red pepper flakes in pizza, pasta sauces, marinades, or salad dressings. It may be a fantastic substitute but lacks the same consistency as chili paste. 

This is why I add soy sauce and sugar to the flakes to achieve the desired consistency.

For example, add a dash of soy sauce and sprinkles of sugar to 1 tablespoon of red pepper flakes. Stir these ingredients together, giving you a sweet and spicy paste.

Ketchup with Crushed Red Pepper Flakes 

If you have no chili paste or cayenne pepper in the kitchen, you can mix your favorite ketchup with crushed pepper flakes. This adds a similar fiery flavor to any meal.

Ketchup with crushed red pepper flakes delivers a flavor profile that offers the kick you want in a spicy dish. Beware that it has a different consistency because of its tomatoey base.

After finding the perfect dish that requires tomatoey consistency and flavor, add some red pepper flakes to the ketchup. For every 1 cup of ketchup, I add 1 teaspoon of pepper flakes. However, if you want to increase the heat level, you can add more flakes to the mixture.

Tabasco Sauce 

Tabasco buffalo compress

Tabasco sauce is one of the accessible substitutes for spicy paste. Although it has a different texture and taste to chili paste, it blends well with a variety of dishes.

This sauce has a spicy taste, making it an excellent substitute for chili paste. It also comes with an exciting tanginess. I efficiently use the sauce with salads, sandwiches, dips, noodles, or soups.

Unlike chili paste and sriracha sauce, Tabasco sauce has no sweet undertone. 

So, I add sugar or ketchup to the sauce if I want some sweetness. Since Tabasco is made from red pepper and distilled vinegar, the dishes become tangier than usual.

If a recipe requires 2 tablespoons of spicy paste, I add 1 tablespoon of Tabasco.

Curry Paste 

Curry paste is a wonderful chili paste alternative, especially when preparing Asian cuisines, including Indian, Thai, etc. One of the best options is the red curry paste because of its spiciness and delicious flavors of garlic and ginger. It also shares the same consistency as chili paste.

When making dishes extra spicy, curry paste is a go-to substitute for spicy paste. This paste is ideal for seafood dishes, stews, soups, noodles, and more. However, if the extreme spiciness or heat is not tolerable for you, be sure to limit the quantity you will add to a dish.

Paprika Powder

paprika powder

Paprika powder resembles the taste of chili paste. This is the perfect substitute if you do not want your dish to be too spicy. This powder is available in different varieties, like sweet and spicy.

Sweet paprika is known for its slight sweetness and spiciness. However, if you want increased heat, opt for the spicy variation.

I sprinkle the paprika powder on top of dishes, like stews, noodles, and soups. I freely adjust the spiciness depending on my preference.

Harissa Paste 

Harissa paste is commonly used in North African cooking. This tangy and spicy paste differs from many sweet and spicy Asian chili pastes. It is made from different ingredients, such as red chilis, coriander, cumin, cilantro, lemon juice, oil, and garlic.

It gives every dish an extremely smoky and spicy flavor. So, taste it first and find the right amount you will add to the recipe. You can use it in particular dishes, such as salads and dips, or as a dip or dressing.


Chili paste is a common household condiment. However, if you run low or do not have any on hand, you can try the substitute above and enjoy spicy dishes. Whether you choose crushed pepper flakes, tabasco sauce, spicy tomato sauce, or curry paste, ensure the suitable heat level and flavor for you. 

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Bill Kalkumnerd
Bill Kalkumnerd

I am Bill, I am the Owner of HappySpicyHour, a website devoted to spicy food lovers like me. Ramen and Som-tum (Papaya Salad) are two of my favorite spicy dishes. Spicy food is more than a passion for me - it's my life! For more information about this site Click

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