Best Substitutes for Spicy Sauce

The 12 Best Substitutes for Spicy Sauce

Imagine you went to the kitchen and found no spicy sauce. Well, this scenario is quite devastating for spicy food lovers like me.

A simple snack or dish is made lively, refreshing, and exciting by adding spicy sauce. I love street food, and dipping them in the spicy sauce makes every bite heavenly and satisfying. I also enjoy some dishes with spicy sauce, which makes me want to take another serving.

It can be saddening and depressing to realize you have run out of spicy sauce. I cannot imagine some of my foods without spicy food. I know other spicy food lovers there can relate.

Fortunately, I found some alternatives for the spicy sauce, such as chili garlic sauce, curry paste, gochujang, sriracha, harissa, chili flakes, sambal oelek, and more.

What are the Best Substitutes for Spicy Sauce?

Out of spicy sauce? Don’t worry; you can still add spice to your everyday meal with the following substitute for the spicy sauce:

Chili Flakes 

Red pepper flakes

Chili flakes are a simple substitute for spicy sauce. I quickly found it in the local markets or nearby groceries. I sprinkle these flakes on the food to achieve a spicy touch.

With chili flakes, I easily spice up any dishes and make them a bit spicier accordingly. If you cannot find this spicy sauce substitute in your local stores, you can create your own version at home.

Dry-roast some chilies in a pan on a very low flame and wait until they give out a distinct aroma. Let them cool. Next, grind the chilies. Ensure they are ground coarse flakes, not too fine.

Chili Powder

Chili powder is another excellent spicy sauce substitute. It provides a bit of heat when sprinkled over a meal. It also makes a meal tastier.

Paprika is not quite spicy and falls under the milder spice level. However, it is loaded with hotness and flavor. I prefer mixing it with ghost pepper powder. 

As with cayenne pepper, it contains enough heat levels. Plus, I can quickly find it everywhere.



Harissa is a popular chili paste with lots of character and flavor, making it an ideal substitute for spicy sauce. It is made of dried chili peppers, such as coriander, cumin, guajillo, ancho, caraway, and more. It also works well for many recipes.

This North American condiment with a fiery punch is perfect for spicy marinades, dressings, and dips. 

Sriracha Sauce 

Often, sriracha sauce is confused with, considering it in a category of its own. However, it is a hot sauce – sweeter than other hot sauces. It has a great flavor that brings a touch of heat to every dish.

If restaurants do not offer typical hot sauce options, I ask for sriracha sauce. This sauce is made with sugar, vinegar, garlic, and jalapenos. It is spicy and a little tangy and sweet. It has the same ingredients as chili sauce but is spicier.

I think this spicy sauce substitute is not as spicy as harissa but offers lots of punch. I often mix it with mayonnaise when making a dip or eating ramen.

Fresh Peppers 

Are you health conscious when it comes to food? Then, fresh peppers are the best option to add spice to your life, even without spicy sauce. 

When you create your own pepper sauce, you control each ingredient. I make fresh pepper sauce by chopping and pureeing my favorite peppers. Then, I add a little water or vinegar to smooth it out. 

Seasoned and pureed peppers are a refreshing dip. You can also add them to dishes.

Spicy Ketchup 

Spicy ketchup is a life-saver when eating fried chicken or cooking some Asian foods with a thick sauce. Whether homemade or store-bought, it is undoubtedly a fantastic substitute for spicy sauce.

Spicy ketchup offers a perfect mix of sweetness and spiciness. It works well with a variety of dishes, from fried to soups. It gives a dish an exciting texture and flavor.


I have tried several Korean dishes before, so I am familiar with Gochujang. This popular Korean condiment is made from garlic, fermented soybean powder, chili peppers, glutinous rice, and salt. It takes 3-6 months for this spicy, smooth deep red paste to age fully under the sun.

I often use gochujang as a dip for veggies and meat. It offers a rich tomato flavor that is sour, spicy, and sweet. It goes well with stews and stir-fries. 

Since gochujang has a savory intensity, I use it as a marinade for pork, chicken, or beef. Although it is a thick paste rather than a hot sauce, you can use water to thin it out.

Chili Garlic Sauce 

The aroma of garlic adds fun to chili, making every dish more exciting. Chili garlic sauce is made with chili peppers, garlic, vinegar, and salt.

The garlicky and spicy flavor goes well with different Asian foods. It is an amazing dipping sauce for shrimp or chicken. It has a mild taste and loose consistency, which are great for sauces, dips, and stir-fries.

Curry Paste

If you have already tried Indian cuisine, you have probably encountered curry paste. This paste is often used for making curries but is also ideal as a condiment.

Curry paste often consists of ginger, cumin, lemongrass, garlic, oil, chili powder, turmeric, and coriander. For its signature color and flavor, chilies are added to the paste. Its spiciness differs depending on what chilies are used.

If red chilies are used, it becomes fiery. Yellow chilies offer a slightly sweet and spicy flavor, while green chilies offer a mild and rich flavor.

Sambal Oelek 

Sambal Oelek

This chili paste is a mix of chili peppers, salt, and vinegar. It is much thicker than other hot sauces. This Indonesian hot sauce has a spicy and bright tart flavor, which is ideal for rice recipes. I also use it as a marinade for meats. Unlike other hot sauce options, sambal oelek contains whole pepper seeds. 

Ketchup and Cayenne 

Another spicy sauce substitute that offers sweetness is the ketchup and cayenne mix. Although the fantastic kick is still there, you can customize it according to your preference.

The combination of ketchup and cayenne makes a perfect spicy dip. Sometimes, I combine it with mayonnaise to make a shrimp cocktail sauce with a twist. I also use it in meatloaf to capture the sweetness and spiciness I like.

Black Bean Sauce 

Black bean sauce is a Chinese sauce made of chili, soybean oil, water, and salt. It has a deep, fermented, and earthy taste. It is a fundamental ingredient in Sichuan meals. 

This flavorful sauce has a fantastic kick, making it a great substitute for spicy sauce. 

Since it has a slightly fermented taste, it adds a lot of depth to different dishes.

I typically use black bean sauce in marinating and cooking. It goes well with meat, rice, and vegetables. My friends and family love stir-frying this sauce. 


Finding the best spicy sauce substitutes is easy. Do not panic once you run out of spicy sauce; you can choose from the alternatives above and enjoy the spiciness and heat you always crave. Those alternatives can enhance every dish’s flavor, aroma, and texture.

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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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