What’s A Good Sriracha Substitute?

It’s not often that you’ll need a Sriracha substitute because it’s hard to find. After all, it’s one of the most popular hot sauces on the planet and stocked by most grocers, big or small. But what if you need a change of pace from the Rooster Sauce? Or what if you’re simply out of it at home and don’t want to run to the store? What’s a good Sriracha substitute when all you have is your kitchen cupboard? Let’s break down your best bets.

Note: You’ll see “sriracha” capitalized and not-capitalized in this post. When we’re commenting specifically on Huy Fong’s famous chili sauce, we capitalize it as a brand name (and it’s what we consider when providing substitutes.) But sriracha is also a general sauce type (and there are multiple srirachas on the market.) When simply referring to “sriracha” in general, we lower-case it.

homemade sambal oelek
Our homemade sambal oelek, see the link to the recipe below

The best by flavor: Sambal oelek

Sambal oelek (a popular chili paste) is hands down your best bet if you’re looking for a Sriracha alternative in a major grocery store. It isn’t carried as widely, but this chili paste is growing in popularity. A variety of sambal oelek is made by Huy Fong Foods, the same producer as the most common sriracha sauce, so stores are likely to stock some in the international aisle.

Because sambal oelek is a chili paste, it’s thicker than Sriracha Sauce. It’s also simpler in terms of ingredients, but it packs a similar punch in the heat department. You won’t get the garlic undertones as you do with Sriracha and Sriracha’s mild sweetness is matched by a very mild vinegar tang in sambal oelek. You can quick-fix on both flavor issues with dashes of garlic powder and sugar, but for most recipes that won’t be necessary. The strong chili pepper flavor is still there and strong. If you need more of a sauce than a paste, simply blend the sambal oelek with a little water to get to the consistency you prefer.

You can also make homemade sambal oelek if you have the fresh chilies and some extra time on your hands.

The potential match: Another hot sauce or chili paste

There’s a big caveat here. Sriracha is a unique hot sauce – thick and big on hot pepper flavor (not just the heat) without a lot of spices between you and the chili. Many hot sauces and chili pastes take the opposite approach. For instance, Louisiana hot sauces (like Tabasco Original Red) use a large amount of vinegar for that lip-smacking tang. And harissa (another chili paste) utilizes a wide variety of exotic spices in its making.

So simply picking up another hot sauce or chili paste isn’t an easy substitute for Sriracha. They can be wildly different in terms of flavor, consistency, and overall heat. Consider your recipe and read the labels on the hot sauces or chili pastes you are considering. If the ingredients list is long and vinegar shows up early on the list, it’s likely not a good flavor match.

As mentioned, other companies beyond Huy Fong Foods make sriracha hot sauces, so keep an eye out for those on the shelves if you are looking for a replacement for Huy Fong’s version. They’ll be the closest in taste, consistency, and heat. Some may be sweeter, others more garlicky, but all follow a similar set of ingredient rules.

The spice rack option: Crushed red pepper or cayenne powder

If you are all out of Sriracha and you simply need spiciness, you can opt for the spice rack staples. Crushed red pepper and cayenne pepper powder obviously aren’t hot sauces; these are no doubt culinary emergency options and as simple as it gets. But when a recipe doesn’t really need hot sauce, just the heat, both work.

Take care, though. Both crushed red pepper and cayenne can be quite a bit hotter than Sriracha. It’s also very easy to over-spice when dealing with spices, particularly powders (like cayenne) that can really permeate a dish. Start with a pinch and add more to taste.

DIY solution #1: Make homemade sriracha

If you’re looking for a little culinary adventure, cooking up a homemade sriracha sauce is easier than you may think. Sure, it may take more time than running to your local grocer (and you’ll need fresh red chilies on hand, like red jalapeños), but the experience is well worth it for those that love to cook with spicy foods. See our homemade Sriracha recipe to get the process.

DIY Solution #2: Make homemade sriracha powder

Now sriracha powder is a fun twist as an alternative. You would need to start with Sriracha Sauce in the first place, so this isn’t a substitute when you have none in-hand. But if you do, you can simple dry out the sauce in the oven (with low heat.) The result is a tasty seasoning blend with a peppery flavor and garlicky undertones, similar to the liquid form. See our recipe for exact measurements and steps.

Must-read related posts

  • Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce Review: We dive into the overall flavor, heat balance, usability, and collectibility of the super-popular Rooster Sauce.
  • Green Sriracha Recipe: Srirachas don’t always need to be red. In fact, using green chilies adds a unique bright bite that pairs differently with those garlicky undertones.
  • Our Hot Sauce Rankings: Want to see all of the hot sauces we’ve reviewed and how they compare? You’ll want to bookmark this if you’re a hot sauce fan.
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UPDATE NOTICE: This post was updated on May 19, 2024 to include new content.
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Russ

I am surprised you missed this one, either regular or extra hot… https://crystalhotsauce.com/shop/

Dolphine

I think you answered my question! I was looking to tone down the sweetness of sriracha, but not the heat. I even ordered the yellow from Amazon, but it was sweeter. I’m going to give the sambal oelek a try. I’m more of a vinegar person anyway. LOVE SPICY. DOLPHINE