Thai Sweet Chili Sauce is a sweet, spicy accompaniment to Asian finger food and a riot in the mouth. This post is packed with tips and tricks to help you make this dipping sauce easily at home.
I love dips. The kind of transformation that happens when you dunk food in a dipping sauce is amazing... So simple but such a crowd pleaser. Asian food is all about the freshest of ingredients, the simplest ways of cooking delicious, healthy food. And it is super light, so you won’t feel like a stuffed potato after!
And definitely, no Asian feast is complete without the legendary Homemade Thai Sweet Chili Sauce. This sauce is a classic condiment in Asian cuisine, especially Thai and Vietnamese food. Its authentic name is Nam Chim Kai - Thai for dipping sauce. Cute, right?
Yes, you could do a supermarket run and buy a jar of this sauce, but I prefer fresh food without preservatives, especially because it is sooo easy to make at home. If you Google this recipe, you will find different versions. However, my version is simple and foolproof.
HOMEMADE VS. STORE-BOUGHT
Homemade is happiness they say... And here’s why!
- Tastes cleaner, better than store-bought. No sticky mouth or weird after-taste
- You know exactly what’s going into the sauce - 9 ingredients. No chemicals, stabilizers, etc.
- You can make it to your taste - adjust spice levels, lots of garlic, or with lesser garlic
MAKE IT IN A JIFFY
8 ingredients. 20 minutes. One flavourful sauce. You probably have all the ingredients already. Just throw them all together and chill while science… you know, does its thing, works its magic.
HERE’S A TIP: USE FRESH RED CHILLIES (IF POSSIBLE)
I like to use fresh red chillies. It enhances the flaming red colour and leaves that spicy tingle on the tongue. Thai red chillies (the smaller varieties) are what I recommend. They are super spicy though, so be careful.
If you’d like to reduce the heat, slit them open and remove the seeds because the seeds have the most heat in them. Mince the chillies or put them in the food processor. However, don’t make it a very fine paste. Keep it chunky for texture.
SUBSTITUTE FOR FRESH CHILLIES
If you can’t find fresh red chillies, just use the good old dried red chillies. Soak the dried chillies in warm water to rehydrate them and then grind them up. When your sauce is ready, you should see tiny pieces of chilli and minced garlic floating around. These little bits are the life of the sauce.
I use cornflour as a thickening agent in my sauce. The mixture may look watery at first, but after the cornflour slurry (cornflour mixed with water) is added, it becomes a thick consistency. However, you can also use potato starch or tapioca starch if that’s what you have on hand.
HOW LONG CAN IT BE STORED?
My Homemade Sweet Chili Sauce lasts about 4 weeks when refrigerated. I make a large batch and store it in the fridge so I can use it as and when required.
WHAT TO EAT IT WITH
This sauce is hot and sweet, making it a very versatile dipping sauce. You can serve it with finger foods or douse your crispy noodles in it. While it’s mainly used as a dipping sauce, I also use it in stir-fries to add that perfect sweet, salty, spicy flavour.
Some dishes that go well with Nam Chim Kai are:
I always have a jar of this sauce in the fridge. It is so handy, you will be making it again and again.
Watch Thai Sweet Chili Sauce Recipe Video
Thai Sweet Chili Sauce
- 1 ½ cups Sugar
- 1 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper or Kashmiri Red Chilli Powder
- 3 tablespoon Garlic finely minced
- 1 tablespoon Soy Sauce
- 1 ½ teaspoons Salt
- ½ cup Vinegar (Rice or Apple Cider)
- 1 cup Water
- 3 tablespoon Chilli Paste (See Note 1 & 2 - or Sambal Oelek or Red Chili flakes)
- 1 tablespoon Corn Flour or Cornstarch (See Note 3)
- 2 tablespoon Water
- Add sugar, cayenne, minced garlic, soy sauce, salt, vinegar, and water to a saucepan and let it simmer (about 3-4 minutes), stirring occasionally till the sugar dissolves completely and the mixture reduces slightly.
- Add the chilli paste and mix. Simmer again for 2-3 minutes.
- Mix together cornflour and water in a bowl till no lumps exist and stir in this cornflour slurry into the sauce. Mix continuously till the sauce comes to a boil. Then reduce the heat and simmer till for 3-4 minutes till the sauce is thick, translucent and shiny. Turn off the flame.
- Serve immediately or cool completely and then transfer to a clean jar. Refrigerate for up to 4 weeks.
- Chilli Paste: You can make chilli paste by grinding fresh Thai red chillies in a food processor to a coarse paste. If using dried red chillies, hydrate them in hot water for 10 minutes and then grind. Sambal Oelek or chilli flakes can be substituted.
- Reducing heat: Take out the seeds off the red chillies to reduce the heat in the sauce
- Cornflour: Can be substituted with potato or tapioca starch
- The sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 weeks