What can I use instead of Sriracha sauce?

Sriracha sauce is a type of hot sauce that many people use as either a garnish or to add to their cooking to spice up their dishes. In this brief article, we will answer the question “ what can I use instead of sriracha sauce” and we cover what sriracha is and what are its uses, and most importantly, its substitutes. 

What can I use instead of Sriracha sauce?

If you have ever found yourself trying to squeeze out the very last drops of liquid from your empty bottle of sriracha, or find that you cannot find sriracha in your local store or even online, this guide will tell you exactly what alternatives to consider to satisfy your thirst for flavourful spice. 

There are many substitutes to sriracha sauce with varying amounts of spice and different flavour profiles. These include: 

  • Sambal oelek
  • Gochujang
  • Chili garlic sauce
  • Tabasco and other hot sauces
  • Peri peri sauce and other cooking sauces

Chili (Capsicum annuum L) is one of the main food commodities in Indonesia which has a high economic value in meeting domestic and export needs. The need for chili for big cities with a population of one million or more is around 800,000 tons / year or 66,000 tons / month. In certain seasons such as religious holidays, chili needs usually increase by about 10-20% of normal needs (8).

What is sriracha sauce and its uses?

Sriracha sauce is a type of hot sauce made from red chili peppers, distilled vinegar, salt, garlic and sugar. It originated from Southeast Asia, specifically Thailand, but is currently used by people all over the world. 

The “heat” in peppers is caused by chemical structures called capsaicinoids. The main capsaicinoids in chili peppers that cause heat are capsaicin and dihydrocapsaicin (5).

Sriracha’s recipe is simple: it uses high-quality jalapeño chile peppers, picked when spiciest, ground with garlic, sugar, salt, vinegar, and a few other ingredients.  The trick is to use fresh chiles; if the chiles are not ground soon after harvest, then they become unusable. This delicate aspect of sriracha makes it difficult for large hot sauce manufacturers to use freshly picked peppers. Most hot sauce brands are made with dried chile peppers (1).

Sriracha has a unique flavour profile; with a kick of heat, and a hint of tanginess that is a perfect balance for most palates. It is notably thicker than most other hot sauces and hence can also be used as a condiment. Each brand has its own unique twist to this type of hot sauce and can easily be found in grocery stores everywhere.

 It can be used in a variety of ways in many cuisines, especially asian. In asian cuisine, Sriracha sauce is used in pho, stir-fry, curry, soups and stews, as well as marinades for meat and grilled vegetables. Sriracha is also used as a topping for to add a delicious and spicy kick of flavour to dishes like eggs, or even on sushi and pizza. It can even be used as an effective replacement for hot sauce.  

What are the substitutes for sriracha sauce?

Below we will explore the specifics of the alternatives to sriracha sauce in a bit more detail. 

1.  Sambal Oelek

Sambal Oelek is the closest alternative to sriracha suce. This is a blend of chilli paste, vinegar, and salt, almost like an Asian version of basic hot sauce. This can be used to spruce up your meals and is commonly utilised in Asian cuisine. The main distinction between sambal and sriracha sauce is that sambal oelek lacks that garlic flavour that is present in sriracha. 

Another difference is that sambal uses less vinegar and no sugar, allowing the chilies to have more of a kick. Ingredients like shrimp paste and garlic powder can be used to customise the flavour. It is also relatively easy to make at home so is definitely an option to consider. 

This spicy paste of Malaysian and Indonesian origin has the pure taste of chiles with little else and is used more in cooking than as a condiment. Once opened, the jar should be kept in the refrigerator and the “best by” date should be observed (2).

2. Tabasco and other hot sauces.

Although varying in amounts of vinegar and spice, tabasco and other hot sauces available in grocery stores are a fairly effective option as they too come with a kick of spice that can help brighten up your dish. Most are used as condiments or garnish but can also be used in cooking, although not popularly used this way.

Lousiana hot sauce, an umbrella term for most sauces, can be replaced for sriracha for most spice lovers, but it is important to note that each hot sauce has its unique flavour profile. This aromatic sauce, made from ‘Tabasco’ peppers (Capsicum frutescens L.) is widely used to enhance the flavor of many fresh and cooked foods, is made by the Mcllhenny Company of Avery Island, Louisiana. It was traditionally made from red ripe ‘Tabasco’ pepper mash plus salt, packed into 50 gal. Kentucky white oak barrels, covered with more salt, aged for 3 years, filtered, homogenized and diluted 1:3 with vinegar (3).

3.  Peri Peri sauce

Particularly for the replacement of sriracha sauce in cooking, this Portuguese alternative is eays to find in stores and can be used in the place of sriracha sauce in marinades, stir fries, soups, etc. Although less in vinegar content, peri peri sauce can definitely satisfy your spice cravings when sriracha is missing from your pantry. 

In addition to garlic, vinegar and chili paste, peri peri sauce also combines the dynamic flabours of lemon, pepper, onion and bay leaf. It is slightly thicker than most other hot sauces. There are a variety of hot sauces available, and you can choose them depending on how spicy or tangy they are.

Peri-peri, which literally means small chili, is a hot sauce made from a blend of chillies, herbs and spices first discovered in Portuguese East Africa (4).

4. Chili garlic sauce

A very popular condiment in Asian cooking, specifically Thai and Japanese, chili garlic sauce – as you can probably tell from the name – is made primarily from chili and garlic. It is a lot brighter in comparison to sriracha and has less tangy notes. This versatile sauce can be used in various ways; from stir fries to toppings in salads and in marinades. Garlic is an ingredient of many traditional hot sauces around the world (5).

In a study, different amounts of garlic were added to chili sauce. The results showed that the increment in the quantity of garlic has influenced the pH, viscosity, color and antimicrobial effects of chili sauce. Addition of 10% garlic was found to be the most effective in inhibiting the growth of yeast and mold and bacteria of B. cereus. Sensory evaluation indicated that the addition of up to 10% garlic in chili sauce did not affect the overall acceptability of chili sauce except for color (6).

5. Gochujang

Widely used in Korean cuisine, Gochujang is a fermented chilli paste made from glutinous rice, fermented soybean powder, barley malt powder, chilli powder, and salt. This is served in a thick paste. Gochujang has a unique balance of sweet and spice and is hence used by a lot of people to add to their meals for a kick of flavour. It is mostly used in rice and noodle dishes. 

Gochujang sauce is usually composed of red pepper paste, wheat grain, glutinous rice, red pepper powder, salt, starch syrup, and garlic. Gochujang sauce is a popular South Korean seasoning. In Korea, gochujang sauce is the most widely used additive for unique taste development in traditional food such as bibimbap. The gochujang sauce has characteristic flavors, taste, color, nutrients, and functional properties, which are generated by the microflora produced from microorganisms such as mold, Bacillus spp., lactic acid bacteria, and yeast during fermentation (7).

Other FAQs about Sauces that you may be interested in.

How to open a pasta sauce jar?

How long does Pasta Sauce last in the fridge?

How to store hot sauce?


This guide has thus outlined the various ways in which sriracha sauce can be substituted while keeping in mind their differences and variance in spice and tang. These alternatives can be replaced for all the uses of sriracha.


  1. Hernandez-Lopez, Ernesto. Sriracha Shutdown: Hot Sauce Lessons on Local Privilege and Race. Seton Hall L. Rev, 2015, 189.
  2. Weil, Andrew, and Sam Fox. True Food: Seasonal, Sustainable, Simple, Pure. Little, Brown Spark, 2012.
  3. Greenleaf, Walter H. The tabasco story. HortSci, 1975, 10, 98-98.
  4. Janks, Hilary. Critical literacy: Beyond reason. Austra Edu Res, 2002, 29, 7-26.
  5. Marshall, Walden. If You Can’t Stand the Heat, Get Out of the Kitchen. Hilltown Cooperative Charter School. 
  6. Mahmood, A., T. C. Tuan Zainazor, and N. R. Anuar. Effect of garlic (Allium sativum L.) on the physicochemical, microbiological and sensory properties of chili sauce. Food Res, 2019, 3, 416-421.
  7. Park, Jae-Nam, et al. Combined effects of heating and γ-irradiation on the microbiological and sensory characteristics of Gochujang (Korean fermented red pepper paste) sauce during storage. Food Sci Biotechnol, 2010, 19, 1219-1225.
  8. Wardhono, Adhitya, et al. Institutional arrangement for food price stabilization and market distribution system: study of chili commodity in Banyuwangi regency. E3S Web of Conf, 2020, 142.