What's the best sriracha substitute? We taste tested 10+ hot sauces and spices to find the best sriracha alternatives—and ranked them from best to worst!
Sriracha is a popular condiment, so it's sold at most grocery stores. But there have been supply shortages. So, if you don't have any sriracha, keep reading to find the best alternatives!
What is Sriracha?
Sriracha is a hot sauce originating from Thailand. It is made with chili, sugar, salt, garlic and vinegar. Therefore, this hot sauce tastes spicy, sour, sweet, and salty.
In North America, Sriracha was popularized by Huy Fong Foods, a California foods producer. The company was founded by David Tran, a Chinese-Vietnamese immigrant who moved to America in the 1980's. Tran said he was disappointed with the hot sauces available in Los Angeles and realized other Southeast Asian expats had the same problem. So, he started making his own. Huy Fong now sells over 20 million bottles a year—which are packaged with their signature green lid and rooster logo.
However, Huy Fong Foods did not invent Sriracha sauce. According to NPR, Sriracha was originally invented in Thailand, in a seaside city called Si Racha. Saowanit Trikityanukul's grandparents made the sauce and called it Sriraja Panich. It's popularity sparked plenty of imitators.
"Sriracha" is now used as a generic name for a style of hot sauce. Many brands produce their own version of sriracha.
How to use it
Sriracha is a crowd-pleasing hot sauce that can be used in countless ways.
Sriracha can be as a condiment, drizzled over noodles, soup, eggs, burgers, sandwiches, or pizza to add heat. It's also delicious paired with crispy tofu, roasted vegetables, pad thai, and even seafood. Sriracha can also be used in various sauces, such as homemade sweet chili sauce or sriracha aioli.
How we ranked alternatives
To find the best sriracha alternatives, our team did side-by-side taste tests. They compared sriracha with 10+ other hot sauces and spices.
Flavor, spiciness, viscosity/texture, color, and convenience/availability were all considered in ranking the best substitutes.
10 Sriracha sauce substitutes
Here are the top 10 sriracha alternatives, ranked in order of the best to worst.
1. Sambal Oelek (best substitute!)
Sambal Oelek is an Indonesian chili paste made with fresh red chiles, vinegar, and a bit of salt. It is a chunkier sauce with visible chili seeds—whereas sriracha is smooth and looks like ketchup. Sambal oelek tastes tangier and brighter because it has more vinegar and no sugar, compared to sriracha.
We consider Sambal Oelek as the best substitute for sriracha. It pairs well with Asian dishes and many others—like sriracha. And, it has a similar look and taste. In fact, our team prefers the taste of Sambal Oelek compared to sriracha. Sambal Oelek is often sold next to sriracha in the grocery store, in a clear jar with a screw top lid.
2. Ketchup & Frank's Red Hot (unexpected runner up!)
This combination may sound odd, but hear us out! On its own, a Louisiana-style hot sauce like Frank's Red Hot, is too vinegary to be a great substitute for sriracha. However, mixing Frank's with ketchup gets it pretty close. Ketchup adds the sweetness and viscosity (thickness) that Frank's lacks. And, it balances out the intense heat. The combined mixture looks and tastes quite similar.
Recipe: Use a 3-to-1 ratio of ketchup to Frank's Red Hot, such as:
- 1 tablespoon ketchup + 1 teaspoon Frank's Red Hot
- 3 tablespoons ketchup + 1 tablespoon Frank's Red Hot
3. Mexican-style Hot Sauce (easy + accessible!)
Mexican-style hot sauces, like Valentina or Cholula, have similar color and spice levels. They are smooth like Sriracha, but have a ever-so-slightly runnier consistency. But, Mexican-style hot sauces taste a bit more like vinegar, whereas Sriracha is slightly sweeter.
During taste testing, our team instantly recognized these as Mexican hot sauces (and not sriracha dupes). But, they are undoubtedly an easy and accessible substitute. So, if you're out of sriracha, don't hesitate to use a Mexican-style hot sauce instead.
4. Peri Peri Sauce
Peri Peri Sauce is a spicy sauce traditionally made with peri peri peppers. There are many different recipes and spice levels. But for our review, we tasted the peri peri sauce made by the popular South African restaurant chain, Nando's.
Nando's 'Medium' peri peri sauce tastes tangier than sriracha, due to its higher vinegar content. It also contains lemon and onion puree, which contributes to its bright flavor. The sauce is tasty. But as a sriracha substitute, we'd recommend Cholula or Valentina over Peri Peri sauce.
Looking for a homemade Peri Peri sauce recipe? Check out our Easy Peri Peri Sauce. Our version uses easy-to-find grocery store ingredients. Delicious slathered over roasted veggies, in sandwiches, or drizzled over grain bowls.
5. Sweet Chili Sauce
Sweet Chili Sauce is a Thai condiment that's sweet, spicy, and tangy. It's often served with spring rolls. Compared to sriracha, Sweet Chili Sauce tends to be sweeter than it is spicy.
While it does have many similar ingredients to sriracha—like chili, garlic, salt, and vinegar—the proportions are different. Sweet Chili Sauce pairs well with Asian foods. But its sweetness makes it a bit less versatile than sriracha.
Looking for a Sweet Chili Sauce recipe? Make our homemade Sweet Chili Sauce. It uses basic pantry ingredients and takes less than 10 minutes to make!
Gochujang is a Korean red pepper paste. It gets its tang from fermented soybeans, rather than the vinegar in sriracha. Gochujang is spicy, sweet, and salty—so it has a lot of the same elements as sriracha. However, it is thicker and therefore not pour-able. If you are to use it as a substitute for sriracha, you may need to whisk it with a bit of warm water to thin it.
7. Louisiana-style Hot Sauce
Louisiana-style hot sauces, like Frank's Red Hot or Tabasco, are much thinner (runnier) than sriracha. They also tend to be quite vinegary and spicy, without any sweetness. These differences make it not the best substitute for sriracha.
8. Fresh chiles
In a pinch, you could use fresh chiles to add heat instead of sriracha. The taste won't be the same, since there's no sugar or vinegar.
Sriracha is made with red jalapeno peppers, but you could use green jalapenos or another type of chili. Just be prepared to adjust the amount of chili you use, because different peppers vary in their heat levels.
9. Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
Red pepper flakes will add heat but not any of the other flavors that sriracha has. As well, red pepper flakes are dried—whereas sriracha is made from fresh chiles.
Expert tip: When using crushed red pepper flakes, adding them earlier in the cooking process will help the heat disperse throughout the food. If you add them at the end, there will be intense bursts of heat when you eat a red pepper flake.
Cayenne is dried, powdered chili. A little goes a long way, because it's very spicy. Often, cayenne is spicier than red pepper flakes. Similar to red pepper flakes, cayenne will add heat but none of the other flavors that sriracha has.
What's your favorite sriracha substitute? Let us know in the comments below!
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