Thai Chili Sauce (Nam Prik Pao)

A bowl of Nam Prik Pao, Thai chili sauce.

Anutr Tosirikul/Getty Images


Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 8 mins
Total: 18 mins
Servings: 6 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
139 Calories
10g Fat
13g Carbs
2g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6
Amount per serving
Calories 139
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 10g 12%
Saturated Fat 1g 4%
Cholesterol 2mg 1%
Sodium 562mg 24%
Total Carbohydrate 13g 5%
Dietary Fiber 1g 5%
Total Sugars 9g
Protein 2g
Vitamin C 6mg 28%
Calcium 21mg 2%
Iron 1mg 3%
Potassium 160mg 3%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

There are numerous versions of homemade nam prik pao chili sauce in Thailand; each cook makes it his or her own way. And while most Asian food stores carry chili sauce, homemade is always best.

Nam prik pao chili sauce makes an excellent accompaniment for soups such as tom yum kung. It's an absolute must with noodle dishes and nearly anything you'd like to spice up.


  • 1/4 cup canola oil, or other neutral oil, more as needed

  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

  • 2 medium shallots, finely chopped

  • 3 tablespoons crushed red chili flakes

  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon shrimp paste

  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce

  • 2 to 3 tablespoons palm or brown sugar

  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon tamarind paste

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lime juice

  • 1 tablespoon water, or as needed

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Heat oil in a small frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the chopped garlic and shallots, frying until they turn a very light golden brown and are slightly crispy, 2 to 3 minutes.

  3. Remove garlic and shallots with a slotted spoon from the oil and set in a bowl to cool. Leave remaining oil in the pan.

  4. Using a mortar and pestle or food processor/mini-chopper, combine the prepared chili with the shrimp paste, fish sauce, sugar, tamarind paste, lime juice, and water. Add the fried garlic and shallots.

  5. Pound or process together to form a thick paste. Return this paste to your frying pan, and stir it into the oil over low heat, gently simmering until you get a fairly even consistency. Adjust the consistency by adding a little more water if you find it too thick, or add more oil if you prefer a "shinier" sauce.

  6. Adjust the taste, adding more fish sauce if you'd like it saltier or more sugar if you'd like it sweeter.

  7. Enjoy!


  • Nam prik pao will keep for several months stored in a covered jar in your refrigerator.
  • Use it as an addition to Thai soups or added as a flavor booster to Thai stir-fries and curry sauces.
  • While traditionally the shallots and garlic are finely chopped by hand, you also can use a food processor for this task. Just be sure not to over-process, or you will end up with a mushy mess. What you want are individual-looking pieces of shallot and garlic.
  • If using whole dried chilies, simply place them in a coffee grinder (or food processor) and blitz until you get a powdery consistency.

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