Thai Sweet Chili Sauce

Thai sweet chili sauce
The Spruce
  • Total: 20 mins
  • Prep: 5 mins
  • Cook: 15 mins
  • Serving: 1/2 cup
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
566 Calories
0g Fat
135g Carbs
3g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 1/2
Amount per serving
Calories 566
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 4633mg 201%
Total Carbohydrate 135g 49%
Dietary Fiber 1g 2%
Protein 3g
Calcium 55mg 4%
*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.)

Thai sweet chili sauce is known as nam chim kai in Thailand. It is sold in bottles and available in Asian food markets, but it's also easy to make at home. It only takes a few minutes to put together, and you can find everything you need in your pantry or at your local supermarket. There are no added preservatives or fatty ingredients in this homemade version, so it is also healthier. And since you control the ingredients, you also control the amount of sweetness and heat.

Thai sweet chili sauce makes a superb condiment for many Thai dishes and is excellent with chicken and fish. It is also wonderful as a marinade for grilling or as a dip for finger foods. Try it with grilled fish, classic Thai fish cakes, Thai crab cakes, chicken wings, vegetarian egg rolls, and Thai spring rolls.

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Click Play to See This Thai Sweet Chili Sauce Recipe Come Together

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar or white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons white granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sherry or cooking sherry
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 to 1 tablespoon dried crushed chile pepper or red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons cool water

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for making Thai sweet chili sauce
    The Spruce 
  2. Place all ingredients—except the cornstarch and cool water—in a saucepan or pot.

    Thai sweet chili sauce ingredients cooking
     The Spruce
  3. Bring to a rolling boil.

    Boiling Thai sweet chili sauce
     The Spruce
  4. Reduce heat to medium and let boil for 10 minutes, or until reduced by half. (Note that the vinegar will be quite pungent as it burns off; rice vinegar is less strong than regular white vinegar.)

    Simmering Thai sweet chili sauce
     The Spruce
  5. While the mixture is boiling, dissolve the cornstarch into the cool water in a small bowl.

  6. Reduce the heat to low and add the cornstarch-water mixture. Stir to incorporate and continue stirring occasionally until the sauce thickens, about 2 minutes. Then remove from heat and taste-test.

  7. Pour sauce into a small bowl or jar and serve as a condiment, dip, or marinade.

    Thai sweet chili sauce in a jar and dish
     The Spruce
  8. Enjoy.

Tip

When you are taste-testing, you should taste sweet first, followed by sour, then spicy and salty notes. If the sauce isn't sweet enough, add a little more sugar. If it's not spicy enough, add more crushed chile.

Ingredient Substitutions

If you don't have every ingredient on hand, there are a few substitutions you can make.

  • Try using white vinegar or apple cider vinegar instead of rice vinegar.
  • Port, Madeira, and Marsala wines, as well as apple, pineapple, and orange juices all make good sherry substitutions.
  • You can also use arrowroot instead of cornstarch.

How to Store Thai Chili Sauce

Homemade Thai chili sauce should be kept in the refrigerator in an airtight container where it will last up to a month. It can also be frozen for two to three months; it will congeal and needs to be gently warmed before using.