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28 July 2018

What is a good chili paste substitute? If you’ve run out and need to swap in something else for your recipe, here is a list of ingredients that might help you.

It can happen to the best of us. You’re in the middle of making a recipe and you discover, oh no! You’ve run out of chili paste!

What can you do?

Not to worry. Below are a few substitutes that you can use for chili paste. The results might not be identical, but can still help in a pinch.

The Chili Paste Issue

One issue with finding a single replacement for chili paste is that there are many different types of chili paste. I have a number of them on the site here, and each one is different.

A good chili paste will add heat and flavor that you won’t get from anywhere else. You can find many different kinds in the grocery store, but when you run out, it is such a bummer.

There are generic chili pastes. There are Thai chili pastes with unique flavors that are completely different from a Mexican chili paste.

I’m going to assume that your recipe calls for a more general paste. Here are some alternatives to help you.

Substitutes for Chili Paste

Hot Sauce

Grab yourself a bottle of hot sauce instead. Hot sauce has most of the same ingredients as chili paste. The flavors will be pretty close.

I would suggest using more of a Louisiana style hot sauce, which is made mainly from chili peppers, salt and vinegar. Go for a thicker sauce rather than a thinner one like Tabasco.

Tomato Paste

Tomato paste can make a suitable replacement. It is nice and thick and filled with flavor. You won’t get the same flavor, but the consistency will be there.

I suggest combining the tomato paste with either a few dashes of hot sauce, or with a teaspoon or two of chili powder or crushed red pepper flakes. Mix them together and you have a spice filled chili paste.

Or, process the tomato paste with chopped hot peppers in a food processor.

You might even enjoy the tomato addition.

Make Your Own Chili Paste

It’s not as hard as think. Homemade chili paste can be made from either dried or fresh peppers. 

With fresh peppers, simply grind or process them in a food processor. You can include other ingredients as well, such as garlic, onion, and seasonings. Any chili peppers will work, though cayenne peppers are very popular.

Any green or red chilies are good.

Process them with a bit of olive oil until a paste forms. You can either cook the peppers first, then process them with oil, or you can process fresh peppers with oil, then use the fresh paste with your recipes.

The choice is yours.

See How to Make Chili Paste from Fresh Peppers.

You can also make chili paste from dried peppers by removing the stems and seeds. Then, rehydrate them for about 20 minutes in hot water. They will become very soft.

Then, process them in a food processor until a paste forms. 

Further References

Check out some of my chili paste recipes to help you out.

Got any questions? Contact me anytime. I’m glad to help! — Mike H.