This homemade Thai sweet chilli sauce recipe makes the most balanced sweet Thai chilli sauce you’ll taste. While most sweet chilli sauces are sickly sweet and are stingy on the chillies – and any chilli heat – this sauce is chilli-rich, not overly hot, and has a great balance between sweet and acidic. You won’t buy a sweet chilli sauce from the supermarket again.
Once you make this easy Thai sweet chilli sauce recipe the first time, you’ll remember why that bottle of sweet chilli sauce you bought a couple of years ago is still in the fridge. To be fair, it’s probably still edible because of all the preservatives and thickeners that are added to commercial sauces.
But if it tastes like most Thai sweet chilli sauce brands it’s probably syrupy sweet and too tangy. This homemade Thai sweet chilli sauce is so perfectly balanced and super easy to make that you might never buy a supermarket sweet chilli sauce again.
This homemade chilli sauce will also keep very well for at least a month or two in your fridge, as long as you always dipping clean utensils into the jar, so as not to contaminate the sauce. Most commercial sauces use potassium sorbate to prevent mould occurring.
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Homemade Thai Sweet Chilli Sauce Recipe for the Best Sweet Chilli Sauce You’ll Taste
This homemade Thai sweet chilli sauce started out in life in Thailand as a condiment for Thai grilled chicken or gai yang, which is where the sauce gets its full name – nam jim gai yang – dipping sauce for grilled chicken. It became so popular, it began to get used for all kinds of grilled meats and fried foods, such as spring rolls and corn fritters.
Once it began to be exported, its popularity spread right across Asia and around the world. Back in the 1980s and 1990s in Australia, Thai sweet chilli sauce became even more popular than our beloved tomato sauce – or ketchup to our American readers.
Every Australian café, bar and gastro-pub menu featured potato wedges – twice-fried or baked skin-on – with dishes of Thai sweet chilli sauce and sour cream on the side. If you haven’t tried wedges with sour cream and sweet chilli sauce, don’t knock it until you do. You’ll find our spicy potato wedges recipe here.
Tips for Making this Authentic Thai Sweet Chilli Sauce Recipe
Just a few tips for making this Thai sweet chilli sauce recipe and they’re mainly about the chillies. The correct Thai chillies for sweet chilli sauce are called jinda chillies. Thai people call them prik sod, but the Thai (พริกจินดา) literally translates to chilli ‘chinda’ (or jinda).
These are often confusingly called Thai long chillies or simply Thai chillies. For some inexplicable reason people outside Thailand also call bird’s eye chillies – those deceptively hot tiny chillies (pictured above) – just Thai chillies, which could be a near-fatal mistake!
These chillies are sold as green or red, but clearly you want red chillies. They can range from 10-15 cm in length and are reasonably hot, but not unbearably so, particularly when made into this sauce where the sugar tames the heat. But if you’re chilli lovers like us, you might want to add some bird’s eye chillies as well to give the sauce a bit more kick.
These chillies don’t have a huge number of seeds but we remove as many as possible. They’re just not that much fun to eat and we think the sauce looks better without the seeds. So, what if you can’t find Thai jinda chillies?
Let’s talk about alternative chillies for those of you who can’t get hold of the Thai chillies. Australians will have no problem finding them and our British readers should be able to get hold of them also.
For our American readers, the most recommended chillies are Fresno and Anaheim, although these are much milder chillies than jinda. If that’s what you’re using I recommend a mix of chillies. If bird’s eye chillies are too hot for you, throw in some serrano or cayenne to spice things up.
One issue that comes up with blending the chillies in the food processor is the consistency of this Thai sweet chilli sauce. I have a tendency to leave the sauce a little chunky, with larger pieces of chilli than most people prefer. I have been known to take the sauce from the saucepan (before it’s finished) and give it a good blitz. It should look like a slightly lumpy Mexican salsa.
During my research and recipe-testing, I came across some very odd Thai sweet chilli sauce recipes out there. One ingredient that is generally used is white vinegar as the souring agent. While most white vinegars are fine to use, some tend to be very sharp and spoil the balance of the finished sauce.
Some sweet chilli sauce recipes don’t use tapioca starch as a thickener, relying on the sugar to dissolve and the water to evaporate to make the sauce reduce, however, they tend to use far more white sugar (or other forms of sugar) that I do, which will result in an overly sweet sauce.
Tapioca starch does a great job of thickening up the sauce without making it cloudy, despite it being a white or creamy coloured slurry. This does not affect the end result as long as you’ve started with good, bright red chillies.
Homemade Thai Sweet Chilli Sauce Recipe
- 100 g red jinda chilies deseeded & finely chopped
- 3 deseeded bird's eye chilies optional
- 40 g garlic peeled & crushed
- 200 g sugar fine white
- 80 g water
- 120 g rice vinegar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp tapioca starch mixed with 3 tbsp water
- In a food processor, blend the chilies, garlic and water until it looks like a salsa. You don't want any large chunks of chilli pieces remaining.
- Place this in a tall-sided saucepan over medium heat. Add the sugar, vinegar and salt and stir for 5 minutes when all the sugar should have been dissolved.
- While stirring, add the tapioca starch mix slowly to the pan. When this is all incorporated, stir for a couple of minutes more. The mix should already be thickening – note that it will keep thickening as it cools. Test for seasoning at this stage and add more salt as necessary. Do not add fish sauce.
- When it's ready, place on a cool surface for a couple of minutes and then transfer the sauce into a jar to cool completely. When it has cooled you can put a lid on and store in the fridge.
Please let us know if you make this Thai sweet chilli sauce recipe as we’d love to know how it turns out for you.