Sweet chili sauce—also known as Thai sweet chili sauce—is a sweet and spicy condiment made with red chili peppers, sugar, vinegar, and garlic. This thick, bright red-orange sauce is widely used in Filipino cuisine as a condiment or a cooking ingredient.
What does sweet chili sauce taste like?
Sweet chili sauces are usually sweet and slightly tangy. The degree of spiciness may vary from mild to medium, depending on the types of chilies used. The sweetness typically comes from sugar, while the tanginess comes from vinegar. Depending on the ingredients used, some varieties may have a hint of fruity flavor.
Is sweet chili sauce healthy?
Chili peppers contain capsaicin, known to have pain-relieving properties and may aid in weight loss. Garlic is recognized for its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. Vinegar helps in digestion and regulates blood sugar levels.
However, commercially sold varieties are often high in sugar and sodium, leading to health issues like obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Check the nutrition information and ingredients of your specific brand.
A homemade version can be made with healthier ingredients, such as honey or maple syrup, and can be modified to meet specific dietary needs.
Sweet chili sauce can be part of a healthy diet if consumed in moderation. While some ingredients have potential health benefits, they may not be suitable for everyone. Consulting with a medical professional is always advisable.
Where to buy and how to store
Sweet chili sauce is available in Asian grocery stores and some well-stocked supermarkets. Some popular brands are Mae Ploy, Thai Kitchen, and Maggi. You can also find it at Trader Joe's or online retailers like Amazon or Walmart.
Store an unopened bottle in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Once opened, it will last several months in the refrigerator. Check the expiration date and specific storage instructions on the label, as they may vary depending on the brand.
The shelf life of homemade sweet chili sauce varies depending on the recipe and how it is stored. It can typically last for several weeks to a few months in the refrigerator. Allow the sauce to cool completely at room temperature before storing.
Sugar and vinegar extend the shelf life by inhibiting the growth of bacteria and other microorganisms that can cause spoilage. However, homemade sauces may not last as long as commercial ones due to the lack of preservatives. Use your best judgment in assessing the freshness and safety of homemade food products.
How to make sweet chili sauce
Making a homemade version using fresh red chili peppers is easy, healthier, and far more delicious than store-bought alternatives.
Step 1: Combine 1 cup of red chilies, 6 garlic cloves, ¾ cup sugar, ½ cup vinegar, ¾ cup water, and ½ teaspoon kosher salt (use less for table salt) in a saucepan. Stir to combine.
Step 2: Bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 5 minutes, occasionally stirring. In a separate bowl, dissolve the cornstarch in 2 tablespoons of water, then add it in.
Let the sauce thicken slightly for about a minute, then turn off the heat. Taste and adjust as needed.
Allow it to cool to room temperature. The sauce will thicken as it cools. Refrigerate for up to a month or freeze it for a longer shelf life.
Filipino recipes with Sweet Chili Sauce
Though originally from Thailand, sweet chili sauce has been incorporated into Filipino cuisine over time. Here are some examples:
- Fried foods: The sauce complements the savory and crispy texture of fried foods like Crispy Fried Whole Fish, Fried Calamari (Calamares), Lumpiang Shanghai (Fried Spring Rolls), Tortang Talong (Eggplant Omelet), and street foods like fish or squid balls.
- Grilled or roasted foods: Used as a glaze or dipping sauce for Lechon Manok (Roasted Chicken), Inihaw na Manok (Grilled Chicken), and other grilled/roasted foods like shrimp or fish.
- Silog breakfasts: Pairs well with some silog-type breakfasts consisting of Sinangag (Garlic Fried Rice), itlog (egg), and proteins such as fried milkfish/bangus (Bangsilog) and fried chicken (Chicksilog).
- Sweet and Sour: A sweet and tangy stir-fry with protein and vegetables.
Other ingredient guides you may like
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Sweet Chili Sauce
- Blender or food processor (optional)
- 1 cup red chili peppers minced (see note)
- 6 garlic cloves minced
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup vinegar
- ¾ cup water
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt (use less for table salt) adjust to taste
- Combine red chilies, garlic, sugar, vinegar, and water in a saucepan. Stir to combine.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Let it simmer for 5 minutes, occasionally stirring.
- In a separate bowl, dissolve the cornstarch in 2 tablespoons of water, and add it in.
- Let the sauce thicken slightly for about a minute, then turn off the heat. Taste the sauce and adjust as needed.