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Best Chili Oil Substitute (15 Options for Sauces and Cooking)

If you’re a fan of spicy food like me, you know that chili oil is a must-have in the kitchen. It’s the perfect liquid spicy condiment for spicy stir-fried chicken, dumplings with chili oil dipping sauce, and spicy beef noodle soup. 

However, there are times when you may run out of it or want to try something different. This is where chili oil substitutes come in handy, and I’ve compiled a list of the best options for you to get your hands on.

These substitutes include hot sauce, sriracha is another popular option, along with making your own chili paste. This involves blending together dried chili peppers, garlic, salt, and oil to create your own homemade versions.

With so many to choose from, I’ll help you make the best pick possible based on your own preferences. But before we do that, let’s look into what this spicy liquid is.

What is Chili Oil?

Chili oil is a condiment made by infusing oil with chili peppers and other spices. It’s commonly used in Asian cuisine and can be found in various forms, ranging from thick and chunky to thin and smooth. It can be used as a dipping sauce or as a cooking ingredient to add heat and flavor to dishes.

The concentration of chili oil can vary depending on the recipe and brand. Some chili oils are super concentrated and can pack a punch of heat, while others are milder and can be used in larger quantities. It’s important to read the label or recipe to determine the concentration of the chili oil before using it in your dish.

Flavor Profile

Chili oil has a unique flavor profile that’s both spicy and savory. The chili peppers used in the oil can come in mild to extremely hot spiciness, and other spices, such as garlic, ginger, and Sichuan peppercorns, can add to that. The oil itself can also have a nutty or smoky taste, depending on the type used.

Best Chili Oil Substitute

Homemade Chili Oil

Making homemade chili oil is a great way to add a personal touch to your cooking. Not only can you customize the level of heat and flavor to your liking, but you also have the satisfaction of knowing that you made it yourself. It’s a simple yet rewarding process that can elevate any dish.

Click here for the recipe.

Cayenne Pepper

1 teaspoon of chili oil = 1/4 teaspoon of chopped cayenne pepper

Cayenne pepper is a widely used spice in various cuisines globally, known for its pungent and spicy flavor. It’s frequently used as a substitute for chili oil and can be incorporated into dishes like soups, stews, and stir-fries to add a kick of heat and flavor without the excess oil. They’re also an excellent, healthier option that’s low in calories and rich in antioxidants.

This pepper packs a much spicier punch than chili oil, so you should start with a small amount and gradually increase it until you achieve the spice you want. You can also experiment by blending cayenne pepper with other spices like garlic powder or paprika to create a unique flavor profile that complements your dish.

Sichuan Sauce

1 teaspoon of chili oil = 1 teaspoon of Sichuan sauce

Sichuan sauce is another delicious condiment that contains a blend of spices, such as Sichuan peppercorns, garlic, and ginger, which gives it a distinctive flavor. Although it’s commonly used in Chinese cuisine, Sichuan sauce can be incorporated into many other dishes as well. Also, thanks to its unique flavor profile and low calorie and fat content, it can serve as an excellent alternative to traditional condiments. 

Unlike chili oil, which is prepared with oil, Sichuan sauce is typically made with vinegar or soy sauce, which are lower in calories. Furthermore, Sichuan sauce contains a blend of spices that can provide health benefits like reducing inflammation and improving digestion.


1 teaspoon of chili oil = 1 teaspoon of gochujang

Gochujang, a widely popular Korean condiment, is made from a blend of red chili pepper paste, fermented soybeans, and glutinous rice powder. It has a distinctive flavor that’s sweet and spicy, and it’s a staple ingredient in Korean cuisine. 

It can act as a delicious alternative to chili oil in marinades, soups, and dips, reducing oil use and creating a burst of flavor and heat. 

On top of its unique flavor, gochujang is a healthier alternative, offering a lower-calorie option that’s packed with vitamins and minerals. It’s also a rich source of nutrients like vitamin B6, iron, and potassium, which can promote overall health. 

It also contains an array of spices and antioxidants that can provide additional health benefits, such as reducing inflammation and improving digestion.

Soy Sauce / Spicy Soy Sauce

1 teaspoon of chili oil = 2 teaspoons of soy sauce or 1 teaspoon of spicy soy sauce

Soy sauce is a popular condiment that has made its way into many dishes across the globe. Made from fermented soybeans, wheat, water, and salt, it boasts a salty and savory taste that can come in light and dark versions. It’s often used as a substitute for chili oil in many recipes, providing a flavorful and low-calorie choice that’s high in protein.

It’s a staple ingredient in many Asian cuisines, including Chinese, Japanese, and Korean, where it’s used in stir-fries, marinades, dressings, and dipping sauces, among other dishes. 

For those who love heat, spicy soy sauce is another great alternative to regular soy sauce. It adds an extra kick of heat to your dishes, making it perfect for stir-fries, noodles, and even sushi. 

Black Bean Sauce

1 teaspoon of chili oil = 1 teaspoon of black bean sauce

Black bean sauce is a versatile and flavorful condiment made from fermented black beans, garlic, and spices, which give it a unique and savory flavor. It can substitute chili oil in dips, dressings, and marinades and if you’re also preparing steamed vegetable dishes, grilled meats, or sandwiches.

This delicious and nutritious sauce can add a rich, umami flavor with various benefits like protein, fiber, iron, and antioxidants. Incorporating it into your meals can also help regulate blood sugar levels, lower cholesterol, and improve gut health. 


1 teaspoon of chili oil = 1/4 to 3/4 teaspoon of sriracha

Sriracha, a popular hot sauce, has become a household name in many kitchens worldwide. It’s made from chili peppers, vinegar, garlic, sugar, and salt, resulting in a unique blend of sweet, sour, and spicy flavors. Sriracha is not only delicious but also a versatile sauce that’s perfect for adding heat to soups, stews, stir-fries, and marinades. It can even be used as a condiment for burgers, sandwiches, and tacos or as a dipping sauce for fries, chicken wings, and spring rolls. 

One of the best things about sriracha is that it’s easy to customize to your taste. You can adjust the amount of heat by adding more or less of the sauce or by mixing it with other ingredients such as honey, lime juice, or soy sauce. You can also experiment with different brands of sriracha, as each one has its own unique flavor profile.

Dried Pepper

1 teaspoon of chili oil = 1/2 teaspoon of chopped dried pepper

Dried peppers are equally versatile ingredients that come in many varieties, such as ancho, chipotle, and cayenne, each with its own unique flavor and heat level. They can also be used in many ways, such as rehydrating them to use in stews and soups, grinding them into powders for rubs and marinades, or using them whole in sauces and salsas. 

These peppers also have a long shelf life, as they can be stored for months without losing their flavor, ensuring that you always have them on hand when you need them.

Chili Flakes

1 teaspoon of chili oil = 1 teaspoon of chili flakes

Chili flakes are a fantastic spicy ingredient made by crushing dried chili peppers into small flakes, which are used in dishes such as pasta, pizza, and stir-fries. They also come in a range of flavors, from sweet to smoky, depending on the type of chili pepper used, and are also very easy to use. You can simply sprinkle them onto your food or mix them into your homemade sauces and marinades.

Chili flakes can even be used to create a wide range of dishes and sauces. For example, they can be used to add some heat to a simple tomato sauce for pasta or to create a spicy marinade for grilled chicken or fish. They can also be used to add some flavor to snacks such as popcorn or roasted nuts.  

Sweet Chili Sauce

1 teaspoon of chili oil = 1 teaspoon of sweet chili sauce

Sweet chili sauce is a popular condiment that originated in Thailand. It’s made from a combination of chili peppers, vinegar, sugar, and garlic and has a unique sweet and spicy flavor. It can be used in stir-fries, marinades, and dipping sauces. It’s also perfect for adding some sweetness and heat to your dishes that’ll help you create delicious and memorable meals.

It’s a nutritious condiment that’s rich in antioxidants, low in calories and fat, and can help boost metabolism and aid in weight loss. Also the garlic in sweet chili sauce can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels.    

Heat Chilies in Oil

1 teaspoon of chili oil = 1 teaspoon of heat chilies in oil

Heating chilies in oil is a popular technique in many cuisines worldwide. It involves infusing oil with dried or fresh chili peppers, creating a flavorful and spicy oil that can be used as a marinade for meats, a topping for pizzas, or a condiment for noodles and stir-fries.

This method also helps to preserve the chili peppers for longer periods of time, as the oil acts as a preservative, keeping the chili peppers fresh and flavorful for months. Heating chilies in oil can also be used to create unique flavors by experimenting with different types of chili peppers and oils.

Chili Garlic Oil

1 teaspoon of chili oil = 1 teaspoon of chili garlic oil

Chili garlic oil is a popular ingredient in Asian cuisine that’s exactly like chili oil, except it’s made by infusing oil with dried chili peppers and garlic. It has a spicy and aromatic taste that can add a unique touch to your meals, like roasted vegetables, grilled meats, and seafood. 

Chili garlic oil is also a healthy and flavorful condiment that’s easy to make at home, as it’s low in sodium and doesn’t contain added sugars or preservatives. It can even be customized to your taste by adjusting the amount of chili peppers and garlic used and stored in the refrigerator for several months, making it a convenient pantry ingredient.

Bird’s Eye Chili Oil

1 teaspoon of chili oil = 1 teaspoon of Bird’s Eye chili oil

Bird’s Eye chili oil is a beloved condiment that’s commonly used in Asian cuisine. It’s made by infusing oil with Bird’s Eye chili peppers with a fruity flavor and a fiery kick. It’s another great alternative that can be used as a marinade for meats, a dressing for salads, or a sauce for seafood to provide a unique flavor to your favorite meals. 

It can even be used as a dipping sauce for spring rolls, dumplings, and other appetizers, providing a delicious burst of flavor in every bite. The taste is highly customizable as all you need to do is remove or add the chilis as you please. 

Bird’s Eye chili oil is also very easy to make at home and can be stored in the refrigerator for up to several months. 

Sambal Oil / Sambal Oelek

1 teaspoon of chili oil = 1 teaspoon of sambal oil

Sambal oil, also known as sambal oelek, is another popular condiment used in Southeast Asian cooking for centuries. It’s made by grinding fresh chili peppers, vinegar, and salt into a paste, creating a flavorful and spicy oil that can be customized to your taste by adjusting the amount of chili peppers used.

Sambal oil can also help to boost your metabolism, as they contain capsaicin, a compound that can help to increase your body’s metabolic rate. It can even be used as a healthier alternative to other condiments, as it contains no added sugars or preservatives.  

Chiu Chow Chili Oil

1 teaspoon of chili oil = 1 teaspoon of Chiu chow chili oil

Chiu Chow chili oil is a delicious condiment that’s a spicy and fragrant oil made by infusing oil with dried chili peppers, garlic, and other seasonings. It’s commonly used as a dipping sauce for dim sum and noodles, but it can also be used to add flavor and heat to many other dishes.

One popular way to use Chiu Chow chili oil is to drizzle it over steamed dumplings or potstickers. The heat and flavor of the oil complement the savory filling of the dumplings, creating a delicious and satisfying appetizer. 

Another great way to use Chiu Chow chili oil is to mix it with soy sauce and rice vinegar to create a flavorful dressing for cold noodle salads. The oil adds a spicy kick to the dish, while the other ingredients balance out the heat with a tangy sweetness.

Salsa Macha

1 teaspoon of chili oil = 1 teaspoon of salsa macha

Salsa Macha is a versatile and delicious Mexican condiment that’s prepared with dried chilies, garlic, and oil. It has a smoky and rich flavor with a moderate level of heat, making it a perfectly rich and tasty addition to various dishes. Although it’s commonly used as a condiment for tacos, it can also be used as a marinade for meats, a salad dressing, or a topping for eggs.

A great way to enjoy Salsa Macha is by adding it to tacos or burritos. Its smoky flavor and moderate heat level complement the other ingredients in the dish, providing a depth of flavor that’s hard to resist. 

Another excellent way to use Salsa Macha is by mixing it with sour cream or Greek yogurt to create a dip for vegetables or chips. The creamy texture of the dip helps balance the salsa’s heat to make it a perfect snack or appetizer.

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