How to Make Thai Sweet Chilli Sauce

thai sweet chilli sauce
If someone asked me what I would choose as the one single dish to have as my last meal on earth, I would, of course, have a hard time coming up with an answer. However, I am surethe incomparably magnificent combo of hot-off-the-steamer Thai sticky rice, Thai-style grilled chicken, and this beloved Thai sweet chilli sauce would be hovering through my mind as one of the top five contenders. Thai sweet chilli sauce has been a quintessential part of my life. A life bereft of it is simply unimaginable. In fact — and please don’t tell anyone — this post was inspired by a movie which I recently saw wherein the protagonist’s existence revolved around hummus to the point that he even used it as toothpaste. This Thai sweet chilli sauce is to me like what hummus is to that guy in the movie.

The heat is mostly in the veins and seeds of chilli peppers. Customize your sweet chilli sauce according to your heat tolerance.

Short of smearing it on my face in lieu of facial cream (but that’s only because chilli sauce lacks SPF to protect you from UVA/UVB), I use this dipping sauce in, and with, everything, even things I shouldn’t use it with: fresh spring rolls, fried spring rolls, crispy wantons, crab rangoon, fried chicken, grilled chicken, steamed chicken, fried calamari, lumpia, etc. I mix this sweet chilli sauce with some aïoli and turn that into a dip for Belgian fries — a practice that probably makes the whole country of Belgium weep bitterly. I brush this sauce on grilled chicken wings and grilled corn cobs. I doctor it up with other ingredients and turn it into various dressings for different things. The list goes on ad infinitum. If you like Asian cuisine, I promise that having a vat of this highly versatile sauce in your refrigerator will make your life much more pleasant. (Most Thai people have a jar of this in their refrigerator. I know a few who don’t. They’re weird, though.) Be sure to double, triple, quadruple the recipe; the sauce keeps for a month, refrigerated.
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How to Make Thai Sweet Chilli Sauce
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Sauce, Condiment
Serves: about 1 cup
  • 3 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 red Jalapeño or Serrano peppers, deseeded (See note #1 below.)
  • ¼ cup white distilled vinegar
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¾ cup water
  • ½ tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch or potato starch (See note #2 below.)
  • 2 tablespoons water
  1. In the blender, purée together all the ingredients, except for the last two.
  2. Transfer the mixture to a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Lower the heat to medium and simmer until the mixture thickens up a bit and the garlic-pepper bits begin to soften, about 3 minutes.
  3. Combine the cornstarch and water to make a slurry. Whisk in the cornstarch mixture and continue to simmer one more minute. The cornstarch will help the sauce to thicken slightly thereby causing nice suspension of the garlic-pepper bits; otherwise, you get a thin sauce with all the little pieces floating on the surface.
  4. Let cool completely before storing in a glass jar and refrigerate.
1. I keep the chili seeds in, but your mileage may vary, so adjust the heat accordingly. More seeds = more heat. Keep in mind, however, that the heat is the strongest the day you make the sauce and starts to dissipate gradually. This sauce keeps for a long time, and after a couple of weeks, you can’t even taste the pepper. 2. If you want to make a large batch of this sauce (more than half a gallon) — and you certainly should since this sauce lasts a long time — the best thickener to use is pre-gelatinized or “pre-gel” starch which is both acid- and heat-stable (corn or potato starch is not). It’s marketed under the brand name Clearjel®. Your chilli sauce will remain viscous and maintain the nice suspension for the entire duration of its shelf life when thickened with pre-gelatinized starch. Traditionally, Thai sweet chilli sauce is not thickened with starch; the syrupy consistency is achieved through cooking the sauce containing lots of sugar down until it’s thick enough to create a good suspension of the garlic-pepper bits. However, if you notice, bottled Thai sweet chilli sauce normally contained a starch thickener. You can go either way. I personally prefer the version that contains less sugar which is this one.

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