Sweet Thai Chili Sauce
With some KICK

jar of sauce2


I’m not some nutjob you  know.  I do, on occasion, buy preprepared foods.   Frozen stuff.  And stuff in bottles.  That kind of thing.  We don’t eat a lot of it, mainly because I don’t like how it tastes.

But there are certain things that  just aren’t worth the pain of making.  Things like toast.

Just kidding.  Springrolls, however are a perfect example of something that isn’t worth making yourself unless you have 700 hours on your hands and get extreme joy out of swearing until your nose drips.

So I always buy my store’s brand of vegetarian spring rolls.  They’re great.  Completely loaded with grease.  Even when I bake them in the oven, the grease is just spilling out of them.  Gotta love that.  I also always (used to) buy the Thai dipping sauce in a bottle that compliments these delicious frozen spring rolls.

Making your own Sweet Thai Chili Dipping sauce was for crazy people.  I knew I’d never be able to make it taste as good as the stuff in the bottle, so why bother?  It’s the same reason I always buy bottled peanut sauce.  I’ve never been able to duplicate it.  My peanut sauce always ends up tasting like a peanut butter cup without the chocolate.

And then a few weeks ago I had a moment of extreme crazy.  Or perhaps it was lucidity.  It’s hard for me to tell nowadays.  I WAS GOING TO MAKE THAI CHILI SAUCE.  Now, being the way that I am, I didn’t just randomly pick a recipe from the Internet.  I randomly picked 7 recipes from the Internet, plus Gordon Ramsay’s recipe from his Fast Food cookbook.  (the night after my thai chili sauce experiment I dreamt Gordon and I were best friends and we went to see a grade 5 school play together)

I prepared 3 of the recipes and compared 2 of the techniques.  What I came up with is a chili sauce that’s really easy to make and has about equal parts sweet and heat.  So if you don’t like heat … cut down on the chili peppers in the recipe, or omit the seeds.  I included the seeds for a ridiculously stupid reason.  I like how they look floating in the sauce.

Speaking of chili peppers, you can use either red Jalapeno peppers or red Serrano peppers.  Red Jalapenos would be my number one choice, but I find red Jalapenos reallyyyy difficult to find sometimes, so if you can’t find them just go with the Serranos.  The big fat one in the picture is a Jalapeno pepper by the way, and the long skinny ones are Serranos.



chili final



2 cloves garlic

2 red Jalapeno or 2 red Serrano  peppers

3/4 cup water

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup white vinegar

1 tsp. salt


cornstarch slurry (1 Tbsp. cornstarch mixed with 2 Tbsps. water)


1.  Throw everything but the cornstarch slurry into a blender.  No need to chop the garlic or peppers.  However, if you want less heat deseed your peppers and cut the veins out.

2.  Blend until garlic is chopped up and peppers are in small pieces.

3.  Dump it all into a sauce pan and simmer for 10 minutes or so until the peppers and garlic are soft.

4.  Add your cornstarch slurry.  Cook another few minutes at a simmer.

5.  Jar it up and don’t even taste it for a few days.  If you taste it right now it will burn your tongue off and send you home crying.


This type of sauce mellows as it ages (much like my Caesar Salad dressing) so make it in advance.  It’ll last for over a month in your fridge so don’t worry about it going bad.   The longer it sits the less heat it will have.  I made mine on a Friday and it was blindingly hot. So hot I thought it might be a mistake.  But I left it to see how it fared after a few days.  It was perfect.  Also don’t be alarmed when you taste it off your finger or a spoon. It’s going to taste MUCH hotter that way than it will on food.

Having said all that, if you really don’t like hot food make sure you deseed and devein the pepper and only use one as opposed to two of them.  Sissy.  The sauce is perfect for dipping spring rolls into as well as marinating chicken or even using as a chicken finger dipping sauce.  Yeah.  I still like chicken fingers.  Who doesn’t?  They’re delicious, especially with a good dipping sauce.

Mind you, with this dipping sauce any fingers would taste good in it.

A final warning.  This sauce is HOT.  You can adjust the heat to suit your tastes.  Deseed your peppers, or just use one pepper, or just use one pepper AND deseed it.  Whatever you want.   If you think it’s too sweet, only add 1/2 cup of sugar.  If you want it sweeter … add more.  You get the idea.  Finally, just for fun, you can add a squeeze of lime juice at the end.

Speaking of the end …  The End.



  1. bex says:

    Hey…. Im the first to comment! Weeee!
    I also dont really like buying frozen or prepared foods. Its expensive, horrid carbon print and you cant really beat fresh veg. Look forward to trying this recipe. Will have to go hunt down spring rolls though 🙂

  2. Robyn says:

    Hey Karen!

    Mix some of your Thai Chilli Sauce with some natural yoghurt…half and half depending on personal taste…makes a great crisps dip!! And we all know how much you love your crisps 😉

  3. Marti says:

    Wow, I can’t believe Bex beat me to commenting.

    Um, question: the squeeze of lime at the end that you mentioned. Is that a “squeeze of lime at the end of serving it up. Or a “squeeze of lime at the end of cooking? Where be the squeeze, K?

    • Karen says:

      Doesn’t really matter when you put the lime in. I don’t use the lime but you can do it either at the beginning of the recipe or if you taste it when it’s finished and you feel it needs a little something add it then. ~ karen!

  4. Chris says:

    That’s funny about the toast! The other morning I made toast w/ our breakfast & my 5yr old said 2 me “Mom, u r the best cook ever, I just love this toast”
    Made my day! 🙂

  5. Elle says:

    I LOVE spring rolls! I love spring-roll shaped food like Mexican tequitos and the like. My favorite is Vietnameses spring rolls.
    Love sweet chilly sauce too. I just bought a new bottle yesterday but will try and remember your recipe when this bottle is finished.
    With regard to peanut sauce, since I live in a place devoid of any kind of commercially made peanut sauce (outrageous, I know) I find Martha Stewart’s recipe (with a few minor adjustments) to be adequate enough.

  6. Paulina J! says:

    It seems like you get a LOT of sauce out of those ingredients. How big is the jar in the picture?

    • Karen says:

      Paulina – That’s a teeny tiny jar actually. Not teeny tiny, but it isn’t the size of a standard mason jar. It’s less than 5″ high. About the size of a small jam jar. ~ k

  7. Aimee says:

    Looks great! I have been buying the chili sauce at Trader Joe’s but it’s not hot! I will have to try this recipe for sure.

  8. Kim says:

    Being a Texan, and one that grows jalapeno’s, I have to tell you
    that green and red jalapeno’s are one in the same. Green ones turn red if you leave them on the vine longer. They have a nice color though and that is all that matters here! They taste the same. I love your recipes Karen even if I don’t ever cook them. I was seriously with you on the “toast” thing.

    • Karen says:

      (red jalapenos do come from the same plant as a green one. They’re just riper, which in fact makes the red jalapenos slightly hotter and sweeter than the green.) You need red for the sweetness and for the colour. I grow jalapenos too. So there! LOL. ~ karen!

    • sarahbee says:

      Thanks Kim! I am new to Texas and was just about to go off in search of that info. Even though we are lucky enough to have many types of peppers in the grocery stores year-round, I have never seen red jalapeños or red serranos at our HEB! 😉

  9. KatyKazoo says:

    Well, I’ll just have to make some of this today.

    The hubs made a discovery the other night, as we were eating Chinese BBQ ribs, Siracha + honey, roughly equal parts, equals delicious!

  10. Pat says:

    My husband makes a great peanut sauce which he created when we realized we didn’t have any for our Thai wraps. I told him NOT to buy the store stuff anymore cuz his was better. I would share with you but he didn’t put the ingredients on the jar. I dunno if he even wrote down the recipe as he used info. from the internet and then added his own twist to it. He’s made it twice and friends have raved about it too. Next time he makes it, I will observe and send it to you. It does have a bit of kick to it.

  11. Matthew says:

    I might have to try this one. I normally use a small amount of corn starch to thicken up sauces when I make stir fry, but my experience with corn starch in leftovers and refrigerated items isn’t very good. The consistency is usually like a congealed thick gel, not smooth and mixable like a sauce or jelly. I’ve heard of pectin (used in canning) but have never used it before. Do you think that would be better for this sauce or are you happy with the result using corn starch? Thanks.

    • Karen says:

      Matthew – No, the cornstarch is fine. You’re probably just using too much. As any sauce cools, it thickens. Gravy, Stew, stir fry sauce … anything. If you use the amount I’ve shown it’ll be fine. ~ karen!

  12. Barbie says:

    I don’t know……but I’m pretty hooked on canned toast~ just sayin.

    Also, I’m planting me some jalapenos this year in the garden…..our season is unpredictable so there isn’t always enough warm weather “before” the frost to get them to “red”….it is always so frustrating.

  13. Nancy says:

    I will show this to my son..He loves Chinese, Thai & hot food..You should be taking pictures of food for magazines Karen..You make everything look so pretty!!

  14. Nic says:

    This is pretty nifty! Husband is pretty big on Asian cuisine in general, while I go back and forth. A lot of it is WAY to sugary for me, I’m really a savory/spicy girl. This, however, may have a bit of something for each of us.
    I’m so glad you shared!

  15. LARPkitten says:

    Oh this is SO going in my “Awesome Recipes” collection on Springpad! I love all things spicy! Thank you!

  16. Gayla T says:

    I brought a cute little pepper plant in from the yard last fall and that thing is HOT. I bought it for the pretty verigated leaves and the pretty little tiny maroon peppers….ornamental is what I was thinking. My daughter spotted it and started ripping off all the peppers. I’m thinking she is going to start her own plant but it was for seasoning. So brave me bites the end off of one and ran for the garden hose. I can’t imagine what you could use them in and still eat it. The kids love them and say I’m a whoos. I say so, too! I love to eat and I hate pain. What more can I say?

  17. PattyO says:

    Agree that you take really pretty pictures! I grow the jalopenos also here in Indiana and they are so easy. When everything else fails in the garden the jalopenos make you look like a pro. I always leave a bunch longer on the vine to turn that beautiful red. Thanks for the recipe Karen!

  18. Nicole says:

    Thank you for this recipe!

  19. sera says:

    okay Karen, now you have to tell me how to make Dragunara sweet chili sauce. I’m obsessed with it but I can’t get it at the whole foods anymore. They sell their other sauces, but not this one. http://tinyurl.com/7yjhtv4
    It’s the best thing I’ve ever tasted. HELP!

    • Karen says:

      Sera – Hmm. Well I’ve never had it so it’d be pretty hard to guess. However, the ingredients are the exact same as the ones in mine (minus the garlic) so I’d say you make my recipe and then play around with the ingredients (more sugar, less sugar, more peppers, less peppers etc.) until it tastes right. Dontcha think? I think. Go ahead. Try it and report back. ~ karen!

  20. Tash says:

    You have a fantastic site. A real joy to read with an inspiring push to try new things. You should really post some of your of your humor and wisdom on Pinterest.com – (if you haven’t already). Toronto Star is suggesting they’re the next Facebook-okay, so take that with a grain of salt. I think you’d blow them away over there and they need some good Canadian content. Hate to lose you to the masses, but when one of our own is great, you gotta share.

    • Karen says:

      🙂 Thanks Tash. I love Pinterest but really don’t have time for it. I pin the odd thing, but not often my own stuff. Pinterest is actually my #1 referrer. I get more views from people coming over from Pinterest than from StumbleUpon or anything else. (my most popular posts on Pinterest are the Glowing Outdoor Orbs and my Sweet Potato French Fries … I get thousands of views a day from those 2 things in Pinterest alone. I find “pinning” is more successful when other people pin my stuff anyway. So feel free! Start pinning! I’m busy writing and taking pictures. 🙂 ~ karen

  21. Trysha says:

    Chung’s veggie spring rolls are a gift from the Frozen food aisle. Only thing I go down the aisles in the store for. Yum!

  22. Katie says:

    I’m so excited to see this recipe! I was just saying that I need to figure out how to make this stuff at home.

  23. Bee Puttaya says:

    Try it with fried and grilled chicken (Thai always do) or deep fried things 😀 อร่อยมากค่ะ

  24. Janey says:

    I can’t even tell you how timely this post is! Thanks lady

  25. Payje says:

    Ummm…this looks DELICIOUS. I always try to concoct some sort of spring roll dipping sauce (because the frozen boxes ALWAYS come with some little packet that runs out after you make 2 spring rolls) and it just never works out for me… but this looks like a thai miracle! Thank you!

  26. Lee says:

    I actually make eggrolls/spring rolls as often as I make anything else. It is simple: buy a bag of pre-shredded cabbage/carrot/veg mix, dump it into a large skillet w/ some small chicken breast cubes that are cooking in peanut oil, follow the directions on the eggroll package and voila! Eggrolls for dinner. Kids love them…not mystery meat either!

  27. Lonelle says:

    How cool!! I don’t know how I missed this post! I actually make my own spring rolls! We had a New Years Eve party where a neighbor (who happens to be a mail order bride from the Philippines, really!!) came over and taught us how and if you do a couple hundred at a time and freeze them then its so worth it. The trick is to roll them while watching TV! lol

    But I have always used the bottled sauce from the Asian market!! Well…no more of that bottled stuff!! Yummy!!

  28. Jessica says:

    I made this…and added some pureed peach. So far its fabulous! I’m thinking about attempting to can this fall and wondered if this was something that could be canned, since i have a simply ridiculous amount of hot peppers.

    • Kimberly says:

      Jessica, did you get an answer about canning this? I’m thinking I may give this out at Christmas and would like to know if it’s shelf stable.

      • Jessica says:

        No, I didn’t get an answer = ( but, to be honest it has held up really well. I just gave the last of what I made to a friend and even though I added peach to one and plum to another, it didn’t seem to degrade any quicker. I don’t think its self stable in this preparation, unfortunately.

  29. Mindy says:

    Hey, guess what? Pinned this when you first posted it – just stumbled upon it again in my frantic Pinterest board search for a homemade treat to go with my Xmas gift exchange gift (I embroidered store-bought napkins!) for THIS SATURDAY – and now I’m goin’ for it. We like it hot in our group, so I’m goin’ all in. I’ll stick a note in about it mellowing out after a few days. Thanks in advance for saving my ass. :o)

  30. chieko says:

    You have to use Thai chilis for this. Serranos are close. Jalapenos don’t even get count. Way too much sugar in this recipe. If you want Thai heat, leave the seeds and the veins.

  31. Kirsty says:

    I made this today! It’s smells absolutely devine, did try it straight from the pan (after reading the warning not to) was super hot hoping a couple days in the fridge will help! I think unless it mellows my next batch I’ll only use one pepper! Thanks for a great recipe 🙂

  32. Claire says:

    Quick question. I’m finding it difficult to find cornstarch here in the uk. Can anything else be used in replace of it?

  33. Linda says:

    Use tapioca flour instead of cornstarch – it holds up better when cold.

  34. Helen Schmidt says:

    My husband just made this recipe and it tastes great, and looks really good too! Thanks for doing the research.

  35. Lauren says:

    This turned out perfectly. I’m the same way- rarely do I eat processed food so when I find things like this to add to my repertoire I get all excited. Especially when they turn out this perfectly. Here’s the proof! I made the wontons from scratch except for the wrappers. Making those is just nuts (..uh oh…)

  36. Lauren says:

    Round two for photo

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Optionally add an image (JPEG only)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

The Art of Doing Stuff