Substitutes For Sambal Oelek

Sambal Oelek may sound like something you’ve never heard of before, as it became popular some decades back. Earlier, it is mainly utilized in Asia. Today sambal oelek is used in many dishes. It’s an Asian spicy chili paste that can be used in your meals when you want to add a strong flavor. Substitute For Sambal Oelek come to your rescue when you can get your hands on sambal oelek in your nearby grocery market or its finished in your kitchen and cant be made more at the home.

It is made from crushed red chiles with vinegar and salt. These are the main ingredients in the original sambal oelek. You can also make different variations using lemon juice or garlic. There are various sambal Oelek made using different peppers with different textures, produced in various regions.

Sambal Oelek sauce chili paste image

It is possible to purchase sambal oelek generally in Asian shops and some supermarkets too. If you can’t locate it or don’t wish to purchase it just to make one dish, several substitutes are available for it.

Sambal Oelek is a chili paste or sauce that is extremely popular in Malaysian and Indonesian food items. Still, numerous other recipes require the addition of this ingredient as well.

Substitutes and alternatives For Sambal Oelek

If you cannot locate the bottle of this hot sauce, you’ll require the substitute for sambal oelek, which is readily accessible at the grocery store. Fortunately, this sauce is simple to substitute, and we’ve provided the following list of recommended alternatives.


Sriracha is one of the most well-known varieties of chili sauce. You will most likely find it in most grocery stores. It is made up of sugar, salt, garlic, distilled vinegar, and chili peppers.

It’s bright red in appearance and is suitable for any recipe that uses the sambal oelek. The flavor of this sauce can differ from one brand to the next. In general, it is said to have a sweet and tangy taste with a spicy component; however, the garlic in the sauce provides it with a nice punch of flavor.

Individuals may experience a distinctly different taste between sriracha and sambal Oelek because of their sweetness. To overcome this, you can modify its quantity to complete your recipe.

If you’re not a big lover of garlic, you could choose another substitute or reduce the amount of garlic you add to your meal.

homemade sriracha sauce

Sriracha hot sauce has an excellent flavor profile similar to Sambal Oelek. The main distinction is that the Sriracha hot sauce usually has less vinegar and a bit of garlic. The sauce also comes with vivid red color and the exact degree of heat.

Also, they have a distinct texture. Sriracha is a sauce. Sambal Oelek, on the other hand, has a consistency of a paste. Therefore, it is only used in recipes to utilize a sauce instead of an actual paste. It is a great alternative for noodles, for instance.

You can also alter the flavor by adding a small amount of vinegar. If your recipe requires garlic, you may remove it or reduce the quantity of hot sriracha sauce to be used.

Tabasco hot sauce

If you are looking for vinegar flavor that sriracha sauce doesn’t have, then test hot tabasco sauce as a substitute for sambal oelek. It is made from vinegar, peppers, and salt ok any kind like kosher salt, table salt etc. making it an ideal alternative.

If you choose to use tabasco sauce in place of Sambal Oelek, bear the fact that tabasco sauce contains more vinegar. Tabasco hot sauce works well with various salads, pizza, garlic bread, pizza and even works as a barbecue sauce.

The pasta or pizza lovers all over the planet have probably heard of chili sauce, also known as Tabasco. It is the most widely consumed chili sauce used in hotels and restaurants and is also a preferred choice by some customers. If you prefer a more bitter taste of vinegar which sambal Oelek only has just a tiny amount of, you can strongly consider tabasco.

tabasco hot sauce

Tabasco hot chili sauce comes of tabasco peppers, salt, and peppers aged in oak barrels over three years before being mixed with vinegar to make the distinctive flavor of red Tabasco hot sauce used to enhance the flavor of the dish.

But, it is important to be aware that Sriracha hot sauce has more vinegar-based ingredients, which is why you should use only a small amount of it in your dish. Make sure you utilize a half quantity because it contains more vinegar. Also, make sure not to cook for too long.

Tabasco is gluten-free and certified and may cause digestive issues for those who are allergic to the substance. It is a great way to substitute sambal oelek for pizza, beefsteak pasta, noodles, fried noodles, toasted eggs, rice fried, and more. It can also be used to marinate grilled foods that are spicy.

Harissa chili paste

If you are looking for a substitute for sambal oelek that is similar in texture, think about using a different chili paste-like harissa. It has the same texture and heat as sambal Oelek, but there is a slight change in flavor.

Harissa chili paste imparts an aroma of cumin and caraway to your food. Thus, it may not work with all kinds of dishes. It’s a fantastic alternative for a rub for meat that is applied to pork, lamb, beef, or even poultry. Because it’s very flavorful, you can add its small quantity to your dish until you achieve the taste you are looking for.

Harissa is a spicy chili paste made from roasted red peppers and spices, herbs, Baklouti peppers, coriander seeds, cumin, and olive oil. Harissa is known for its spicy taste, although it may have a sweet or smoky flavor too. It’s great for savory meals as well as Asian recipes.

Harissa chili paste

Harissa’s flavor is very strong; thus, it is advisable to start by adding just a small quantity of the paste to your recipe. Then, you can try it and, if needed, you can increase the amount. In addition, adding too much could impact the outcome of your meal since it could overwhelm it.

Harissa is a product that originated in South Africa. This paste is extremely popular in northern African countries and is utilized to marinate meats and vegetables. It can be used with all kinds of food, from falafel to barbecued meat due to its spicy flavor. It makes a fantastic alternative to sambal oelek. It imparts food with a spicy flavor similar to sambal oelek.

Harissa is typically sold as a paste in cans and jars. It can also be made in a powdered form. You will find it at Middle Eastern stores, specialty stores, as well as the majority of supermarkets.


An additional chili paste with the same consistency as sambal Oelek is the gochujang chili paste. Gochujang is a red chili paste available in spicy, savory, and sweet flavors. It’s becoming more sought-after among Western supermarkets. It is produced through fermentation processes and made of meju powder and yeotgireum salt, gochugaru, and glutinous rice.

Certain brands produce extremely spicy versions of the sauce. Due to its texture, it’s particularly good when it is used as a substitute in stir-fries. You can use it in place of sambal Oelek to make meat marinades, patties and burgers.

It is important to note that Gochujang has a stronger taste, which means you have be cautious with the quantity you include in your dish. This is why we suggest to start by adding just half of the amount of gochujang that the original recipe calls for. Sambal Oelek is a sambal spice. You can always increase the quantity that you add if believe that it needs more flavor.

gochujang image

Gochujang is gaining popularity in Western supermarket shelves and is readily available in an Asian grocery store. Gochujang tastes great added to hamburger patties and is a punchy ingredient used in marinades for meat. A little amount of gochujang can go quite a ways so make sure to add half of the amount of sambal oelek , and check the taste ahead of adding the rest.

Red Chilli Flakes

As the name suggests, it is made of crushed chili peppers. Since it is dry, it will not have the same consistency as sauce, but it is an excellent alternative for those seeking a fast and easy substitute. For best results, it is recommended to add some liquids to the flakes like the oyster sauce, or even fish sauce, as they will become slightly damper.

Red peppers that have been crushed possess an extremely spicy taste that might not appeal to every person.

If you can’t find any of the choices above, you may consider an ingredient like crushed red pepper flake. It’s not going to give you the consistency or taste of the Sambal Oelek, but it can replace its heat.

If sambal Oelek is not being used as a binder in your food, you can use crushed red pepper flakes instead. You can use it with, for instance, beef steaks or even as an option for pizza toppings.

red chili flakes

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s sambal Oelek all made up of?

Sambal Oelek is a smoky Indonesian chili paste that is made of fiery red peppers. It’s usually made using hot red chili peppers, salt, and vinegar.

What’s the main difference between sambal and Oelek?

Sambal can be described as an Indonesian term that describes the chili sauce that is made from peppers. It can also include various other ingredients. Oelek is also known as olek or ulek, is a reference to the mortar and pestle that are used to create this type of sambal that is used for cooking in Indonesian kitchens.

How can you preserve Sambal?

Let it cool down before storage. The Sambal should last approximately one month in the refrigerator and the oil layer over it to prevent rotting. You can also store it for months with smaller containers.

Does sambal oelek need refrigeration?

Sambal Olek comprises potassium sorbate and sodium bisulfite, which means it isn’t required to be chilled. It will, however, remain longer in the refrigerator. In general, condiments shouldn’t be stored for more than 90 days.

Do you know the difference between sambal oelek and gochujang?

Gochujang is more similar to tomato paste concerning thickness. The sambal oelek flavor is more like tomato stew. Sambal oelek is made up of chili peppers along with acid and sodium. Because gochujang relies not just on chilies to provide its flavor, it’s not as spicy as the sambal oelek but can be used as a substitute For Sambal Oelek.

Where can Sambal be used?

In the past, Sambal was used to make an all-purpose condiment. It can be used in noodle dishes, stews, soups, rice, meat, and eggs. Sambal is also used to add flavor and heat to dips, marinades, spreads, and sauces. To create a spicy spread to serve with sandwiches or hamburgers, mix Sambal and mayonnaise or ketchup.

What is the nationality of sambal oelek?

Although it’s also well-known across Malaysia, Sri Lanka, and Thailand, Sambal Oelek is a native of Indonesia, where it’s an essential condiment, just like Westerners are likely to make use of any other hot sauce.

Is Sambal beneficial for your health?

It also has carotenoids (vitamin A), flavonoids, antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins. These nutrients offer health benefits, including anti-aging, anti-inflammatory properties, lower blood pressure, and DNA protection.

Are you able to use Sambal from an expired stock?

Continually refrigerated chili sauce is usually of top quality for approximately 6-9 months. The best approach is to sniff and inspect the chili sauce. Don’t use the sauce if the chili sauce begins to develop an unnatural smell or appearance or develops mold. you can freeze the chili to increase its shelf life in your fridge.

Is sambal oelek vegan?

If you think it’s only a condiment to accompany meat dishes. Think again. It is an excellent companion to vegan dishes like the mix leafy green veggies and potato mix curry, for example.

Is it possible to substitute sambal Oelek with Chili garlic sauce?

Chili garlic sauce is not like sambal Oelek; however, they are very alike. Therefore, it is possible to switch them in virtually every recipe. Similar to sambal oelek, the primary ingredients of chili garlic sauce are vinegar, chilis, and salt. However, it also contains garlic, sugar, and various other seasonings.

How spicy is the sambal sauce?

Sambal oelek offers mild heat, but nothing other. Some varieties contain garlic, but they aren’t incredibly flavored, and some might include an acid that can provide some tartness. Most blends contain salt, but it’s not enough to be considered salty.

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