Thai Sweet Chili Sauce (น้ำจิ้มไก่)

Thai sweet chili sauce (น้ำจิ้มไก่, pronounced nam chim kaih) is easy to make yourself, and the home-made version is much more flavorful than the commercial brands. As an extra bonus, there are no added chemicals or unhealthy ingredients in this sauce, so it’s also healthier. I will never buy jarred or bottled sweet chili sauce again!

I used 8 large red Fresno chilies in my sauce, and it was quite spicy, but still sweet and tangy. However, you can adjust the heat in this recipe to suit your own taste. Ripe red jalapeños would probably be less spicy and slightly more fruity tasting than the Fresno chilies. In a pinch, you could probably use crushed dried chilies in place of the fresh chilies (if you do this, I recommend reducing the desired amount of chilies by half, and then adjusting to taste, as dried chilies can be stronger than fresh chilies).

Yield: Makes 1/2 cup of sauce


  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar (or substitute white vinegar)
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Shao Xing rice wine or dry sherry
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4-8 fresh red Fresno or jalapeño chilies
  • 1 + 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in 3-4 tablespoons cool water

Place all ingredients – except the cornstarch-water mixture – in a sauce pan or pot. Bring to a rolling boil.

Reduce heat to medium and let boil for 10 minutes, or until reduced by half. (Note that the vinegar will be quite pungent as it burns off. Generally, I find rice vinegar less strong than regular white vinegar).

Reduce heat to low and add the cornstarch-water mixture. Stir to incorporate and continue stirring occasionally until the sauce thickens (about 2 minutes).

Remove from heat and taste-test. You should taste “sweet” first, followed by sour, then spicy and salty notes. If the sauce isn’t sweet enough, add a little more sugar. If not spicy enough, add more chilies.

Pour sauce into a small bowl or jar and serve as a condiment with chicken, fish, and seafood, or as a dip with finger foods such as chicken wings, shrimp, or summer rolls. Also makes an excellent marinade for grilled chicken, fish, or seafood.