Homemade sweet chili sauce

Homemade sweet chili sauce

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 1 cup
Author CASA Veneracion


  • 7 bird’s eye chilies (see notes after the recipe for an explanation about the amount)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • a thumb-sized knob of ginger
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar or lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest


  • Peel the garlic and the ginger. Cut of the tops of the chilies and discard. Chop the ginger, garlic and chilies.
  • Place the sugar in a thick-bottomed pot. Add the chopped garlic, chilies and ginger, and the salt.
  • Pour in the rice wine vinegar or lemon juice and add the lemon zest. The vinegar or lemon juice and the salt will create the contrast to prevent the sauce from tasting irritatingly sweet. The lemon zest will give the sauce a pleasant aroma.
  • Homemade sweet chili sauce
  • Pour in a cup of water. Stir to dissolve the sugar and salt.
  • Set over medium heat, bring to the boil then lower the heat to medium-low and cook, uncovered, for 10 to 12 minutes.
  • Homemade sweet chili sauce
  • The sweet chili sauce will appear watery after 10 to 12 minutes of cooking. DO NOT be tempted to cook it much longer. The sauce will turn syrupy as it cools. If you cook it until it is thick, by the time it cools, it will harden and no longer be pourable at all.
  • Homemade sweet chili sauce
  • Cool the sweet chili sauce and enjoy.
  • If you’re wondering what the tiny black specks in the sauce is, that’s vanilla. You don’t have to add any. It’s just that we throw in vanilla beans into our jars of white sugar so all the white sugar in the house have those little black specks.
  • To store, pour the sauce into a jar (you can transfer it into a bottle but you will need to use a funnel). Cover and keep in the fridge.
  • Don’t ask me how long it will keep in the fridge — that will vary on the temperature of your fridge and how you use the sauce. If foreign objects get inside the jar every time you take some the sauce (as when you use greasy spoons), the freshness will be affected. The vinegar or lemon juice in it should act as natural preservative but nothing lasts forever.
  • Don’t ask me if it will stay good without refrigeration because that is something I have not, and will not, try (ants here can wiggle their way into tightly covered jars and bottles).


Vary the amount of the chilies to modify the intensity of the heat of the sauce. Roughly, 2 to 3 chilies will yield a mildly hot sauce; 6 to 7 chilies will give you a very hot sauce.
To make sweet and sour sauce, follow the same recipe but increase the amount of vinegar to 1/4 cup and reduce the amount of water to 3/4 cup.