Are you here to see if you can get some answers about what is sriracha? You’ve come to the right place! Get to know more about this hot chili sauce, from flavor profile to best sriracha substitutes.
If you’ve ever visited a Vietnamese restaurant or you’re into spicy foods, chances are you’ve tried sriracha hot sauce.
But wait, what is sriracha, anyway?
This ingredient came from sun-ripened chilies pureed into a smooth paste, resulting in a bright red-colored condiment that lends a spicy and tangy flavor with a hint of sweetness to anything it touches.
Today the special hot sauce isn’t only in most Vietnamese and Chinese restaurants but also in every household.
Americans put the chili paste on everything—eggs, burgers, bagels, or pizza—you name it!
Learn more interesting facts about the famous hot sauce in this FAQ guide, from its humble beginning to its culinary uses.
Similar to fish sauce and Sambal Oelek, sriracha (pronounced see-rah-jah) is a staple ingredient in Asian cuisine but is now sought-after throughout the globe.
In 1949, the first recorded sriracha sauce, described as bright, vinegary, and garlicky, was produced by a Thai woman named Thanom Chakkapak in the coastal city of Si Racha, Thailand.
It’s made from natural ingredients and aged for three months to bring out the chile’s natural flavor.
According to Saowanit Trikityanukul, the granddaughter of Thanom Chakkapak, one batch of the classic sriracha took weeks or even months to prepare.
The vinegar is then gradually added weekly to ensure that it merges the flavors of the other ingredients.
The original sriracha called Sriraja Panich is sweeter and thinner than Huy Fong Foods’ sauce made by David Tran, a Vietnamese immigrant.
He introduced his version of the spicy sauce in the United States.
Tran immigrated to Los Angeles from Vietnam in the early 1980s and started his American dream, creating and selling his hot sauce out of his blue chevy van.
His sauce is made from red chili peppers, garlic, vinegar, salt, and sugar and manufactured under the name sriracha, inspired by the local hot sauces of Sri Racha in Thailand.
You can find sriracha, commonly referred to as rooster sauce, in most grocery stores or in the Asian foods section with a noticeable, green cap on the top of each bottle, which, as stated by Tran, represents the green stem of chili pepper.
Sriracha is one of the well-known condiments today.
It’s what gives dishes like pizza and burgers that spicy kick and nice tangy mouthfeel, and slightly sweet goodness.
The sauce is a key ingredient in sriracha aioli, a known dipping sauce made with mayo, lime juice, and clove served alongside fried fish or veggies.
What’s in sriracha
As mentioned, producers made sriracha from chili peppers, sugar, garlic, vinegar, and salt (sometimes preservatives get added into the mix).
The peppers are inspected and washed before being grounded and combined in a mixer and vinegar, salt, and other preservatives, forming a base for the sauce.
Once they make the base sauce, they transfer it to a storage barrel in a warehouse throughout the year.
When it’s time to create the sauce, they pump the stored base into a mixer along with garlic and sugar.
What does sriracha taste like
If you’re wondering about the sriracha flavor, the sauce features a spicy and tangy flavor with a hint of sweetness.
Meanwhile, the consistency of the sauce varies between brands.
Tran’s rooster sauce has a thickness akin to ketchup, while the original Sriraja Panich has a more liquid consistency.
How to use sriracha
Known for its versatility, sriracha adds a spicy and tangy flavor profile to dozens of dishes.
It can be used as a dipping sauce or as a base for creamy dips and sauces—the possibilities are endless!
If you’re wondering what other ways to use sriracha or include the ingredient in your daily consumption, here’s a few of them:
- Combine it with mayo and honey to make this sweet and spicy sauce.
- Add a new twist to your chicken soup by incorporating sriracha.
- Create this beef stir-fry recipe with sriracha, honey, and carrots.
- Finish your avocado egg toast with a splash of sriracha.
- Add a nice heat to your boring popcorn.
- Sriracha Bloody Mary? Sign me up!
- Use the ingredient to create this surprisingly rich chocolate ice cream
Substitutes for sriracha
Sriracha is a vital ingredient in many recipes, but you may wonder whether you can use other ingredients in place of it in a pinch.
Here are the four best sriracha substitutes.
Chili garlic sauce
If you’re looking for an excellent sriracha substitute, then use chili garlic sauce.
It’s pretty similar to sriracha that uses chilies and garlic, but the textural nuance of the ingredient is thicker and chunkier than the former.
Moreover, the flavor profile of the chili sauce is a little brighter than sriracha.
When substituting chili garlic sauce for sriracha, use a 1:1 ratio.
Another good substitution for sriracha sauce is Sambal Oelek.
If you’re unfamiliar with the ingredient, it’s an Indonesian chili sauce from chili peppers, garlic, ginger, and lime.
The difference between the two is that sriracha tends to be sweeter with a slight garlicky nuance.
At the same time, the Sambal Oelek features that chili pepper taste with a noticeable tangy undertone.
In your recipe, replace a tablespoon of Sambal Oelek for every tablespoon of sriracha.
Though tabasco sauce is more Cajun-inspired and uses distilled vinegar, red pepper, and salt, the ingredient is still a reliable replacement if you’re running out or low on sriracha.
But keep in mind that tabasco lacks consistency.
To use the condiment as a substitute, use a few drops of tabasco for every tablespoon of sriracha.
The bottom line
Sriracha is a condiment made from chili peppers, sugar, garlic, vinegar, and salt.
People often use it to incorporate heat into various dishes, including drinks.
In addition to being highly versatile, the spicy sauce has a rich history, which makes it more interesting.
If you’re interested in this sauce, consider using it as a plain dipping sauce or make the sweet and spicy Sriracha BBQ Sauce below.
Sriracha BBQ Sauce
Take your french fries, pizza, and baked potato up a notch by serving this sweet and spicy BBQ sauce made with sriracha.
- ¼ c sriracha sauce
- ¼ c and 2 T ketchup
- 2 T maple syrup
- 2 T blackstrap molasses
- Mix all ingredients
- Serve it alongside your favorite burgers, pizzas, or fries.