Skip to Content

Savory Tweaks: 5 BEST Nam Prik Pao Substitutes

Are you looking for a unique way to add flavor to your food?

With Nam Prik Pao, you can enjoy a delicious, spicy and savory flavor that will tantalize your taste buds.

But what if you don’t have access to this popular Thai condiment?

Don’t worry, we’ll explore the five best substitutes for Nam Prik Pao.

You will be able to make simple ingredient substitutions so you can create meals with that distinct Nam Prik Pao flavor.

What’s Nam Prik Pao?

Nam Prik Pao is a common seasoning used in a variety of Southeast Asian dishes.

It’s made from roasted and ground chilli peppers, garlic, shallots and other spices.

The paste has an incredibly bold flavor that adds a layer of complexity to any dish.

Most notably, it adds a satisfying spice to the otherwise mild Southern Thai dishes like Phat Kaphrao Moo or Phat Pak Boong.

While the origins of this unique seasoning are not known for sure, it is believed that its popularity started in Thailand during the 19th century with Chinese migrants bringing ingredients from their home country and blending them together to make this mouth-watering blend.

From then on this delectable paste is enjoyed all over Asia as it continues to add a new dimension of flavor to all kinds of traditional dishes and recipes.

5 BEST Nam Prik Pao Substitutes to Consider

Nam Prik Pao is a classic Southeast Asian chili paste, traditionally made with chilies, garlic, and shallots.

It’s popularly used to add flavor and heat to dishes including curry and stir-fry.

If you’re out of Nam Prik Pao, here are five substitutes that can also give your dishes that bold chili flavor:

1 – Make Your Own Nam Prik Pao

Making your own Nam Prik Pao is one of the best substitutes for this Thai chili paste.

In fact, many Thai restaurants use a homemade version of this chili paste.

The key ingredients are roasted chilies, garlic, shallots, and shrimp paste made from fermented fish or krill.

To make Nam Prik Pao, all you need to do is mix together these ingredients and then add a bit of oil to the mixture and let it simmer on low heat for about 15 minutes until the flavors mingle together nicely.

Adding fish sauce will also help to balance out the flavors in your nam prik pao.

2 – Sambal Terasi

Sambal terasi, also known as Indonesian shrimp paste, is a savory and spicy condiment typically used to add flavor to noodle and rice dishes.

Its intense umami taste makes it an excellent replacement for nam prik pao and the intensity can be adjusted with different types of chilli peppers.

It’s made with ground shrimp, garlic, red chilli peppers, sugar, salt and sometimes lime or tamarind juice.

In some recipes you may also find vinegar as an ingredient.

If spiciness is not an issue for you, then this might be a good substitute for nam prik pao.

3 – Gochujang

Gochujang is a Korean spicy fermented condiment that is used primarily for Kimchi.

It contains red pepper powder, rice, soybeans, and salt.

It is much spicier than Nam Prik Pao and has a smoky undertone thanks to the fermented chilli peppers.

Gochujang has high levels of umami and sweetness, but with the addition of gochugaru it can be very spicy.

Gochujang can be used as an alternative to Nam Prink Pao in recipes such as Kimchi Fried Rice or spicy stir-fries.

When substituting Gochujang for Nam Prik Pao, use half the amount as Gochujang is much spicier than Nam Prik Pao.

4 – Sambal Oelek

Sambal oelek is an Indonesian-style hot chili paste made from red chilies, rice vinegar, garlic, and salt.

It has a subtle sweetness that complements the chili flavor and adds depth to dishes.

Sambal oelek is widely available in Asian markets and many grocery stores.

Although it’s not as complex as Nam Prik Pao, it is a great substitute if you can’t find it.

Use sambal oelek to add some heat and complexity to your dishes in place of Nam Prik Pao.

To make a quick version of the Thai sauce: Combine two tablespoons of sambal oelek with two tablespoons of fish sauce, one tablespoon of lime juice, one teaspoon of sugar (or any other sweetener), and one tablespoon of water or coconut milk for added creaminess.

This will give you a good approximation of the flavor profile in Nam Prik Pao without having to source that particular ingredient.

5 – Chili Garlic Sauce

Chili garlic sauce is a delicious condiment made from a blend of crushed chili peppers and garlic.

It has a vibrant flavor that can easily replace the spiciness of nam prik pao.

Chili garlic sauce is commonly used in Chinese, Thai, and Vietnamese cuisine, offering a salty and savory flavor to dishes such as pad thai, soups, and stir-fries.

It’s also an excellent substitute for nam prik pao thanks to its red color and spicy kick.

All you need to do is blend some hot chilis with some finely grated garlic cloves, chopped shallots, and salt.

For an added bit of sweetness, throw in a few tablespoons of sugar or brown sugar before blending the ingredients together.

Store your chili garlic sauce in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two weeks.


It is clear that Nam Prik Pao is an essential part of Thai cuisine, often used as a condiment and flavor enhancer in many recipes.

While it can be difficult to find this unique ingredient outside of Thailand, there are several excellent substitutes that can be used to recreate the same flavor profile and dish.

These include sambal oelek, Gochujang, Dou ban jiang, harissa and chili-garlic sauce.

Ultimately, the best substitute for Nam Prik Pao will depend largely on your own personal taste preferences and the type of dish you are creating.

For example, sambal oelek has a more mild heat profile than the intense spiciness associated with Nam Prik Pao and would be more suitable for recipes where a less intense spicy flavor is desired.

On the other hand, if you want a faithfully replicated version of Nam Prik Pao’s distinct flavors and heat levels in your dishes then Gochujang or Dou ban jiang could provide you with a closest match to achieve that goal.

No matter which substitute you go with, it is safe to say that any of these 5 sauces will work perfectly well in place of Nam Prik Pao without compromising too much on the original flavors intended by each recipe.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Nam Prik Pao?

Nam prik pao is a type of chili paste commonly used in Thai cuisine.

It is made from a combination of chilies, garlic, shallots, shrimp paste, and other seasonings.

It is often used as a condiment or a marinade for meats and vegetables.

What is the flavor of Nam Prik Pao?

Nam prik pao has a savory, spicy, and slightly sweet flavor.

It is a popular condiment for adding flavor to dishes.

It is also used as a marinade for grilling and roasting meats and vegetables.

What are the 5 best substitutes for Nam Prik Pao?

A3: The 5 best substitutes for Nam Prik Pao are red curry paste, sambal oelek, gochujang, harissa paste, and XO sauce.

5 BEST Nam Prik Pao Substitutes to Consider

5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Substitutes


  • 1 – Make Your Own Nam Prik Pao
  • 2 – Sambal Terasi
  • 3 – Gochujang
  • 4 – Sambal Oelek
  • 5 – Chili Garlic Sauce


  • Choose your preferred substitute from the list of options.
  • Organize all of your ingredients.
  • Use the proper substitute to cook your recipes.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!