The Calabrian chili paste, or Calabrian chile sauce, is a spicy (but not hot) condiment made with various ingredients like red bell peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, and basil.
Calabria is the province in Italy where this condiment originated.
This spicy sauce is mainly used for cooking in the southern part of Italy.
The Calabrian chili paste is a well-known condiment in Italian cuisine.
It has a unique spicy taste that gives original flavor to food and helps reduce fat content in recipes since it increases satiety.
This condiment can be used for many purposes, including different types of meat, seafood, spaghetti sauce, and pasta dishes.
When looking for a healthier alternative to some food or recipes, using Calabrian chili paste is an excellent idea.
The heat of the chili gives more taste to your dish, making it more delicious without compromising with nutrients.
However, if you are not used to spicy food, starting with a mild version of this condiment is advisable.
Here are the five best substitutes for Calabrian chili paste.
What is Calabrian Chili Paste?
It’s an incredibly hot sauce made from chilies grown in the Calabria region of Italy.
The ingredients vary, but it often features crushed red peppers, garlic, and salt prepared in olive oil or sunflower oil base.
Other variations include thyme or rosemary.
The best-known variety is ‘nduja which comes from Calabria’s capital, Palermo.
When adding this substance to recipes, be sure to wear gloves as it’s incredibly hot.
The flavor is hard to describe; there are hints of garlic and red peppers, but the taste is unlike anything you’ve ever tried before.
This chili paste makes a wonderful gift for the holidays.
Remember to wear gloves when adding this to adobo or other recipes.
The 5 Best Substitutes for Calabrian Chili Paste
Since Calabrian chili paste is so hard to find, here are five substitutes you can try in your kitchen:
1 – Harissa
Harissa is a hot chili sauce/paste that contains New Mexico and Guajillo peppers.
It’s common in North African cuisine and can add heat and flavor to dishes.
It has a moderately spicy taste, so those who can’t handle hot foods may want to start with half of the recommended amount before adding more.
Like Calabrian chili paste, harissa is a great addition to stews.
However, it’s the perfect condiment for meats, eggs, pizza, and sandwiches as well.
In addition, you can use it as a spread or dip.
If you’re feeling adventurous and want an alternative beyond the ordinary, give harissa a try.
2 – Sriracha Sauce
This type of hot chili sauce has a sweet, tangy taste.
It contains garlic, sugar, salt, and chili peppers.
Many people love it because of its vibrant color.
It’s important to note that sriracha can be found in almost any supermarket these days.
However, you can also find other sauces that may taste similar but aren’t quite the same.
Sriracha is a great substitute for Calabrian chili paste and has the same heat and flavors.
It’s also easy to make at home if you want to try something new.
3 – Sambal Oelek
Sambal oelek is an Asian paste made from chili peppers, vinegar, sugar, and salt.
It’s incredibly versatile and can be used to add heat, spice, and flavor when cooking.
Like harissa, this is another great option for simmering meats, eggs, pizzas, or sandwiches.
It also works well as a dipping sauce or spread.
As with most spicy sauces, one drawback of sambal oelek is that it’s not good for people with sensitive palates.
However, the flavor is slightly different from Calabrian chili paste but still reminds one of its distinct taste.
4 – Jalapeno Pepper
If you’re looking for a milder taste, substitute Calabrian chili paste with jalapenos.
This is a great option for those who want to add heat to their meals without intense flavor.
Jalapenos have a slightly sweet and pepper-like taste, making them perfect as a condiment or marinade.
As an extra tip, when using jalapenos as a substitute for Calabrian chili paste in recipes that use red peppers, add a bit of paprika to boost the color.
Also important to note: you should wear gloves when handling this hot pepper or wash your hands thoroughly after use since it can burn.
5 – Red Chili Flakes
Last but not least, instead of Calabrian chili paste, try red chili flakes.
While they have a different taste entirely, they are still an excellent substitute.
As with the previous substitutes, this is also great for adding heat to dishes such as stews and pasta.
It’s also good when sprinkled over eggs or cooked meat.
Just be careful using it since it can become overpowering.
Some chefs recommend starting with just a bit and adding more as needed.
You can also add this to your favorite marinade for a spicy kick.
Calabrian chili paste is a wonderful condiment for adding heat and flavor to dishes.
It has an intensely spicy taste, so you mustn’t add too much at once.
Depending on your palate, there are many great substitutes for this hard-to-find ingredient.
If you’re feeling adventurous, try harissa or sriracha.
Substitute it with jalapenos or red chili flakes instead for those who can’t handle too much heat.
If nothing else seems like an option, feel free to mix multiple substitutes (such as harissa and sriracha) to get the same taste without all of the heat.