For all the bold flavor in a jar of sambal oelek, there are actually only a few ingredients here. Just a little salt, a touch of vinegar, and chilies. Lots and lots of chilies. This simplicity makes making your own homemade sambal oelek very easy! And it’s very versatile in the kitchen, working just as well as the base for a sauce or dip or as a fiery heat source for soups or stews. It calls for red chilies, but that, of course, can mean a lot of things on the pepper scale.
For those that want fire in its purest, use Thai chilies. It’s a big, bold heat, so be prepared. For those that love spice, but prefer a little less fire in their homemade sambal oelek, opt for red serrano or Fresno chilies. Serrano peppers are typically twice the heat of jalapeños, while Fresno chilies share a very similar heat profile to them.
Of course, sambal oelek has a very popular chili sauce cousin: Sriracha. Ready to make your own chili garlic sauce? Take a look at our homemade sriracha recipe. Or for a milder (and smokier) option, our ancho chili sauce is quite delicious!
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- DIY Yum Yum Sauce: The popular steak sauce is so easy to make at home. And it works really well as a dipping sauce, too.
Homemade Sambal Oelek
- 1 pound red chilies red Fresno, red serrano, or Thai, seeded and chopped
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons vinegar
- 2 tablespoons water
- Place the chilies into a food processor along with 2 tablespoons of water, and pulse chop them into a coarse paste.
- Add the chilies to a saucepan, then heat on medium for 3 to 5 minutes.
- Add the vinegar and salt and stir to combine.
- Continue heating for 10 minutes while stirring frequently.
- Remove from heat and allow the sambal oelek to cool to room temperature. Serve immediately or refrigerate overnight for best flavor.