Easy Homemade Thai Chili Sauce

Important Note: When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases. Content, pricing, offers and availability are subject to change at any time - more info.

Nam jim jaew is a popular Thai dipping sauce that’s spicy, savory, sour, nutty, and herbaceous, with a pleasant smoky aroma. This Thai chili sauce is even more popular than thai sweet chili sauce in Thailand. 

Nam jim jaew or Nam Chim Chaeo (น้ำจิ้มแจ่ว) just might turn into your new favorite dipping sauce. But why are there so many ways to spell it? How to pronounce this Thai chili sauce correctly.

The issue is that there are multiple transliteration methods for the Thai language. The government’s official transliteration system isn’t used by most Thai people, so they often create their “own systems” (nam jim jaew would be the non-official transliteration). 

The actual correct pronunciation of น้ำจิ้มแจ่ว is somewhere in between nam chim chaeo and nam jim jaew. But let’s not get too caught up on language specifics, let’s talk more about why you need this delicious Thai dipping sauce in your life.

Why Is This Nam Jim Jaew Sauce Recipe So Amazing?

There’s a reason nam jim jaew is the most popular Thai dipping sauce in Thailand. It’s all your favorite Thai food flavors in one bowl of goodness. It’s primarily sour and salty, but it’s also spicy, nutty/smoky, slightly sweet, and aromatic.

This sauce tastes good with anything – steak, pork, chicken, fish, shrimp, vegetables, salad, or sticky rice. It’s like an explosion of flavors in your mouth that’ll take you back to the Isan region in Thailand where it’s served with almost every dish.

Nam jim jaew is a special dipping sauce thanks to the star ingredient – toasted crunchy rice powder or Khao Khua. This ingredient is made from raw jasmine rice and it adds an amazing crunch and smoky/nutty flavor you’ll want more of in your life.

Thai dipping sauce nam jim jaew is easy to make and you probably have most of the ingredients in your pantry (especially if you’re a Thai food fan). This sauce comes together in 20 minutes and you can store it in the fridge for up to 5 days.

What Ingredients Do I Need To Make Nam Jim Jaew?

The best nam jim jaew recipe is one you make your own. The measurements below are simply a guideline. Taste and adjust later to make it perfect for you.

  • 2 Tbsp. palm sugar
  • 3 ½ Tbsp. tamarind concentrate 
  • 3 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 4 Tbsp. fish sauce (good quality, not too strong)
  • 2 Tbsp. roasted chili flakes (from Thai chili flakes or whole chilis, see below)
  • 2 ½ Tbsp. Toasted rice powder (made from scratch instructions below)
  • 2 small shallot bulbs
  • 1 spring onion stalk
  • 1 bunch of cilantro

How To Make Nam Jim Jaew

Besides toasting some rice and chilis, this recipe is pretty fool-proof.

Step 1: Prepare the rice powder

Toast about ¼ cup jasmine rice on medium-low heat in a dry non-stick pan until golden brown. Do not add any oil.  Keep a constant eye on the rice, stir it often, and be careful not to burn it. 

Step 2: Transform Rice into Flavorful Powder

Once roasted nicely, let the rice cool completely and grind it with a mortar and pestle or with a coffee grinder to make a fine powder. It’s okay if there are some larger grains.

Step 3: Toast the chilis

Toast whole Thai chilis or chili flakes in the same pan on medium-low heat until they’re darker and fragrant. Be careful not to burn them. It should take no more than 3 minutes. If you used whole chilis, grind them the same way as the rice.

Step 4: Chop the aromatics

Finely chop the shallots, spring onion, and cilantro. Set them aside.

Step 5: Make the sauce

In a medium bowl, add the palm sugar and lime juice first and mix them to dissolve the sugar. Next, mix in the tamarind concentrate and fish sauce, and combine. Add chili flakes, spring onions, shallots, and cilantro, and stir. Taste test and add some water or more lime juice, sugar, or fish sauce as needed. Right before serving, stir in the toasted rice powder and mix again. Place in a serving cup and enjoy with grilled meats, fresh veggies, rice, or anything your heart desires!

Notes & Tips

  • Nam Jim Jaew can elevate the flavor of any food. In Thailand, this chili sauce is often served with frilled meats like pork, steak, or chicken, or with sticky rice. But you can also drizzle it over salads or use it as a dip for your veggie platter.
  • Thai Nam Jim Jaew is predominantly sour and salty. While you’re tasting the sauce to adjust the flavor, add more lime juice to make it more acidic, more fish sauce to make it saltier, a little water to dilute the flavors, or more sugar if you want it sweeter. 
  • Remember that this nam jim jaew recipe is more like a guide. Usually, there are no exact measurements for preparing this sauce and everyone will do it differently. Make this recipe yours by pleasing your taste buds.
  • To make keto nam jim jaew, replace the palm sugar with monk fruit sweetener or stevia. And replace the toasted rice powder with ground toasted hulled hemp seeds. Add 1-2 tablespoons of water to the sauce to compensate and then taste and adjust the amount of lime juice and fish sauce if needed. 
  • You can use fresh Thai chilis instead of dried and roasted ones if you’d like. In this case, you should cut them into very small pieces. 
  • If you made extra rice powder, store the leftovers in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Then you’ll have it at hand to make nam jim jaew any time. You can also sprinkle it over salads or stir-fries for a nice crunch.
  • Unless you’re serving this sauce immediately, store the rice powder separately and add it only at the last moment. The rice powder expands and becomes soggy the longer it sits in the sauce, but you can store both separately for up to 5 days.

Other Thai Recipes You Should Try

Use this nam jim jaew recipe to dress your Thai Beef Salad. Such a yummy and healthy way to enjoy a bowl of greens and lean protein. 

Make Pad Woon Sen – a Thai stir-fry with glass noodles, veggies, and chicken. It’s similar to pad thai, but the glass noodles are very chewy and slightly sticky, making this dish a unique experience.

Accompany your meal with a refreshing Sweet & Creamy Thai Iced Coffee. This is a delicious way to enjoy your morning cup of coffee too. With sweetened condensed milk, almond extract, and cardamom, this beverage is a dream.

And if you’re a big fan of Thai cuisine, we’ve compiled a list of the Best Thai Cookbooks out there. Now, let’s make the best nam jim jaew!

Thai Chili Sauce

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 63kcal

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp. palm sugar
  • 3 ½ Tbsp. tamarind concentrate
  • 3 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 4 Tbsp. fish sauce good quality, not too strong
  • 2 Tbsp. roasted chili flakes from Thai chili flakes or whole chilis, see below
  • 2 ½ Tbsp. Toasted rice powder made from scratch instructions below
  • 2 small shallot bulbs
  • 1 spring onion stalk
  • 1 bunch of cilantro

Instructions

  • Prepare the rice powder by toasting ¼ cup jasmine rice on medium-low in a dry pan until golden brown, stirring often. Be careful not to burn the rice. Let cool completely and grind with a mortar and pestle or coffee grinder.
  • Toast chilis in the pan until darker and fragrant. Grind the same way as the rice.
  • Finely chop the shallots, spring onion, and cilantro. Set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, dissolve the palm sugar in the lime juice.
  • Mix in tamarind concentrate and fish sauce, and combine. Add chili flakes, spring onions, shallots, and cilantro, and stir. Taste test and add some water or more lime juice, sugar, or fish sauce as needed.
  • Lastly, stir in the toasted rice powder and mix again. Place in a serving cup and enjoy with grilled meats, fresh veggies, rice, or anything your heart desires!

Video

Nutrition

Calories: 63kcal | Carbohydrates: 15g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 0.1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.2g | Sodium: 868mg | Potassium: 228mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 1578IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 33mg | Iron: 1mg

Recent Recipes