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Sambal oelek is a versatile Indonesian chili paste

Spice up your dishes unleashing the versatility of sambal oelek in your kitchen.

Sambal oelek is a fiery, tangy chili paste that originated in Indonesia. It's a simple blend of fresh red cayenne chiles, salt, a little sugar, and vinegar. The term "sambal" in Indonesian cuisine refers to a chile-based condiment sauce, and there are countless variations. "Oelek" refers to the traditional method of preparation, which involves pounding the chiles in a mortar.

This vibrant condiment is not just for Indonesian food. It's a versatile addition that can spice up a wide array of dishes, adding a burst of heat and flavor wherever it's used. Thera are many ways you can incorporate sambal oelek into your culinary repertoire.

Adult peanut butter or almond butter sandwich

Smear a little sambal oelek on a peanut or almond butter sandwich for an unexpectedly spicy twist.

Soups and sauces

A spoonful of sambal oelek can add a punch to your favorite soups or tomato-based sauces. Add a little sambal oelek to your pizza sauce for a fiery twist.


When marinating meat (especially lamb), add some sambal oelek for an extra kick.

Top your omelets or scrambled eggs with a dot of sambal oelek, much like you would with Tabasco sauce.

Butter blend

Mash it into softened butter to make a feisty topping for bread, roasted vegetables, or steak.

Meat mixtures

Stir sambal oelek into the mixture for burgers or meatloaf. 

Dressings and dips

Sambal oelek can also be used to make spicy versions of classic dressings like vinaigrette, ranch, or blue cheese; sauces like mayonnaise; and dips like hummus.

Tips for using sambal oelek

Because Sambal Oelek is spicy, start with a small amount and add more to taste. If you are sensitive to heat, you can dilute the paste with other ingredients like vinegar, water, or soy sauce.

While it's easy to find jars of sambal oelek in grocery stores, you can also make this condiment at home.

sambal oelek recipe