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Nam Jim Jaew Recipe (Thai Chili Sauce)

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This nam jim jaew recipe makes a quick and easy Thai chili sauce in less than 5 minutes. Made with traditional ingredients like toasted rice powder and red pepper flakes, it’s full of spicy, tangy, and slightly sweet flavors.

Nam jim jaew sauce with grilled meats and fresh vegetables.

One of the best things about Thai food are the spicy Thai dipping sauces. Some of my favorites are prik nam pla and nam jim seafood, and this jaew sauce is my go-to for grilled meat.

What is nam jim jaew

Nam jim jaew is a classic Thai dipping sauce with a spicy, sweet, and sour taste. It’s made with fish sauce, sugar, and lime, perfect for grilled meats.


Nam jim means “dipping sauce” in Thai, and there are many kinds of these Thai spicy sauces, each with its own ingredients. The Thai pronunciation is “nam chim chaeo.”

Nam jim sauce

Nam jim is the name we use for different condiments found all over Thailand. Jaew dipping sauce and nam jim gai (Thai sweet chili sauce) are some of the most popular ones. Thai cooking has lots of different flavors, and these sauces really show that.

The jaew sauce originated in Isan, the Northeastern region of Thailand. Isan cuisine is known for its bold flavors and love of chilies, herbs, and spices.

Nam jim jaew and Thai ribs.

As with many dishes, every Thai family has its own special recipe for making Thai sauces. Some might add ingredients like galangal, palm sugar, or tamarind paste. So, it’s hard to pin down one recipe as the “authentic” one.

What really matters is using authentic ingredients and keeping alive the family traditions. This nam jim jaew recipe is actually my mother’s, who got it from my grandmother.

Thai sauce recipe for grilled meat

This sauce recipe is my family’s favorite for when we have grilled meat, and it also makes a great sticky rice dipping sauce. It’s full of authentic flavors, just like you’d find in Thailand.

Thai nam jim jaew sauce with Thai ribs in the distance.

It’s super easy and quick to make. And it’s versatile too – you can use it with many Thai dishes or with any backyard BBQ.

To make this recipe for jaew sauce, you only need five ingredients. It’s simple, and you can adjust the flavors however you like.

Ingredients

Ingredients can be sourced at Asian grocery stores and Asian markets.
The exact measurements are in the recipe card at the end of this post.


Ingredients for nam jim jaew sauce: white sugar, lime wedge, fish sauce, dried chili flakes, and toasted rice powder.
  • Fish sauce – Adds a salty, umami taste. You can buy fish sauce at any Asian grocery store and Asian market.
  • White sugar – White sugar is essential for balancing the salty and tangy flavors. Avoid brown sugar as it will add a different taste.
  • Lime – Using fresh lime juice is important, avoid the bottled stuff.
  • Cilantro or green onions (optional) – For garnishing.
  • Toasted rice powder
  • Thai chili flakes

Before we run over the instructions, a quick note about two of the key ingredients.

Toasted rice powder

Toasted rice powder (khao khua) is a must in authentic nam jim jaew sauce. You can easily make it at home by roasting glutinous rice (Thai sticky rice) and then crushing it with a mortar and pestle. Use my recipe for toasted rice powder. Alternatively, you can get it at Asian supermarkets or online at Amazon.

Toasted rice powder in a black spoon on a wooden cutting board.

Thai chili flakes

Instead of fresh chilies, this sauce uses red chili flakes. Making them at home is easy with my Thai chili flakes recipe. I like to make a big batch to keep on hand. Store them in an airtight container, and you’ll always have some extra for your next Thai dish.

Thai chili flakes in a black spoon on a wooden background.

Short recipe video

@hungryinthailand.com

How to make nam jim jaew, an easy chili sauce recipe to pair with grilled meat. #spicy #thaifood #thairecipe #dippingsauce

♬ #เมนูนี้ฉันอ้วน – YELLOWSKRT

How to make nam jim jaew sauce

Large glass cup containing ingredients for making this Thai condiment. Around it are empty glass cups.

Step 1: Add fish sauce, fresh lime juice, white sugar, dried chili flakes, and toasted rice powder into a mixing bowl.

Top-down view of Thai chili dipping sauce in glass cup.

Step 2: Gently stir all ingredients with a spoon until everything is well mixed. Garnish with coriander or freshly chopped green onions. After mixing, let the flavors meld together for 5 minutes.

Kitchenware

  • Cutting board and a sharp knife for chopping coriander or green onions (optional)
  • Mortar and pestle for making toasted rice powder and chili flakes
  • Mixing bowl and stirring spoon

Serving suggestions

In Northeast Thailand, where I live, we love to pair nam jim dipping sauce with fried or grilled dishes, especially grilled chicken (gai yang – Thai chicken wings), which you can find at almost every street food spot in Isan.

I also love to drizzle it over dishes like crying tiger beef, grilled Thai ribs, and moo yang. You can’t go wrong with a side of Thai fried pork belly. And if you ever try mookata at a Thai restaurant, chances are you’ll see it on the table. It’s even great for your Western BBQ!

Storing leftover sauce

You can keep leftover sauce fresh in your refrigerator for up to three days, stored in an airtight container like a mason jar. The toasted rice powder in the sauce thickens it over time, absorbing the liquid. If left longer, the sauce becomes dry and overly thick.

Frequently asked questions

What is nam jim jaew made of?

Nam jim jaew is made of ingredients like dried chili flakes, fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, and roasted rice powder. The exact ingredients depend on the recipe used.

Is nam jim jaew spicy?

Yes, nam jim jaew sauce is spicy. You can adjust the amount of spiciness by altering the amount of Thai chili flakes used.

Is this recipe gluten-free?

Yes, this recipe is gluten-free.

Authentic Thai dipping sauce recipes

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Nam Jim Jaew Recipe (Thai Chili Sauce)

Nam jim jaew dipping sauce with grilled meats and fresh vegetables.
This nam jim jaew recipe is quick and easy to make using just 5 ingredients.
Praew
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Cuisine Thai
Course Sauces
Serving Size 2 people

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lime
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon chilli flakes
  • 1/2 tablespoon toasted rice powder

Instructions

  • Add fish sauce, fresh lime juice, white sugar, dried chili flakes, and toasted rice powder into a mixing bowl.
  • Gently stir all ingredients with a spoon until everything is well mixed. Garnish with coriander or freshly chopped green onions. After mixing, let the flavors meld together for 5 minutes.

Video

@hungryinthailand.com

How to make nam jim jaew, an easy chili sauce recipe to pair with grilled meat. #spicy #thaifood #thairecipe #dippingsauce

♬ #เมนูนี้ฉันอ้วน - YELLOWSKRT

Notes

  • Use the nutrition card in this recipe as a guideline.
  • After mixing, let rest 5 minutes, so that the flavors from the different ingredients blend together.
  • This is a very versatile dipping sauce that can be combined with many sorts of food. It doesn't even have to be Thai food per se. In Isan, we mostly eat it with all types of grilled meat and sticky rice.

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