Nam Jim Jaew (Thai Chili Sauce Recipe)

Enjoy this spicy Thai condiment with grilled meat or drizzle it over your favorite salad.

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Overhead view of nam jim jaew in a black spoon on a wooden surface.

Nam jim jaew is everything you love about Thai food in one small bowl. This Thai chili sauce recipe is quick and easy-to-make with traditional ingredients such as toasted rice powder and dried chili flakes. Enjoy a perfect blend of fiery heat, tangy lime, and subtly sweet flavors.

Close-up of nam jim jaew dipping sauce in a glass cup with long beans and grilled pork slices in the background.

What is nam jim jaew

Nam jim is the collective name for a collection of flavorful condiments found all across Thailand, each with their own unique ingredients and flavors. Thai cooking is incredibly diverse, and these Thai sauces are living proof.

The jaew dipping sauce is one of my favorites, and it’s an absolute flavor bomb. It combines the best of Thai cuisine with just five ingredients. It’s sour, spicy, and subtly sweet and salty. The delicious smoky crunch from toasted rice powder is what sets this Thai dipping sauce apart from others, it’s an absolute must-try.

Thai nam jim jaew with dried chilies and coriander, and a tower of marinated Thai ribs in the background.

Isan, the northeastern region of Thailand, is where this culinary creation came in existence. Isan cuisine is known for it’s incredibly flavorful dishes and heavy use of chilies, herbs, and spices. In northeast Thailand, we love to pair nam jim dipping sauce with fried or grilled food. Especially with grilled chicken, which can be found at every street food corner in Isan.

You can drizzle it over a variety of dishes, such as crying tiger beef or grilled Thai ribs, and if you ever go out to eat mookata at a Thai restaurant, you’ll probably find it out on the table. The next time you’re having a western BBQ, serve this simple sauce on the table!

Nam jim jaew dipping sauce served with succulent slices of crying tiger steak and a white flower.

Note: Thai families have their own, unique recipes to make Thai sauces. Some families add galangal, palm sugar, tamarind paste, and more. It’s not easy to call one dip authentic. What matters most is the authentic ingredients and traditions within the families. This nam jim jaew recipe was passed down to me by my mother, who learned it all from my grandmother.

Why try this recipe

  • This sauce is our family tradition. Each time we’re having grilled meat, we whip up this flavorful condiment. Try it yourself and experience the flavors just like you’d find them in Isan, Thailand.
  • You can easily adjust the flavors to your preference. Before serving, do a taste-test. If it needs more sweetness, add more sugar. For more sourness, you can squeeze in more fresh lime juice. For an extra salty flavor, add more fish sauce.
  • It’s easy to whip up and incredibly versatile. This condiment is quick and easy-to-make. You can pair it with a variety of Thai food or use it as a salad dressing for nam tok nua.
Hand dipping a piece of pork in nam jim jaew chili dipping sauce. The sauce is inside a large black spoon on a wooden table.

Toasted rice powder

One of the key nam jim jaew sauce ingredients is pan-roasted sticky rice. It gives a delightful roasted flavor, and it thickens the structure of the sauce. You’ll also find glutinous rice powder in traditional Thai salads, such as the healthy larb pork (larb moo) and larb chicken (larb gai).

You can easily make this ingredient at home. The traditional method requires a mortar and pestle, but a food processor can be used to do it quick and easy. To make it yourself, just follow my easy toasted rice powder recipe. You can also order khao khua online.

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

Dried chili flakes

This dip isn’t made with fresh chili pepper, instead, we use dried chili flakes. They’re easy to make at home.

When I make them, I always prepare a large batch and once and store the rest in an airtight container for later. This way, you’ll save time and effort when you need it in the future, since you can use them in a lot of other Thai food as well.


For the exact measurements, please scroll down to the recipe card at the bottom of the page.

White sugar, lime wedge, fish sauce, dried chili flakes, and toasted rice powder in glass cups on a bamboo place mat.
  • Toasted rice powder
  • Dried chili flakes Thai people love to eat spicy, and I always add a bunch of prik bon (chili flakes) to my food. I suggest starting with a low amount of flakes, and add more after taste-testing. I like to make them myself, but in Thailand they’re also available at Thai markets.
  • Fish sauce – Fish sauce adds a salty, umami flavor. You can find this in an Asian grocery store.
  • White sugar – Substitutable for palm sugar, but using granulated sugar makes it easy to mix with a spoon. Don’t use brown sugar, this is not traditional.
  • Lime – Use fresh lime juice for the best flavor.
  • Optional: Garnish with cilantro (coriander) / scallions (green onions).

Short recipe video

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

♬ #เมนูนี้ฉันอ้วน – YELLOWSKRT

Step-by-step instructions

Use a large mixing bowl and a spoon to combine the ingredients.

Total Time: 5 minutes

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

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

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

Gently stir all ingredients with a spoon until everything is well mixed. Garnish with coriander or chopped green onions.

How to serve

After mixing, let the flavors meld together for 5 minutes.

This Thai chili dipping sauce goes perfect wide a wide array of Thai food. Grilled pork, Thai ribs, sticky rice, steamed/boiled fresh vegetables, and even salads. In Isan, we enjoy it with sticky rice and grilled chicken, pork, or beef.

How to store

Store in your fridge in an airtight container for a maximum of three days.

Because of the toasted rice powder, this sauce should be eaten within 3 days. The rice powder will absorb most of the liquid if you keep it longer, since it acts as a natural thickener. This will make it dry and thick.

Jaew dipping sauce in a black spoon with Thai ribs in the background.

Frequently asked questions (FAQ’s)

What is nam jim jaew made of?

Thai family’s all have their different ways and recipes for making this spicy dipping sauce. There’s not a right way or a wrong way. A good base of ingredients is fish sauce, sugar, lime juice, toasted rice powder and dried chili peppers. Som people like to use use chopped shallots and fresh herbs for extra flavor and texture.

Is this a spicy sauce?

Yes, jaew is made with chili flakes. The spiciness can be adjusted to your spice-level, just adjust the amount of chili flakes that are used in this recipe. Begin with a small amount, and if needed, add more later for extra spice.

How to make nam jim jaew?

Combine fish sauce, fresh lime juice, white sugar, dried chili flakes, and toasted rice powder into a large bowl and stir until all ingredients are thoroughly combined.

How do I store toasted rice powder?

You can keep toasted rice powder fresh in an airtight container in a cool place. It will last several months. You can use this powder to make Thai salads such as larb and nam tok.

Is toasted rice powder gluten-free?

Yes, toasted rice powder is made from sticky rice, which doesn’t contain gluten.

More Thai dipping sauces you’ll love

  • Nam chim kai (sweet chili) – The perfect accompaniment for your starters.
  • Nam prik ong – This Thai pork and tomato dip is traditionally paired with fresh or steamed vegetables, sticky rice, and pork crackling.
  • Nam jim seafood – Made with a bunch of fresh green chilies, a dash of fish sauce, a few squeezes of lime juice, and more simple ingredients.
  • Thai peanut sauce – Learn how to make the best peanut sauce with my grandmother’s recipe.

Did you fall in love with this nam jim jaew recipe? I’d be thrilled if you would leave a star rating and/or a comment below! Your feedback not only helps me grow, but it also helps others. And if you’re craving more Thai recipes like this one, make sure to subscribe to my newsletter. All the latest and greatest delivered straight to your inbox!

Difficulty: Beginner Cook Time 5 min Total Time 5 mins
Servings: 2 Calories: 41


This recipe for nam jim jaew comes together quickly in just 5 minutes.



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

  2. Gently stir all ingredients with a spoon until everything is well mixed. Garnish with coriander or chopped green onions.

Nutrition Facts

Servings 2

Amount Per Serving
Calories 41kcal
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 0.1g1%
Total Carbohydrate 10.4g4%
Dietary Fiber 0.5g2%
Sugars 6.6g
Protein 0.8g2%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily value may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.


  • 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.
Keywords: nam jim jaew, nam jim jaew recipe

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About Author


I owned my own Thai restaurant and have years of experience in various other Thai restaurants. I've been whipping up classic Thai dishes by my mother's and grandma's side since I was just a little girl. Now I'm sharing my deep-rooted passion with my authentic Thai recipes on this food blog.

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  1. Heather

    Thank you so much for sharing!

    • Praew

      You’re very welcome. Enjoy!

  1. Heather

    Thank you so much for sharing!

    • Praew

      You’re very welcome. Enjoy!

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