served sambal bawang

How to Make Sambal Bawang (Onion Sambal)

Welcome to another great sambal recipe! This time it’s on sambal bawang, a really nice fried sambal with onion (bawang). Easy to make and conserved nicely by using some vinegar.

To make sambal bawang, simply roast onions in the oven. Grind up a bunch of chillies with the roasted onion and sugar and top up with vinegar! Really easy and deliciously spicy sambal.

What is sambal bawang?

Sambal bawang originates from Indonesia and uses roasted onion with chillies as the main ingredient. Very easy to make as there is no cooking, apart from the roasting, needed.

Sambal bawang directly translated into “onion sambal” and is closely related to sambal bawang merah, the red onion variant of the sambal.

Let’s continue on how to make sambal bawang!

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Step 1: Collect the ingredients

served sambal bawang

Sambal bawang

Sambal bawang, an absolutely amazing sambal that is very easy to make! Enjoy.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Sambal
Cuisine Indonesian
Servings 200 g


  • Food processor


  • 15 red chillies (~10cm)
  • 8 bird's eye chillies (cabe rawit)
  • 2 onions
  • 3 tsp brown sugar
  • 50 ml vinegar
  • salt to taste


  • Collect the ingredients
  • Roast the onions
  • Grind the chillies, onion and sugar
  • Serve or conserve
Keyword Sambal bawang

What to consider when choosing the ingredients

Like always, think about the type and amount of chillies you want to use, the amount given here gives a nice spiciness if you remove seeds from the chillies. I recommend removing the seeds anyway if you are just started making your own sambal.

The roasted onion gives a really nice taste to this sambal bawang! Unmissable in this recipe, consider adding more onions if you want a more intense taste and less spiciness. I’ve made a full recipe on roasted spicy vegetables, check it out if you want to know more!

Other than that, the ingredient list is very basic! Some sugar to add sweetness, salt and vinegar for a flavor boost and to add a conservative.

Play around with the amounts if you’d like. Consider adding some terasi or tamarind paste, even some kaffir leaves might work nice! Have fun experimenting and let me know what you made!


Let’s continue with the steps on how to make sambal bawang:

Step 2: Roast the onions

Start of by pre-heating the oven to 230C. You can go higher in temperature if your oven allows it!

To roast the onions, simply peel and chop them roughly. Add to an oven save dish and roast them for about 10 minutes on 230C. You can continue to step 3 during these 10 minutes.

Pre-heating the oven to higher temperatures prevents the temperature to drop much below 230C when opening the oven and placing in the onions. After that, roast on 230C!

onions before oven
onions after oven

Step 3: Grind the chillies, onions and sugar

Meanwhile, let’s deseed the chillies! Roll them between your hands or fingers to break up the seeds. Chop them roughly and add directly to a drainer. Wash them thoroughly, washing away seeds as well.

When doing this watch out! Don’t stay directly above the drainer as the chillies might release a very spicy fragrant to the air, directly into your lungs!

chopped and deseeded chillies
chillies in foodprocessor

Add to a food processor with the sugar and salt. If you don’t have one, I highly recommend investing in a good quality one as I highly use it in my recipes! If you want to have some good cooking skills, so should you! Click here to order the one I use.

Grind to a consistency you like and wait for the onions to be added!

ingredients in foodprocessor
ground ingredients

Once the onions are ready, give them some time to cool down a bit so they don’t melt your container. It should be fine as the chillies will cool down the paste when grinding, just to be safe wait a moment after the oven.

Add salt to taste and vinegar and that’s it! Very easy sambal to make and highly delicious!

Step 4: Serve or conserve

Now it’s time to have a taste, mind the spiciness if you just eat is without having anything next to it! I use a piece of cheese to scoop a bit of sambal and taste. Add more salt or sugar if you think it’s necessary.

Serve this sambal with various rice dishes, as sandwich spreads on wraps, whatever you usually make!

served sambal bawang

I can recommend adding this sambal to the following recipes:

If you like this sambal, check out some of my other sambals:

Simply conserve this sambal in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks, smell, taste and look before you eat! Alternatively you can store in the freezer and it will conserve for many many months! I would recommend storing in single servings in the freezer so de-frosting is quick and you don’t defrost everything all to the time!

I hope you enjoyed this recipe, let me know what you think and please leave a rating! Enjoy.

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