sambal kecap served

Sambal Kecap Recipe: An Amazing Sweet and Spicy Sauce

Last Updated on March 26, 2024 by Damian

Welcome to another great sambal recipe. Sambal kecap is a very intense spice paste that adds a great sweet and spicy taste. I highly recommend trying this one if you’re up for some serious flavors!

To make sambal kecap, simply grind some chillies and garlic. Add some spices and lime juice and you’re all set! Very simple and delicious.

What is sambal kecap?

Sambal kecap is a versatile Indonesian sauce that adds warmth and depth to any dish. Made from spicy bird’s eye chillies, fresh lime juice, garlic, kecap manis (Indonesian sweet soy sauce), palm sugar and coriander powder, this sauce is a delicious addition to grilled meats, seafood, noodles, rice, and vegetables.

The term “Sambal Kecap” derives from two Indonesian words: ‘Sambal‘, which refers to sauce made from chillies, and ‘Kecap’, signifying the sweet soy sauce. This condiment is an integral component of Indonesian cuisine, reflecting the nation’s love for complex and bold flavors.

The unique balance of sweetness from the palm sugar and kecap manis, the heat from bird’s eye chillies, and the citrusy brightness from lime juice makes saambal kecap a loved addition across a wide variety of dishes.

Origins of this sambal can be traced back to indigenous cooking traditions of Indonesia, and over time, this sauce has secured its place in the larger Southeast Asian culinary environment.

Let’s get started on how to make sambal kecap!

Step 1: Collect the ingredients

sambal kecap served

Sambal kecap

Sambal kecap! A great sauce to use for adding intense flavor to various dishes. Definitely try it out if you're into some spicy foods!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Course Sambal
Cuisine Indonesian
Servings 4 servings
Calories 50 kcal


  • Food processor


  • 10 bird's eye chillies (red and green)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • lime juice of half a lime
  • 2 tbsp kecap manis
  • 1 tsp palm sugar
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • salt to taste


  • Collect the ingredients
  • Chop and grind the ingredients
  • Serve and conserve sambal kecap
Keyword Sambal kecap

Note: the given kcal count is based on a 2 tbsp serving of sambal kecap.

What to consider when choosing the ingredients

When making sambal kecap, it’s important to choose fresh and flavorful ingredients that enhance the overall taste and texture of the dish.

For example, when selecting bird’s eye chillies, look for ones that are plump, firm, and bright red or green in color. The red ones are usually hotter than the green ones, but both varieties pack a punch of heat and flavor.

If you can’t find bird’s eye chillies, you can substitute with other spicy peppers, such as serrano or Thai chillies.

The garlic should be fresh and fragrant, and the lime juice should be freshly squeezed for a maximum citrus tone.

sambal kecap ingredients

Step 2: Chop and grind the ingredients

To make the sambal kecap, start by washing and roughly chopping the chillies, and peeling the garlic cloves.

grinding ingredients

Add them to a food processor, along with the kecap manis, palm sugar, coriander powder, and salt to taste. Pulse for about 10 seconds, or until the chillies and garlic are finely shredded and mixed with the spices. That’s it!

Step 3: Serve and conserve sambal kecap

Once the sambal kecap is ready, it can be served immediately or stored in the fridge for a few days. It pairs well with any dish that needs a kick of heat and umami, such as grilled chicken, fish, or tofu, stir-fried vegetables, fried rice, or noodles.

zoomed sambal kecap

To serve, simply spoon a teaspoon or two of the sambal on the side of your plate, or mix it with some lime juice and soy sauce to create a dipping sauce. I recommend serving with the following recipes:

When it comes to conserving sambal kecap, it’s best to store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days.

The sugars in the kecap manis and palm sugar may cause the sambal to ferment over time, which can alter the taste and texture. So, if you want to enjoy the full flavor and freshness of sambal kecap, it’s best to make it in small batches and serve it immediately.

I hope you liked this recipe, consider trying out some of my other sambals:


What is sambal sauce made of?

Sambal is a spicy condiment that originated in Southeast Asia, particularly in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore. It’s made from a variety of spicy peppers, such as bird’s eye chillies, garlic, shallots, ginger, vinegar or lime juice, sugar, and other seasonings. There are many variations of sambal, depending on the region and the recipe.

Is sambal sweet?

Sambal can be sweet or savory, depending on the recipe and the ingredients used. Sambal kecap, for example, is a sweet and spicy sauce that combines kecap manis and palm sugar with bird’s eye chillies and garlic. Other sambal varieties may be more savory and salty, with less sugar and more herbs and spices.

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