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Sweet & Authentic Thai Chilli Jam Recipe – Nam Prik Pao

Sweet & Authentic Thai Chilli Jam Recipe – Nam Prik Pao

Have you ever heard of “chilli” jam? It certainly sounds very unconventional, doesn’t it? The Thai Chilli Jam (or “Nam Prik Pao” in Thai) is a thick chilli paste that is dark red in colour, with a jam-like consistency (usually) flooded with flavoured oils.

The chilli jam can be classified as 2 types – the spicy type and the non-spicy type. The spicy version adds dried Cayenne chilli (add an additional cup to this recipe), while the non-spicy version uses only Guajillo Peppers (prik yuak heng) which is known for their sweet, non-spicy taste and deep red colour that is lent to the jam. They appear to be shorter but wider than the usual Cayenne chilli (prik chee fah), and many times larger and darker than the Bird’s Eye chilli (prik ki nu).

Read more about chillis here.

As Thai children, we enjoyed having the Thai Chilli Jam with plain glutinous rice for our meals, or as jam to spread on toast for our breakfast.

Thai Chilli Jam spread on toast.
Have it with bread – it’s amazing!

As mothers and home cooks (chefs even!), we will keep a jar of this staple jam in our fridges to use in our cooking – often the oil will add a depth of flavour to other Thai dishes, such as Tom Yum, stir fry meats and vegetable dishes. In an airtight container, the jam will last a few months as the oil prevents air from going to the jam.

As the Thai Chilli Jam can be kept for a few months at a time, I would usually make a big batch of it for prolonged consumption. I often add more oil to the chilli jam as well, so that it makes it easier to cook stir-fry vegetables or to have it with bread for breakfast.

Nam Prik Pao Recipe


Dried shrimp,paste sugar, tamarind water, fish sauce, salt, shrimp paste, garlic, shallots, chilli and cooking oil.
These are the ingredients for our Thai Chilli Jam, or aka Nam Prik Pao!

Firstly, prepare the ingredients. The main star is the dried Guajillo peppers, which should be dark red in colour. The stems and seeds should be removed so that the jam is smooth. Chop the shallots and garlic into smaller pieces to aid in the frying and processing later on.


Prepare a large strainer over a larger bowl for straining the shallots later on. Set aside.

In a large frying pan, add cooking oil over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and fry until the fragrance is released and the shallots start to turn brown.

Light browned shallots in hot oil over a pan.
The shallots are done!

Immediately turn off the heat. Pour the shallots into the strainer to remove the excess oil.

Fried shallots & shallot oil being poured through a strainer over a bowl.
Strain the shallots from the oil; the excess oil can be kept for future use 😉

Set the shallot oil aside. With the strainer, spread the shallots over a wide heat-proof area (oil splash screens are a great tool for this). This is to slow down the cooking process as the shallots will continue to cook from the residual heat. The darker the caramelization, the darker the colour of the Thai Chilli Jam.

Repeat this process for the chopped garlic, adding a new batch of cooking oil for the garlic. With this process, we will have extra shallot and garlic oil for future use – a wonderful by-product of making Nam Prik Pao.

Fried shallots and garlic cooled over a wide oil splash screen.
Allow the shallots and garlic to cool completely.

Add the rest of the cooking oil to the frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the chillis and fry for about 30 seconds to infuse the flavour into the Thai chilli jam oil.

Large dried chopped Guajillo Peppers fried in oil.
Wear a mask when frying – the smell is sharp and pungent, enough to throw me in a coughing fit!

Remove the chillis once done and add the fried shrimp to the oil. Fry for another 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until the prawns appear dry. Turn off the heat, remove the prawns and set them aside.

Fried dried shrimp and Guajillo Peppers cooled over a wide flat container.
Allow the shrimp and chilli to cool completely.

Turn on the heat. Add the shrimp paste and fry until the fragrance is released and the paste has melted into the oil.

A lump of shrimp paste in hot oil.
Sitr the shrimp paste in the shrimp and chilli oil until melted.

Carefully add tamarind water and continue to stir until it comes to a boil. Add the paste sugar.

A lump of shrimp paste in hot oil.
Stir the paste sugar until melted.

Slowly stir to melt it into the mixture. Continue to stir until it comes to a boil.

Thick viscous oil mixture in a rolling boil over the pan.
The oil mixture is ready!

Carefully add the water to the sides of the pan. This is to avoid scalding as the steam escapes from the pan. Once the water has been added, carefully stir the Thai Chilli Jam oil mixture until it has fully combined. Turn off the heat and allow the oil mixture to rest.

Blending the Thai Chilli Jam Fried Ingredients

By now, all the fried ingredients set aside should have cooled down. Add the shallots, garlic and dried shrimp into a food processor. Blend the ingredients to the desired granularity. Finer paste makes for a smoother jam.

Scrape down the sides of the food processor as necessary. Next, add the dried chilli to the food processor and continue to blend until well incorporated.

Finely blended fried shallots, garlic, shrimp and chillis in a food processor.
The finer the blend, the smoother the jam.

Cooking it all Together

Add the blended paste into the oil mixture, stirring to combine well.

Pouring blended fried shallots, garlic, shrimp and chillis into sweet oil mixture.
Ensure the heat is off before pouring the blended ingredients!
Thick dark red viscous chilli jam being stirred in a pan.
Stir the blended ingredients well to combine.

Turn on the heat and continue to cook until the Thai chilli jam appears to be separated from the oil. Taste the jam to determine if there is enough taste.

Red, viscous liquid separating from the chilli oil.
The Thai Chilli Jam is done – add salt/ fish sauce to taste.

Note: if there is a lack of taste, add the fish sauce and continue to stir until well-incorporated and adjust as desired. As my dried prawns are slightly salty, I found that the Thai chilli jam at the taste-test point to have sufficient balance of saltiness with the sweetness and sourness of the jam.

Turn off the heat. Transfer the jam into a heatproof bowl to cool.

Adding Oil to Cover the Thai Chilli Jam

As I prefer having that extra oil from the chilli jam to infuse other dishes, I decided to convert some of the shallot oil to the chilli jam oil.

Without washing the frying pan (as the essence of the Thai Chilli Jam is still present), add the shallot oil and turn on the heat. Allow the oil to come to a small boil.

Small bubbles in oil over pan.
Shallot oil is bubbling – it’s ready to be mixed into the Thai Chilli Jam!

Turn off the heat and carefully add the oil into the Chilli Jam.

Hot oil being poured into a bowl of Thai Chilli Jam.
Adding more oil to the chilli jam.

Allow it to sizzle and bubble for a little before mixing it all up with a heatproof spoon.

Oil bubbling over Thai Chili Jam.
Watch is sizzle before stirring to mix all that deliciousness!

Allow it to cool before transferring to an airtight container. The Thai Chilli Jam can be stored in the fridge for roughly 6 – 8 months, but I am sure that it will be devoured within that time period. 😉

Thai chilli jam with plain white rice and wholemeal toast.
Enjoy Thai Chilli Jam with plain rice or plain toast. Yum!

Nam Prik Pao is delicious eaten as a topping with rice, or as a spread with toast. It is delicious when paired with foods that have a subtle taste and is not heavy on the palate.

So give it a try, you won’t be disappointed 😉

Thai Chilli Jam with toast in the background.

Thai Chilli Jam | Nam Prik Pao | น้ำพริกเผา

Somjit Najaireeb
This authentic Thai Chilli Jam is a staple food in Thai households, where it would be eaten with plain rice or spread on toast as a jam on its own, or as a flavour enhancer for other dishes. This recipe is child-friendly as the dried chilli used is not spicy.
0 from 0 votes
Prep Time 1 hr
Cook Time 10 mins
Course Breakfast, Ingredient, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine Thai
Servings 350 g
Calories 14 kcal


  • Knife
  • Frying Pan
  • Turner
  • Food Processor
  • Wide plates
  • Glass Jars


  • 80 g dried chilli, guajillo, stems & seeds removed
  • 150 g paste sugar, substitute: palm sugar, gula melaka
  • 400 g cooking oil
  • ½ cup tamarind water
  • 30 g shrimp paste, belacan
  • 50 g dried shrimp
  • 150 g shallots, chopped
  • 80 g garlic, chopped
  • ½ cup water

Optional (add only if the chilli jam is lacking taste)

  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • ½ tsp salt


Fried Ingredients

  • In a frying pan over medium heat, add cooking oil.
  • Fry the shallots until slightly browned. Filter the shallots from the oil with a strainer and allow to cool over cooling rack.
  • Add more cooking oil to the pan.
  • Repeat the steps with the garlic.
  • Add the rest of the oil to the pan.
  • Fry the dry chilli for roughly 30 seconds. Turn off the heat. Remove the dry chillis and set aside.
  • Turn on the heat. Add the dried shrimp to the chilli oil and fry for 30 seconds.
  • Remove the dried shrimps from the oil. Set aside.

Oil Mixture

  • Add the shrimp paste to the oil in pan. Fry until the shrimp paste has dissolved.
  • Carefully add the tamarind water and continue stirring until well-combined.
  • Reduce the heat. Add paste sugar and stir until completely melted. Keep stirring for 1-2 minutes, until it comes to a slow boil.
  • Carefully add the water to the sides of the pan. Stir to combine well. Turn off the heat and allow to rest.

Blending the Jam

  • Add the shallots, garlic, and dried prawns to a food processor. Process until fine.
  • Add the chilli to the food processor and continue to process until fine. The colour of the blend will darken to red.

Cooking it all together

  • Add the blended ingredients to the pan and stir until combined. Turn on the heat to medium-high and continue to stir until it comes to a boil.
  • Continue stirring for a few minutes. Once the mixture is cooked, the oil will separate from the jam.
  • Taste the jam. Add the optional ingredients if needed.
  • Switch off the heat and allow to cool in a separate bowl.

Optional – Adding more oil to the jam

  • Add the desired amount of onion/garlic oil to the pan. Turn on the heat and bring to a boil.
  • Turn off the heat and carefully pour the oil into the bowl of chilli jam. Carefully stir the chilli jam to mix.
  • Allow the chilli jam to cool before transferring to dry, airtight glass jars to be kept refrigerated.



  • Use guajillo peppers for this recipe – guajillo chilli peppers are sweet and not-spicy, which lends to the charm of this chilli jam.
  • Do not over-fry the shallots as they tend to continue cooking over residual heat. 
  • Cover face with a mask before frying the chilli as it will release sharp, pungent odors when in contact with hot oils.
  • After frying the shallots, garlic, chilli and dried shrimp, spread them over a wide surface area to ensure the residual heat escapes evenly.
  • The fish sauce and salt are optional in this recipe – as my dried prawns were already salty, both the fish sauce and salt were not used.
  • Personally, I decided to add more oil to the chilli jam as it opens opportunities to use the oil in other dishes such as Tom Yum, Stirfry dishes, etc. The oil lends a depth of flavour to the other dishes in comparison to the bland cooking oil. Additionally, the chilli jam will absorb the oil, reducing its amount over time.
  • For the spicy variation, add 1 cup of dried Cayenne chilli and mix with the Guajillo Peppers.


Serving: 10gCalories: 14kcalCarbohydrates: 1gProtein: 1gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 3mgSodium: 16mgPotassium: 7mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 61IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 2mgIron: 1mg
Keyword guajillo peppers, paste sugar, prik yuak heng, thai chilli jam, thai fish sauce
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