Sambal Ijo (Easy Indonesian Green Chilli Paste)

Today’s recipe, Sambal Ijo, is one of my favourite South East Asian condiments, for its flavour, its colour and its heat.

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Sambal Ijo, green chilli sauce in glass jar, dark photo
Sambal Ijo

What is Sambal?

There is no direct translation for the Malay/Indonesian word “sambal”. It can be both a dry-ish type of condiment or something with a little bit of sauce meant to be eaten as a side dish. However, in both instances, they will be spicy.

Sri Lankans have the same thing too, spelled “sambol”, the most famous being “Pol Sambal”, a spicy condiment with a grated coconut base.

This Sambal Ijo is a very green condiment, the colour comes from the green birds eye chillies and green tomatoes used, although I go a step further by adding some coriander (cilantro) leaves to my recipe too. Sambal Ijo is traditionally eaten as a condiment but also wonderful as a topping and a marinade.

Ijo is the Indonesian word for green, in Malay, it is hijau.

Sambal Ijo, green chilli sauce in glass jar, dark photo
Sambal Ijo

Sambal Ijo Ingredients

Chillies for Sambal Ijo

Traditionally, this is a very spicy recipe as it’s meant to be a spicy condiment. However, you can make it milder by using jalapeños or a mixture of jalapeños and birds eye, as long as they’re green.

When making chilli pepper condiments, I love to go for a heat range that allows me to enjoy the actual flavour of the dish too, not just aim for debilitating heat! Know what I mean? Of course, one man’s heat is another man’s… ! So, if you’re not sure what you can handle, start low!

Professional picture of tomatillo, husk in the background
Tomatillo – Mexican Husk Tomato. Click to read more

Tomatoes for Sambal Ijo

Your tomatoes have to be green, it is sambal ijo, after all! Those of us not in the tropics, summertime is the only time we can find green, unripe tomatoes.

I also love to use tomatillos (image above) in this recipe in mid to late summer, as I grow them every year. Tomatillos are very tart, and add an extra zing to our Sambal Ijo.

If you can’t find fresh green tomatoes, see if you can find a Mexican grocer/shop and look for their canned tomatillos – perfect!

How to Make Sambal Ijo

Super easy. All we do is:

  1. Chop all the main ingredients in a chopper
  2. Fry in a little oil
  3. Season
  4. Transfer to a jar

Sterilising Jars for our Sambal Ijo (if you are so inclined)

  1. Turn the oven on to a cool 130˚C/250˚F/Gas Mark ½.
  2. Wash the jar and lid in hot soapy water.
  3. Place the jar and lid upside down in the oven and leave them to dry, with the door closed for 15 minutes.
  4. Turn the oven off and leave the jar and lid in there, bringing them out only when you are ready to fill. Be careful, as they’ll be hot.

Images by LinsFoodies

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And if you make the recipe, share it on any platform and tag me @azlinbloor, and hashtag it #linsfood

Lin xx

Sambal Ijo, green chilli sauce in glass jar, dark photo

Sambal Ijo (Indonesian Green Chilli)

This Sambal Ijo is a spicy, green condiment, the colour comes from the green birds eye chillies and green tomatoes used, although I go a step further by adding some coriander (cilantro) leaves to my recipe too.
5 from 120 votes
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Course: Sauces
Cuisine: Indonesian
Keyword: indonesian, sambal
Prep Time: 4 minutes
Cook Time: 6 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 10 (Makes about 200g/7 oz)
Calories: 39kcal
Author: Azlin Bloor


  • 1 Knife
  • 1 Chopping board
  • 1 Food chopper
  • spoon aas needed
  • jar for storage



  • 12 mild green chillies like jalapeños
  • 2-3 birds eye chillies
  • 2 green tomatoes or tomatillos
  • 2 shallots
  • 1 small garlic clove
  • 1 small handful fresh coriander (cilantro)
  • 2 Tbsp water


  • 1 Tbsp vegetable or peanut oil
  • 1 tsp white sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • juice of half a lime


  • Place all ingredients A in a food chopper and chop to a coarse blend. You could also go for a smooth blend here but I think the sambal tastes so much better with texture.
  • Heat the oil in a frying pan or small wok on medium heat.
  • Sauté the chopped ingredients, adding the sugar and salt in. Stir occasionally, you’ll be cooking this for about five minutes, by which time that lovely aroma will be filling up your kitchen.
  • Take off the heat and stir the lime juice in.
  • Transfer to a clean jar and it should keep for a week in the fridge.


Calories: 39kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 2g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 298mg | Potassium: 64mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 120IU | Vitamin C: 21mg | Calcium: 3mg | Iron: 1mg
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30 thoughts on “Sambal Ijo (Easy Indonesian Green Chilli Paste)”

  1. What’s a chopper please? Food processor? Stick mixxer?

    And what’s a small garlic? Cove or head?


    1. Hi Ziggy, I wrote this article about 7 years ago. Everything you’ve asked is much clearer in my posts these days!
      Chopper – little food processor that will chop things up (instead of blend). What you would use instead of a pestle and mortar.
      And it’s garlic clove.

  2. Jennifer Prince

    Ooooh! This sounds like it would add flavor to a lot of different things. I love ethnic foods, and I have to test this out!

  3. I can see how this would be very versatile as a sauce for many of my foods. I always love things which kick the spice quotient up a bit. Looks delicious and easy to make.

  4. Oh so it can be dry. I though sambal is only saucy. We love chili sauces. My husband would like this. Too bad we do not have a lot of choices for chili varieties in my city.

  5. Yum! Looks delicious and that also seem to be easy to make. I’ve never tried that food before but it sounds worth trying and tasting. 🙂

  6. Dalene Ekirapa

    Spicy recipes are my favorite! Whenever I’m having grilled meats or barbecue, such spicy eats are usually part of the toppings. And yes, Sambal Ijo looks like something I’d really want to try too.

  7. What a great idea this is for a chilli paste. It looks delicious and so quick and easy to do!

  8. Monidipa Dutta

    Haven’t tried any recipe only with chilli since a long time. I need to try it out. Moreover I loved the nutrition facts.

  9. Ohhh I love chili! Just hoarded some from my last trip to Singapore. Must try making it!! Thanks for this!

  10. I never heard of this before but it looks and sounds absolutely delicious!!! I will definitely be giving this a try!

  11. Clive Marsters

    This is a really good recipe for all those green peppers that won’t be ripening now. Thanks Azlin!

  12. Will this recipe freeze well? I have a ton of Portugal peppers and green tomatoes from the garden. Thank you.

    1. Absolutely! It’ll work really well in small amounts. The other alternative is to store it in sterilised jars and giving the jars a water bath. Great hostess/Christmas gift.

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