Plums are an essential part of Chinese cuisine. In fact, these fruits were cultivated in China and continue to be a popular ingredient in many recipes.
One crucial ingredient is the plum sauce, a delicious ingredient you can find in most Chinese restaurants and dishes.
You Might Not Know: Plum sauce is also known as duck sauce but contains no duck. It’s famously used as a sauce for Peking duck!
Plum sauce isn’t just your typical Chinese condiment from squeeze bottles or packets from restaurants – It has history and tradition, which you can use in many recipes. (*)
Unfortunately, there may be times we can’t find any plum sauce anywhere, or we found out we ran out of it long ago while we’re already in the middle of making a recipe.
Not to worry, there are different plum sauce substitutes you can use and still nail that unique flavor you want!
Read on as we show you a list of the best replacements for whatever recipe you need it for.
What is Plum Sauce Exactly?
Plum sauce is made of plums, honey, ginger, garlic, vinegar, spices, chili, and other ingredients that have a strong, delicious flavor.
You can drizzle this sauce over rice, use it for baked pork or seafood, toss it with noodles, or create a stir-fry sauce or basting sauce to grill meats, seafood, or poultry.
It’s also delicious to use as a dipping sauce for egg rolls, spring rolls, wontons, or dumplings.
We also love using it as a finishing sauce on pork, chicken, fish, shrimp, and especially on roasted duck.
Fun fact: While plum sauce is made of fresh or dried plums, there are other recipe variations of the sauce. Some are made with apricots, pineapples, or peaches!
How Can You Choose The Perfect Plum Sauce Substitute?
Here are the tips for choosing the adequate plum sauce substitute based on the recipes you’ll make:
- If you want a sticky glaze for any roast, we recommend using homemade plum sauce, duck sauce, or hoisin sauce. These sauces have the thicker consistency required for a glaze.
- If you need a dipping sauce or marinade, we recommend using sweet and sour sauce, caramelized chutney, or char siu. You can even make these sauces yourself!
- If you want your dish to have that kick of umami, making it to the next level, then we suggest using teriyaki sauce, ponzu sauce, or soy sauce. Because these sauces are more liquidy, you can use them for salad dressings or as simple condiments.
So, if you’re out of plum sauce or have none on sale in your local grocery stores, what do you use? Here are the plum sauce substitutes to consider:
Plum Sauce Substitute (Your 10 Alternatives For Any Recipes!)
1. Sweet and Sour Sauce
Sweet and sour sauce offers that sweet and sour flavor plum sauce has. Plus, it’s very easy to find this sauce in your local supermarket.
That said, the sweet and sour sauce is more on the liquid side compared to the thicker consistency of plum sauce. Remember this as you cook, as it can alter your recipe’s texture.
Like plum sauce, sweet and sour sauce suits various dishes, like honey chicken, shrimp fried rice, or as a dipping sauce for dumplings!
You can also make your own sweet and sour sauce using these ingredients (no particular amount, adjust to your tastebuds):
Mix all these ingredients over medium heat, except for cornstarch. Once the mixture summers, mix a bit of the cornstarch with cold water and pour it on your sauce. Continue stirring until the sauce reaches your desired consistency.
2. Duck Sauce
As mentioned, plum sauce is also called duck sauce. However, this is a different duck sauce we’re referring to, also has a similar appearance, use, and texture.
What makes this duck sauce different is its bright orange color. It’s also translucent with a jelly-like consistency.
Besides using it in poultry, duck sauce goes well with deep-fried dishes, noodles, and rice. You can use it as a dipping sauce or glaze as well.
Duck sauce is made from a mix of various fruits, like apricots, apples, pineapples, pears, and even plums!
3. Hoisin Sauce
Hoisin sauce is a very convenient plum sauce alternative as it has the similar thick and sticky texture we appreciate in plum sauce. We also like how this sauce is the perfect combination of sweet and salty flavors with just a hint of spice.
With the sticky consistency in hoisin sauce, you can use it as a glaze for meat. Furthermore, you can use hoisin sauce as a marinade or dipping sauce, add it to rice, or mix it in your stir-fry.
Furthermore, it’s readily available in Asian food stores and grocery stores.
4. Soy Sauce
Soy sauce is even more readily available in grocery stores than Hoisin and plum sauce, making it a great substitute! It’s also the most widely used Asian sauce worldwide!
Soy sauce has a unique salty taste with a hint of sweetness. It also takes on a liquid texture in deep brown. More so, soy sauce has a dominant umami flavor, which is the fifth flavor in addition to the other four significant flavors, which has sour, bitter, salty, and sweet.
You can use soy sauce in almost any savory dish, whether it’s in soups, stews, marinades, stir-fry, or even pasta! We can also use soy sauce as a condiment to add more flavor or saltiness to our dishes.
There are different types of soy sauce varieties to choose from, depending on your tastebuds.
Light soy sauce is liquid and more of an all-purpose sauce, while dark soy sauce is thicker and sweeter. You can also try using white soy sauce, a much lighter option that won’t change your dish’s color.
5. Char Siu Sauce
Char siu sauce, also called Chinese barbecue sauce, is usually paired with pork dishes. We use this as a glaze or marinade in roasted pork skewers!
Char siu sauce is made of a mixture of Hoisin, soy sauce, sherry, honey, and Chinese five-spice powder. Expect a mix of sweet and salty flavors with a bit of spice in there!
Since char siu and plum sauce have similar purposes, the former makes a great substitute. However, char siu has a different texture, making it suitable for dipping sauce, spread, or marinade.
If you’re interested, you can make char siu at home, and it won’t require any cooking! Here are the ingredients:
- 1/4 cup of honey
- 1/4 cup of soy sauce
- 1/3 cup of HHoisin
- 3 tablespoons of dry sherry
- 1 teaspoon of Chinese five-spice powder
Simply mix all these ingredients and use the sauce for your recipes!
6. Garlic Teriyaki Sauce
This is a popular Japanese sauce best used as a meat marinade. In terms of structure, garlic teriyaki sauce is more basic, as it contains only four ingredients: sake, sugar, ginger, garlic, and soy sauce.
That said, you get a fantastic combination of sweet, salty, and tangy flavors! So. if you have no plum sauce, you can always use garlic teriyaki sauce.
We recommend using garlic teriyaki sauce as a marinade for meats, tofu, fish, or vegetables. Or, you can reduce teriyaki sauce to become sticky and glossy, perfect to use as a glaze or dipping sauce.
If you have no garlic teriyaki sauce, the typical teriyaki sauce will work just as well!
7. Ponzu Sauce
Ponzu sauce is another Japanese sauce and is perfect for dipping sauce if you have no plum sauce around.
Ponzu sauce stands out because of the refreshing citrus aroma it offers, along with the sweet mirin and savory bonito flakes it comes with. We like using it to dip noodles, dumplings, grilled meats, and fish.
Note that ponzu is a liquid sauce, so avoid adding it too early while cooking. If you’re making stews, soups, or a stir-fry sauce
8. Caramelized Onion Chutney
Caramelized onion chutney is a unique mix of sweet and savory flavors that complement most recipes and dishes. You can use this as a condiment with grilled vegetables or meat, as a dipping sauce, or even a spread on bruschetta!
While this ingredient has no fruit base, you get the sweetness of caramelized onions and sticky texture from the chutney, making it a fantastic substitute for plum sauce. You can also find chutney in other variations, such as mango chutney, papaya, tomato, and chili!
9. XO Sauce
It’s a spicy sauce that originated from Hong Kong back in the 1980s with a rich and spicy flavor that can enhance flavors of meats, fish, and vegetables like broccoli.
Furthermore, it has an intense flavor that supplements fried rice, noodles, and tofu. It’s great to use as a dipping choice with most of your favorite food, too.
10. Make Your Own Homemade Plum Sauce Substitute!
Yes, you can make your own plum sauce from ingredients you most likely have at home! This isn’t the best option if you’re in a hurry, but if you want to experiment and have a sufficient supply of plum sauce in the future, then we recommend trying it.
Follow this recipe, which yields ten servings.
- 16 ounces of plum jam
- 1 tablespoon of brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons of vinegar
- 1 minced garlic clove
- 1 tablespoon of dried minced onion
- 1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
- Add all your ingredients in a saucepan, cooking over medium heat.
- Stir your mixture thoroughly until it begins boiling. Remove it from the heat.
- Let it cool and transfer the mixture in a jar, and you’re done!
Frequently Asked Questions
If you still have more questions about plum sauce, we’ve got you covered! Here are frequently asked questions from our readers:
Wrapping It Up
Did you get to find a good plum sauce substitute from our list? If so, let us know what you thought about it and if you have other suggestions in the comments section below.