This homemade hoisin sauce recipe is easy to whip together with common pantry ingredients. It's sweet and salty and you can make it as spicy as you want it.
Are you a fan of hoisin sauce? I am. There is something special about this wonder sauce used to add big flavor to Chinese dishes and more around the world. You'll find it most often in stir fries but it's great as a dipping sauce or as a glaze.
Hoisin Sauce is a thick, aromatic Chinese sauce similar to American barbecue sauce, though not quite as sweet. It shifts between sweet, salty, and umami flavors. While the name of the sauce translates literally into seafood, it does not contain seafood elements. Instead, this sauce is made mainly from fermented soybean paste. That is why its consistency is so thick.
While there are many ways to make it, hoisin sauce is usually made with fermented soybean paste, but I'm sharing here a quick and easy version that uses peanut butter instead if you prefer, which is easier to find, though I do offer variations in the Recipe Notes section.
You can very easily find hoisin sauce in grocery stores, but with your own homemade hoisin sauce recipe, you can whip it together anytime you want. Plus, you can control what goes into it, like extra spicy elements!
The homemade version is so much better.
Let's talk about how to make hoisin sauce, shall we?
Hoisin Sauce Ingredients
- Soy Sauce. Low sodium is fine for this.
- Rice Vinegar.
- Peanut Butter or Soybean Paste. Traditional hoisin sauce is made with with soybean paste (like Korean doenjang, preferred), tahini, or black bean sauce. Peanut butter is more readily available and easier for most American cooks. I highly recommend finding doenjang.
- Fresh Garlic. Dried or granulated is good, too.
- Honey. Used for a touch of sweetness. Brown sugar is a good substitute, as is maple syrup or agave nectar.
- Chinese Five Spice Powder. Use as desired. I like a bit more for extra flavor, plus a little black pepper. This is a key ingredient for me, though you can easily omit it and it's still very good.
- Sriracha. Or use any Chinese hot sauce, red chili sauce, chili paste or try your favorite hot sauce.
- Cornstarch. This is a thickening agent.
How to Make Hoisin Sauce - the Recipe Method
First, add all of the ingredients to a small pot, except for the cornstarch - soy sauce, rice vinegar, peanut butter (or black bean sauce or tahini), garlic, honey, Chinese Five Spice Powder and sriracha (or hot sauce).
Heat to medium heat and warm through, stirring, until the ingredients combine.
In a small bowl, whisk the cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of cold water, until the cornstarch dissolves.
Pour the cornstarch and water mixture into the hoisin sauce pot and whisk until well combined.
Heat for another 1-2 minutes, until the hoisin sauce thickens.
Serve it up as needed.
Boom! Done! You have just made homemade hoisin sauce. Easy enough, isn't it? Give it a taste. So much better than store bought hoisin sauce, isn't it?
I love this recipe.
Recipe Tips & Notes
- Peanut Butter Substitutes & Additions. As mentioned, fermented soybean paste is more readily used to make homemade hoisin sauce, but peanut butter is an excellent substitute for the American cook. Peanut butter is a great thickener and flavor builder. Tahini is great as well, as is maple syrup for sweetness. Sesame oil is a welcomed here. Try it out with other thick pastes, like Korean gochujang, ssamjang, Chinese doubanjiang or harissa for an interesting version. The paste used will affect the final color of your hoisin sauce.
- Heat Factor. Mild, though you can spice it up with more sriracha sauce, chili paste, chili peppers, or the addition of spicy chili flakes.
5 Ways to Use Hoisin Sauce - Serving Ideas
- Dipping Sauce. Serve it on the side in a small bowl with potstickers, dumplings, sushi, spring rolls or lettuce wraps.
- Meat Glaze. Brush it over fish or chicken on the grill during cooking, then just at the end for big flavor. Use it like a Chinese barbecue sauce.
- Soup Enhancer. Swirl a few tablespoons into soups as they cook for a Chinese flair.
- Noodle Bowls. Swirl hoisin sauce into brothy noodles bowls like pho or ramen for a tasty spin. Asian food has never been so good.
- Stir Fries. Add a couple spoons of hoisin sauce at the end of your stir fry for a sweet and salty blast of flavor, like this Hoisin Chicken Stir Fry I whipped together or Chicken Fried Rice.
That's it my friends. I hope you enjoy it! Let me know if you make it, and how you wind up tweaking the recipe. I'd love to hear it! Spice it up!
Check out my post on Hoisin Sauce Substitutes for alternatives to this sauce.
Storage & Leftovers
Storing your homemade Hoisin Sauce in an airtight container in the fridge may allow you to store it for up to 2-3 weeks. To maximize the storage life, make sure to refrigerate it promptly.
Try Some of My Other Popular Recipes
- Teriyaki Marinade Recipe
- Sweet & Spicy Teriyaki Chicken
- Dan Dan Noodles
- Teriyaki Shrimp Stir Fry
- Chinese Dragon Chicken
- Korean Fried Chicken
- Chicken Satay
- Chow Mein
Try Some of My Popular Sauce Recipes
Got any questions? Ask away! I’m happy to help. If you enjoy this recipe, I hope you’ll leave a comment with some STARS. Also, please share it on social media. Don’t forget to tag us at #ChiliPepperMadness. I’ll be sure to share! Thanks! — Mike H.
Easy Homemade Hoisin Sauce Recipe
- 4 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons peanut butter (Or try it with tahini or black bean sauce - peanut butter is more readily available and easier)
- 3 cloves garlic minced - 1 teaspoon garlic powder is good instead
- 2 tablespoons honey (you can use brown sugar instead)
- 1/2 teaspoon Chinese Five Spice Powder use more as desired
- 2 teaspoons Sriracha (or use any Chinese hot sauce, red chili sauce, chili paste or try your favorite hot sauce)
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- Add all of the ingredients to a small pot, except for the cornstarch.
- Heat to medium heat and warm through, stirring, until the ingredients combine.
- In a small bowl, whisk the cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of cold water, until the cornstarch dissolves.
- Pour the cornstarch and water mixture into the hoisin sauce pot and whisk until well combined.
- Heat for another 1-2 minutes, until the hoisin sauce thickens.
NOTE: This recipe was updated on 12/11/20 to include new information and video. It was originally published on 3/30/20.