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6 May 2020

This homemade szechuan sauce recipe is the perfect combination of sweet and spicy, and so easy to make. It’s perfect for quick dinners, stir fries, noodle dishes, sprucing up vegetables, marinating meats and so much more. Cooks in 5 minutes!

We’re following chili peppers around the world and landing in China today, my friends. The Sichuan province, to be exact, home of an iconic sauce you’ve most likely heard of – Szechuan Sauce.

Szechuan sauce is a foundation of Szechuan cuisine, which is filled with bold flavors, lot of spices, particularly Szechuan peppercorns, and, of course, chili peppers, which came to the region via Mexican and India.

Szechuan sauce itself isn’t overly spicy, though you can easily spice things up with hotter chili flakes and powders to your liking. The sauce is more a combination of sweet and savory, with a touch of spiciness, relying heavily on soy sauce as a base ingredient.

Sichuan peppercorns are a component of the sauce, though I’m listing them as an optional ingredient for you here. The flavors of the peppercorns are quite unique, and rather hit or miss with some. Give one a try to see if you think you’ll like it.

This sauce is incredibly versatile and super easy to make, which I love. Gather up your ingredients and you’ll have it ready to enjoy in about 5 minutes. All the work is whisking and bit of simmering. Easy enough! Homemade is so much better than anything you’ll get at the store or in tiny sauce packets.

Let’s talk about how we make szechuan sauce, shall we?

A spoon ful of Szechuan Sauce for tasting

Szechuan Sauce Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger (fresh ginger is good, too)
  • 1 tablespoon honey (or more for sweeter – you can also use brown sugar, sugar, or maple syrup)
  • 1 tablespoon chili garlic sauce
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder (fresh minced garlic is good, too)
  • 1 teaspoon sriracha (or more to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • OPTIONAL INGREDIENTS
  • 1-2 tablespoons cornstarch (optional, for thickening)
  • 1/2 – 1 teaspoon szechuan peppercorns, lightly toasted and ground (or use black peppercorns instead)
  • 1/2 – 1 teaspoon Chinese 5 spice

Szechuan Sauce ingredients

How to Make Szechuan Sauce – the Recipe Method

Whisk all of the ingredients except the cornstarch together in a small pot. You can blend them in a food processor or blender if you’d like.

Bring the pot to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer at medium heat for 3 minutes. 

Whisking the Szechuan Sauce ingredients together in a pot

If you’d like to thicken it, dissolve 1 tablespoon cornstarch in 2 tablespoons of water until well mixed. Stir it into the szechuan sauce and stir until it thickens up, 2-3 minutes. For thicker szechuan sauce, use 2 tablespoons cornstarch.

A spoonful of Szechuan Sauce from the pot

Cool and serve in a small bowl, or use as desired.

Boom! Done! Your sweet and spicy Szechuan sauce is ready to serve! Easy recipe, isn’t it? I love easy. So simple to whip this sauce together last minute for quick and easy meals. So good.

Pouring thick Szechuan Sauce into a bowl

Recipe Tips & Notes

  • Szechuan Peppercorns. Szechuan peppercorns (aka Sichuan pepper) and szechuan pepper have a unique flavor that is hit or miss with some people. The flavor is described as lemony, perfumy, almost soapy. They aren’t hot like peppers, but can cause your tongue to tingle. I enjoy them, though not everyone does. If you use them, lightly toast them in a dry pan first, then grind them down into a powder. Use black peppercorns if you can’t find the szechuan variety, though they aren’t the same. Or simply omit them, as the sauce is delicious without them, though including them makes the recipe more authentic.

Whole Szechuan peppercorns in a bowl

  • McDonald’s Szechuan Sauce. A bit of history to this, and a funny story worth mentioning – McDonald’s introduced their version of this iconic sauce to promote the movie Mulan in 1998, then promptly dropped it from its menu, despite being a huge hit. People clamored for the stuff. It was brought back briefly after being mentioned on the series “Rick and Morty” in 2017, though in limited quantities, prompting offers of thousands of dollars for a single sauce packet. I guess people love their szechuan sauce! I’ve read McDonald’s will be releasing it again. This homemade version is so much better.

Szechuan Sauce on a spoon

Uses for Szechuan Sauce

Szechuan sauce is perfect for stir fry dishes, though you can also use it as a marinade or a dipping sauce. Some great dishes include:

  • Szechuan Chicken
  • Szechuan Beef
  • Szechuan Noodles
  • Szechuan Shrimp
  • Szechuan Tofu
  • Szechuan Fried Rice
  • Szechuan Chicken Fried Rice

That’s it, my friends. I hope you enjoy my Szechuan sauce recipe. So many great ways to enjoy it! Let me know if you make it. I’d love to hear how it turned out for you. Keep it spicy! Szechuan sauce is gluten free, by the way.

Szechuan Sauce in a bowl

Try Some of My Other Popular Recipes

Szechuan Sauce on a spoon

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.

Szechuan Sauce Recipe
Print Recipe
5 from 2 votes

Szechuan Sauce Recipe

This homemade szechuan sauce recipe is the perfect combination of sweet and spicy, and so easy to make. It's perfect for quick dinners, stir fries, noodle dishes, and more.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time5 mins
Course: Main Course, sauce
Cuisine: American, Chinese
Keyword: chili flakes, soy sauce, spicy, sriracha
Servings: 4
Calories: 98kcal

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger fresh minced ginger is good, too
  • 1 tablespoon honey or more for sweeter
  • 1 tablespoon chili garlic sauce
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder fresh minced garlic is good, too
  • 1 teaspoon sriracha or more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock

OPTIONAL INGREDIENTS

  • 1-2 tablespoons cornstarch optional, for thickening
  • 1/2 - 1 teaspoon szechuan peppercorns lightly toasted and ground (or use black peppercorns instead)
  • 1/2 - 1 teaspoon Chinese 5 spice

Instructions

  • Whisk all of the ingredients except the cornstarch together in a small pot. You can blend them in a food processor or blender if you'd like.
  • Bring the pot to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 3 minutes.
  • If you'd like to thicken it, dissolve 1 tablespoon cornstarch in 2 tablespoons of water until well mixed. Stir it into the szechuan sauce and stir until it thickens up, 2-3 minutes. For thicker szechuan sauce, use 2 tablespoons cornstarch.
  • Cool and serve.

Notes

Store in the refrigerator in a sealed container.
Makes just about 1 cup.
Heat Factor: Mild, but there is some zing from the combination of chili pepper flakes and sriracha. You can easily heat things up with hotter pepper flakes, hot sauce, or adding in some hot chili powder.

Nutrition

Calories: 98kcal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 1mg | Sodium: 1098mg | Potassium: 141mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 148IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 20mg | Iron: 1mg

 

Szechuan Sauce

6 comments

  1. Nikk Fangaiuiha

    5 stars
    Hi does the szechuan sauce last longer in the fridge once it been made or you have to hurry up an use it all.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Nikk, yes, it will last a good week or longer covered in the refrigerator.

  2. 5 stars
    Thanks Mike, another great one. I diced three chicken breasts (half breasts), cooked on the skillet, then cooked the vegetables (green beans, onions, broccoli) and put them together with the sauce. Less than fifteen minutes all in…tempted to drop in some serranos I had but the kids said no 🙂

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Very nice! Great to hear, Matt. Definitely makes for an easy meal. I’d like some serrano, please!

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      RuthAnn, it is 1/4 cup. Sorry, I updated the recipe. I hope you enjoy it.

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