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!
Szechuan Sauce Recipe
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 flavors, 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, though I definitely recommend them.
This sauce is incredibly versatile and super easy to make, which I love, a perfect stir fry sauce.
Homemade is so much better than anything you'll get at the store or in tiny sauce packets.
Let's talk about how to make szechuan sauce, shall we?
Szechuan Sauce Ingredients
- Soy Sauce.
- Rice Vinegar.
- Sesame Oil.
- Ground Ginger. Fresh ginger is good, too.
- Honey. Or more for sweeter - you can also use brown sugar, sugar, or maple syrup.
- Chili Garlic Sauce.
- Garlic Powder. Fresh garlic is good, too.
- Sriracha. Or more to taste - you can use other hot sauces.
- Crushed Red Pepper Flakes. For a hot and spicy version.
- Chicken Stock.
- Cornstarch. Optional, for thickening.
- Szechuan Peppercorns. Lightly toasted and ground (or use black peppercorns instead).
- Chinese 5 Spice.
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.
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 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.
Recipe Tips & Notes
- Szechuan peppercorns (aka Sichuan peppercorns) 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.
- 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.
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:
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.
Storage & Leftovers
Storing your Szechuan Sauce in an airtight container in the fridge may allow you to store it for up to 1-2 weeks. To maximize the storage life, make sure to refrigerate the sauce promptly.
Try Some of My Other Popular 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.
Szechuan Sauce Recipe
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon honey or more for sweeter
- 1 tablespoon chili garlic sauce
- 1/2 tablespoon ground ginger fresh minced ginger is good, too
- 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
- 1-2 tablespoons cornstarch optional, for thickening
- 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon szechuan peppercorns lightly toasted and ground (or to taste - or use black peppercorns instead)
- 1/2 - 1 teaspoon Chinese 5 spice
- 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.
NOTE: This recipe was updated on 1/1/2021 to include new information and video. It was originally published on 5/6/2020.