This recipe for homemade Hoisin sauce contains mainly pantry ingredients and is quick & easy to make in just a few simple steps. The fragrant, rich, sweet and salty sauce is low in fat, vegan, refined sugar-free, and can be made gluten-free.
Lately, I have tried out so many homemade stir-fry Asian sauces and dips because I just love their sweet, salty, and spicy flavor. Today, I want to share this homemade Hoisin sauce recipe with you which is the perfect dip for summer rolls/spring rolls but it can be also used as a marinade or glaze!
What Is Hoisin Sauce?
It’s a popular southern Chinese sauce and widely used in Cantonese cuisine. If you live in the USA, you can buy it in Asian grocery stores or order it online. But it’s not available everywhere, in fact, I don’t have the possibility to buy it in a supermarket. Furthermore, in my opinion, homemade is always best. Not only is it healthier to make your own version (nobody wants to eat preservatives, refined sugar, and artificial coloring) but it’s often also cheaper!
As per Wikipedia, Hoisin (海鮮) is actually the Chinese word for “seafood”, however, the sauce does not contain any seafood ingredients, so it’s naturally vegan. Why is it called “hoisin” then? Because the sauce was often used as an accompaniment to seafood dishes. Oyster sauce, which is another popular Chinese sauce, on the other hand, does contain seafood ingredients since it’s made from oysters.
The main ingredient of traditional Hoisin sauce is fermented soybean paste (e.g. Doubanjiang) which is quite salty, tangy, and flavorful. Since it’s not easily available in most countries, and furthermore not suitable for people with soy allergies, I offer different substitutes. Actually, I used peanut butter which is absolutely not authentic or traditional in any way, however, it adds a creamy and rich flavor.
If you are allergic to soy and peanuts, you can use tahini or Chinese sesame paste (which is made from toasted sesame seeds).
How To Make Hoisin Sauce?
This recipe has only 2 simple steps and it takes just 5 minutes to make the sauce. I will give you 3 different options on how you can make the sauce:
Option 1 – Whisk it together in a bowl
- Add peanut butter, date paste, liquid sweetener, and molasses to a medium-sized bowl and stir with a whisk until smooth.
- Now add the remaining ingredients (except the cornstarch) and mix again until combined.
Option 2 – The food processor or blender method
- Add all ingredients to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. This method is best if you use whole pitted dates instead of date paste.
Option 3 – The saucepan method
- If you want the sauce to be even thicker and smoother, I recommend this method. Add all ingredients including the cornstarch to a saucepan and stir with a whisk. Bring to a simmer and cook on low heat for about 30 seconds or until thickened.
No matter which method you are going to use, I would recommend tasting the sauce and if necessary adding more soy sauce/rice vinegar/sweetener/hot sauce, etc.
Homemade Date Paste
You don’t need to use date paste to make this delicious flavorful sauce. However, it’s great to have a homemade date paste in the refrigerator because it can be used for so many recipes. You can use it to make healthier desserts like muffins, brownies, or cakes if you don’t want to consume refined sugar!
Here is how to make homemade date paste: Soak 120 grams of pitted dates in 100 ml (a little less than 1/2 cup) boiling water until softened. Then blend the dates with the soaking water in a food processor or mini blender until smooth. Use 4 tablespoons of the date paste for this recipe. Store leftover date paste covered in the fridge for up to 2 weeks or freeze it.
Tips & Substitutes
How to store? Store sauce leftovers in a glass jar with a lid in the refrigerator for up to a week, possibly even longer!
Hot sauce: Can be left out if using Doubanjiang which is already spicy. If you aren’t using spicy fermented bean paste, I recommend adding hot sauce or Sriracha. Another option would be to use a pinch of red pepper flakes!
Sweetener: Any liquid sweetener is fine. I used maple syrup but you can also use any other sweetener if you don’t have any syrup at home. Some examples are agave syrup, brown rice syrup, date syrup, regular sugar, etc.
Cornstarch: It’s optional to make the sauce a little thicker. You can use arrowroot flour, tapioca flour/starch, or potato starch instead of cornstarch.
Soy sauce: I always use gluten-free dark soy sauce. A combination of light soy sauce and dark soy sauce is fine too. Make sure to use tamari (or a gluten-free soy sauce) if you are allergic to gluten (celiac). Use coconut aminos for a soy-free alternative
Molasses: Not typical but it really adds an interesting flavor, plus it’s rich in vitamins and minerals. A little goes a long way, so don’t use more than the recipe calls for. If you don’t like the flavor of molasses (some people hate it) then leave it out and add more maple syrup instead.
Serving suggestions: You can use this flavorful sauce in any stir-fry recipe, as a sweet & sour dip for summer rolls, dumplings, or as a glaze or marinade!
Should you give this tasty Hoisin sauce recipe a try, please leave a comment below, and don’t forget to tag me in your Instagram or Facebook post with @elavegan and #elavegan because I love to see your remakes!
If you love Asian food, definitely also check out the following flavorful, delicious vegan recipes:
- Chinese Garlic Sauce
- Garlic Broccoli Stir-Fry
- Kung Pao Cauliflower
- Sticky Teriyaki Tofu
- Thai Coconut Curry Soup
Homemade Hoisin Sauce
- 4 tbsp (64 g) date paste (*see notes)
- 2 tbsp (32 g) creamy peanut butter (*see notes)
- 1 tbsp (20 g) maple syrup
- 1/2 tbsp (10 g) molasses or maple syrup
- 2 tbsp (20 ml) soy sauce or tamari or coconut aminos
- 2 tbsp (20 ml) rice vinegar
- 1 tsp (5 ml) sesame oil
- 1 tsp hot sauce or more to taste
- 1 clove garlic finely minced or crushed
- 1/4 tsp five-spice powder (*see notes)
- 1/2 tsp cornstarch (optional)
- Add date paste, peanut butter, maple syrup, and molasses to a medium-sized bowl and stir with a whisk until smooth.
- Now add all other ingredients (except the cornstarch) and mix again until combined. You can also blend all ingredients in a food processor or blender until smooth.
- The sauce is medium thick but if you want it to be even thicker and smoother, I recommend the saucepan method: Add the ingredients along with the cornstarch to a saucepan and stir with a whisk. Bring to a simmer and cook on low heat for about 30 seconds.
- Taste the sauce and add more soy sauce/rice vinegar/sweetener/hot sauce, etc. if needed. Enjoy as a dip for summer rolls, spring rolls, or as a sauce for stir-fries!
- Date paste: If you want to make the Hoisin sauce in a food processor or blender, you can use 2 Medjool dates or 4-5 small dates instead of date paste. Simply add the dates to a small bowl and pour in hot water to just cover the dates. Soak for a couple of minutes until softened. Then discard almost all the soaking water but keep 2 tablespoons and add it to the blender or food processor with all other ingredients. Read the blog post above to find how to make homemade date paste.
- Substitute for dates: If you can't have dates, you can use soaked raisins or soaked dried plums instead.
- Peanut butter: Traditional Hoisin sauce contains black fermented soybean paste. Since it's unavailable where I live, I used peanut butter for a creamy and thick sauce but feel free to use fermented soybean paste for a more authentic version. Miso paste could be another option.
- Five-spice powder: To make your own five-spice powder, mix together the following ground spices: A pinch each of star anise, cloves, cinnamon, Sichuan pepper, and fennel seeds. You can also include a pinch of nutmeg. If you don't have all these spices, just use the ones you have. I definitely recommend cinnamon, cloves, and fennel!
- Recipe makes about 175 grams (about 3/4 cup). Nutrition facts are for 22 grams (about 1 heaped tablespoon).
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