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Authentic Chinese Plum Sauce

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Chinese plum sauce is a smooth sweet and tart sauce infused with traditional Chinese spices and boasts a deliciously complex flavor profile that will mesmerize your taste buds!  It’s wonderfully versatile as a dipping sauce, stir-fry sauce, basting sauce or glaze as well as simply tossed with noodles and drizzled on rice.

plum sauce recipe homemade duck sauce Chinese asian condiment traditional authentic

Chinese Plum Sauce Recipe

It is believed that the Chinese were the first to cultivate plums and plums have an important place in traditional Chinese culture.  Even Confucius paid tribute to them in a poem wherein he likens their beauty to a loved one:

“The branches of the aspen plum
To and fro they sway
How can I not think of her?
But home is far away.”

What Is Plum Sauce?  

Another famous tribute to plums is a culinary one and it comes in the form of Plum Sauce.  Or Duck Sauce.  The terms are interchangeable and refer to the same thing:  A highly popular, delicious, and versatile Chinese condiment you’ll find in any Chinese takeout or restaurant.  And no, there’s no actual duck in it.  But there are plums, spices, honey and other ingredients that make this traditional and authentic plum sauce recipe a real winner.

Now I have to tell you from the get-go, this isn’t the typical congealed and anemic cornstarch + sugar + vinegar + food coloring duck sauce that comes in ketchup-style packets or in squeeze bottles at your local Chinese takeout.  This is the more authentic, home-style Chinese plum sauce that you’ll find in only the best Chinese restaurants with a far more complex (translated “amazingly delicious”) flavor profile.  Multiple layers of flavor come together to create a truly sensational sauce that will dazzle your taste buds!

What Kind of Plums Should I Use?

You can use any plums you have available for this sauce.  Some variations of this sauce are even made with peaches, apricots or pineapple.  You can also use traditional Chinese salted plums that come dried or in jars packed in brine.  You can find them online or in Asian grocery stores but given their source and list of ingredients I do not recommend them.  I am using and recommend fresh plums.

We happen to have three Italian plum trees on our property and making and canning enough plum sauce to last until the following plum harvest is one way I put our plums to good use.

Plum lovers, be sure to also check out my Plum Butter, German Plum Cake (Zwetschgenkuchen), and homemade Fruit Leather!

Among a variety of Chinese spices, we’re also using another ingredient that the Chinese traditionally included in their plum sauce – sweet potato – that contributes a rich color and smooth texture.  Once you’ve gathered the spices and ingredients you need, this sauce is easy to prepare and makes to either give away as a hostess gift or to last you for quite a while.

This sauce can be made and eaten within a couple of weeks or canned for long-term storage.  I’m including canning instructions for those interested.

Last but not least, the all-important question:

How Do You Use Plum Sauce?

This plum sauce is not only delicious, it’s wonderfully versatile.  Here are just a few ways you can use it:

  • As a dipping sauce for wontons, egg rolls, spring rolls, dumplings, etc.
  • Serve as a finishing sauce with roasted duck (that’s where it got its nickname “duck sauce”), fish, shrimp, chicken and pork
  • As a stir-fry sauce
  • Tossed with noodles
  • Drizzled on rice
  • As a basting sauce for grilling meats, poultry and seafood
  • As a glaze for baked poultry, pork and seafood

How To Can Plum Sauce for Long-Term Storage

That’s right, you can easily make a double bath or more and can it so that you can enjoy this delicious plum sauce all year long! All you have to do to can this is ladle the hot plum sauce into sterilized jars, seal with the lids and process in a boiling water canner for 15 minutes.  Turn off the heat and let sit for 5 minutes.  Remove the jars and let sit undisturbed for 24 hours then check the seals.  Then store the jars in a dark cool place where they will keep for at least a year.

plum sauce recipe homemade duck sauce Chinese asian condiment traditional authentic

Plum Sauce Recipe

Let’s get started!

Place all the ingredients except for the spice mixture in a medium-sized pot and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes.  Use an immersion blender or transfer to a blender to puree until smooth (then return to pot).  

blending ingredients in saucepan

Place the whole spices (skip if using store-bought five spice powder) in a small dry pan and toast over medium-high heat just until fragrant.  Be careful not to scorch the spices or they will taste bitter.  Let the spices cool and then place the whole spices in a piece of cheesecloth tied shut with string or in a tea sachet.  Do the same if using store-bought ground five spice powder.

Place the spice packet in the pot with the plum sauce and continue to simmer uncovered for 25-45 minutes until the sauce is thickened to the desired consistency.  Discard the spice packet.  Let the sauce cool.  Store in the fridge in an airtight non-reactive container.  Will keep for up to 2 weeks.

removing spices

OPTIONAL CANNING INSTRUCTIONS:  Ladle the hot plum sauce into sterilized jars, seal with the lids and process in a boiling water canner for 15 minutes.  Turn off the heat and let sit for 5 minutes.  Remove the jars and let sit undisturbed for 24 hours then check the seals.  Will keep in a dark, cool place for at least a year.

canning plum sauce

Enjoy!

plum sauce recipe homemade duck sauce Chinese asian condiment traditional authentic

Authentic Chinese Plum Sauce

Use this popular and versatile Chinese Plum Sauce as a dipping sauce for for everything from wontons, egg rolls, spring rolls, dumplings, roasted duck, fish, chicken, shrimp, or with noodles and rice.  Use it to baste your meats before grilling or as a glaze for baked poultry and pork.  
4.91 from 62 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Course condiment
Cuisine Chinese
Servings 64 tablespoons (2 pints)
Calories 21 kcal

Ingredients
 
 

Instructions
 

  • Place all the ingredients except for the spice mixture in a medium-sized pot and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes.  Use an immersion blender or transfer to a blender to puree until smooth (then return to pot).  
  • Place the whole spices (skip if using store-bought five spice powder) in a small dry pan and toast over medium-high heat just until fragrant.  Be careful not to scorch the spices or they will taste bitter.  Let the spices cool and then place the whole spices in a piece of cheesecloth tied shut with string or in a tea sachet.  Do the same if using store-bought ground five spice powder. 
  •  Place the spice packet in the pot with the plum sauce and continue to simmer uncovered for 25-45 minutes until the sauce is thickened to the desired consistency.  Discard the spice packet.  Let the sauce cool.  Store in the fridge in an airtight non-reactive container.  Will keep for up to 2 weeks.
  • CANNING INSTRUCTIONS:  Ladle the hot plum sauce into sterilized jars, seal with the lids and process in a boiling water canner for 15 minutes.  Turn off the heat and let sit for 5 minutes.  Remove the jars and let sit undisturbed for 24 hours then check the seals.  Will keep in a dark, cool place for at least a year.

Nutrition

Serving: 1tablespoonCalories: 21kcalCarbohydrates: 5gSodium: 51mgPotassium: 41mgSugar: 4gVitamin A: 50IUVitamin C: 1.7mgCalcium: 5mgIron: 0.1mg
Keyword Plum Sauce
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
kimberly killebrew the daring gourmet

Hi, I’m Kimberly Killebrew and welcome to Daring Gourmet where you'll find delicious originals, revitalized classics, and simply downright good eats from around the world! Originally from Germany, later raised in England, world-traveled, and now living in the U.S., from my globally-influenced kitchen I invite you to tour the world through your taste buds!

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Recipe Rating




4.91 from 62 votes (27 ratings without comment)

168 Comments

  1. Hi, lovely looking recipe!
    If you use the automatic x2 or x3 buttons on the top right, the spices amounts don’t increase… I assumed this was an error and doubled the 5spice, hoping that was right 🤣
    It smells and looks fabulous, I will be using it when it’s had a chance to mellow a bit.

    1. Hi Joanna, you can use any sized mason jar – Ball and Kerr are the two main brands and they come with special lids for sealing. Since I generally only use a little sauce at a time, I prefer to use smaller jars for this so that I don’t end up with a large open jar that needs to be used up quickly. I usually use half pint jars for this but that’s just my personal preference.

  2. Can I freeze the plum purée to make the plum sauce in the future? I just found out I can’t can on my glass cooktop, and I need to use a friends stove when she’s available. I really want to make this! Please give me any guidance you can.

  3. Can I just leave the yam or sweet potato out? Have all I need as the other ingredients are a Staple in my house! Trying tonight

  4. This may be a silly question. But is the 2lbs. Of plums weighed out then pitted and chopped? Or is the 2lbs.of plums supposed to have been potted before weighed?

      1. Dianne,
        I’m sure it was a typo, that happens , Gina typed “pitted” earlier in her question.
        But you being PERFECT just had to call her out.
        Have a great day!

  5. I’m not clear on the last line of ingredients. What does using the 5 spice powder replace?

  6. Just tried this recipe and tastes delicious. Easy instructions and very tasty. I used canned plums as we don’t have access to fresh, still works a treat and great for roast pork, thank you 😊

  7. This is the second year I make this recipe. I use Mont Royal plums here in Quebec, Canada. This is by far the best recipe for plum sauce, it can and freezes well! Thank you for sharing!

      1. This looks delicious, wondering if there is a replacement suggestion for the Garnet yam, as we don’t have at the moment. Thanks!