Hoisin Sauce Recipe

This simple homemade hoisin is a delicious sauce and glaze in its own right, as well as an essential ingredient in countless Chinese dishes.

A ramekin of homemade hoisin sauce. A hoisin-smeared Mandarin pancake is visible off to the side.

Serious Eats / Joshua Bousel

Why This Recipe Works

  • Black bean paste and soy sauce give the sauce savory depth.
  • A carefully calibrated ratio of dark brown sugar, honey, and rice wine vinegar create the perfect sweet-tart balance.
  • Touches of five-spice powder, sesame paste, and sriracha add heat and a subtle nuttiness.

Of all of the sauces to explore for this mini American-Chinese sauce series, hoisin was the most intriguing to me—it's one that I use most often, yet never considered what actually goes into making it.

You probably won't find it in little packets like duck sauce or sweet and sour sauce, but hoisin is a staple in many American Chinese dishes—almost anything labeled "barbecue" is sure to have it, and you'll usually find it alongside moo shu pork and peking duck.

Trying to unravel its ingredients was a bit perplexing. Each ingredients list I studied was different than the last, and one of the few recipes I found online said fermented bean paste and peanut butter were interchangeable.

So I bought a couple of different bean pastes and other sauces from the Asian market along with a few different hoisins for comparison.

I began with equal parts brown sugar and a black bean and garlic paste, then mixed in the other ingredients, looking for that familiar taste. At this point, I realized my sauce wasn't sweet enough. I kept adding more sugar, along with honey, until it reached the right point where the sweet was dominant at first, but slightly faded into the tang of vinegar after a few seconds. It had the familiar depth, savoriness, and sweet-sour balance that I love in hoisin.

January 2012

Recipe Details

Hoisin Sauce Recipe

Active 10 mins
Total 10 mins
Serves 8 servings
Makes 1/2 cup

This simple homemade hoisin is a delicious sauce and glaze in its own right, as well as an essential ingredient in countless Chinese dishes.


  • 6 tablespoons dark brown sugar

  • 3 tablespoons black bean and garlic paste

  • 3 tablespoons water

  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce

  • 2 tablespoons honey

  • 4 teaspoons rice vinegar

  • 1/2 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame paste

  • 1/4 teaspoon sriracha


  1. Combine brown sugar, black bean and garlic paste, water, soy sauce, honey, vinegar, five-spice powder, sesame paste, and Sriracha in a small sauce pan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, lower heat, and simmer until sauce thickens, about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Let cool to room temperature and use immediately or store in an airtight container.

    Ingredients for hoisin sauce are brought to a boil in a saucepan and stirred with a whisk.

    Serious Eats / Joshua Bousel

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Nutrition Facts (per serving)
60 Calories
0g Fat
14g Carbs
1g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8
Amount per serving
Calories 60
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 261mg 11%
Total Carbohydrate 14g 5%
Dietary Fiber 0g 2%
Total Sugars 13g
Protein 1g
Vitamin C 0mg 1%
Calcium 12mg 1%
Iron 0mg 2%
Potassium 51mg 1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)