9 Most Popular Chinese Sauces

Original Publish Date:
| Last Updated on:

Sauces play an important role in different cuisines, may it be for restaurant dishes or classic dishes. One cuisine, which is the Chinese cuisine, is famous for their rich flavour. Thanks to the different Chinese sauces used in Chinese cooking. 

Chinese dishes have their typical Chinese condiment that compliments well with each other. From dipping sauces to a stir fry sauce, Chinese cooking has a lot to offer. It is time to discover what are the different Chinese sauces that you may find at the local Asian grocery store in your area. 

Chinese Sauces

If you are tired of the typical soy sauce or oyster sauce, check out these amazing Chinese sauce to enhance the flavor of your dishes. 

Siu Haau

Siu Haau

One of the most popular types of Chinese sauces,Siu haau is a barbecue sauce with thick consistency, savory, and slightly spicy flavor. It is primarily used in Chinese and Cantonese cuisine.

Unlike other Chinese sauces that are added while the food is done, Siu haau is typically used during the barbecue process while the meat is being cooked. This popular Chinese sauce is generally a combination of spices and other condiments, such as soy, oyster, and hoisin sauce, sugar, garlic, honey, pepper, and salt.

Hoisin Sauce

Hoisin Sauce

Hoisin sauce is not just a popular sauce in China, but Asian cuisines would love to have this in their dishes. Whether it is grilled or stir-fried meat and seafood dishes, Hoisin sauce can be used for glazing and flavoring a wide variety of Chinese dishes. 

Hoisin sauce has a unique blend of flavors. Starches such as sweet potato, wheat or rice, fermented soybeans, sesame paste, garlic, rice vinegar, red chili peppers, and brown sugar are the components of this one of the amazing Chinese sauces. 

It is also one of the most versatile Chinese sauces as it can be used also as a dipping sauce for spring rolls, egg rolls, grilled tofu, and other appetizers. If you are trying to create complex sauces, use Hoisin sauce as your base. 

Due to its distinctive, well-balanced flavor of salty, sweet, and spicy notes, hoisin sauce can boost the umami taste of certain dishes such as Peking duck and moo shu pork.

Sweet And Sour Sauce

Sweet And Sour Sauce

This is one of the most popular Chinese sauces as this sweet and sour mixture might have originated in the Chinese province of Hunan. It is usually associated with the authentic Chinese combination of rice vinegar and sugar that is also used originally as a condiment or a sauce for meat and vegetables or fish sauce.

The traditional sweet and sour sauce had a pale yellow color in its primary form and was usually uncooked and served on the side as a dipping sauce. Several fruits, such as pears and pineapples were used to create different flavor combinations or a sweet sauce. 

In this modern era, various sauces are added to the sweet and sour sauce to create new flavors. This includes dark soy sauce or light soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce (Japanese soy sauce). Brown sugar, molasses, and honey are also used to elevate and create explosions of flavors that can be used on different stir fry dishes. 

Mala Sauce

Mala Sauce

Mala sauce is made with Sichuan peppercorns, chili peppers, oil, and a handful of various spices, making it a brothy and spicy sauce. This sauce is considered as one of the most popular sauces with many regional varieties in Chinese food. 

This is a spicy sauce, thus, it is derived from the term málà literally meaning numbing and spicy. This is due to the Sichuan peppercorns as one of its main components. Some theories suggest that mala sauce originates from Sichuan in the 19th and 20th century. 

It is used on different cheap foods such as beef stomach, kidney, and solidified blood, since it has sharp flavors and layers of oil that could mask the bad scents of the food. Right now, Mala is typically used in various stir-fries, stews, and hot pots.



This traditional Chinese seasoning mix is also from the Sichuan region and is said to have been used in different Sichuan cuisines that are known for spiciness and bold flavors. The word yuxiang also refers to the sauce that is used to cook meat or vegetables.

In direct translation, Yúxiāng literally translates to fish fragrance. In reality, it does not contain seafood and is not commonly used in seafood dishes. Its main usage is to create a base flavor for vegetarian recipes and various dishes that may contain beef, pork, or chicken.

Yúxiāng is a mixture of different ingredients that includes  finely minced pickled chili called pao la jiao, white scallion, ginger, and garlic. The sauce is created by cooking the yúxiāng with  sugar, salt, chili peppers, soy sauce or vinegar and doubanjiang – spicy fermented black beans.

Soybean and rice paste are also present in this sauce as they are popularly known as the soul of Sichuan cuisine. 

Plum Sauce

Plum Sauce

If you are looking for a flavorful condiment that can go well with some dishes, may it be a dipping sauce or for a stir-fry sauce, check out the plum sauce. It is made with sweet plums, vinegar, ginger, chili, garlic, sugar, and salt. 

Though this is a common condiment, Plum sauce has a Chinese origin and you may often find it being sold at a Chinese grocery store. It is also seen offered at Chinese restaurants as one of their condiments. 

Due to its nature, plum sauce is used as a dipping sauce for different dishes such as roast duck, spring rolls, and noodles. It can also be brushed on poultry or ribs before grilling. If you want a thicker plum sauce, you may add other fruits such as apricots or prunes.



Chinese sauces may have been coming from Sichuan as Guaiwei is extremely prized in Sichuan cuisine due to its strange or exotic taste. This sauce is also rare to find outside of the region.

Guaiwei is composed of a unique Sichuan blend of spices and is commonly used in the preparation of sauces. This is also used as a seasoning for various seafood and meat dishes.

This Chine sauce is a hybrid as it is a combination of mala seasoning and yuxiang sauce, added with sugar, sesame seeds or oil, rice vinegar, soy sauce, and Sichuan peppercorns. What you will get is a mixture of sour, sweet, and salty flavour. 

Chicken dishes, braised dishes and stir-fries, dressing salads, or as a dip for wontons and potstickers will surely taste good if you will use Guaiwei on them.

XO Sauce

XO Sauce 

This popular Chinese sauce is also referred to as caviar of the East. It is made with boiled dried scallops, dried shrimp, dried ham, garlic, onions, and chili peppers. XO actually refers to the extra old cognac, but don’t be fooled as the sauce doesn’t have even a slight drop of it. 

Aside from being derived from cognac, XO sauce is also packaged like the valued spirit in Hong Kong. This sauce is packed with umami and is extremely flavorful. It has already established its name at restaurants across North America.

Aside from being a popular condiment or dipping sauce, XO is also used to improve the flavors of various stir-fries, seafood, rice, and vegetable dishes.



If you love super spicy and extremely hot sauce, this one’s for you. Sepen originated from Tibet but there are many variations of this sauce, may it be thick or thin, chunky or smooth. 

This sauce is a combination of red hot chili peppers, onions, tomatoes, scallions, garlic, celery, coriander, salt, and oil (chili oil or sesame oil). The ingredients are chopped and stir-fried in cooking oil until everything is cooked very well. 

The cooked sauce can be used directly as a dipping sauce or it can be smoothen by mashing or blending. Since it is from Tibet, sepen is typically served with mild Tibetan foods such as momo dumplings or laping.

Other Chinese Sauce That Are Popular

The typical chili garlic sauce can be elevated by incorporating it with some Chinese condiments such as sweet bean sauce or a seasoned soy sauce. There are few other ingredients that you can use for some good Chinese sauce such as Shaoxing rice wine, white rice vinegar, or black rice vinegar. 

Chinese cuisine is very vast and there are lots of Chinese condiments that can be incorporated on cooked dishes, may it be steamed dishes, for a richer flavor. Most Chinese condiments can be a combination of two or more ingredients

Most commonly used ingredients are dark soy sauce, soy beans, fermented bean curd, bean paste, bean sauce, Sha Cha sauce, or chili pepper. Some even used glutinous rice or wheat flour to thicken the sauce. 

There are different varieties of soy sauces that you can also use, such as teriyaki sauce if you need some savory sauce. They can be good at different dishes like red cooked dishes, Japanese cooking and chicken wings. 

These sauces offer a lot of varieties, may it be a sweet sauce or hot sauces. Depending on your preference, go ahead and check them out. 

Leave a Comment