20-Minute Duck Sauce Recipe – Sweet, Tangy, And Delicious

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Duck Sauce Recipe is a sweet and tangy condiment. At the same time, it’s perfect for elevating the flavor of many dishes. Research shows that it’s predominantly used in Chinese cuisine. If you feel your meal lacks a little zest, add a dab of duck sauce. All you need is a small amount, and you’ll get that burst of flavor you’re seeking.

Duck sauce recipe, that delightful blend of sweet and tangy, has often been a highlight of many culinary adventures I’ve embarked upon. During a recent visit to a friend in Paris, I was intrigued to find duck sauce paired with a traditional French dish. 

Duck Sauce Recipe

It was an unusual fusion, yet it worked. On a separate occasion, in a bustling Middle Eastern bazaar.

I stumbled upon a local vendor adding this sauce to their signature dish, proving its versatility. 

However, many people are unaware of this sauce’s authentic taste and diverse uses. 

There’s a common misconception that duck sauce is limited to certain dishes. Expanding one’s palate by integrating it into various cuisines

By understanding its unique flavor profile and experimenting, you’ll get a condiment that’s perfect for both Asian and non-Asian dishes alike. 

After trying it in a renowned eatery, my kids now constantly request it at home. So, all you need is an open mind and a dash of this sauce to elevate your meals.

What Is Duck Sauce Recipe?

Duck sauce is a sweet and tangy condiment, commonly amber-hued, primarily made from plums, apricots, sugar, and vinegar. 

It is widely associated with Chinese-American cuisine and is perfect for pairing with spring rolls, crispy wontons, and other fried appetizers. 

At the same time, its versatile nature has seen it incorporated into various recipes beyond its traditional scope. While its name might suggest otherwise, duck sauce typically contains no duck. 

Instead, it earned its moniker because it’s often served with Peking duck. All you need is a dab, and you’ll get that desired hint of sweetness and tartness.

History Of Duck Sauce Recipe

Duck sauce, also known as “plum sauce,” has its roots in ancient Chinese cuisine. Although the exact origin is debated, research shows that it has been used in Chinese dishes for centuries. 

It’s believed that chefs from the imperial kitchens were among the first to craft this sauce, utilizing ripe plums and other local ingredients. Its association with ducks, especially the Peking duck, led to its popular moniker. 

Over time, as Chinese cuisine migrated to the West, the sauce underwent various adaptations, leading to the sweeter versions more commonly found in Chinese-American restaurants today.

Interesting Facts About Duck Sauce Recipe

  • Duck sauce’s primary ingredients usually include plums or apricots, but some versions also use pineapples or peaches.
  • Despite its name, duck sauce doesn’t contain any duck. The name stems from its pairing with the Peking duck.
  • The sauce is perfect for dipping and cooking, showcasing its versatility in the kitchen.
  • Different regions have their unique take on duck sauce. For instance, in some areas, the sauce might be spicier, while in others, it leans toward a more sugary palate.
  • Research shows that duck sauce contains antioxidant properties thanks to its fruit content.
  • All you need to make homemade duck sauce are essential ingredients, and you’ll get a fresh, preservative-free version.
  • Although widely recognized in Chinese-American cuisine, its origins trace back to traditional Chinese dishes.

What Are The Regional Adaptations Of This Sauce Recipe?

While rooted in Chinese culinary traditions, Duck sauce has seen various regional adaptations as it spread across the globe. 

In North America, especially in Chinese-American eateries, the sauce tends to be sweeter, often using apricots or oranges. 

The sauce might have a slightly tangier profile in parts of Europe, with some chefs adding more vinegar. 

I’ve observed hints of spices in specific Middle Eastern locales, introducing a warming undertone. 

Southeast Asian versions sometimes integrate chili, lending a spicier kick. On the other hand, the traditional Chinese version is primarily made from fermented plums, balancing sweet and sour perfectly. 

What Will Make You Love This Duck Sauce? 

Duck sauce’s delightful blend of sweet and tart flavors sets it apart. Its smooth, slightly viscous texture is perfect for clinging to various dishes, enhancing their taste. This sauce is for you if you appreciate a condiment that balances sugary and tangy. 

Research shows that using it as a dip and cooking can uplift a meal’s flavor profile. One of the best things you can do is add it to unexpected dishes; you might be pleasantly surprised. Keep in mind that its versatility spans across cuisines. 

Whether you’re serving crispy appetizers or grilled meats, all you need is a dollop of duck sauce, and you’ll get an instant flavor upgrade.


Ingredients List 

Coarsely chopped mixed fruit5 cups
Water1 cup
Apple juice3/4 cup
Soy sauce1 teaspoon
Apricot preserves1 tablespoon
Light brown sugar (packed)1/2 cup
Garlic powder1/2 teaspoon
Dry mustard1/2 teaspoon

Ingredient Tips

  • Mixed Fruit: Ensure the fruits are ripe but firm. Overripe fruits can make the sauce too mushy.
  • Water: Filtered water can produce a purer flavor, free from any chlorine taste.
  • Apple Juice: Opt for unsweetened apple juice to control the sugar content and maintain the sauce’s balance.
  • Soy Sauce: Low-sodium soy sauce is perfect for controlling the salt level while maintaining depth.
  • Apricot Preserves: Ensure no large fruit chunks are in the preserves for a smoother sauce.
  • Brown Sugar: Lightly pack the brown sugar when measuring to avoid making the sauce overly sweet.
  • Garlic Powder: Freshly ground garlic powder will give you a more robust flavor.
  • Dry Mustard: Store in a cool, dark place to maintain potency. On the other hand, you can try adding a hint of mustard seeds for added zest.

What Are The Variations Of Duck Sauce Recipe?

  • Spicy Kick: Add red pepper flakes or a splash of sriracha for some heat.
  • Tropical Twist: Pineapple or mango chunks introduce a tropical flavor profile.
  • Zesty Touch: Lemon or orange zest can add a refreshing citrus note.
  • Honey Sweetened: Replace brown sugar with honey for a smoother, natural sweetness.
  • Ginger Infused: Grate fresh ginger into the mix for a warm, aromatic undertone.
  • Richer Texture: Try adding a splash of molasses for a deeper color and richer consistency.
  • Vinegar Punch: A dash of rice vinegar can heighten the tanginess.
  • Herbal Notes: Fresh herbs like rosemary or thyme can be infused and removed after cooking for an aromatic touch.

Recipe Directions 

Cooking Method

  • Place the mixed fruit in a stock pot set over medium-high heat.
  • Add apple juice, apricot preserves, brown sugar, garlic powder, soy sauce, dry mustard, and soy sauce in the water.
  • Bring the mixture to a simmer, ensuring you stir frequently. This will help dissolve the brown sugar seamlessly.
  • Once dissolved, reduce the heat and let it simmer for about 40 minutes. By this time, the fruit should be completely soft.
  • After simmering, remove the pot from the heat and allow the mixture to cool down.
  • Transfer the cooled mixture to a food processor or blender. Blend until the sauce attains a completely smooth texture. If the sauce is too thick, add some water to adjust its consistency.
  • Transfer the smooth sauce into a container.

Ferment Method 

  • If you’d like a fermented twist to the duck sauce
  • Once the sauce is prepared, let it sit in a cool, dark place for 2-3 days in a jar with a loosely fitted lid instead of refrigerating.
  • After fermenting, store it in the refrigerator to halt the fermentation process.

Scaling The Recipe 


  • All you need is to multiply each ingredient quantity by two. For instance, instead of 5 cups of fruit, you’d use 10 cups. Cooking time might increase slightly to ensure all ingredients meld together correctly.


  • Divide each ingredient quantity by two. Instead of 5 cups of fruit, you’d use 2.5 cups. Monitor the cooking time; it might decrease slightly, but keep an eye out to ensure the consistency is just right.
  • Universal rule: Always taste and adjust seasoning when scaling; flavor profiles can change with quantity alterations.
Duck Sauce Recipe

Can This Sauce Be Used As A Marinade, Dipping Sauce, Or Dressing For Salads?

Duck sauce’s versatility shines through its varied applications. As a marinade, it penetrates proteins, imparting a sweet and tangy flavor, perfect for poultry or pork. The rich consistency ensures that meats retain moisture during cooking. 

Its balanced sweet-to-sour ratio complements fried appetizers, spring rolls, and grilled meats when used as a dipping sauce. On the other hand, as a dressing for salads, it provides an unexpected zesty twist. 

Try adding it to fresh greens, crunchy veggies, or noodle salads. You’ll get a delightful fusion of flavors. 

The universal rule is to adjust the sauce’s consistency based on its intended use, ensuring optimal taste and texture.

What Are The Best Dishes To Accompany Duck Sauce?

  • Peking Duck: The sauce’s namesake accentuates the duck’s crispy skin and juicy meat.
  • Spring Rolls: As a dipping companion, the sauce uplifts the savory fillings.
  • Crispy Wontons: The crunchy texture juxtaposed with the sauce’s smoothness is divine.
  • Grilled Chicken: It adds a succulent sweetness as a glaze or side.
  • Dim Sum: Various dim sum dishes benefit from a dab of this sauce.
  • Stir-fried Vegetables: Drizzle over to infuse a hint of sweetness.
  • Noodle Dishes: Mixed in, it provides a tangy contrast to savory noodles.
  • Pork Chops: Glazed over grilled or baked chops, it caramelizes beautifully, enhancing flavor.
Duck Sauce Recipe

What Are Some Classic Dishes That Feature Duck Sauce?

  • Peking Duck Wraps: Thin slices of roasted duck wrapped in thin pancakes, complemented by the sweet tang of duck sauce.
  • Spring Rolls: Often served with duck sauce as a dipping companion for that added flavor.
  • Egg Rolls: The sauce’s sweetness perfectly balances the crisp exterior and savory filling.
  • Spareribs: Sometimes glazed with duck sauce before baking or grilling, offering a caramelized finish.
  • Moo Shu Pork: The sauce adds a sweet counterpoint to this stir-fry dish’s savory pork and vegetables.
  • Crab Rangoon: These deep-fried wonton pockets filled with cream cheese often pair with duck sauce for dipping.

What Are The Key Flavor Profiles And Taste Sensations That Duck Sauce Offers?

  • Sweetness: Derived primarily from fruits like plums, apricots, and added sugars.
  • Tartness: Often from the fruits and occasional additions like vinegar, creating a zesty appeal.
  • Umami: Soy sauce introduces this savory depth, enhancing the sauce’s richness.
  • Fruity Notes: The core ingredients, be it plums, apricots, or peaches, provide a fresh fruit undertone.
  • Mild Spiciness: Ingredients like garlic powder or dry mustard can impart a subtle warmth.
  • Slight Bitterness: Often from the caramelization of sugars during cooking.
Jar and Spoon

Can This Sauce Be Stored And Preserved For Future Use? What Is Its Shelf Life?

Yes, duck sauce recipe can be stored and preserved for future use. After preparation, transferring the sauce to a clean, airtight container is best. 

Once sealed, refrigerate it. When stored in the refrigerator, duck sauce can last up to two weeks. 

For a longer shelf life, consider adding a preservative like citric acid or store it in sterilized jars using the canning method. This can extend its shelf life to several months. 

However, the universal rule is always to check for any signs of spoilage, like an off odor or mold, before use. 

Using fresh ingredients and maintaining cleanliness during preparation also aids in prolonging its quality.

What Are The Substitutes For Duck Sauce?

  • Plum Sauce: Often considered a close relative, it offers a fruity, tart punch similar to duck sauce.
  • Sweet and Sour Sauce: This combines sweetness with acidity, replicating the dual taste sensation of duck sauce.
  • Apricot Jam: Diluted with vinegar or lemon juice, it can serve as a makeshift duck sauce.
  • Orange Marmalade: Mix with a dash of soy sauce and vinegar for a similar flavor profile.
  • Hoisin Sauce: Though richer and saltier, in a pinch, it can be thinned out and sweetened to resemble duck sauce.
  • Homemade Blend: Combine fruit preserves, vinegar, sugar, and a touch of soy sauce for a quick alternative.
Duck Sauce Recipe

How To Adjust The Consistency Of The Sauce?

  • Thinning: If the sauce is too thick, add small amounts of water or apple juice and stir well until you achieve the desired consistency.
  • Thickening: If the sauce is too runny, continue simmering it on low heat, allowing excess moisture to evaporate. Stir occasionally to prevent burning.
  • Using a Thickener: Add a slurry made from cornstarch and cold water. Mix it gradually, letting the sauce simmer until it reaches the preferred thickness.
  • Adjusting Texture: For a chunkier texture, blend the sauce less. For a smoother finish, ensure thorough blending or straining.
  • Cooling: Remember, the sauce thickens further upon cooling, so factor that in while adjusting.

Should We Serve The Sauce Cold Or Warm?

  • Cold: A chilled or room-temperature sauce is often preferred as a dipping sauce for appetizers like spring rolls or egg rolls. The coolness complements the warmth of freshly fried or baked items.
  • Warm: When used as a glaze or a topping for dishes like roasted meats or stir-fries, a warm sauce can enhance the dish, melding flavors seamlessly.
Duck Sauce Recipe

Nutritional Values

Duck sauce recipe, predominantly made from fruits and sugars, offers a sweet and tangy flavor, primarily providing carbohydrates with minor traces of vitamins from the fruits. Exact nutritional values vary based on ingredients and proportions used.

What Are The Total Calories In Duck Sauce Recipe?

The total calories in duck sauce recipe largely depend on the specific ingredients and their proportions in the recipe. 

A tablespoon of commercially prepared duck sauce typically contains about 40-50 calories, mostly from sugars. 

However, if you make it at home, the caloric content can differ based on the types and amounts of fruits, sugars, and other components used. 

Dietary Restrictions Of The Duck Sauce

  • Gluten: Soy sauce often contains wheat, making the sauce not gluten-free. Use tamari or gluten-free soy sauce as alternatives.
  • Vegan/Vegetarian: Typically, duck sauce is both vegan and vegetarian as it doesn’t contain animal products.
  • Low-Sugar Diets: The high sugar content of fruits and added sugars may not be suitable for low-sugar or diabetic diets.
  • Allergens: Some might react to ingredients like soy.
  • Low-Sodium: Soy sauce contributes to sodium levels. Opt for low-sodium soy sauce if needed.
  • Preservatives: Store-bought versions may contain additives or preservatives. Homemade versions can be adjusted to avoid these.

Nutrition Table 

Nutrition Table

What Are The Common Mistakes While Making This Sauce?

  • Overcooking: Extended cooking can break down the fruits excessively, leading to a very thick or burnt sauce.
  • Inadequate Sweetness: Skimping on sugar or sweet fruits might result in a sauce that’s too tart.
  • Neglecting Balance: Failing to balance the sweet and tangy components can result in a one-dimensional flavor.
  • Inconsistency: Not blending the sauce well or not straining it can leave undesired chunks.
  • Using Overripe Fruits: This can make the sauce mushy and overly sweet.
  • Excessive Liquid: Adding too much water or juice makes the sauce runny.
  • Over Seasoning: Too much garlic powder, dry mustard, or soy sauce can overpower the sauce’s fruity essence.
  • Improper Storage: Not refrigerating the sauce or using unclean containers can lead to spoilage.

What Are Some Creative Uses Of Leftover Sauce? 

  • Marinade: For meats, especially chicken and pork, before grilling or baking.
  • Stir-Fry: Mix into vegetables and proteins for a sweet-tangy flavor.
  • Pizza Base: Swap tomato sauce for duck sauce on an Asian-inspired pizza.
  • Sandwich Spread: Layer on sandwiches or wraps for an unexpected twist.
  • Rice Enhancer: Stir into plain rice or fried rice.
  • Baste: For roasting meats or vegetables.
  • Dip: Mix with cream cheese or yogurt for a creamy dip.
  • Salad Dressing: Blend with some olive oil and vinegar.
  • Baking Glaze: Brush on pastries or meat pies for a glossy finish.
  • Noodle Toss: Add to cooked noodles for an easy, flavorful dish.
Duck Sauce Recipe

Special Tools & Equipment Needed

  • Stock Pot: Essential for simmering the sauce and allowing flavors to meld.
  • Food Processor/Blender: For achieving a smooth texture by blending the cooked ingredients.
  • Strainer: Useful if you want a super-smooth sauce by removing any leftover fruit chunks.
  • Wooden Spoon: For stirring the sauce, preventing it from sticking or burning.
  • Measuring Cups & Spoons: Ensuring precise ingredient proportions.
  • Airtight Containers: For storing the sauce in the refrigerator.
  • Glass Jars: Perfect for canning or fermenting the sauce for extended storage.
  • Thermometer: Useful when canning to ensure the correct temperature.
  • pH Tester: If fermenting, monitor acidity levels.
  • Ladle: For easy pouring and transferring of the sauce.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Can I Use Other Fruits In This Duck Sauce Recipe?

Yes, you can experiment with other fruits like pineapples, mangoes, or even peaches. The consistency and flavor might vary based on the fruit’s water content and natural sweetness.

How Long Can I Store The Homemade Duck Sauce?

When stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, the sauce is best consumed within one to two weeks for optimal freshness. For longer preservation, consider using sterilized jars and proper canning procedures.

Is There A Way To Make This Sauce Gluten-Free?

Absolutely! Replace the regular soy sauce with a gluten-free version or tamari. Ensure other ingredients, especially store-bought preserves or seasonings, are also gluten-free.

The Sauce Turned Out Too Thick/Thin. How Can I Adjust It?

If the sauce is too thick, you can thin it out by adding water or apple juice until you reach the desired consistency. If it’s too thin, simmer it for a longer period to evaporate excess moisture, or add a cornstarch slurry to thicken.

Can I Make A Spicier Version Of This Duck Sauce?

Definitely! To add some heat, introduce a pinch of red pepper flakes, a splash of hot sauce, or finely chopped chilis to the recipe. Adjust according to your spice tolerance.

20-Minute Duck Sauce Recipe – Sweet, Tangy, And Delicious

5 from 5 votes
Course: Sauces


Prep time


Cooking time




Ferment/Rest Time



Duck Sauce Recipe is a sweet-tangy condiment, predominantly made from fruits like plums or apricots, often accompanied by sugars and seasonings. Originating from Chinese cuisine, this amber-hued sauce pairs brilliantly with dishes ranging from Peking duck to spring rolls, offering a delightful fusion of flavors that elevates any meal.


  • 5 cups 5 Coarsely chopped mixed fruit

  • 1 cup 1 Water

  • 3/4 cup 3/4 Apple juice

  • 1 teaspoon 1 Soy sauce

  • 1 tablespoon 1 Apricot preserves

  • 1/2 cup 1/2 Light brown sugar (packed)

  • 1/2 teaspoon 1/2 Garlic powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon 1/2 Dry mustard

Step-By-Step Directions 

  • Preparation: Start by coarsely chopping your mixed fruits, ensuring they are free of seeds and stems.
  • Combining Ingredients: In a stock pot over medium-high heat, combine the chopped fruit, water, soy sauce, apple juice, apricot preserves, garlic powder, brown sugar, and dry mustard.
  • Simmering: Stir regularly to dissolve the brown sugar and boil the liquid.
  • Cooking: Once it simmers, reduce the heat to medium or medium-low, allowing the sauce to continue simmering for around 40 minutes. Stir occasionally. The fruits should soften completely, and the sauce should thicken.
  • Cooling: After cooking, remove the pot from the heat. Let the sauce cool down to room temperature.
  • Blending: Transfer the sauce to a blender or food processor once cooled. Blend until you achieve a smooth texture. If the sauce is too thick, add more water or apple juice to adjust its consistency.
  • Storing: Pour the sauce into an airtight container or jar. Seal tightly.
  • Refrigeration: Store the sauce in the refrigerator until ready to use. It’s best consumed within one to two weeks for optimal freshness.

Recipe Video


  • Fruit Variations: Feel free to experiment with other fruits like pineapples or mangoes to tweak the flavor profile. The sauce’s consistency might vary based on the water content of the fruits used.
  • Consistency: If you prefer a chunkier sauce, blend it less or skip the blending step altogether. For an ultra-smooth sauce, consider straining it after blending.
  • Soy Sauce Alternative: Opt for tamari or gluten-free soy sauce for a gluten-free version.
  • Sweetness: Adjust the brown sugar according to your preference. Some might prefer a sweeter sauce, while others want to cut back.
  • Spice It Up: Add a pinch of red pepper flakes or finely chopped chili if you like heat.

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