Sweet And Spicy Plum Sauce Recipe – Thickened And Intensified!

This post may contain affiliate links. See my disclosure policy.

Delight in the tangy warmth of Spicy Plum Sauce—a fusion of succulent plums, fiery chili peppers, ginger, and a dash of soy, simmered to perfection in just minutes. It’s a harmonious blend of sweet and spicy, destined to tantalize your taste buds. This quick and flavorful creation elevates spring rolls, stir-fries, and grilled meats.

If you’re looking for a sauce that adds an unparalleled kick to your dishes, you’re in the right place. During a recent restaurant visit, I stumbled upon a dish that stood out the most: it was drenched in Spicy Plum Sauce

Spicy Plum Sauce

The problem? The dish lacked that fiery yet sweet punch many crave. You might want to know how to recreate that magic at home.

The best way is simpler than you’d think. Spend time with this recipe, and you’ll never need to settle for bland flavors again. 

Throughout my culinary journey, the Spicy Plum Sauce has become a staple. Whether it’s a friend’s visit or a kids’ dinner request, this sauce is my greatest advantage in the kitchen. Dive in, and let the taste transformation begin!

What is Spicy Plum Sauce?

Did you know Spicy Plum Sauce is a sought-after condiment? It’s made primarily from plums, sugar, and various spices. Remember that its unique blend offers both sweetness and a spicy kick. Pay attention to its deep red hue and thick consistency. 

It is best used as a dip, glaze, or marinade. The number one appeal? Its versatility. Take time to add it to meat, poultry, or even vegetables.

For those wanting to elevate their dishes, it’s one of the best options out there. If you’re considering a flavorful twist, you may want a bottle in your pantry.

History Of Spicy Plum Sauce

Spicy Plum Sauce traces its roots to Chinese cuisine. Did you know its invention isn’t attributed to a single individual but rather a collective cultural evolution? Pay attention to its significance in Cantonese dishes; it’s a staple. 

Over time, it spread across various Asian regions. Remember that its blend of sweet and spicy reflects China’s age-old love for balanced flavors. It is best understood as a product of generations refining the recipe. 

The sauce soon gained global fame. Today, it’s one of the simplest ways to bring authentic Chinese taste to a dish. Be aware of its rich history next time you savor it.

Interesting Facts About Spicy Plum Sauce

  • Spicy Plum Sauce often contains star anise, which adds a licorice-like flavor.
  • Did you know it’s rich in antioxidants, thanks to the plums?
  • The sauce has been adapted by various cultures, each adding their unique twist.
  • The best way to store it is in a cool, dark place to maintain its vibrant flavor.
  • It’s important to note that genuine Spicy Plum Sauce doesn’t use artificial preservatives.
  • Pay attention to its use in traditional Chinese festivals as a symbol of prosperity.
  • The number one pair for the sauce? Peking duck.
  • Its consistency can vary from thick and jam-like to more fluid.
  • One of the best qualities of the sauce is its long shelf-life.
  • Some recipes incorporate other fruits, like pineapple, for a tropical twist.
Spicy Plum Sauce

What Are The Regional Adaptations Of This Sauce?

Spicy Plum Sauce has journeyed across borders and been embraced by various cultures. In Vietnam, it’s often paired with lighter dishes, emphasizing its spicy notes. Pay attention to Thailand’s version; it leans towards a sweeter side, with a tamarind twist. 

The best way to enjoy it in Korea is with grilled meats, where it’s thickened and intensified. Did you know in the Philippines, it’s sometimes mixed with local fruits, adding a unique tang? Japanese adaptations tend to be less sweet, focusing on the sauce’s umami essence. 

Remember that each region’s take on the sauce showcases its culinary richness, making it one of the most adaptable condiments globally.

What Will Make You Love This Spicy Plum Sauce?

Did you know that Spicy Plum Sauce strikes an impeccable balance between sweet and spicy? Pay attention to its rich, velvety texture; it’s a treat for the palate.

The number one reason many adore it is its versatility. Whether you’re grilling meats or tossing a salad, it elevates the dish. 

Remember that the sauce’s depth allows you to experiment in the kitchen. It’s one of the best ways to add an unexpected twist to familiar recipes.

Take time to appreciate its harmonious blend of ingredients, ensuring consistency in every bite. If you’re seeking a condiment that truly transforms meals, this sauce is a great option. 

Spicy Plum Sauce

Ingredients List 

Plums (pitted and quartered)4 pounds
Small onion (quartered)1
Garlic (peeled)1 clove
Sugar3 1/2 cups
Cider vinegar2 cups
Ground ginger1 tablespoon
Ground mustard1 tablespoon
Ground cinnamon1 teaspoon
Crushed red pepper flakes1 teaspoon
Ground cloves1/2 teaspoon

Ingredient Tips

  • Plums: Opt for ripe, juicy plums. They yield a richer, sweeter sauce.
  • Onion: A fresh, firm onion ensures better flavor integration.
  • Garlic: Freshly peeled cloves impart the most aromatic essence.
  • Sugar: If you’re aiming for a less sweet sauce, consider reducing the sugar slightly.
  • Cider Vinegar: Go for organic, unfiltered cider vinegar for a robust tang.
  • Ground Ginger: Freshly ground ginger offers a zestier punch.
  • Ground Mustard: Ensure it’s freshly packed to maintain the zing.
  • Ground Cinnamon: Remember that a little goes a long way; don’t overdo it.
  • Red Pepper Flakes: Adjust based on your heat preference; more flakes mean more heat.
  • Ground Cloves: Store in a cool, dark place to retain its aromatic potency.

What Are The Variations Of Spicy Plum Sauce Recipe?

There are several delightful variations of the Spicy Plum Sauce recipe:

  • Honey-Sweetened: Swap sugar for honey to achieve a milder sweetness.
  • Tamarind Twist: Introduce tamarind pulp for a tangy depth.
  • Mango Mix: Blend in mango for a tropical, fruity flair.
  • Less Spicy: Reduce or omit red pepper flakes for those preferring milder sauces.
  • Zesty Orange: Add orange zest or juice, enhancing the fruity aroma.
  • Herbal Touch: Incorporate fresh herbs like basil or mint for a refreshing lift.
  • Smoky Flavor: Introduce a dash of smoked paprika.
  • Ginger Boost: Increase the quantity of ground ginger for a sharper zing.
  • Thicker Texture: Reduce vinegar for a denser consistency.
  • Asian Influence: Add a splash of soy sauce for umami depth.
Spicy Plum Sauce

Recipe Directions

Cooking Method

  • In a blender or food processor, process the plums, onion, and garlic in batches until they reach a smooth consistency.
  • Transfer the blended mixture into a large saucepan or Dutch oven.
  • Stir in all the remaining ingredients.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat.
  • Once boiling, reduce the heat to low. Allow the mixture to simmer for 60-90 minutes, or until it’s reduced by a third.
  • Prepare your jars by ensuring they’re clean and hot.
  • Ladle the hot plum sauce mixture into the jars, ensuring you leave about a 1/4-inch headspace at the top of each jar.
  • Adjust the jar caps to seal them tightly.
  • Process the filled jars in a boiling-water bath for 15 minutes. Ensure the jars are submerged and the water is boiling continuously throughout this time.
  • After processing, carefully remove the jars and place them on wire racks. Allow them to cool completely.

Note: It’s important to let the jars cool undisturbed, ensuring a proper seal forms. Once cooled, test the seal by pressing down on the lid; it shouldn’t pop back. If it does, refrigerate that jar and consume within a week.

Scaling The Spicy Plum Sauce Recipe

Scaling the Spicy Plum Sauce recipe is relatively straightforward:

Scaling Up

  • Ingredients: Multiply each ingredient proportionally based on the desired increase. For instance, to double the recipe, use twice the amount of each ingredient.
  • Cooking Time: While the initial boiling point might take slightly longer, the simmering time might not necessarily double. Pay attention to the sauce’s consistency and volume reduction.

Scaling Down

  • Ingredients: Halve (or reduce proportionally) the quantity of each ingredient.
  • Cooking Time: The mixture may reach its desired consistency faster. It’s best to frequently check.
Spicy Plum Sauce

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

Yes, the Spicy Plum Sauce boasts a versatility that’s hard to match. As a marinade, it imparts a flavorful depth to meats, poultry, and even tofu. Its blend of sweet and spicy notes ensures a delightful caramelization when grilled or roasted

As a dipping sauce, it’s one of the best choices, complementing everything from spring rolls to chicken nuggets. The balanced sweetness with a spicy kick elevates finger foods. 

For those considering a unique salad dressing, this sauce is a great option. It brings a zesty punch to fresh greens, and when thinned with a bit of olive oil or citrus juice, it drizzles perfectly. Remember, its adaptability is one of its greatest advantages.

What Are The Best Dishes To Accompany Spicy Plum Sauce?

The Spicy Plum Sauce is a culinary gem, pairing brilliantly with a myriad of dishes:

  • Peking Duck: The number one pairing, this dish is traditionally served with plum sauce.
  • Spring Rolls: Enhance these crispy delights with a side of sauce for dipping.
  • Grilled Chicken: Brushed on as a glaze or served on the side, it adds a sweet-spicy balance.
  • Pork Ribs: The sauce’s flavors meld well with the meaty richness of ribs.
  • Stir-fry: Drizzle some over your favorite vegetable or meat stir-fry.
  • Dim Sum: Especially with dumplings, providing a tangy counterpart.
  • Fried Tofu: Adds a burst of flavor to otherwise bland tofu.
  • Salads: Especially with fruity or nutty elements.
  • Fish: Grilled or baked fish benefits from its zesty overlay.
  • Tempura: The sauce offers a refreshing change from regular dips.
Spicy Plum Sauce

What Are Some Classic Dishes That Feature Spicy Plum Sauce?

Spicy Plum Sauce is integral to several classic dishes:

  • Peking Duck: A Beijing classic, where crispy duck is often served with plum sauce and pancakes.
  • Moo Shu Pork: This stir-fried dish with vegetables and pork becomes irresistible with a drizzle of plum sauce.
  • Lettuce Wraps: Various fillings, especially minced chicken or tofu, benefit from the sauce’s addition.
  • Spring Rolls: A universal favorite, these crispy rolls are often dipped in plum sauce.
  • Char Siu Bao: These Chinese BBQ pork-filled buns can have a plum sauce glaze.
  • Ribs: Glazed with plum sauce, they’re a staple in some Asian-inspired BBQs.
  • Dumplings: Whether steamed or fried, many prefer plum sauce for dipping.

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

Spicy Plum Sauce presents a symphony of flavors:

  • Sweetness: Derived from ripe plums and sugar, it provides a foundational palate-pleasing taste.
  • Spiciness: With ingredients like red pepper flakes, the sauce offers a heat that tingles the tongue.
  • Sourness: The cider vinegar introduces a tangy kick, balancing out the sauce’s sweet notes.
  • Umami: The depth from the onions and garlic adds a savory touch, enhancing its richness.
  • Aromatic: Ground spices like ginger, cinnamon, and cloves impart a fragrant aroma and a subtle warming sensation.
  • Complexity: The blend of these flavors creates a multi-dimensional taste, ensuring that each bite is a journey, full of layered sensations.
Spicy Plum Sauce

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

Yes, Spicy Plum Sauce is designed for storage and preservation. Once prepared, the sauce is typically ladled into sterilized jars and processed in a boiling-water bath, ensuring it’s safe for long-term storage.

When sealed properly, unopened jars can be stored in a cool, dark place and have a shelf life of up to a year. 

However, once opened, it’s best to refrigerate and consume within 2-3 weeks for optimal freshness.

Remember, always use clean utensils to prevent contamination, and if the sauce ever appears moldy, discolored, or emits an off odor, it’s important to discard it. 

What Are The Substitutes For  Spicy Plum Sauce?

If you’re in a pinch and need an alternative to Spicy Plum Sauce, consider these substitutes:

  • Hoisin Sauce: While thicker and less fruity, it’s a common alternative in many Asian dishes.
  • Sweet Chili Sauce: Offers a balance of sweetness and heat, though less fruity.
  • Apricot Preserves: With a spicy kick added, it can mimic the fruity sweetness of plum sauce.
  • Tamarind Chutney: Combines tanginess with a hint of sweetness, suitable for dipping.
  • Duck Sauce: Often found in sachets in Chinese takeouts, it’s a sweeter and less spicy substitute.
  • Pomegranate Molasses: When thinned down, it provides a tangy and sweet alternative.
  • Teriyaki Sauce: Though more savory, it can be a stand-in for some dishes.
  • Homemade Blend: Combining fruit jams (like raspberry or peach) with chili flakes or hot sauce can emulate the basic profile.
Spicy Plum Sauce

How To Adjust The Consistency Of The Sauce?

Adjusting the consistency of Spicy Plum Sauce is straightforward:

  • To Thicken: Simmer the sauce for an extended period, allowing the moisture to evaporate. The longer you simmer, the thicker it will get.
  • Cornstarch Slurry: Mix a teaspoon of cornstarch with cold water, then stir into the sauce and heat until it thickens.
  • To Thin: Add small amounts of water or cider vinegar until you reach the desired consistency.
  • Blending: If the sauce is too chunky, use a blender or food processor to smooth it out.
  • Straining: For an ultra-smooth sauce, strain out any solids.

Should We Serve The Sauce Cold Or Warm?

Whether to serve Spicy Plum Sauce cold or warm largely depends on its intended use:

  • As a Dipping Sauce: Typically served cold or at room temperature to preserve its thick consistency, making it easier for dipping.
  • As a Marinade: Room temperature is preferable to ensure even coating and absorption.
  • As a Glaze: Warm the sauce slightly, allowing it to spread easily over meats or vegetables before roasting or grilling.
  • With Hot Dishes: Warming complements hot dishes like stir-fries or grilled meats.
  • For Salads: Cold or room temperature is best.
Spicy Plum Sauce

Nutritional Values 

The Spicy Plum Sauce offers a delightful blend of natural sugars, vitamins, and minerals derived from plums. Its calorie content is balanced by the beneficial antioxidants and dietary fiber present in the ingredients.

What Are The Total Calories In Spicy Plum Sauce?

To determine the total calories in Spicy Plum Sauce, one would need to consider the individual caloric content of each ingredient used. Factors like the type and sweetness of the plums, sugar content, and additional ingredients all play a role. 

Typically, a store-bought Spicy Plum Sauce might range between 40 to 70 calories per tablespoon, depending on the brand and specific ingredients. For a homemade recipe, a detailed nutritional analysis would be required.

Dietary Restrictions Of The Spicy Plum Sauce

Spicy Plum Sauce, based on the given recipe, has certain dietary considerations:

  • Gluten-Free: No gluten-containing ingredients are present.
  • Vegan: No animal products are included, making it suitable for vegans.
  • Vegetarian: Perfectly suited for vegetarians.
  • Nut-Free: No nuts are in the recipe, suitable for those with allergies.
  • Dairy-Free: Contains no dairy products.
  • Low Sodium: No added salts are in the formula.
  • No Artificial Preservatives: All ingredients are natural.
  • High Sugar: Contains a significant amount of sugar, which might not be suitable for diabetics.

Nutrition Table

Nutrition Table

What Are The Common Mistakes While Making This Sauce?

When preparing Spicy Plum Sauce, there are several potential pitfalls to be aware of:

  • Over-sweetening: It’s easy to add too much sugar. Adjust according to the sweetness of the plums.
  • Inconsistent Texture: Not blending the ingredients thoroughly can result in a chunky sauce. Ensure even processing for a smoother consistency.
  • Overcooking: Simmering for too long can cause the sauce to become too thick or even burn.
  • Undercooking: Not cooking long enough may not allow the flavors to meld well.
  • Too Spicy: Overdoing the red pepper flakes can overpower the fruity flavor.
  • Skimping on Spices: Not adding enough spices might make the sauce bland.
  • Not Sterilizing Jars: If preserving, jars should be sterilized to prevent contamination.
  • Improper Sealing: For long-term storage, ensure that the jars are sealed properly to avoid spoilage.
  • Not Testing for Thickness: A common method is the “spoon test” – the sauce should coat the back of a spoon.
  • Skipping Acid: The cider vinegar not only adds flavor but also acts as a preservative. It shouldn’t be omitted if you’re canning the sauce.

What Are Some Creative Uses Of Leftover Sauce?

Leftover Spicy Plum Sauce can be repurposed in numerous delightful ways:

  • Stir-Fry Drizzle: Add to veggies or meat for an extra flavor boost.
  • Pizza Base: Swap traditional tomato sauce for a fruity, spicy twist.
  • Sandwich Spread: Elevate your sandwich or burger with a tangy touch.
  • Pasta Sauce: Mix with pasta for an unconventional, zesty dish.
  • Cocktail Ingredient: Add to cocktails for a sweet and spicy kick.
  • Bread Dip: Pair with crusty bread for a quick snack.
  • Tofu Marinade: Infuse tofu with rich flavors before grilling or baking.
  • Dressing: Mix with olive oil for a refreshing salad dressing.
  • Breakfast Drizzle: Pour over pancakes or waffles.
  • Frozen Pops: Freeze with fruit pieces for a summery treat.
Spicy Plum Sauce

Special Tools & Equipment Needed 

  • Blender/Food Processor: Essential for breaking down plums, onion, and garlic to a smooth consistency.
  • Large Saucepan/Dutch Oven: For simmering and reducing the sauce mixture.
  • Wooden Spoon: Useful for stirring the sauce, ensuring even cooking.
  • Ladle: Aids in transferring the hot sauce into jars for preservation.
  • Glass Jars with Lids: For storing the sauce, especially if planning long-term preservation.
  • Jar Funnel: Ensures clean and spill-free transfer of sauce into jars.
  • Jar Lifter: For safe handling of hot jars, especially during the canning process.
  • Canning Pot: If preserving the sauce, a canning pot is needed for the boiling-water bath.
  • Digital Thermometer: To monitor the sauce temperature, ensuring it reaches safe levels.
  • Fine Mesh Strainer: Useful if desiring an ultra-smooth sauce consistency.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Use A Different Type Of Vinegar Instead Of Cider Vinegar?

Yes, you can substitute cider vinegar with white vinegar or rice vinegar. However, each type of vinegar imparts its unique flavor, so it may slightly alter the taste of the sauce.

How Long Does The Sauce Last If I Don’t Use The Boiling-Water Bath Method?

If not preserved using the boiling-water bath method, the sauce should be refrigerated and consumed within a few weeks to ensure freshness and safety.

Is It Possible To Reduce The Sugar Content Without Compromising The Taste?

While sugar contributes to the sauce’s flavor, you can reduce its quantity or substitute with alternatives like honey or maple syrup. However, remember that altering sugar content might change the sauce’s consistency and preservation properties.

Can I Add Other Fruits To The Mix?

Certainly! Combining plums with other fruits like apricots or peaches can provide additional depth of flavor. However, be aware of the moisture and sugar content of additional fruits as they could affect the sauce’s consistency and sweetness.

The Sauce Is Too Thin. How Can I Thicken It?

If the sauce is too thin for your liking, continue simmering it on low heat, allowing more liquid to evaporate. Alternatively, you can mix a tablespoon of cornstarch with a little water to create a slurry, then stir it into the sauce for quick thickening.

Always remember to cook for an additional few minutes after adding the slurry to get rid of the raw cornstarch flavor.

Sweet And Spicy Plum Sauce Recipe – Thickened And Intensified!

0 from 0 votes
Recipe by Lana Rivera Course: Hot Sauces


Prep time


Cooking time






Ferment/Rest Time



Spicy Plum Sauce melds the sweetness of ripe plums with a kick of red pepper. This versatile sauce, rich with aromatic spices, is perfect for dipping, marinating, and flavoring a range of dishes. Elevate your culinary game with this homemade delight.


  • 4 pounds 4 Plums (pitted and quartered)

  • 1 1 Small onion (quartered)

  • 1 1 Garlic (peeled)

  • 3 1/2 cups 3 1/2 Sugar

  • 2 cups 2 Cider vinegar

  • 1 tablespoon 1 Ground ginger

  • 1 tablespoon 1 Ground mustard

  • 1 teaspoon 1 Ground cinnamon

  • 1 teaspoon 1 Crushed red pepper flakes

  • 1/2 teaspoon 1/2 Ground cloves

Step-By-Step Directions

  • Preparation of Ingredients
    Start by washing the plums. Once cleaned, pit and quarter them.
    Peel the single garlic clove.
    Quarter the small onion.
  • Blending the Base
    In a blender or food processor, combine the plums, onion, and garlic.
    Process the mixture in batches until it reaches a smooth consistency.
  • Cooking the Sauce
    Transfer the smooth mixture to a large saucepan or Dutch oven.
    Stir in sugar, cider vinegar, ground ginger, ground mustard, ground cinnamon, crushed red pepper flakes, and ground cloves.
    Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat.
  • Simmering
    Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium-low.
    Allow the sauce to simmer for 60-90 minutes, stirring occasionally. The goal is to reduce the sauce by about a third, thickening it and allowing the flavors to meld.
  • Testing for Thickness
    To check if the sauce has reached the desired consistency, use the “spoon test.” Dip a cooled spoon into the sauce. If the sauce coats the back of the spoon and drips off slowly, it’s ready.
  • Jar Preparation (for storing)
    While the sauce is simmering, prepare your glass jars by sterilizing them. This can be done by boiling them in water for 10 minutes.
    Keep the jars hot until you are ready to fill them to prevent them from breaking when filled with the hot sauce.
  • Filling and Sealing
    Use a ladle and jar funnel (if you have one) to fill the hot jars with the hot sauce mixture, leaving a 1/4-inch headspace at the top.
    Wipe the rims of the jars with a clean, damp cloth to remove any residue.
    Securely place the lids on the jars.
  • Preservation (optional)
    If you intend to store the sauce for a prolonged period, process the filled jars in a boiling-water bath for 15 minutes.
    Carefully remove the jars using a jar lifter and place them on wire racks.
    Allow them to cool completely before storing.
  • Storage
    Once cooled, store the jars in a cool, dark place. If you’ve used the preservation method, the sauce can be stored for up to a year. If not, it’s best consumed within a few weeks and kept refrigerated.

Recipe Video


  • Consistency: If you prefer a chunkier sauce, blend the mixture less or consider setting aside a portion of the chopped plums to add later for texture.
  • Heat Level: Adjust the crushed red pepper flakes according to your desired heat level. Start with a smaller amount and add more if needed.
  • Storing: If not preserving via the boiling-water bath method, ensure the sauce is refrigerated and consumed within a few weeks.
  • Sterilization: Properly sterilizing jars is crucial when preserving to prevent bacteria growth. Always ensure the jars, lids, and other tools are well-sterilized.
  • Canning Safety: Always check the seal of preserved jars before consuming. If the lid is bulging or does not have a tight seal, discard the sauce.
  • Quick Use: If you plan to consume the sauce immediately, you can skip the jar filling and preserving process. Store the sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Leave a Comment

Author picture


Welcome, fellow flavor enthusiasts to the world of Sauce Chick, where every flavor tells a tale of creativity, passion, and the harmonious fusion of spices and sauces.

More About Me