Vietnamese Dipping Sauce Recipe – Paired Well With Grilled Meats!

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I suggest trying this Vietnamese Dipping Sauce Recipe. It’s one of the easiest ways to elevate your dishes. Made with simple ingredients, this sauce ensures your meal has the perfect balance of sweet, sour, and spicy flavors. If you need help finding a suitable dish accompaniment, this sauce is your answer. I recommend pairing it with spring rolls or grilled meats. You’ll always want a bit more with each bite. Plan to have it in your kitchen; it’s a game changer.

Finding the perfect accompaniment for Middle Eastern and European dishes can be challenging. But on my recent trip to Hanoi, I stumbled upon a versatile and delightful solution: the Vietnamese Dipping Sauce Recipe. 

Vietnamese Dipping Sauce

This sauce took center stage while dining at a local restaurant with a friend. Its unique blend of sweet, sour, and spicy notes transformed the simple dishes we ordered into memorable experiences. 

Back home, when my kids requested something different for their weekend meal, I introduced them to this sauce, and it was an instant hit! If you’re worried about your dishes lacking that special touch, I recommend this Vietnamese Dipping Sauce Recipe. 

Not only does it elevate the taste, but it also ensures your dishes resonate with authenticity and flavor. And the best part? It’s one of the easiest additions to your culinary repertoire, often leaving guests asking for your “secret” ingredient.

What Is Vietnamese Dipping Sauce Recipe?

Vietnamese Dipping Sauce Recipe, commonly known as “Nuoc cham,” is a staple in Vietnamese cuisine. It’s a harmonious blend of fish sauce, lime or lemon juice, sugar, garlic, and chili peppers

This versatile sauce pairs well with various dishes, from spring rolls to grilled meats. Its appeal lies in the balance of flavors: the umami from fish sauce, sweetness from sugar, tanginess from citrus, and a hint of heat from chili peppers.

 If you’re worried about a dish lacking depth or character, this sauce ensures your meal is flavorful and memorable. I recommend giving it a try.

History Of Vietnamese Dipping Sauce Recipe

The precise origins of Vietnamese Dipping Sauce Recipe, or “Nước chấm,” are somewhat elusive, as it has been deeply rooted in Vietnamese culture for centuries. 

While no individual can be credited with its invention, the sauce reflects Vietnam’s rich culinary traditions.

Its core ingredient, fish sauce, traces back to ancient Southeast Asia, where communities near coastal regions fermented fish to preserve and extract its flavors. 

Over time, as trade and cultural exchanges flourished, Vietnamese cooks began adding local ingredients like lime, sugar, and chili, refining the sauce to its current beloved form. 

This sauce has remained a testament to Vietnam’s culinary adaptability and innovation throughout history.

Interesting Facts About Vietnamese Dipping Sauce Recipe

Vietnamese Dipping Sauce Recipe, known as Nuoc Cham, is a tangy, sweet, and savory blend, essential for spring rolls and salads. Here are some interesting facts about the recipe.

Universal Appeal

Vietnamese Dipping Sauce Recipe, or “Nuoc Cham,” isn’t just for traditional Vietnamese dishes. Many chefs worldwide incorporate it into various cuisines due to its balanced flavor.

Variations Abound

Depending on the region in Vietnam, you’ll find variations of the sauce, some being sweeter or spicier.

Freshness Matters

The sauce is usually made fresh daily in Vietnamese households, ensuring vibrant flavors.

Not Just Fish Sauce

Some vegetarian versions use soy sauce as a substitute, catering to different dietary preferences.

Health Benefits

Rich in vitamins and minerals, fish sauce provides essential nutrients.

Serving Styles

While most commonly used as a dip, it’s drizzled over dishes or used as a dressing.

A Symbol Of Hospitality

In Vietnamese culture, offering “Nuoc Cham” to guests is considered a gesture of warmth and hospitality.

Vietnamese Dipping Sauce

What Are The Regional Adaptations Of This Sauce? 

Vietnamese Dipping Sauce Recipe, or “Nuoc Cham,” exhibits fascinating regional adaptations as you traverse Vietnam. In the North, the sauce is usually lighter in flavor, emphasizing the purity of fish sauce with minimal sugar. 

The Central region, especially places like Hue, tends to have a spicier kick, incorporating more chili. Meanwhile, the South loves its sweetness, so its version often contains more sugar, making it a tad sweeter than its counterparts. 

Some regions might incorporate additional ingredients like tamarind or pineapple for a unique twist. Throughout Vietnam, each adaptation reflects the local tastes and available ingredients, showcasing the country’s diverse culinary landscape.

What Will Make You Love This Vietnamese Dipping Sauce Recipe? 

  • Balance: It’s a masterful blend of sweet, salty, sour, and spicy notes, ensuring every palate finds something to savor.
  • Versatility: It complements many dishes, from spring rolls to grilled meats, making it a go-to for many meals.
  • Simplicity: Made with basic ingredients, it’s one of the easiest sauces to prepare, yet its impact is profound.
  • Health Benefits: With minimal processed ingredients, it’s a healthier alternative to many commercial sauces.
  • Cultural Journey: Every drop tastes Vietnam’s rich culinary heritage.
  • Adaptability: You can easily adjust its ingredients to suit your preference, making it a genuinely personalized condiment.
Vietnamese Dipping Sauce

Ingredients List 

Fish Sauce1 cup
Rice Vinegar3/4 cup
Water3 tablespoons
White Sugar1/2 cup
Garlic Powder1/2 teaspoon
Dried Red Chile Pepper (thinly sliced and seeded)1

Ingredient Tips 

  • Fish Sauce: Opt for a high-quality brand. The flavor and aroma can vary widely between brands, and a good fish sauce is pivotal for the sauce’s authenticity.
  • Rice Vinegar: Choose unseasoned rice vinegar to control the sweetness and flavor profile.
  • Water: Use filtered water, if possible, to maintain the sauce’s purity.
  • White Sugar: You can adjust the sweetness level as needed. Some prefer a less sweet sauce, so start with less and add more if desired.
  • Garlic Powder: Freshly minced garlic can also be used for a more savory flavor.
  • Dried Red Chile Pepper: Use fewer chilies if you’re worried about the heat. Alternatively, for more kick, increase the quantity or use spicier varieties.

What Are The Variations Of Vietnamese Dipping Sauce Recipe Recipe?

  • Lime-Infused: Substitute rice vinegar with freshly squeezed lime juice for a tangier kick.
  • Tamarind Twist: Use tamarind paste instead of vinegar or lime to achieve a richer, sour-sweet depth.
  • Vegetarian Version: Replace fish sauce with soy sauce or tamari, catering to vegetarian or vegan preferences.
  • Sweet Pineapple: Add finely chopped pineapples for a tropical sweetness.
  • Minty Freshness: Introduce crushed mint leaves for a refreshing undertone.
  • Ground Peanuts: For added texture and earthiness, sprinkle some crushed roasted peanuts.
  • Less Heat: Use bell peppers instead of red chilies for a milder version.
Vietnamese Dipping Sauce

Recipe Directions 

Cooking Method

  • Preparation: Prepare all ingredients. Ensure the dried red chile pepper is thinly sliced and seeded.
  • Mixing: In a medium-sized mixing bowl, add the fish sauce, rice vinegar, water, white sugar, and garlic powder.
  • Stirring: Mix the ingredients thoroughly, ensuring that the sugar is entirely dissolved in the mixture.
  • Adjusting Flavors: Taste the sauce. Aim for a harmonious blend of sweet, sour, salty, and spicy. Adjust ingredients as necessary to achieve this balance.
  • Bottling: Once satisfied with the taste, pour the sauce into clean glass bottles.
  • Sealing: Tightly seal the bottles with their respective lids.

Ferment Method

  • Storing: Store the bottles in a cool, dark place after sealing.
  • Duration: Let the sauce ferment for 2-3 days. This allows the flavors to meld and enhances the depth of the sauce.
  • Refrigeration: Post-fermentation, move the bottles to the refrigerator. This ensures your sauce stays fresh longer.

Savor the essence of Vietnam in every drop of Nuoc Cham, the perfect harmony of sweet, sour, and umami.

Scaling The Recipe 

  • Proportions: Maintain the ingredient ratios. If doubling the recipe, double each ingredient. For half, halve each component.
  • Tasting: After scaling, taste the sauce. Adjustments might be necessary, especially with sauces where a slight variation can change the flavor profile.
  • Mixing: In larger quantities, ensure thorough mixing so the sugar dissolves completely.
  • Storage: If scaling up, you’ll need larger or multiple storage bottles. Ensure they’re airtight.
  • Usage: Remember, freshly made sauce is best. Plan to use larger batches within a reasonable timeframe to ensure freshness.
  • Adjust Gradually: When tweaking flavors, add ingredients slowly. It’s easier to add than correct an overly salty or sweet sauce.
Vietnamese Dipping Sauce

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

  • Marinade: Its blend of sweet, salty, sour, and spicy components makes it ideal for marinating meats, poultry, and seafood. The ingredients help tenderize and infuse flavors, enhancing the taste of the main dish.
  • Dipping Sauce: Traditionally, it’s a go-to dip for spring rolls, dumplings, and grilled items. Its balanced profile complements various dishes, making each bite memorable.
  • Dressing for Salads: The sauce can be drizzled over salads to add flavor. It pairs well with fresh greens, herbs, and fruit salads, ensuring your salad is flavorful and refreshing.

What Are The Best Dishes To Accompany Vietnamese Dipping Sauce Recipe?

Spring Rolls

Fresh or fried, the sauce adds a delightful punch to these rolls.

Grilled Meats

Whether pork, beef, or chicken skewers, the sauce complements the charred flavors beautifully.

Bánh Xèo

Crispy Vietnamese pancakes get an extra zing when dipped in this sauce.

Rice Dishes

Drizzle over rice or vermicelli bowls for added depth.


Enhance grilled or steamed seafood, especially fish and shrimp.


Vietnamese salads like Gỏi cuốn (salad rolls) or Gỏi gà (chicken salad) are elevated with this sauce.


Fried or steamed tofu benefits from the sauce’s rich flavor profile.

Vietnamese Dipping Sauce

What Are Some Classic Dishes That Feature Vietnamese Dipping Sauce Recipe? 

  • Gỏi Cuốn: Fresh spring rolls packed with herbs, shrimp, pork, and vermicelli.
  • Bánh Xèo: A crispy Vietnamese pancake filled with shrimp, pork, and bean sprouts.
  • Bún Thịt Nướng: Grilled pork (often shredded) over vermicelli noodles, garnished with nuts, fresh herbs, and fried shallots.
  • Bún Chả: Grilled pork served over rice noodle soup, typically accompanied by this sauce.
  • Chả Giò: Deep-fried spring rolls made with minced pork, shrimp, and vegetables.
  • Gỏi Gà: Vietnamese chicken salad mixed with cabbage and herbs.

What Are The Key Flavor Profiles And Taste Sensations That Vietnamese Dipping Sauce Recipe Offers? 

  • Salty: Primarily from fish sauce, it gives depth and anchors the sauce’s overall profile.
  • Sweet: White sugar lends a sweetness that balances the saltiness, providing a pleasant undertone.
  • Sour: Rice vinegar or sometimes lime juice adds tanginess, giving the sauce a refreshing zing.
  • Spicy: The dried red chile pepper introduces a hint of heat, which can be adjusted based on preference.
  • Umami: Fish sauce imparts this savory, mouth-filling sensation, elevating dishes by adding complexity.
Vietnamese Dipping Sauce

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


  • After preparing, pour the sauce into clean, airtight glass bottles or jars to preserve freshness.
  • Store in the refrigerator to extend its shelf life.

Shelf Life

  • The sauce can last for up to 3-4 weeks when refrigerated.
  • It’s best to regularly check for any signs of spoilage, such as off-odors or mold growth.

What Are The Substitutes For Vietnamese Dipping Sauce Recipe? 

  • Soy Sauce Mix: Blend soy sauce with a touch of brown sugar, minced garlic, and a squeeze of lime for a simple alternative.
  • Thai Fish Sauce: A mixture of Thai fish sauce, lime juice, garlic, and sugar offers a similar Southeast Asian flavor profile.
  • Teriyaki Sauce: While sweeter, it can be thinned down and combined with vinegar for tanginess.
  • Ponzu Sauce: A citrus-based sauce often used in Japanese cuisine.
  • Tamarind Sauce: Provides a tangy-sweet flavor, common in Thai dishes.
  • Worcestershire Sauce: Although different, it offers a tangy, umami-rich depth.
Vietnamese Dipping Sauce

How To Adjust The Consistency Of The Sauce? 

Thicker Consistency

  • Reduce: Simmer the sauce over low heat, allowing it to reduce and thicken.
  • Starch: Add a small amount of cornstarch or tapioca slurry (mix starch with cold water before adding).

Thinner Consistency

  • Water: Gradually add water until the desired consistency is achieved.
  • Rice Vinegar: Introduce more vinegar for a tangy thinning effect.
  • Balancing Flavors: If you adjust consistency, remember to taste and possibly tweak the flavors. Adding water might dilute the taste, so you must compensate with other ingredients.
  • Stirring: Always stir the sauce well after any adjustment to ensure an even distribution of flavors and consistency.

Nuoc Cham, the symphony of Vietnamese flavors, turning simple dishes into extraordinary culinary experiences.

Should We Serve The Sauce Cold Or Warm?

  • Room Temperature: Most commonly, the sauce is used fresh from preparation or removed from storage and allowed to come to room temperature. This ensures the balance of flavors is most pronounced.
  • Cold: If you’ve stored the sauce in the refrigerator, it’s best to let it sit out for a bit before serving. However, using it chilled for salads or cold dishes might be preferred.
  • Warm: It’s rarely heated, but a slight warmth might be desired if paired with warm dishes. Ensure it’s not too hot, as excessive heat can alter its flavor profile.
Vietnamese Dipping Sauce

Nutritional Values

This sauce is low in calories but high in sodium, with a unique blend of vitamins and minerals from fish sauce and chili.

What Are The Total Calories In Vietnamese Dipping Sauce Recipe? 

 The total calories in Vietnamese Dipping Sauce Recipe, or “Nuoc Cham,” depend on its exact ingredients and their quantities.

However, based on a standard recipe including fish sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, and a few other ingredients, a tablespoon typically contains around 5 to 10 calories, mainly from the sugar.

Dietary Restrictions Of The Vietnamese Dipping Sauce Recipe

  • Gluten: Traditional fish sauce should be gluten-free, but some brands might contain additives with gluten. Always check labels.
  • Vegetarian/Vegan: The sauce contains fish sauce, making it unsuitable for vegetarians and vegans.
  • Shellfish Allergies: Some fish sauces are processed in facilities that handle shellfish.
  • Sugar: Contains sugar, which might be unsuitable for specific low-carb or diabetic diets.
  • Sodium: High in salt due to fish sauce; those on sodium-restricted diets should consume in moderation.
  • Preservatives: Commercial versions might contain preservatives or MSG.
  • FODMAP: Garlic content might be unsuitable for those on a low FODMAP diet.

Nutrition Table 

What Are The Common Mistakes While Making This Sauce?

  • Imbalance of Flavors: The beauty of “Nuoc Cham” lies in its balance of sweet, salty, sour, and spicy. Too much of any ingredient can overpower others.
  • Using Low-Quality Fish Sauce: The sauce’s primary flavor is fish sauce. Using a low-quality brand can result in a less authentic taste.
  • Over-sweetening: Adding too much sugar can mask the other flavors.
  • Skipping Fresh Ingredients: While garlic powder is convenient, fresh minced garlic can offer a more intense and authentic flavor.
  • Not Adjusting to Taste: Even with a recipe, it’s crucial to taste and adjust according to personal preference or the dish you’re pairing it with.
  • Not Letting It Sit: The sauce’s flavor can deepen if allowed to sit for a few hours. Using it immediately might not give the most enriched flavor profile.
  • Storing Improperly: Not using a clean, airtight container or not refrigerating it can reduce its shelf life.
  • Overcomplicating: Some might be tempted to add additional ingredients, but simplicity is key for a genuine “Nuoc Cham.”

What Are Some Creative Uses Of Leftover Sauce? 

  • Stir-fry: Use it as a base for vegetable or meat stir-fries.
  • Rice Enhancer: Drizzle over plain rice or fried rice for added flavor.
  • Soup Base: Add to broths for an umami boost.
  • Pasta Toss: Mix with noodles or pasta for an Asian twist.
  • Seafood Drizzle: Enhance grilled or steamed seafood dishes.
  • Pizza Drizzle: Use it as a finishing touch on pizzas for a unique twist.
  • Meat Glaze: Brush over meats before grilling or baking.
  • Egg Flavoring: Add a splash to scrambled eggs or omelets.
Vietnamese Dipping Sauce

Special Tools & Equipment Needed

  • Medium-sized Mixing Bowl: Essential for combining all the ingredients.
  • Whisk or Spoon: Helps mix and ensure the sugar is fully dissolved.
  • Measuring Cups & Spoons: Ensures accurate proportions of ingredients.
  • Glass Bottles or Jars: For storing the sauce. Glass preserves flavor better than plastic.
  • Airtight Lids: Essential for sealing the containers and maintaining freshness.
  • Fine Mesh Strainer: Removing chili seeds or any residue is useful if you want a smoother sauce.
  • Funnel: Assists in transferring the sauce into bottles without spilling.
  • Citrus Squeezer: If using fresh lime juice, this tool ensures maximum extraction.
  • Garlic Press: Opting for fresh garlic ensures finely crushed garlic for better flavor dispersion.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Can I Make A Vegetarian Or Vegan Version Of This Sauce?

You can substitute the fish sauce with soy sauce or tamari to cater to vegetarian or vegan preferences.

How Long Does The Flavor Of The Sauce Improve With Resting?

While the sauce can be used immediately, allowing it to sit for a few hours or overnight deepens the flavors, melding them together better.

What If I Find The Sauce Too Spicy Or Not Spicy Enough?

Adjust the number of chilies or their seeds to control the heat level, depending on your preference.

Is There A Low-Sugar Or Sugar-Free Alternative For The Sauce?

You can reduce the amount of sugar or replace it with alternative sweeteners like stevia or monk fruit, but it might slightly alter the traditional taste.

Do I Always Need To Refrigerate The Sauce?

While the sauce doesn’t require immediate refrigeration, storing it in the fridge extends its shelf life and preserves its freshness. Always ensure it’s in an airtight container.

Vietnamese Dipping Sauce Recipe – Paired Well With Grilled Meats!

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Recipe by Lana Rivera Course: Sauces


Prep time




Ferment/Rest Time



This Vietnamese Dipping Sauce Recipe melds sweet, salty, sour, and spicy flavors, creating a versatile condiment perfect for enhancing a variety of dishes.


  • 1 cup 1 Fish Sauce

  • 3/4 cup 3/4 Rice Vinegar

  • 3 tablespoons 3 Water

  • 1/2 cup 1/2 White Sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon 1/2 Garlic Powder

  • 1 1 Dried Red Chile Pepper (thinly sliced and seeded)

Step-By-Step Directions 

  • Prepare Ingredients: Ensure all ingredients are at hand. Seed and thinly slice the dried red chili pepper.
  • Mix Liquids: In a medium bowl, pour the fish sauce, rice vinegar, and water.
  • Add Sugar: Gradually sprinkle the white sugar into the liquid mixture, stirring constantly to ensure it dissolves completely.
  • Infuse Flavors: Add the garlic powder to the bowl. Then, introduce the thinly sliced chile pepper, adjusting the amount based on your desired heat level.
  • Whisk Well: Using a whisk or a spoon, mix the ingredients thoroughly until well combined.
  • Taste and Adjust: Taste the sauce. The flavors should balance sweet, sour, salty, and spicy. Adjust any ingredient as needed to achieve this balance.
  • Rest (Optional): For a more profound flavor, let the sauce sit at room temperature for a couple of hours, allowing the ingredients to meld together.
  • Transfer and Store: Carefully pour the sauce into glass bottles or jars using a funnel. Seal with airtight lids to preserve freshness.
  • Serve: Use as required, ensuring to shake the bottle gently before each use to mix any settled ingredients.

Recipe Video


  • Always use high-quality fish sauce for the best flavor.
  • Adjust the heat level by increasing or decreasing the chile pepper.
  • For a vegetarian version, substitute fish sauce with soy sauce or tamari.
  • The sauce’s flavor deepens over time; consider letting it sit for a few hours before serving.
  • Always shake the bottle before use to mix any settled ingredients.

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