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The 9 Best Plum Sauce Substitutes

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Plum sauce is a versatile, sweet-and-sour condiment that you can use as a dipping sauce, basting sauce, stir-fry sauce, or serve with rice or noodles.

Its smooth, tangy flavor makes it an ideal choice for a variety of dishes. But if you can’t get your hands on any, worry not. There are substitutes that can give you a similar zing.

So, what is the best plum sauce substitute? The best substitutes for plum sauce are garlic teriyaki sauce, hoisin sauce, duck sauce, sweet and sour sauce, ponzu sauce, oyster sauce, soy sauce, XO sauce, and Sha Cha sauce.

To help you choose the most suitable alternative, we have presented the details and recipes of each substitute below. 

What is Plum Sauce? 

Plum sauce is a light brown condiment originating from Cantonese cuisine. It consists of sweet plums and other ingredients such as sugar, vinegar, salt, ginger, and chili peppers.

Moreover, it may also consist of fruits like apricots, pumpkins, peaches, or even some forms of melons.

Plum sauce is used as a dip with fried foods such as egg rolls, spring rolls, wontons, roast duck, and deep-fried chicken balls

You can also use it to make marinades or add to salad dressing to enhance flavor. You can also use the plum sauce as a glazing sauce for meat for a different, slightly sweet flavor.

The 9 Best Plum Sauce Substitutes

Plum sauce is a versatile sauce that has a sweet and savory flavor. 

If you do not have plum sauce or the ingredients to make it at home, certain substitutes can give you a similar, sweet, umami taste. 

Now, you can use these substitutes for dips, marinades, stir-fry sauce, or for glazing vegetables and meat. 

1. Garlic Teriyaki Sauce

Garlic teriyaki sauce is made of soy sauce, mirin or sake, sugar, ginger, and garlic!

Originating from Japan, it is traditionally paired with seafood. You can also use garlic teriyaki sauce with other meat like chicken and beef.

Why Is It A Good Plum Sauce Substitute?

Made of sweet rice wine and sugar or honey, garlic teriyaki sauce has a slightly sweet taste. It also contains a combination of spices, which gives it a savory twist.

This sweet, yet tangy flavor makes garlic teriyaki sauce a good substitute for plum sauce.

Similar to the plum sauce, you can use garlic teriyaki sauce with noodles and rice, as a dip with other foods, and as a stir-fry sauce. Moreover, you can also use it to make marinades and as a glazing sauce for vegetables and meat.

How To Make Garlic Teriyaki Sauce At Home

You can make Garlic teriyaki sauce at home very easily. The ingredients that you would need to make this sauce at home are:

  • Soy sauce 
  • Brown sugar 
  • Ginger
  • Garlic 
  • Mirin 
  • Water 
  • Cornstarch 

Combine these ingredients in a saucepan and simmer until the mixture looks thick. Your homemade garlic teriyaki sauce is now ready!

2. Hoisin Sauce

Hoisin sauce is a thick, dark-colored sauce that consists of fermented soybean paste, garlic, vinegar, chili peppers, and starches such as sweet potato, rice, or wheat

This sauce is salty in taste and excellent as a dipping sauce, and a stir-fry sauce with vegetables and meat.

Why Is It A Good Plum Sauce Substitute?

Hoisin sauce and plum sauce both originate from Cantonese cuisine. Even though they taste similar, hoisin sauce is slightly spicier than its fruit-based alternative, plum sauce

Hoisin sauce can replace plum sauce as a dip with fried foods such as egg rolls, spring rolls, chicken wings, french fries, etc.

How To Make Hoisin Sauce At Home

To make hoisin sauce at home, the ingredients that you would require are:

  • Soy sauce
  • Peanut butter
  • Brown sugar 
  • Vinegar
  • Sesame oil
  • Garlic
  • Black pepper

Whisk these ingredients together into a bowl until the hoisin sauce looks proper. You can now enjoy it as a condiment, a finishing sauce, or a stir-fry sauce.

3. Duck Sauce

Duck sauce is a sweet and sour, translucent orange condiment. It consists of plums, peaches, apricots, or pineapples into sugar, vinegar, ginger, and chili peppers. It gets its name as it was first served with Peking duck in China. 

Why Is It A Good Plum Sauce Substitute?

Duck sauce is the Americanized form of plum sauce and is sweeter than its traditional Cantonese counterpart. It is most commonly served as a dip with deep-fried foods like wontons, spring rolls, chicken, fish, duck, etc. 

Duck sauce can also accompany rice, noodles and can be used as a basting sauce for grilled foods.

How To Make Duck Sauce At Home

The ingredients that you need to make duck sauce at home are:

  • Apricot jam or preserves
  • Rice vinegar
  • Soy sauce
  • Ginger
  • Garlic

Whisk these ingredients together until the sauce looks proper. You can now enjoy your homemade sweet-and-sour duck sauce.

4. Sweet and Sour Sauce

The sweet and sour sauce consists of a combination of rice vinegar with sugar. Its traditional variations, originating from China, included fruits such as pineapples and pear.

Sweet and sour sauce has now become extremely common in the US. You can mix it with a variety of ingredients, such as soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, honey, ketchup, etc.

Why Is It A Good Plum Sauce Substitute?

The sweet and sour sauce is a good substitute for the sweetness of the plum and the umami of its various spices. It is popular, versatile, and easy to prepare at home!

You can use the sweet and sour sauce to make dishes like sweet and sour chicken, meatballs, shrimp, rice, noodles, etc. Additionally, you can also use it as a salad dressing, stir-fry sauce, and glazing sauce for chicken, pork, and seafood.

How To Make Sweet and Sour Sauce At Home

To make the sweet and sour sauce at home, you would require:

  • Pineapple juice
  • Vinegar
  • Brown sugar
  • Soy sauce
  • Cornstarch
  • Ketchup

Mix pineapple juice, vinegar, brown sugar, soy sauce, and ketchup together. Boil these ingredients together and add cornstarch in the end. You can add it to several dishes as per your taste.

5. Ponzu Sauce

Ponzu sauce is a Japanese sauce made from citrus juice, rice vinegar, mirin, sugar, and seaweed. It is typically used as a dip for a variety of dishes like noodles, dumplings, simmered dishes, slices of seared meat, etc.

Why Is It A Good Plum Sauce Substitute?

Ponzu sauce is a good substitute for plum sauce as they both share a sweet and savory taste. Ponzu sauce, however, has a lighter, more citrusy taste than plum sauce. 

Ponzu sauce can be used as a marinade, a stir-fry sauce, as salad dressing, or as a dipping sauce. You can also add it to burgers, grilled chicken, and other dishes for an enhanced flavor.

How To Make Ponzu Sauce At Home

To make ponzu sauce at home, you would need:

  • Soy sauce
  • Orange or lemon juice
  • Water
  • Mirin
  • Red pepper

Whisk these ingredients together until the sauce is thickened. Voila! You can now enjoy your homemade ponzu sauce.

6. Oyster Sauce

Oyster sauce is a type of dark brown condiment made from sugar, oyster extracts, salt, and water or soy sauce thickened with corn starch

Oyster sauce is most commonly used as a stir-fry sauce for preparing vegetables and noodles. You can use it to prepare other sauces. The vegetarian alternative for oyster sauce consists of mushrooms. 

Why Is It A Good Plum Sauce Substitute?

Oyster sauce has the characteristic sweet and sour taste that is found in plum sauce. It is less sweet in taste than plum sauce and has stronger hints of umami. Both plum sauce and oyster sauce originated from Chinese cuisine.

Oyster sauce is suitable with grilled meat, barbequed pork, roasted vegetables, and any type of fried foods like spring rolls, egg rolls, dumplings, etc. You can also use it as a dip or a finishing sauce.

How To Make Oyster Sauce At Home

To make the oyster sauce at home, you would need:

  • Liquid from canned oysters
  • Soy sauce
  • Sugar

Combine soy sauce with the liquid from canned oysters and gradually add sugar. Add seasoning as needed. Whisk the mixture until the oyster sauce looks good.

7. Soy Sauce

Soy sauce consists of the fermented paste of soybeans, roasted grain, salt, and water.  It is mostly salty in taste, followed by a moderate sweet taste that ends in umami and slight bitterness.

Soy sauce is used extensively in Chinese culture.

Why Is It A Good Plum Sauce Substitute?

Soy sauce is characterized by its sweet and salty taste, which makes it a good substitute for plum sauce. Soy sauce has numerous uses. It is mainly used as a seasoning agent and for stir-fry vegetables.

You can use soy sauce as an alternative for salt in stews and soups. Then, you can use it as a dipping sauce, or have it with noodles, rice, and sushi. Moreover,  it also blends well with spices such as garlic, onions, and ginger.

How To Make Soy Sauce At Home

Although the process may take up to six months for fermentation, it is possible to make soy sauce at home. The ingredients that you would require are:

  • Soybeans
  • All-purpose flour
  • Salt
  • Water

Cook soybeans for about 60-90 minutes. Add these boiled soybeans into a food processor until it becomes a paste. Combine this paste with the flour. 

For fermentation, you would need a pot. Pour water and salt into the pot and combine. Add the soybean into this mixture and cover. This process aims to dissolve the soybeans into saltwater. Stir the mixture daily.

This process can take up to 6 months, after which, you will need to strain the mixture. Your soy sauce is now ready for use!

For a more in-depth look at how to make your own soy sauce, check out this video from the folks over at Oh, The Things We’ll Make!

8. XO Sauce

XO sauce is a spicy sauce that consists of dried seafood, such as dried scallops, fish, and shrimp. Some other spices inside this sauce include chili peppers, onions, and garlic

XO (which stands for extra-old) sauce originated in Hong Kong in the 1980s. Its powerful flavor has earned it the name, “Caviar of the Orient.”

Why Is It A Good Plum Sauce Substitute?

XO sauce is as versatile as the plum sauce. It has a rich, spicy flavor and is perfect to enhance the flavor of fish, meats, vegetables such as broccoli.

Moreover, its intense flavor is enough to supplement fried rice, noodles, and even tofu.  You can also use this sauce as a dipping sauce with any food of your choice.

How To Make XO Sauce At Home

XO sauce is nothing short of a delicacy. However, you can easily make it at home. To make XO sauce at home, you would require:

  • Dried shrimp or scallops
  • Brown sugar
  • Garlic
  • Chili peppers
  • Vegetable oil
  • Soy sauce or oyster sauce
  • Water

Soak shrimp or scallops into the water for about 1 hour. After draining them, transfer them into a food processor. Heat vegetable oil and add the processed shrimp or scallops into it.

After 7-10 minutes, add the remaining ingredients to the mix. Stir until the mixture turns into a paste. 

You can now enjoy your very own, homemade XO sauce.

9. Sha Cha Sauce

Sha Cha sauce is a Chinese condiment made from peanut butter, soybean oil, garlic, chilis, and dried shrimp. It has an intensely savory and slightly spicy taste. Sha Cha sauce is most commonly added in beef dishes.

Why Is It A Good Plum Sauce Substitute?

People use Sha Cha sauce for the same functions as a plum sauce—as a dipping sauce, as a stir-fry sauce, as a glazing sauce, and so on. 

Additionally, Sha Cha sauce is used as a base for soups, as a rub for barbecued meats, as a seasoning, and as a component for other dipping sauces.

How To Make Sha Cha Sauce At Home

To make Sha Cha sauce at home, you would require:

  • Sha Cha powder
  • Vegetable oil
  • Peanut butter
  • Sugar
  • Milk

Mix Sha Cha power with vegetable oil in a pan over medium heat. Add peanut butter to the mix and once it is combined well, add milk and sugar. Mix the ingredients until the sauce looks prepared. Let it cool down and serve!

Related Questions

Now that we’ve gone over the best plum sauce substitutes, let’s take a look at a few related questions on the subject!

How do you make plum sauce at home?

Plum sauce is easy to make and does not take more than 30 minutes. To make the plum sauce at home, you would require:

  • Pieces of sweet plum
  • Sugar 
  • Garlic
  • Chili peppers 
  • Vinegar

Cook the above ingredients for 15-20 minutes over medium heat and stir occasionally until the sauce looks ready to go! 

You can now enjoy your homemade plum sauce!

What are some other substitutes for plum sauce? 

Apart from the above sauces, there are some other great substitutes for the plum sauce as well. These include: 

Garlic and Prunes

You can easily make use of garlic and prunes in place of plum sauce. All you need to do is boil them in a pan till they feel soft. Then, cool them up and blend them with garlic and soy sauce. 

Black Beans and Plums 

In a saucepan, take water, brown sugar, and plums. Boil all of them till they become soft. Then, add garlic and black beans. Finally, add them to a blender with soy sauce, oil, and vinegar.

Final Thoughts 

Plum sauce has a unique sweet and savory taste and can serve various purposes. As mentioned earlier, you can use it as a dipping sauce, marinade, and many more.

However, if plum sauce happens is unavailable, you can find other delicious substitutes that are available at the store. Also, you can even prepare them at home!

Up Next: What Does Eggnog Taste Like?

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