Do you always ask for extra duck sauce? Are you as addicted as I am to those little orange packets of sweet and tangy sauce you get with Chinese takeout?

Duck sauce is perfect: sweet and sour and the best for for dipping, glazing, or drizzled on rice or noodles.

What is duck sauce?

Even though it’s called duck sauce, ducks are not in duck sauce. Duck sauce is a fruit sauce – usually made with plum, apricot, peaches, or pineapple. It’s seasoned with ginger, sugar, and sometimes a tiny bit of chili for mild heat. Vinegar is what gives the sauce its contrasting signature tang. It’s basically a umami forward sweet and savory jelly. The sweet and sour notes pair well with deep fried things and duck, of course!

dipping with duck sauce |

How to make duck sauce

Making duck sauce at home is super easy: all you do is stir together the ingredients, let them meld, then dip and enjoy. The best part about going homemade is how customizable it is. You can adjust the taste just how you like it. Plus, you can make a giant batch and dip to you heart’s content with no one to judge you.

What is duck sauce made of?

Duck sauce ingredients

  • apricot jam or jelly – you could make this with fresh fruit: you’d need to cut it up, stew it, then blend it, but the easier thing to do is buy a high quality jar of apricot jam or jelly. Make sure you love the taste of the jam you buy as it will make up the bulk of your sauce.
  • rice vinegarrice vinegar adds tang, lightness, and helps thin out the sauce. Rice vinegar is readily available at grocery stores; look in the Asian aisle. If you don’t have rice vinegar, you can substitute white vinegar but it won’t have quite the same flavor.
  • sugar – you might not need sugar, this will depend on the sweetness of your jam and how sweet you want your sauce. I didn’t include sugar in the recipe, but if you need to, adjust the flavor of your sauce by adding in a teaspoon of sugar, tasting, and going from there.
  • ginger and garlic – powdered ginger and garlic are the way to go. Using powdered ginger and garlic (which is literally dried and pulverized ginger and garlic) ensures that are are no bits in your sauce, making it smooth just like the stuff in little packets.
  • soy sauce – just a touch of soy sauce adds saltiness and umami. Don’t add too much or your duck sauce won’t be that classic orange color.
  • pickled Chinese plum – this is completely optional, but if you happen to be at an Asian grocery store and really want that just-can’t-put-your-finger-on-it flavor, a pickled Chinese plum is going to give you all the right notes. They come jarred and people usually use them in sauces, braises, and soups.

making duck sauce |

Is it a traditional Chinese sauce?

Duck sauce can be found at Chinese restaurants, but if you have an idea of an authentic Chinese sauce, plum sauce is probably what you’re thinking of. Plum sauce, popular in Cantonese cuisine, is sweet and sour and served with duck. It’s the same orange hue and as the name implies, contains plums. Plums cook down into a jammy-like sauce with sugar, vinegar, and spices.

duck sauce |

Is duck sauce the same as sweet and sour sauce?

It’s not quite the same as sweet and sour sauce, but the flavors are pretty similar. I would say that duck sauce is more for dipping and sweet and sour sauce is used more for coating and glazing, as in sweet and sour pork or sweet and sour chicken. The ingredients differ slightly too. Traditional Cantonese sweet and sour sauce contains sugar, vinegar, preserved plums, and hawthorn candy. Nowadays in North America, the common ingredients are sugar, ketchup, vinegar, soy sauce, and cornstarch to thicken.

panko shrimp |


You can eat it with pretty much anything, but some good bets are:

Happy dipping!
xoxo steph

duck sauce |

Duck Sauce Recipe

Making duck sauce at home is super easy
Serves 4
4.72 from 7 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes


  • 1/4 cup apricot jam or jelly
  • 2 tsp rice vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 pickled Chinese plum pit removed, optional


  • Stir together the apricot jam, rice vinegar, soy sauce, powdered ginger, and garlic. Use a fork to squish the plum into the sauce, if using. Mix well, taste, and adjust with rice vinegar (and sugar, if needed) to balance the sweet-tart contrast. Enjoy!
    duck sauce |


The sauce will keep, in a clean, airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 month.

Estimated Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
Duck Sauce Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 51 Calories from Fat 1
% Daily Value*
Fat 0.1g0%
Saturated Fat 0.01g0%
Cholesterol 0.01mg0%
Sodium 45mg2%
Potassium 20mg1%
Carbohydrates 13.1g4%
Fiber 0.1g0%
Sugar 8.7g10%
Protein 0.2g0%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.


  1. Sabrina says:

    thank you, I like this version, I’ve had one usually made with wild duck and a dark jam and mustard, this is very nice too with soy, vinegar and ginger for the full Asian flavor combo

  2. Trisha says:

    5 stars
    Made thi
    Made with apricot jam and it’s amazing thankyou for the recipe

  3. Donni says:

    4 stars
    This was very good and definitely easy to make. I didn’t care for the soy sauce in it though. I didn’t think it was needed.

  4. Bonnie says:

    5 stars
    Made this to go with some egg rolls I air fried for lunch. I’m giving it a five star as I’ll make it again. It had to much ginger in it for my taste so I’ll cut back to ⅛ tsp. Other than too much ginger, it was very good.

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