Finally, a gluten-free hoisin sauce you can make at home in minutes with no cooking required. Gluten-free hoisin sauce is the perfect balance of sweet, salty, savory and sour, a marvelous sauce widely used in Asian cuisine. Use hoisin as a dipping sauce, a glaze or sauce. You've got to try it! Think of it like Asian barbeque sauce. Homemade beats the bottles.
Surprised at what store-bought hoisin sauces labels revealed, I created my own gluten-free hoisin sauce recipe. It's the best! All of the flavor and thick texture I wanted without any lower quality ingredients like caramel color, added colors, modified corn starch, or gluten. Good bye bottles!
Why You'll Like This Recipe
- Easy to make, no cooking required with mostly pantry ingredients.
- Versatile complex sauce: use it on ribs, chicken, shrimp, scallops, burgers, and as stir-fry sauce.
- Gluten-free use tamari, which is simply gluten-free soy sauce.
I've skipped an ingredient used in many traditional hoisin sauce recipes: fermented soybean paste. No miso paste or black bean paste. Why? I tested batches with it added and found they made a too salty sauce. While traditional, I liked it better without.
Gluten-free hoisin has amazing rich flavor and lower sodium without bean paste, sweetness from honey rather than plum puree (and a lot of extra sugar), and rich color from soy sauce and molasses versus caramel color.
- Tamari: wheat-free soy sauce. Choose the 50% reduced for lowest sodium. This is the brand of tamari I buy. Not concerned about gluten? Use regular soy sauce (low sodium).
- Nut butter: gives this sauce it's its rich, creamy, thick texture and adds flavor. Tahini (sesame seed butter) is my top choice as it is creamy and has a more neutral flavor than other nut butters. Swaps below.
- Molasses: a thick, dark brown syrup made during the sugar-making process, adds warm sweetness and rich, deep color to homemade hoisin. Get the unsulphured style. Molasses is why brown sugar is brown. Don't use blackstrap molasses; it's too bitter.
- Sesame Oil: sesame oil adds rich flavor, and be sure to use toasted sesame oil for it's stronger flavor and deeper color.
- Honey: adds sweetness, use a mild liquid style honey.
- Tamarind: tamarind is a fruit-like legume. It has a wonderful, bright, sweet-sour taste. It's optional but worth finding. I use Glory Bee organic tamarind puree. It's pure and thick with no additives or seeds (like tamarind in block form). Find it at Whole Foods, ethnic markets and online. Tamarind is a staple in Indian, Mexican, African, Thai and Latin-American cuisines. It's sometimes labeled as tamarind paste.
- Vinegar: use apple cider vinegar. It adds mild acidity and tang.
- Chinese Five Spice: five spice is a marvelous, exotic spice blend. Often used are szechuan pepper or black pepper, cinnamon, clove, fennel, star anise or other warm spices. Blends vary. If you are a cinnamon fan, I bet you'll love Five Spice.
- Garlic: using garlic powder is fine for gluten-free hoisin sauce (versus fresh garlic).
Please see recipe card for measurements.
Chef's Note: Hoisin sauce is from Cantonese cuisine, but it's use in Vietnamese, Japanese cuisines and other Asian-inspired dishes. If you've tried Kikkoman hoisin sauce or Lee Kum Kee hoisin sauce, try this recipe.
Substitutions and Variations
Here are a few substitutions for my hoisin sauce recipe.
- Swap nut butters: try creamy almond butter, cashew butter, or creamy peanut butter for the tahini. The flavors are a little different for each. I've made hoisin sauce with them all. Tahini is the most neutral tasting.
- Swap unseasoned rice vinegar for the apple cider vinegar.
- To reduce sugar or for vegans, sub this keto honey syrup for honey. It's terrific.
- Another option is date syrup but I have not tested it.
- Maple syrup is a substitute, but the flavor will be a little different.
Chef's Tip: five spice is a marvelous, exotic spice blend. Try it wherever you'd use cinnamon, and it's great with chocolate! Try five spice in my chocolate energy smoothie or this recipe for chocolate pudding (chocolate pots de creme).
How to make hoisin sauce? It couldn't be any easier. Measure and blend.
Step 1: Add all to a jar and shake or whisk until smooth. A quick blend on low with a blender works too. No cooking required to thicken, as the tahini makes it thick and creamy. That's it!
Chef's Tip: What else can you do with tamarind puree? Use it in jams, chutney's, condiments (like my gluten-free hoisin sauce), glazes, barbecue sauce, dressings, drinks and stir-fry dishes. It's adds bright sweet-tart flavor, sort of like lemons and sweet dates (if that makes sense). It's an ingredient in worcestershire sauce, if you like that flavor. Really, it's delicious!
ChIcken kabobs: Brush grilled chicken kabobs (above) with gluten-free hoisin sauce for beautiful color and fantastic flavor. Serve extra on the side as a dipping sauce.
Baby back ribs: Gluten-free hoisin sauce is terrific on this oven baby back ribs recipe. I'll have my smoked baby back ribs recipe out before July 4th.
Gluten-free hoisin gets very thick when refrigerated (because ofd the nut butter). To thin for more of a glaze, add a little water until you get the consistency you desire. It will also thin if you gently heat it over low heat in a small pan. I don't recommend microwaving.
Hoisin sauce is only gluten-free if you are using tamari, which is wheat-free soy sauce. Tamari tastes the same as soy sauce, just gluten-free. Read labels to be sure.
Teriyaki sauce can be a good hoisin sauce alternative in some recipes. They have a similar consistency, but different flavors. Both are delicious. Salty, savory soy sauce (or tamari) is the common lead ingredient for both sauces, and both contain sugar or other sweetener.
Yes, but not always. If you find it you can buy bottled gluten-free hoisin sauce but homemade is far better and simple to make. Plus you control the ingredients such as sodium level and sugar levels, both of which are super high in commercial brands.
In the Asian family of popular sauces, the flavor of oyster sauce is somewhere between fish sauce and soy sauce, as it is made with oysters, as well as sugar, MSG, caramel color, and wheat. Both are thick sauces with a syrupy texture and deep brown color, and both are widely used in Asian cooking. It might be a little fishy tasting for some palates, more of an acquired taste. Hoisin sauce does not have fish sauce (although you can add it if desired).
More Delicious Sauce Recipes
And be sure to check out the sauces and dressing category for more easy tasty ideas!
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Homemade Hoisin Sauce
- ¼ cup low sodium gluten-free Tamari or low sodium soy sauce
- ¼ cup tahini (sesame seed butter) swaps below
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons molasses
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 2 tablespoon jarred tamarind puree
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar or unseasoned rice vinegar
- ¼-1/2 teaspoon Five Spice Powder aka Chinese five spice
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- Combine all ingredients into a large measuring cup or bowl. Whisk until smooth. You could even toss all of the ingredients into a blender and whirl to blend. Taste, and if you want it sweeter add a little more honey. Store covered and refrigerated in a jar for 30 days.