Chinese Garlic Sauce

This Chinese garlic sauce is spicy, tangy, sweet, and flavorful. It’s great as a dipping sauce, stir-fry sauce, or over ramen soup noodles!

I love to make fragrant crispy chicken wings and toss them in this garlic soy sauce, for my version of Asian-inspired dunked wings. It’s also fantastic as a dipping sauce for spring rolls of all kinds (my weakness)!

More Sauce Recipes To Try

Peanut Dipping Sauce (For Spring Rolls)
Easy Curry Sauce
Boiling Crab Sauce
Peri Peri Hot Sauce
Garlic Sauce
Brown Butter Sage Sauce
Beef Gravy (Without Drippings!)

Ingredient Notes and Substitutes

The ingredients in this Asian sauce recipe are fairly easy to find, but if you need to adapt your recipe, here are some notes and substitutions you can use:

Vegetable or canola oil: You can use other neutral oils like grapeseed, peanut, or sunflower oil.

Garlic: Fresh garlic is best for flavor, but you can use garlic paste or pre-minced garlic for convenience. Garlic powder or garlic granules can be used in a pinch, but the flavor won’t be as robust.

Ginger: Fresh ginger provides the best flavor. Ground ginger or ginger paste can be used as alternatives.

Green chilies: Use green chilies based on your spice preference. Thai bird’s eye chilies or serrano chilies work well.

Soy sauce: Use regular soy sauce for a salty umami flavor. You can also use low-sodium soy sauce if you want to reduce salt content. Tamari or coconut aminos for a gluten-free option.

Chicken broth: Choose low-sodium chicken broth to control salt levels. Vegetable broth or mushroom broth for a vegetarian or a vegan version are all acceptable.

Rice vinegar: Rice vinegar adds a mild, slightly sweet tanginess. White vinegar or apple cider vinegar are good alternatives.

Light brown sugar: Light brown sugar provides a subtle caramel note. White sugar or honey works well too.

Sesame oil: Toasted sesame oil adds a nutty aroma. Use regular (untoasted) sesame oil or omit it if unavailable.

Red pepper flakes: Adjust the amount based on your spice preference. Use cayenne pepper, chili paste, or sriracha for heat.

Water: Used to thin the sauce. Adjust the amount for desired consistency.

Cornstarch: Used for thickening the sauce. Arrowroot starch or tapioca starch are great substitutes.

chinese garlic sauce

How to make Chinese Garlic Sauce: Step by step

To make this Asian garlic sauce, follow these easy steps:

Step 1: Sauté Aromatics:
Heat 2 tbsp vegetable or canola oil in a skillet or wok over medium-high heat.
Add 4 minced cloves of garlic, 1 tbsp minced ginger, and sliced green chilies (adjust to taste) to the hot oil.
Sauté for 1-2 minutes until garlic is fragrant and slightly golden. Be careful not to burn the garlic.

Step 2: Add remaining ingredients, except the Water and Cornstarch:
Add the soy sauce, chicken broth, rice vinegar, light brown sugar, sesame oil, and red pepper flakes to the skillet.
Set aside.
Bring the sauce to a simmer.
Cook for 2-3 minutes, allowing it to thicken slightly.

Step 3: Add Cornstarch Slurry:
In another bowl, dissolve 2 tsp cornstarch in 1/4 cup water, and pour the slurry into the skillet.
Stir well to combine.
Stir continuously for 2-3 minutes until the sauce reaches your desired thickness.

Step 4: Adjust Seasoning:
Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning if needed. You can add more soy sauce for saltiness, more sugar for sweetness, or more red pepper flakes for heat.

Recipe Tips and Tricks

This is a very simple recipe that doesn’t require much in the way of ingredients, but these basic tips will definitely help you create the best version of this sauce:

Mise en Place: Before you start cooking, have all your ingredients measured, chopped, and ready to go. Chinese cooking often involves quick stir-frying, so being prepared will make the process smoother.

Control the saltiness: The soy sauce and chicken broth both contain salt, so you’ll have to taste and adjust the salt as needed.

Taste as you go: Taste the sauce and adjust the flavor by adding more soy sauce for saltiness, more sugar for sweetness, or more vinegar for tanginess.

Thickening the sauce: To avoid lumps when thickening with cornstarch, ensure the cornstarch is fully dissolved in water before adding it to the sauce. Stir the slurry just before pouring it in.

Consistency: Adjust the thickness of the sauce to your liking by adding more or less cornstarch slurry. If it becomes too thick, thin it out with a bit of water or broth.

Make it ahead: Chinese garlic sauce keeps well in the refrigerator for several days. You can make a larger batch and store it in an airtight container for future use.

Garnish: Sprinkle with chopped green onions, or sesame seeds, for added flavor, texture, and visual appeal.

bowl of noodles with chinese garlic sauce

How to use Chinese Garlic Sauce

If you don’t already have an idea how you’d like to include this tangy and sweet garlic sauce in your meals, here are some suggestions to help you out:

Stir-fry sauce: Use as a flavorful stir-fry sauce for vegetables, tofu, chicken, shrimp, or beef. Simply add it to your stir-fry during the cooking process, toss well, and cook until heated through.

Marinade: Use the garlic sauce as a marinade for proteins like chicken, pork, or shrimp. Let the meat soak in the sauce for at least 30 minutes (or longer for more flavor) before grilling, baking, or pan-frying.

Dipping sauce: Serve it as a dipping sauce for dumplings, spring rolls, potstickers, or other appetizers. You can also thin it with a bit of water or broth to achieve your preferred dipping consistency.

Noodle or rice bowls: Drizzle over cooked noodles, rice, or grain bowls for an instant burst of flavor. It pairs well with a variety of grains and proteins.

Noodle stir-fries: Create delicious noodle stir-fries by mixing cooked noodles with the sauce and your choice of vegetables and proteins. Garnish with sesame seeds and chopped green onions.

Glaze: Brush the sauce onto grilled or roasted meats and vegetables during the last few minutes of cooking for a savory glaze.

Sandwich or wrap spread: Use it as a condiment in sandwiches, wraps, or burgers to add a unique garlic flavor and a touch of heat.

Dressing: Transform it into a salad dressing by diluting it with a bit of vinegar or citrus juice, and then drizzle it over your favorite salad.

Flavor booster: Enhance the taste of soups, stews, and broths by adding a spoonful of your homemade Chinese garlic sauce. It can provide depth and complexity to your recipes.

Dipping sauce for grilled meats: Serve it as a dipping sauce alongside grilled meats, such as Korean barbecue dishes or skewered kebabs.

bowl of stir fry and chinese garlic sauce over white rice

Chinese Garlic Sauce Variations

I love adapting sauces to achieve a different flavor every time, and ever since I learned this sauce recipe, I’ve experimented with countless variations. Here are some of my favorites:

Honey garlic sauce: Add 1-2 tablespoons of honey to the sauce mixture for a sweet twist on the classic garlic sauce.

Szechuan garlic sauce: Increase the amount of red pepper flakes or add Szechuan peppercorns for a spicier version.

Vegan garlic sauce: Substitute chicken broth with vegetable broth and use a vegan-friendly soy sauce or tamari.

Orange garlic sauce: Add the zest and juice of one orange to the sauce mixture for a citrusy flavor.

Peanut garlic sauce: Stir in 2-3 tablespoons of creamy peanut butter for a nutty and rich garlic sauce.

Garlic and black bean sauce: Add 1-2 tablespoons of black bean sauce to the mixture for a savory and umami-packed variation.

Lemon/lime garlic sauce: Replace rice vinegar with freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice for a tangy twist.

Garlic hoisin sauce: Combine 2-3 tablespoons of hoisin sauce with the sauce mixture for a sweet and savory profile.

Garlic teriyaki sauce: Replace the soy sauce with teriyaki sauce for a sweet and savory garlic teriyaki variation.

This Asian garlic sauce is the perfect base sauce to add other ingredients to, to customize it to your liking.

chinese garlic stir fry sauce and vegetables over white rice

How to store Chinese Garlic Sauce

Refrigerate the sauce to preserve its freshness. I like to add a thin, protective layer of neutral-flavored oil on the top of the sauce before sealing the container.

The sauce should be consumed within 1 to 2 weeks, although it may remain safe to eat beyond that period with a potential decline in quality. Prior to using, check for any signs of spoilage.

chinese garlic sauce storage

Chinese Garlic Sauce

This Chinese garlic sauce is spicy, tangy, subtly sweet and full of flavor. It’s amazing as a dipping sauce, stir-fry sauce, or even to flavor ramen soup noodles!
Course: Sauce
Cuisine: Asian, Chinese
Keyword: Asian garlic sauce, Chinese garlic sauce, garlic soy sauce

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tablespoon ginger minced
  • 2-3 green chilies thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch

Instructions

  • Heat the vegetable or canola oil in a skillet or wok over medium-high heat.
  • Add the minced garlic, minced ginger, and sliced green chilies to the hot oil. Stir-fry for 1-2 minutes or until fragrant and lightly golden.
  • Add the soy sauce, chicken broth, rice vinegar, light brown sugar, sesame oil, and red pepper flakes.
  • Bring the sauce to a simmer and let it cook for about 2-3 minutes, allowing it to thicken slightly.
  • In a separate small bowl, dissolve the cornstarch in 1/4 cup of water to create a cornstarch slurry.
  • Pour the cornstarch slurry into the sauce. Stir continuously and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes until the sauce thickens.
  • Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning if needed.
  • Once the sauce has reached your desired consistency and flavor, remove it from heat.

This easy Chinese garlic sauce is a staple in my home, because it’s so versatile and packs a mighty flavor punch for such a simple sauce! If you try this recipe, i’d love to know how you like to serve it. Let me know in the comments below.



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