Chinese Brown Sauce

Chinese brown sauce

The Spruce

  • Total: 15 mins
  • Prep: 5 mins
  • Cook: 10 mins
  • Servings: 2 servings

A lot of Chinese stir-fry dishes from Chinese takeaways often add “brown sauce” to their dishes. One of the best-known dishes that use brown sauce is the takeout classic beef and broccoli. The sauce usually contains beef stock or beef broth to give the dish extra flavor but you can use chicken broth or stock if you like.

Brown sauce is typically a Western Chinese takeaway thing. In some cultures, brown sauce isn't used at all. The whole purpose of the flavorful mixture is to thicken a stir-fry sauce and add savory flavor flavoring. It's an easy way to take your dinner up a level.

Look for dark soy sauce for this recipe, since it adds a richer flavor. Oyster sauce is commonly used in Chinese food and adds a savory, salty, umami flavor. Both can be found in most grocery stores. If you like, you can add grated or minced ginger or garlic. Serve your homemade brown sauce with a beef, chicken, or pork stir-fry or chow mein dish.


Click Play to See This Easy Chinese Brown Sauce Recipe Come Together


  • 3/4 cup beef broth
  • 1 1/4 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch (corn flour, or potato starch)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Add the broth, oyster sauce, dark soy sauce, sugar, and cornstarch to a saucepan.

  3. Mix evenly and make sure there are no lumps of cornstarch.

  4. Bring it to a boil while stirring. Simmer until the sauce reaches the desired thickness. 

  5. Use immediately in your favorite stir-fry or other dish.

Recipe Variations

  • Chicken broth version: Combine 1 cup chicken broth (or chicken stock), 1 1/2 tablespoons oyster sauce, 2 teaspoons dark soy sauce, 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar, and 1 tablespoon cornstarch (or potato starch) in a saucepan. Mix evenly and make sure there are no lumps. Bring to a boil and keep stirring during cooking. Simmer until the sauce reaches the thickness you like.
  • Add 1 grated garlic clove
  • Add 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • Add chili sauce or chili oil if you'd like your brown sauce spicy

Is Chinese Brown Sauce Healthy?

Chinese brown sauce is low calorie, making it a decently healthy choice when saucing your stir-fries. It does not contain much in the ways of vitamins or nutrients. To reduce the sodium, use low-sodium beef broth and soy sauce. Because brown sauce contains cornstarch it is not appropriate for a keto diet.

Is Hoisin Sauce the Same as Brown Sauce?

Hoisin sauce is a flavorful condiment made of a variety of ingredients depending on the maker. Hoison is often made with soybeans, garlic, chili, sugar, and spices. Brown sauce is a slightly thinner, simpler sauce that is broth-based. It has a less complex flavor than hoisin sauce.