Classic Chinese Duck Sauce

A plate of miniature egg rolls with plum sauce

Lauri Patterson / Getty Images

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 75 mins
Plus: 75 mins
Total: 75 mins

Chinese duck sauce is made with plums, apricots, sugar, and spices. It is a condiment served with duck, ​​chicken, pork, and spareribs. It is also often referred to as plum sauce.

Vegetarians will also enjoy using duck sauce (which they are likely to prefer calling plum sauce) with noodles, rice, and grilled or stir-fried vegetables. It is a great way to add something extra to take-out.

This delicious sauce is quite easy to make at home, but you need to plan far ahead as it needs to sit for 2 weeks before being used. While there are even simpler recipes out there that use prepared preserves, you'll appreciate the difference in using your own fruit and spices.


  • For the Fruit Mixture:
  • 1 pound plums (halved and pitted)
  • 1 pound apricots (halved and pitted)
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • For the Brown Sugar Mixture:
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • For the Spice Mixture:
  • 1/4 cup peeled and chopped ginger
  • 1 small onion (sliced thin)
  • 1 serrano chile, or more to taste (seeded and chopped)
  • 2 garlic cloves (sliced)
  • 4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon toasted mustard seeds
  • 1 cinnamon stick

Steps to Make It

  1. Make the fruit mixture: Place the plums, apricots, 1 cup cider vinegar, water, and balsamic vinegar in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring it to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer it uncovered for 15 minutes.

  2. Make the brown sugar mixture: Place 1 cup of cider vinegar, brown sugar, white sugar, and lemon juice in a separate saucepan. Bring it to a boil, reduce the heat slightly, and let it bubble for 10 minutes. Let it cool for 5 minutes.

  3. Add the brown sugar mixture to the fruit mixture, along with the ginger, onion, chile, garlic, salt, mustard seeds, and cinnamon stick. Simmer for 45 minutes. Discard the cinnamon stick.

  4. Pour the mixture into a food processor and puree it until smooth. You may need to do this in batches.

  5. Return it to the saucepan and simmer until thickened.

  6. Sterilize a quart-size canning jar or two pint-size canning jars by boiling in a water bath for 15 minutes.

  7. Place the duck sauce in a sterilized canning jar. Cap loosely and let cool to room temperature. Tighten cap and store in a cool, dark place at least 2 weeks before using.

Serve your duck sauce/plum sauce as a condiment with duck, chicken, pork, and spareribs. You can use it whenever you see duck sauce called for in a recipe for noodle or rice dishes.

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