Chinese Garlic Sauce for Stir-Fries

Garlic sauce for stir fry recipe

The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 10 mins
Total: 15 mins
Servings: 6 to 8 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
37 Calories
2g Fat
4g Carbs
0g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6 to 8
Amount per serving
Calories 37
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 2g 2%
Saturated Fat 0g 1%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 251mg 11%
Total Carbohydrate 4g 2%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 3g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 1mg 3%
Calcium 4mg 0%
Iron 0mg 1%
Potassium 25mg 1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Chinese garlic sauce—similar to brown sauce—is quite popular on Chinese restaurant and takeout menus. Although garlic sauce is found in traditional Chinese dishes, the version we are familiar with has been Americanized to accommodate Western palates and perhaps make it easier for restaurant chefs to find the ingredients in the United States.

In Chinese cooking, sometimes stir-fried dishes can generate some liquid during cooking and a lot of Chinese chefs will stir in a starch and water mixture called a slurry. The slurry is usually 1 to 2 teaspoons of cornstarch mixed with a couple of tablespoons of cold water. This will thicken the sauce in the stir-fried dishes.


Click Play to See This Chinese Garlic Sauce Recipe Come Together


  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar

  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce

  • 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce

  • 2 teaspoons Chinese rice wine (or dry sherry)

  • 1/2 teaspoon chili sauce, or according to taste

  • 1/4 teaspoon sesame oil

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch

  • 1 tablespoon water

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil (or peanut oil)

  • 3 to 4 medium cloves garlic, finely chopped (or 4 teaspoons chopped garlic)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for Chinese garlic sauce
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  2. In a small bowl, stir together the rice vinegar, sugar, soy sauces, rice wine or sherry, chile sauce, and sesame oil.

    Stir sauce
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  3. In a separate small bowl, dissolve the cornstarch in the water.

    Dissolve cornstarch in water
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  4. Heat the oil over medium heat in a saucepan. Add the chopped garlic and cook, stirring until aromatic (around 30 seconds). Watch very carefully to make sure it doesn't burn.

    Heat oil and add chopped garlic
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  5. Quickly re-stir the soy sauce mixture, add it to the saucepan, and bring to a boil, stirring. This should take about a minute.

    Add soy sauce mixture to garlic
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  6. Re-stir the cornstarch-water mixture and add it to the sauce, stirring to thicken.

    Add the cornstarch mixture to the sauce and stir
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  7. Use in your favorite stir-fries and enjoy.

    Chinese garlic sauce ready to use
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

Is Garlic Sauce Healthy?

When homemade, garlic sauce can be a healthier alternative to takeout as some restaurants include certain fats and MSG. This recipe is low in calories and fat but does have a bit of sodium. The generous amount of garlic may provide certain health benefits, such as helping to alleviate symptoms of the common cold, reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and help to prevent Alzheimer's disease and dementia.

Article Sources
The Spruce Eats uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Lissiman E, Bhasale AL, Cohen M. Garlic for the common cold. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2014;(11).  doi:10.1002/14651858.CD006206.pub4

  2. Ried K. Garlic Lowers Blood Pressure in Hypertensive Individuals, Regulates Serum Cholesterol, and Stimulates Immunity: An Updated Meta-analysis and Review. J Nutr. 2016;146(2):389S-396S.  doi:10.3945/jn.114.202192

  3. Lam V, Hackett M, Takechi R. Antioxidants and Dementia Risk: Consideration through a Cerebrovascular Perspective. Nutrients. 2016;8(12).  doi:10.3390/nu8120828