Chinese Garlic Sauce for Stir-Fries

Chinese garlic sauce in a bowl next to a plate with a stir fry

The Spruce Eats / 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 recipe gathered

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  2. In a small bowl, stir together the rice vinegar, sugar, soy sauces, rice wine or sherry, chile sauce, and sesame oil.

    Condiments and sesame oil being stirred in a small bowl

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  3. In a separate small bowl, dissolve the cornstarch in the water.

    Cornstarch dissolved in water in a separate small bowl

    The Spruce Eats / 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.

    Chopped garlic frying in oil in a small saucepan

    The Spruce Eats / 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.

    Sauce mixture added to the saucepan

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  6. Re-stir the cornstarch-water mixture and add it to the sauce, stirring to thicken.

    Cornstarch-thickened sauce being stirred with a wooden spoon

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  7. Use in your favorite stir-fries and enjoy.

    Chinese garlic sauce in a bowl next to a plate with a stir fry

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga