Simple Homemade Hoisin Sauce recipe that’s gluten-free, soy-free, paleo, and it takes only a few minutes to make! With ingredients you probably already have in your pantry, simple add and blend. Use the hoisin sauce for your favorite mandarin pancakes, BBQ dipping sauce, or stir-fries for a sweet, tangy, and intensely-flavored savory deliciousness.

Creamy blended hoisin sauce in a small bowl
Intensely-flavored savory, sweet, and little tangy deliciousness

Homemade Hoisin Sauce (gluten-free, paleo, whole30)

Hoisin sauce is very popular in Cantonese and southern Chinese cuisines. I can’t recall if my family uses it often because my mother’s side of the family was originally from Northern China. However, growing up in Taiwan I’ve had my fair share of dishes made with or accompanied by hoisin sauce – Beijing duck with mandarin pancakes and steamed seafood platters with hoisin sauce served on the side.

Today I’m sharing a simplified version, using ingredients you probably already have in your pantry and I’ve made it gluten-free, paleo, and whole30. While the flavor might be slightly different than if you used a store-bought, it’s an easy and quick way to make the sauce for dipping, BBQ, or stir-fry.

What is hoisin sauce

Hoisin [hói sīn jeung] is cantonese pronunciation. Mandarin pronounces hǎi xiān jiàng.
[hói or hǎi] means ocean
[sīn or xiān] means fresh, deliciousness, and umami.
[jeung or jiàng] means sauce.

When you put the first two characters together, 海鮮 Hoi-sin [hói sīn or hǎi xiān] means seafood.

This sauce, despite the name, does not contain seafood. It is, however, often used as a dipping sauce to accompany seafood dishes.

What does hoisin sauce taste like?

Salty, sweet, and with a hint of star anise, cloves, and tangy flavor. It’s not as sweet as plum sauce. Hoisin sauce is dark in color and with a thick almost syrup-ish consistency. It’s often used as a glaze for BBQ meats, a dipping sauce, or a stir-fry sauce after being diluted.

Some people compare it to American-style bbq sauce, but hoisin is a predominantly soy-flavored thick sauce that’s much saltier and sweeter than the regular soy sauce and with a little hint of tangy flavor. It’s not a ketchup based bbq sauce.

Is there seafood in hoisin sauce?

No. There is no seafood in hoisin sauce despite the name Hoisin or Hǎi Xiān (海鮮) means seafood in Mandarin. However, it’s a common dipping sauce to accompany seafood dishes, particularly boiled or steamed seafood that are light in flavor.

Add all the ingredients to a small processor
Use a small food processor to blend

What are The Hoisin Sauce Ingredients

I will compare the two between a store-bought version from a popular brand and my own take on the sauce.

Store-bought:

Sugar, Water, Fermented Soybean Paste (Water, Salt, Soybeans, Wheat Flour), Garlic, Dried Sweet Potato, Salt, Colors (Caramel, FD&C Red No. 40), Modified Corn Starch, Sesame Paste Spices, Salted Chili Peppers (Chili Peppers, Salt), Acetic Acid.

My homemade gluten-free and soy-free version:

  • Pitted dates or pure date syrup
  • Tahini, cashew butter, or sunbutter
  • Garlic powder
  • Coarse sea salt
  • Five spice powder
  • Water to blend (if use whole pitted dates)

Some recipes online also add rice vinegar to the sauce but personally I didn’t find it to my liking. If you prefer a more tangy-version, start with a teaspoon of rice vinegar and add more if you like.

How to make homemade hoisin sauce recipe

For a homemade version, it’s super easy! If you happen to have a bottle of pure date syrup (product link in my recipe), simply stir everything well in a bowl.

To keep the sauce Whole30, use whole pitted dates. Select dates that are still quite moist-looking and not overly dry. Add the ingredients with water and blend a few times in a small food processor to make a thick sauce that’s almost paste-ish.

Blend a few minutes until creamy smooth

Hoisin sauce vs. Oyster sauce

Difference in flavor:

Hoisin sauce tastes different from Oyster sauce. Hoisin is much sweeter and oyster sauce is more savory and not as sweet. My vegetarian oyster sauce (made with shiitake) tastes savory, umami-rich, and with a hint of sweet flavor.

Difference in usage:

Oyster sauce and vegetarian oyster sauce are widely used as a stir-fry sauce for vegetables, meats, and seafood. It gives a dish depth and savory flavor without being overly sweet. Hoisin sauce is mainly used as a glaze for BBQ, mandarin pancakes for Beijing duck, Moo Shu Chicken, or a dipping sauce.

How to use Paleo hoisin sauce in recipes?

More yummy healthy homemade sauces!

Whole30 gochujang sauce, Thai “Peanut” Sauce, Asian “Peanut” Sauce, Keto Teriyaki Sauce, Vegetarian Oyster Sauce, Thai dipping sauce, Vietnamese dipping sauce, browse more paleo sauce recipes here.

Creamy blended hoisin sauce in a small bowl
5 from 7 votes

Homemade Hoisin Sauce (gluten-free, paleo, whole30)

Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 5 mins
Total Time: 10 mins
Servings: 8 tbsp
Author: ChihYu
Homemade Hoisin Sauce is a great substitute for gluten-free, soy-free, paleo, and whole30! users. Use it as a dipping sauce, bbq glaze, or even stir-fry! Makes about 1/2 cup.
Print Pin Rate

Ingredients 

  • 1 oz. pitted dates, about 6 dates or 2 tbsp pure date syrup
  • 2 tbsp coconut aminos
  • 2 tsp tahini, or cashew butter, sunbutter
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • To taste Coarse sea salt , I use ¼ tsp
  • Small pinch five spice powder
  • 3 tbsp water to blend, if use pitted dates

Instructions 

  • In a mini food processor, blend the dates with ingredients from coconut aminos to water. Scrap the bowl a few times and blend until it becomes a thicker and almost syrup-ish texture. Taste and adjust. The flavor should be salty, sweet, and with a hint of star anise, cloves, and tangy flavor.
    Add all the ingredients to a small processor
  • If you use pure date syrup, you do not need water to blend the sauce. Simply stir-well and adjust the seasonings to your personal liking.
    Blend a few minutes until creamy smooth
  • Store the extra in a glass container in the fridge. Best use in 1-2 weeks. Thin with 1 tablespoon water or more until your desired consistency.
    Creamy blended hoisin sauce in a small bowl

Notes

  • Most recipes online also add rice vinegar to the sauce but personally I didn’t find it to my liking. If you prefer a more tangy-version, start with a teaspoon of rice vinegar and add more if you like.
  • If you are on Whole30, please use the pitted dates. The pure date syrup is not Whole30 friendly.
  • Use this sauce in my Moo Shu Chicken Recipe or please scroll up the post to see the section on how to use hoisin sauce in recipes.

Nutrition

Serving: 1tablespoon, Calories: 22kcal, Carbohydrates: 4g, Protein: 1g, Fat: 1g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Sodium: 68mg, Potassium: 31mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 1IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 3mg, Iron: 1mg
Course: Dipping sauce, sauce
Cuisine: American Chinese, Chinese
Keyword: gluten free hoisin sauce, Hoisin sauce, hoisin sauce recipe, hoisin sauce substitute, homemade hoisin sauce, substitute for hoisin sauce
DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE?Tag @iheartumami.ny on Instagram and hashtag it #iheartumami.

Also, check out my Mongolian beef, Mongolian Chicken, Thai basil beef, Thai basil chicken, and Mandarin Chicken Salad!