This Nuoc Cham recipe is easy and authentic. It’s a Vietnamese dressing or dipping sauce, perfect for spring rolls, salads and noodle bowls. Vegan-adaptable!

nuoc cham in small bowl with spoon and sliced red chilies.

While in Vietnam, we ate a lot of cool and refreshing salads. It was so hot there; salad felt so light and flavorful. One particular day we had a green mango salad with a Nuoc Cham dressing and it was so flavorful and perfectly balanced- I had to ask the cafe owner what the secret was to her Nuoc Cham dressing. Her powerful response was short and simple and stuck with me ever since — equal parts! 

What is Nước Chấm?

Nuoc Cham is a flavorful Vietnamese dressing or sauce used to season fresh salads, spring rolls, and noodle bowls. It is delicious on cold crunchy salads and veggies. Generally comprised of a few key ingredients, Nuoc Cham varies in the proportion of these ingredients, depending on the region of Vietnam.

Why you’ll love this recipe!

  • Vegan-adaptable! You can use our vegan fish sauce or sub soy sauce.
  • Fast and easy! Takes just 5 minutes.
  • Perfectly balanced, not too sweet.

Nuoc cham Dressing Ingredients

  • Fish sauce: I like the Red Boat brand. You can make this vegan by using our recipe for Vegan Fish Sauce! You can also simply sub 3 tablespoons soy sauce.
  • Sweetener: Brown sugar, palm sugar, or honey all work wonderfully to balance the flavors in the sauce.
  • Lime juice: Fresh is best here for perfectly tart, subtly sweet flavor. In a pinch you can sub vinegar, but we really love lime juice for Nuoc Cham. Some recipes call for lemon juice, but lime has a distinct sweetness that really makes this sauce special.
  • Fresh chilies: Use red or green, mild or hot. Essential for infusing the sauce with heat! Use Hanoi red pepper, Vietnamese birdseye, or Vietnamese tear jerker, or you can sub Thai chili peppers.

How to make the best Nuoc Cham

Chef’s Tip: The secret to the best, most balanced, flavorful Nouc Cham recipe is equal parts of lime juice, sugar, fish sauce, and water (I use a 1/4 cup of each)—plus the addition of fresh chilies to taste. That is it!

Step 1: Combine water and sugar. In a small bowl or jar, stir sugar and hot water until sugar dissolves.

Step 2: Add remaining ingredients. Add lime juice and fish sauce (or vegan fish sauce or 3 tablespoons soy sauce), and sliced fresh chilies.


Is Nuoc Cham healthy?

We think so! You will notice that there is no oil in this recipe, making it very low in fat. Fish sauce is fermented, so full of probiotics, and good for gut diversity. Lime adds a burst of vitamin C and the chilies contain vitamins A and C and capsaicin. So yes, we pronounce it “healthy”. 😉

How long does Nuoc Cham keep for?

Store in a sealed jar for 1 week in the refrigerator.

What can I eat with Nuoc Cham?

Spring rolls are ideal to dip in Nuoc Cham, but you can also serve this with noodle salads, lettuce wraps, Vietnamese salads, or grilled or roasted pork or chicken!

Chef’s Tips & Variations

  • Halve recipe: This nouc cham dressing keeps for a week. Feel free to halve it if you don’t think you’ll use it all.
  • Dilute with water: If the flavor is too strong for your taste, you can always dilute with 1-2 tablespoons of water. It’s usually served on unseasoned veggies, so it intentionally packs a punch.
  • Add garlic: Use a garlic press to add raw, crushed garlic or mince clove garlic.
  • Adjust chili pepper amount: You can estimate the amount of chili peppers needed based on your heat preference.
nuoc cham is small bowl with spoon and sliced red chilies.

So simple! I hope you enjoy this authentic Nuoc Cham recipe!

Ways To Use Nuoc Cham

There is a Thai version of this called Nam Jim Jaew – we love this version by Suwanee!

More Vietnamese dishes you may enjoy!

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A simple authentic recipe for Nouc Cham, the Vietnamese dressing and dipping sauce for salads, spring rolls and noodle bowls. #nouccham #dressing #sauce #vietnamesesauce #dippingsauce

Nuoc Cham Recipe (Vietnamese Dipping Sauce)

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This is a simple, authentic Nuoc Cham Recipe—the flavorful Vietnamese dipping sauce and dressing for salads, spring rolls, and noodle bowls. It’s also vegan-adaptable!


Units Scale
  1. 1/4 cup sugar (or honey, agave or other sugar substitute)
  2. 1/4 cup warm water
  3. 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  4. 1/4 cup fish sauce (or vegan fish sauce)
  5. sliced chilies to taste


  • In a small bowl or jar, stir sugar and warm water until sugar dissolves. Add lime juice and fish sauce and few sliced fresh chilies. The chilies will infuse the dressing with heat.
  • For a vegan version sub 3 tablespoons soy sauce for the fish sauce or try making the vegan fish sauce.


Feel free to halve the Nuoc Cham recipe. This will keep 1 week in the fridge.

If the dressing seems too strong for your taste, dilute with a couple of tablespoons of water. It is usually served on unseasoned veggies so intentionally packs a punch.

I understand that for some, this may seem like a lot of fish sauce. Keep in mind, when the fish sauce is balanced with the lime and sugar, you will hardly taste it when spooned on something fresh and crunchy.


  • Serving Size: 2 tablespoons
  • Calories: 29
  • Sugar: 6.7 g
  • Sodium: 706.8 mg
  • Fat: 0 g
  • Saturated Fat: 0 g
  • Carbohydrates: 7.2 g
  • Fiber: 0 g
  • Protein: 0.5 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg

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  1. Made Nuoc Cham last night for our lettuce wraps. My partner nearly guzzles the stuff, it’s that good. He’s not a cook but he’s happy to make this sauce. We used sugar; next time we’ll try it with honey.

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