This Szechuan Sauce recipe is punchy, flavorful, and authentic.  It’s the perfect combination of spicy, savory and subtly sweet with lots of umami depth and flavor! Use it in stir-fry recipes, as a flavorful marinade, or as a delicious dipping sauce – it’s easy to make at home in just five minutes.  Watch the video!

Amazing and Authentic Szechuan Sauce! Use as a flavorful stir-fry sauce for veggies or noodles, or use it as a marinade for tofu, chicken, shrimp or beef!  Healthier than store-bought versions with no preservatives or msg, It is gluten-free adaptable and vegan! Can be made in 5 minutes flat and keeps for 10 days in the fridge! 

Here’s an amazingly delicious, authentic recipe for Szechuan Sauce (or Sichuan sauce) that we learned how to make in Shanghai. After taking a few cooking classes there, I’ve become a little obsessed with Szechuan recipes. This Szechuan Chicken is one of my favorites! Turns out, homemade schezwan is easy to make at home, from scratch without all the preservatives!

But first, what is Szechuan Sauce?

Szechuan Sauce (or Sichuan sauce) is a bold and flavorful sauce originating from the Sichuan province of China. It is known for its spicy and complex flavors: spicy elements from red chili peppers, savory notes from garlic and ginger, a touch of sweetness, and the distinct numbing sensation from Szechuan peppercorns. A beautiful balance of flavors perfect for stir-fry recipes, as a marinade for meat or tofu, or as a dipping sauce.

Our version of Szechuan Sauce is FULL of flavor and can be made spicy or mild. It has a multitude of uses!

Szechuan Sauce Ingredients

  1. Szechuan Peppercorns: These peppercorns are a key ingredient in Szechuan sauce, known for their zingy and numbing effect on the tongue. If unavailable, substitute black peppercorns.
  2. Chinese Five Spice: Chinese five spice blend aromatic spices like star anise, cloves, cinnamon, Szechuan peppercorns, and fennel seeds. It adds depth and complexity to the Szechuan sauce, elevating its flavor profile. Buy it or make your own Chinese Five Spice.
  3. Soy Sauce (or Gluten-Free Liquid Aminos): Soy sauce adds a savory and umami flavor to the Szechuan sauce. You can use regular soy sauce or opt for a gluten-free version like liquid aminos.
  4. Honey (or Maple Syrup, Coconut Sugar, Brown Sugar, or other sweetener): The sweetness of honey balances the spiciness and tanginess of the sauce. You can choose your preferred sweetener to add a touch of sweetness.
  5. Sesame Oil: Sesame oil imparts a toasty, nutty and aromatic flavor to the Szechuan sauce, enhancing its overall taste profile.
  6. Rice Vinegar (or Black Vinegar): Rice vinegar gives a tangy and slightly acidic taste, adding a refreshing element to the sauce. If you prefer a deeper flavor, you can substitute it with black vinegar.
  7. Chinese Cooking Wine (Shaoxing) or Mirin (Optional): Chinese cooking wine or mirin can be added to the sauce for an extra layer of complexity and depth. This is optional but can enhance the overall flavor.
  8. Garlic Cloves: Minced garlic brings a pungent and aromatic element to the sauce. You can use fresh garlic cloves or substitute with garlic powder or granulated garlic if needed.
  9. Fresh Ginger: Finely minced ginger adds a hint of warmth and brightness to the Szechuan sauce, complementing the other flavors. Alternatively, you can use ginger paste as a substitute.
  10. Chili Garlic Sauce (or Sambal Oelek, Sriracha): Chili garlic sauce provides the signature spiciness to the Szechuan sauce. You can use chili garlic sauce directly or opt for substitutes like cayenne, red pepper flakes, or dried red pepper. Sambal oelek or sriracha also work.

Note: Cornstarch can also be optionally added to thicken the sauce, depending on your desired consistency.

How to make Szechuan Sauce

  1. Toast szechuan peppercorns in a hot dry skillet over medium heat, until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Crush.
  2. Place all ingredients in a medium bowl or small jar and whisk until well combined. It is ready to use as a stir-fry sauce or marinade.
  3. If using this as dipping sauce, place it in a small pot over medium-low heat and simmer for just a few minutes. Feel free to add cornstarch to thicken.
Authentic Szechuan Sauce! Use as easy delicious stir-fry sauce or flavorful marinade - gluten-free adaptable, vegan and full of amazing flavor! Can be made in 5 minutes! #stirfrysauce #szechuan #sauce #stirfry #chinese #recipe #marinade #szechuansauce #szechuanrecipe

The Szechuan peppercorns give the sauce a really authentic “zingy-ness” that is hard to replicate, but it also tastes just fine without!

TIP: Always remember to go lightly at first with Szechuan peppercorns they are definitely an acquired taste, perfumy and complex, while having an unusual numbing effect on the tongue.

Some people looooooove this. Some do not. The best thing to do is just try one! We all taste things differently!

Spicy Szechuan Sauce -an easy delicious stir-fry sauce and flavorful marinade, infused with the flavors of China! #stirfrysauce #szechuan #sauce #stirfry #chinese #recipe #marinade #szechuansauce

How to use Szechuan Sauce

Wonderful for meal prep, you can use this scratch-made sauce in this flavorful stir-fry as well!

  1. Use as a spicy stir-fry sauce: whisk in 2 teaspoons of cornstarch to thicken it. try adding a few dry  Chinese or Arbol chilies (5-10) to the stir-fry, right before adding the Szechuan Sauce. Do not eat the chilis. 😉
  2. Use as a marinade; forgo the cornstarch and make sure to season what you are marinating (chicken, tofu, beef) with salt. The marinade alone will probably not be salty enough.
  3. Use as a dipping sauce. Simmer it on the stovetop and whisk a little cornstarch to thicken it. My husband loves this with breaded chicken or shrimp.
Authentic Szechuan Sauce! Use as easy delicious stir-fry sauce or flavorful marinade - preservative-free, msg free, gluten-free adaptable, vegan and full of amazing flavor! Can be made in 5 minutes! #stirfrysauce #szechuan #sauce #stirfry #chinese #recipe #marinade #szechuansauce #szechuanrecipe

Storage

Szechuan Sauce will keep up to 7 days in the fridge or can be frozen.

Authentic Szechuan Sauce! Use as easy delicious stir-fry sauce or flavorful marinade - preservative-free, msg free, gluten-free adaptable, vegan and full of amazing flavor! Can be made in 5 minutes! #stirfrysauce #szechuan #sauce #stirfry #chinese #recipe #marinade #szechuansauce #szechuanrecipe

Ways to use Szechuan Sauce

Use szechuan sauce as a flavorful marinade for sheet pan dinners, or as a flavorful stir fry sauce!

Authentic Szechuan Sauce! Use as easy delicious stir-fry sauce or flavorful marinade - preservative-free, msg free, gluten-free adaptable, vegan and full of amazing flavor! Can be made in 5 minutes! #stirfrysauce #szechuan #sauce #stirfry #chinese #recipe #marinade #szechuansauce #szechuanrecipe

I hope you enjoyed this as much as we have… it’s one of my favorite Chinese recipes and has many uses in the kitchen! Let us know what you think in the comments below!

xoxo

Sylvia

Authentic Szechuan Sauce | 60-second video

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Amazing Szechuan Sauce! Use as easy delicious stir-fry sauce or flavorful marinade - preservative-free, msg free, gluten-free adaptable, vegan and full of amazing flavor! Can be made in 5 minutes! #stirfrysauce #szechuan #sauce #stirfry #chinese #recipe #marinade #szechuansauce #szechuanrecipe

Authentic Szechuan Sauce

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 4.9 from 50 reviews
  • Author: Sylvia Fountaine
  • Prep Time: 10
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: ½ cup 1x
  • Category: sauce, condiment
  • Method: Whisked
  • Cuisine: Chinese
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

AMAZING Authentic Szechuan Sauce! Use as an easy delicious stir-fry sauce or flavorful marinade – preservative-free, msg free, gluten-free adaptable, vegan and full of amazing flavor! Can be made in 5 minutes! Keeps for 10 days in the fridge. Watch the video!


Ingredients

Units Scale
  1. 1/21 teaspoon Szechuan Peppercorns (or sub black peppercorns)
  2. 1/4 cup soy sauce ( of Gluten-Free Liquid Aminos) see notes.
  3. 3 tablespoons honey (or sub maple syrup, coconut sugar, brown sugar or sugar alternative)
  4. 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  5. 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar (or black vinegar)
  6. 1 tablespoon Chinese cooking wine (shaoxing) or mirin (both optional)
  7. 3 garlic cloves, finely minced (use a garlic press)
  8. 2 teaspoons fresh ginger, finely minced ( or use ginger paste)
  9. 1 tablespoon garlic chili paste (or sambal oelek) more for more spicy or sub 1 teaspoon chili flakes
  10. 1/2 teaspoon Chinese Five Spice
  11. optional- 2-3 teaspoons corn starch, to thicken

Instructions

  1. Toast szechuan peppercorns in a hot dry skillet over medium heat, until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Crush.
  2. Place all ingredients in a medium bowl or small jar and whisk until well combined.
  3. If using as a stir-fry sauce, and you would like to thicken it, whisk in 2-3 teaspoons cornstarch. Try adding a few dry Chinese or Arbol chilies (5-10) to the stir-fry for a bit of heat, right before adding the Szechuan Sauce. Do not eat the chilies. 😉
  4. If using as a marinade, forgo the cornstarch and make sure to season what you are marinating (chicken, tofu, beef) with salt. The marinade alone will probably not be salty enough.
  5. If using as a dipping sauce, place in a small saucepan, whisking in 2-3 teaspoons cornstarch to thicken, and bring to a simmer for 1 minute.

Notes

Makes a little over ½ a cup and will keep for 7 days in the fridge.

Using Tamari Soy Sauce will make this way too salty! So either Stick with regular or Gluten-free Liquid Aminos. Or dilute Tamari: use 2 1/2 tablespoons tamari and 1 1/2 tablespoons water.

Szechuan Peppercorns add a unique flavor, but using too much will overpower. If unfamiliar, start with ½ teaspoon. If you’ve never tired one, just plop one in in your mouth and taste it. It has a very strong perfumy flavor and numbing effect on the tongue, adding interesting complexity!  A little goes a long way. This may be very pleasant, or very unpleasant to you. This, for me was an acquired taste. You can absolutely leave these out and sub black peppercorns.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size:
  • Calories: 88
  • Sugar: 6.5 g
  • Sodium: 83.7 mg
  • Fat: 6.8 g
  • Saturated Fat: 1 g
  • Carbohydrates: 7.1 g
  • Fiber: 0.1 g
  • Protein: 0.2 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg

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Comments

  1. I made the sauce precisely as directed. On initial tasting, and after 24 hours in the fridge, the overwhelming impression is Chinese 5-Spice. I’ll try it in cooking, but I’m dubious.






  2. I am making this today! Seems to be exactly what I want. I even have ALL the ingredients, no substitutes needed. I just need to buy some protein and veggies. Looking forward to eating this! Thank you for the recipe!

  3. On my hunt for great alternatives to traditional stir fry recipes I had a taste for something a bit spicier. This one you have serves perfectly for a spicier flavor. I haven’t acquired the Szechuan Peppercorns but even still using regular black peppercorns and a bit of intuition your sauce came out perfect. I commend you on a well done recipe! I like it.

  4. I review a lot of recipes/ products and hardly ever give a 5-star rating. This recipe deserves it! I changed the recipe slightly because I didn’t have 5-spice powder on hand (now on the list for the next Penzeys run), so what I did was warm the mixture a bit, added a dash of cinnamon and a pinch of ground cloves, and a star anise. I allowed it to sit until the mixture cooled then used about a third of the sauce for a stir fry. I let the star anise remain in the mixture, in the refrigerator, until I used the rest of it. Oh, I also subbed dry sherry for the rice wine/ mirin. This is a great sauce to have on hand for quick dinners, and my husband and I do love stir fry dishes. THANK YOU!!






  5. Loved it, very authentic taste even though I had to make a couple of substitutions and omitted the wine.A wonderful meal for was created for valentines day, my wife also enjoyed it very much. Thankyou






  6. Hey, I just tried your recipe, with balsamic vinegar and a mix of szechuan and madagascar wild pepper. It was amazing with gyozas. Thanks a lot !






      1. I made this today in preparation for tonight’s dinner and it is very good! Thank for posting this recipe, I’ll definitely be using it again. As soon as I tried it, I shared The recipe link with my Dad & friend to try. Thank you!






  7. Recipe looks amazing! Before I make this I wanted to clarify something. In the recipe itself, it calls for, 3 tablespoons honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar and brown sugar? 3 TBSP of each?

  8. I lived in New York City in the late 1980’s and I had unforgettable memories of the delicious Szechuan Broccoli in Garlic Sauce that one could find all over the city at that time. For decades, I searched cookbooks and then all over the internet to find a good Szechuan sauce recipe — and have not liked a single one — until yours. Your recipe is absolutely WONDERFUL and has filled a huge gap in my repertoire. I can’t thank you enough for developing it and sharing it. This sauce is so superb that I made it two nights in a row. I’m just thrilled and grateful for this recipe. It has become a permanent member of my top favorite recipes of all time. Thank you!






  9. Loved this! Made it with black peppercorns because I couldn’t find szechuan peppercorns. I’m ording some tonight. Can’t wait to try it again with the szechuan.






    1. Hi I need a information what is the exact difference between schezwan sauce and schezwan chutney, can you please tell me






  10. Hands-down the best szechuan sauce I’ve ever made. Bought the szechuan peppercorns on amazon like you said and this was EPIC!






  11. Made as stated, adding the cornstarch. Bought the Szechuan peppercorns ( ordered on line) and I’m never using store bought again. Fantastic!






  12. This looks sooo good!! Thank you so much for your detailed breakdown, and for sharing! I was just wondering – do you have any familiarity with freezing this, if I wanted to make a larger batch and keep it for longer? 🙂

  13. I have ground Szechuan pepper. How should I substitute it? it doesn’t seem to have much flavour if I just put some on my tongue






    1. Yes, start with a little less (to be safe) and add more to taste. If it is older, you may want to dry toast it in a pan on the stove first, to bring out the flavor?

    2. I used dark soy sauce because that’s what I have in the cupboard and 1/2 a teaspoon of ground Szechuan pepper. it was fantastic. thank you very much

  14. Love the flavor of this sauce. Perfect for quick stir-fry with out all the add preservatives. Simple yet full of flavor.






  15. This szechuan sauce has just the perfect balance, plus the addition of szechuan peppercorns was a nice touch. I’ve made it both ways- with and without the peppercorns, and both turned out good.






  16. This sauce rocks! It pops with flavor. I made this sauce for a stirfry last night, so I thickened it slightly with cornstarch, as suggested – it pefectly coated the chicken, broccoli, bell peppers, and other veggies. I did not have Szechuan peppercorns but will get those for the next batch. This will definitely work into my family’s meal rotation. Thanks so much!

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