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. Great recipe…have made it many times, including today!

    I add TB of Szechuan peppers, love the numbing effect and extra spicy Mother’s chili paste.






  2. Very well demonstrated and explained. I hope to try and see how this turns out. The Chinese pepper corns are an interesting ingredient that I did not know about but I have encountered them in the Chinese grocery store. They were mixed with spicy roasted peanuts and I was not a fan as there were too many mixed along with the peanuts.






    1. Cecil- give it a try and see. It is a very pungent zingy flavor- I actually didn’t like it the first time I tried it. But in small amounts, it can be quite pleasant.

  3. I made this recipe with the coconut sugar and black vinegar options, left out the 5 spice as i didn’t have any. Marinated chicken thigh in it for a few hours then stir fried it. Omg delicious! Thankyou for sharing!






  4. This was amazing as a vegetarian stir fry sauce. Thanks for sharing. Will definitely make again!






  5. You say this is gluten free but say don’t use Tamari. Soy sauce isn’t gluten free, and tamari is the usual substitute. How do you make this gluten free?

    1. You can dilute the tamari with water (see recipe notes, I just adjusted it) or use gluten-free amino acids like Bragg’s brand.

  6. I tried this sauce with the Szechuan tofu and veggies recipe, also by Sylvia, and it was incredible. The two pair so well together and I’m sure this sauce tastes just as well separate! Thank you Sylvia!






  7. Im out of cornstarch, but I do have some tapioca starch laying around. Do you think I could use that?

  8. My fiancé and I LOVE this recipe on pan fried tofu in our fresh spring rolls.

    As far as how long it “keeps” in the fridge… why only 10 days? With the salt from the soy sauce, wouldn’t the garlic and ginger preserve for a few weeks at least? I thought it may be out of an abundance of caution but wanted to ask anyway.

    The real reason I’m asking… my partner wants to eat this meal once a week (and I’m on board! So many veggies with a cabbage slaw, raw peppers and avocados, etc.) but making the sauce each week could be a time-suck in our teeny kitchen.

    Thank you so much for posting and I’ll hope to hear back 🙂

    1. I hear you! It was out of caution. I haven’t tried keeping it longer, but you are right I think it would be fine.

  9. Do you use garlic chili paste or just the regular chili paste that you have linked?

    Can’t wait to try this!

    1. You can use either- I prefer garlic chili paste and I updated the link to reflect. 😉

  10. Hi Sylvia, ive noticed that your recipie says msg free. Just out of curiosity, whats the problem with msg? Is it bad for you?
    Thanks a lot!

    1. Some people get headaches from it. I don’t know that it is “bad” or “good”, some people just have a reaction from it.

  11. Great sauce! I made it with maple syrup and used it on some crisp tofu. Once again I learned that I absolutely hate tofu. With that said however, I will be using this sauce on a big wok of stir-fried vegetables soon. Thanks, it’s a winner. The tofu…not so much. 😉






  12. Very yummy and spicy! We all loved it! I made the sauce in a stir fry with turkey kilbasa, squash, zucchini, and onions.






  13. This is fabulous sauce.
    Since I’m not too keen on Chinese Five-Spice but I recognize its value in Chinese cooking, I decreased the amount to ⅛ teaspoon and really like just the hint of it.
    I will definitely make this again.
    Thank you!






  14. I recently got a spice grinder and wanted to make my own Chinese Five spice blend and was looking for more recipes to utilize both the blend and my leftover Szechuan peppercorns – this sauce was absolutely DELICIOUS!!! Layers upon layers of fragrant flavor






  15. This was delicious. Cannot believe it is this easy to make a sauce I always believe I have to order in to get. Fantastic recipe. Used ordinary peppercorns and just a quarter teaspoon. So good. A new weekly recipe for me.






  16. GREAT Sichuan sauce!
    If you’re ‘used to’ Sichuan peppers, you can double or even quadruple the peppers.
    I’m not sure why the refrigerator shelf life wouldn’t be longer though. There’s really nothing in here that will go bad. Even outside of the refrigerator!
    Thanks a BUNCH for this recipe my friend!
    I doubled it (making a full pint) and will use it in many recipes.






  17. I really appreciated her sage comments regarding the ingredients. Can’t wait to try this. Can it be frozen in ice cube trays for later than 3 weeks use?

  18. I’ve made this sauce to substitute a Szechuan garlic paste from a meal kit and not only did my son tell me it tastes exactly the same, I found it delicious by itself. I tripled the recipe, heated it up and added the cornstarch to it. That makes it the perfect marinating sauce and the leftovers will be stored in the fridge to be used in another stir fry or to flavour leftover meat for my poke bowls 🙂






  19. As expected, the Five Spice powder was ‘way too prominent in the cooked dish. Recommend omitting it, or reducing amount to something like 1/8 tsp or a pinch. We found it under-spiced on the pepper side and added chili flakes. In sum, not bad, but not authentic.






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