Chinese Brown Sauce Recipe (2024)

A lot of Chinese stir-fry dishes for takeout include "brown sauce." One of the best-known dishes that uses brown sauce is the takeout classic beef and broccoli. The sauce usually contains beef stock or beef broth to give the dish extra flavor, but you can use chicken broth or stock if you like.

Brown sauce is typically a Western Chinese takeaway thing. In some cultures, brown sauce isn't used at all. The whole purpose of the flavorful mixture is to thicken a stir-fry sauce and add savory flavor.

Look for dark soy sauce for this recipe since it adds a richer flavor. Oyster sauce is commonly used in Chinese food and adds a savory, salty, umami flavor. Both can be found in most grocery stores. If you like, you can add grated or minced ginger or garlic. Serve your homemade brown sauce with a beef, chicken, or pork stir-fry or chow mein dish.

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What You'll Need To Make Chinese Brown Sauce

"This is a good basic brown sauce. I used it to make a beef and broccoli stir-fry (for 2). To flavor the stir-fry I added some ginger, garlic, a teaspoon of sesame oil, and a bit more sugar. It was excellent." —Diana Rattray

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A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 3/4 cupbeef broth

  • 1 1/4 tablespoons oyster sauce

  • 1 teaspoon dark soy sauce

  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar

  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch (corn flour or potato starch)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

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  2. Add the broth, oyster sauce, dark soy sauce, sugar, and cornstarch to a saucepan.

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  3. Mix evenly and make sure there are no lumps of cornstarch.

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  4. Bring it to a boil while stirring. Simmer until the sauce reaches the desired thickness.

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How to Use

Use this basic brown sauce as a base sauce for dishes such as beef and broccoli, chicken and broccoli, and other beef, pork, and chicken stir-fries.

Recipe Variations

  • Chicken Broth Version: Combine 1 cup chicken broth (or chicken stock), 1 1/2tablespoons oyster sauce, 2 teaspoons dark soy sauce, 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar, and 1 tablespoon cornstarch (or potato starch) in a saucepan. Mix evenly and make sure there are no lumps. Bring to a boil and keep stirring during cooking. Simmer until the sauce reaches the thickness you like.
  • Add 1 grated garlic clove.
  • Add 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger.
  • Add chile sauce or chile oil if you'd like your brown sauce spicy.

Is Chinese Brown Sauce Healthy?

Chinese brown sauce is low calorie, making it a decently healthy choice when saucing your stir-fries. It does not contain much in the ways of vitamins or nutrients. To reduce the sodium, use low-sodium beef broth and soy sauce. Because brown sauce contains cornstarch it is not appropriate for a keto diet.

Is Hoisin Sauce the Same as Brown Sauce?

Hoisin sauce is a flavorful condiment made of a variety of ingredients depending on the maker. It's often made with soybeans, garlic, chile, sugar, and spices. Brown sauce is a slightly thinner, simpler sauce that is broth-based. It has a less complex flavor than hoisin sauce.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
0g Fat
6g Carbs
1g Protein


Nutrition Facts
Servings: 2
Amount per serving
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g0%
Saturated Fat 0g1%
Cholesterol 0mg0%
Sodium 789mg34%
Total Carbohydrate 6g2%
Dietary Fiber 0g0%
Total Sugars 1g
Protein 1g
Vitamin C 0mg0%
Calcium 10mg1%
Iron 0mg1%
Potassium 66mg1%
*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 Brown Sauce Recipe (2024)


What is the brown sauce in Chinese restaurants made of? ›

Broth: Many versions of this dish use beef broth, but you can also find it made with chicken or vegetable broth. Soy Sauce: Soy sauce is one of the main ingredients that you'll find in nearly every version of Chinese brown sauce.

What are the 4 ways to finish a perfect brown sauce? ›

Brown sauces can be finished for service by adding reductions, fortified wines, garnishes, and/or whole butter.

Is hoisin sauce the same as Chinese brown sauce? ›

Hoisin sauce is a flavorful condiment made of a variety of ingredients depending on the maker. It's often made with soybeans, garlic, chile, sugar, and spices. Brown sauce is a slightly thinner, simpler sauce that is broth-based. It has a less complex flavor than hoisin sauce.

What is brown sauce made of? ›

Brown sauce is a condiment commonly served with food in the United Kingdom and Ireland, normally dark brown in colour. The taste is either tart or sweet with a peppery taste similar to that of Worcestershire sauce. Commercial sauces are a blend of tomatoes, malt vinegar, molasses, dates, spices and tamarind.

What is the real name of brown sauce? ›

HP Sauce is a British brown sauce the main ingredients of which are tomatoes and tamarind extract. It was named after London's Houses of Parliament. After making its first appearance on British dinner tables in the late 19th century, HP Sauce went on to become an icon of British culture.

What is the most used sauce in Chinese food? ›

Soy Sauce (Regular/light) (酱油,Jiàngyóu)

Soy sauce (jiàng yóu, 酱油), the most common of Chinese sauces, sounds simple, and for the most part, it is. However, there are many types, each unique to different Asian cuisines (Chinese, Japanese, Thai, etc.).

What is the base of brown sauce? ›

In classical French cuisine, a brown sauce is generally a sauce with a meat stock base, thickened by reduction, and sometimes the addition of a browned roux, similar in some ways to, but more involved than, a gravy.

What is the liquid in brown sauce? ›

Brown sauce, also known as sauce Espagnole, uses a brown stock from veal, beef or sometimes chicken and a brown roux as the base. Tomato puree, mirepoix- chopped carrots, celery and onions- and a sachet of seasoning with bay leaf, thyme and parsley add flavor to the sauce.

How do you thicken brown sauce? ›

Use two tablespoons flour mixed with ¼ cup cold water for each cup of medium-thick sauce. Thoroughly mix in the water to prevent lumps. After stirring the combined flour and water into the sauce, cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Heat one minute more to cook the flour thoroughly.

What is a substitute for Chinese brown bean sauce? ›

If you can't find ground bean sauce, you can substitute a similar fermented soybean sauce like hoisin sauce, chee hou sauce, or regular bean paste.

What is the brown sauce you put in phở? ›

In Vietnamese, hoisin sauce is called tương đen. It is a popular condiment for phở, a Vietnamese noodle soup, in southern Vietnam.

Is Chinese brown sauce healthy? ›

Not usually counted as a significant source of nutrition, Chinese brown sauce contains only a few calories and only minor amounts of important vitamins and minerals. The sauce can also contain high quantities of dietary sodium.

What is in brown sauce at Chinese restaurant? ›

Chinese brown sauce is a flavorful and versatile sauce used in many Chinese dishes. It's made from a mixture of oyster sauce, soy sauce, cooking wine, sugar, and cornstarch. This sauce is often used in stir-fries to enhance the flavors of the dish.

What is the closest thing to brown sauce? ›

10 Best Browning Sauce Substitute Options
  1. Homemade Browning Sauce. There is a very basic recipe you can use if you need to use browning sauce that only calls for 2 ingredients. ...
  2. Dark Roux. ...
  3. Gravy Powder. ...
  4. Molasses. ...
  5. Worcestershire Sauce. ...
  6. Steak Sauce. ...
  7. BBQ Sauce. ...
  8. Teriyaki Sauce.
Feb 12, 2023

What are the ingredients in chef brown sauce? ›

The ingredients include; Vinegar, Sugar, Apples, Barley Malt Vinegar, Water, Tomatoes, Modified Maize Starch, Oranges, Salt, Spices, and Colour: Caramel (E150D). The sauce is gluten free.

What is the difference between brown sauce and garlic sauce? ›

Chinese Garlic Sauce has a stronger focus on the flavor of garlic, while Chinese Brown Sauce leans more towards a mixture of sweet and savory tones. The base of the brown sauce often consists of soy sauce, oyster sauce, sugar, and cornstarch, with additional aromatics optional, depending on personal preference.

What is the difference between white and brown sauce in Chinese food? ›

Two basic sauces are the brown sauce and white sauce. Brown sauce is mainly for meat dishes; beef, lamb, duck, yet he also used it in his Chendu Fish dish, to bind together moo shu and one of his tofu dishes. The white sauce was for fish and seafood, chicken and vegetable dishes.

What is brown mother sauce called? ›

Espagnole, otherwise known as brown sauce, is a rich, dark sauce made from roux-thickened stock, puréed tomatoes, and mirepoix — a mix of sautéed carrots, onions, and celery that's used as a base. Like velouté, espagnole uses roux and stock as the main ingredients.

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