How to make all-natural Hoisin Sauce in 7 minutes

January 24, 2014

Homemade all natural Hoisin Sauce recipe | One Hungry Mama

Just like when I posted my recipe for homemade ricotta, I bet a lot of you are scratching your heads wondering why in the world you’d bother making hoisin sauce from scratch. It’s a fair question and, unless you’re super into cooking with plenty of time to enjoy scratch kitchen projects, I don’t generally expect you to make things like condiments from scratch. Unless, of course, it’s difficult to find a healthy version, which I’ve found to be the case with hoisin sauce.

We love hoisin sauce in my house, but I’ve been uneasily turning a blind eye to the fact that I can’t find an all-natural version without preservatives, coloring agents, and/or MSG. (Even the organic house brand at one of the big all natural markets has “caramel color” and a bunch of fillers.) I’ve been telling myself that it isn’t a big deal since we use so little at a time and otherwise enjoy a diet free of chemicals, but it’s been really bugging me. And then, just like that, I found a recipe—an easy recipe—for homemade hoisin sauce. It’s good, too.

A couple of weeks ago, after deciding not to buy a new jar of store-bought hoisin, I picked up the highly ridiculed cookbook by Gwyneth Paltrow, It’s All Good. I didn’t think that the two were related, but maybe they were? Maybe I was in some sort of new year, fresh start, clean eating mode without realizing it. Either way, I bought the book and, as much as I didn’t want to like it, I do. I like it a lot. And it has a recipe for hoisin sauce.


The book isn’t for everyone and I take exception to some of Gwyneth’s claims. But, though I may not totally agree with the premise of the book, the recipes are right up my alley, hard-to-find ingredients and all. Or maybe I’m just that excited to have found a recipe for an easy, delicious, all-natural hoisin sauce.

Eating hoisin stress-free is honestly worth the price of the book for me. Since it may not be for you, I’ll just share the recipe. Then you can enjoy all-natural hoisin, too, if you are so inclined, and decide for yourself about the book. It’s all good.

Lee’s Hoisin Sauce
Recipe from It’s All Good by Gwyneth Paltrwo
(Can be shared with kids 6+ mos)*
Makes about 1 cup

1 tablespoon neutral oil (like canola, grapeseed, or safflower oil)
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
1/2 cup red miso paste
1/2 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons brown rice vinegar (I used standard rice vinegar)

1. Heat the oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and five-spice powder and cook for about 30 seconds, until fragrant.

2. Whisk in the remaining ingredients, bring to a boil, and cook, whisking or stirring constantly, for 3 to 4 minutes, or until slightly thickened. Let the sauce cool before using. It keeps well in the refrigerator for a few days.

*Note: Small amounts of this flavorful condiment can safely be shared with eaters as young as 6-months-old. Just keep in mind that miso is quite salty and also that baby’s taste buds are more sensitive than ours. A little of this hoisin will go a long way with little eaters. Consider mixing it into brown rice with flaked fish, pureeing with fresh sautéed snap peas or green beans, or adding to any other simple vegetable or grain puree.

50 Responses

  1. Lyn C says:

    Thanks so much for this – it sounds like just the answer for my noodle-loving 3 yr old and adventurous almost 1 yr old. I have been wondering what to do since the local Chinese supermarket closed as I don’t really like feeding the kids the standard supermarket sauces. As you say, even the organic ones seem to be full of nonsense. Guilt-free noodles for dinner tonight 🙂

  2. One Hungry Mama says:

    You’re welcome! (I want guilt-free noodles for dinner every night! 😉

  3. chad henry says:

    Thanks for sharing this, and also for the positive take on Paltrow’s second cookbook. She DOES get an awful lot of flack but I think her head’s in the right place–I think she might be a little extreme in her health ideas but it’s good to know you like the recipes. I usually get miso mail order from South River miso and I don’t think they make a “red” variety–I’ll have to check my local Japanese mercantile here in Denver.

  4. la petite maison says:

    Thank you for this alternative! Hoisin sauce is a staple in my pantry, and I’m relieved that i can have it without compromising my clean diet.

  5. Courtney says:

    Hello, can you tell me where I can purchase the Chinese 5 spice powder, or what would be compatible to it? thanks!

  6. One Hungry Mama says:

    It should be in any supermarket’s spice aisle. Most major, mainstream brands sell it now! Good luck.

  7. Kari says:

    I’m so happy that this is here. I just recently had to cut gluten out of my diet, and hoisin sauce is one of the few things I was mourning the loss of. I’m so excited that there’s an alternative!!! Thank you for posting it!

  8. Catherine says:

    I loved this homemade sauce on both the main dish of salmon patties and the side dish of steamed mixed veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, orange and yellow sliced carrots). Delicious!

  9. One Hungry Mama says:

    I’m so glad you found this recipe, Kari!

  10. One Hungry Mama says:

    I know – don’t you want it over everything?! Glad you enjoyed this!

  11. Amber says:

    Hi there,
    with the miso paste, is the 1/2 cup made up with water (as soup form) or just straight from the packet (still as a paste)

    Thanks in advance!

  12. One Hungry Mama says:

    Hi @Amber – it’s 1/2 cup of miso paste, straight from the package. Enjoy!

  13. Kathy says:

    I found everything organic at Whole Foods, even the Chinese five spice powder. That gets rid of any GMOs which is why I decided to mske my own. Plus no additives is a bonus.

  14. Heather says:

    Red miso is made with barley which means its not gluten free. White miso usually is gluten free though.


  15. Mandy says:

    Thank you for this!

  16. One Hungry Mama says:

    Heather: you’re correct! Thank you for the catch. Some miso paste is GF, but not red. Apologies and corrected.

  17. One Hungry Mama says:

    Kari: Sadly, my original post accidentally labeled this recipe gluten-free. Though some miso pasta is GF, red is not usually as it is typically made from barley. I’m so sorry! I think it’s worth experimenting with this recipe using GF miso pastes. The flavor may not be as exact as when using red miso paste, but I bet you can get close given that 5 spice power is the big flavor agent here. I found this post on GF miso pastes that might be helpful:

  18. sarah says:

    I am sorry but Barley is glutenous. Please be more responsible with your quality of descriptions.
    The only gluten free Hoisin sauce on the market is one made by Westcountry Spice based in Devon UK, which has no nasties or added colours and tastes as good as an authentic chines sauce

    Thanks and please post this!

    Sarah x

  19. Hi, Sarah: Thanks for your comment—it is a an incredibly important correction, I agree. If you’ll see though, the correct has been made for quite some while and there is already a discussion between myself and another reader in the comments about this (including an apology for my serious oversight). Anyway, not sure how you got to this post, but I think you must have linked in from some other site that erroneously still features this as GF even though I no longer do. Feel free to specify how you got here since I may be able to speak directly to the site about making a correction on their end, too.

  20. BL: Thank you for pointing out the URL. I’ve fixed the content of the post, made several notes in the comments and was wondering why this was still an issue. I forgot to rename the URL. Thank you so much for the heads up.

  21. Steeny says:

    One of the main flavors in Hoisin sauce is Tamarind. . . and I love that flavor, so think I’ll keep searching. Really? Maple syrup?

  22. One Hungry Mama says:

    @Steeny, to my knowledge, tamarind is not an ingredient in hoisin (though I love the flavor of tamarind, too!). I have had tamarind hoisin sauce, but that’s a hybrid. anyway, if you dig the flavor of traditional hoisin you really should give this a try. It’s delicious and pretty spot on. As for the maple syrup, it’s just a sweetener. Most hoisin sauces would use sugar and the syrup provides a similar sweetness in a less refined form.

  23. msQuel says:

    I liked the recipe and I did end up using gluten free White Miso paste (soybean and rice) for celiac need. And you don’t end up with any ingredients in there which are toxic to some, such as myself. And to 40 year baker Gerrie, don’t you think most of us would buy whatever, whenever, if it were that easy? I am on dietary therapy, thanks to a good doctor and biannual labs which ensure I’m free of celiac markers. I appreciate VERY much the effort involved in making a recipe which does taste the same as something which is taken for granted by so many “normals” out there. When 4 of the major additives in “food items” are code words for WHEAT.

  24. Tommy jackson says:

    Can this been frozen?

  25. Lisa says:

    What are the ingrediatnts in the Chinese 5 spice? Thank you 🙂

  26. One Hungry Mama says:

    There are variations, but the basic combination is star anise, cloves, cinnamon, Szechuan pepper, and fennel seeds or ginger, all ground up into a powder. It’s common to find “5 spice” in the market as is—all made for you! Check out the spice aisle!

  27. One Hungry Mama says:

    i’m not sure, but would guess that you could. the big question is whether the texture will remain once defrosted. i think it will. let us know if you try it!

  28. Allison G says:

    i have been avoiding Housin ever since we began eating clean. Just made this, and it is delicious! I used red miso, as we don’t have issues with gluten. I did replace the maple syrup with local honey. We always have honey on hand, and it doesn’t spike blood sugar like maple syrup does. Thank you for sharing this recipe. I want to eat this on everything!!

  29. Pitmonkey says:

    Thanks, I’ve been looking for GF hoisin and the other quick recipes have peanut butter… I see that red miso isn’t GF but this gives me a base to work from which will be much closer to actual hoisin than those peanut based recipes.

    This is the first time I’ve visited your site, so thank Hoisin for that!

  30. Ed Lamphier says:

    Hungry Mama:

    You have a typo here and Gwyneth tells me she is a little unhappy.

    Lee’s Hoisin Sauce Recipe from It’s All Good by Gwyneth Paltrwo.

  31. pk says:

    Just made some. Tastes great! I have never tried hoisin sauce before. It was really simple. I used honey, apple cider vinegar, and kome miso (red?).

  32. Aly says:

    How long can you store this once made? Thank you!

  33. One Hungry Mama says:

    Aly – this will keep for about 5 days.

  34. MGrubbs says:

    Thanks for the sauce recipe. I do find things hard to find in stores and with out additives etc. Love it too.

  35. debberdoon says:

    Hate to busy your healthy bubble but there is nothing healthy about miso. It contains MSG going by one name or another.

  36. Jennifer says:

    Hi Debberdoon. They do Have miso sauce that is organic with no msg. You just have to look for it. It is however true a lot of Asian sauces do contain msg. But of late alternatives are springing up because some people are not only health conscious but allergic to msg. I bought
    Hikari ORGANIC Red Miso Paste – 1 tub, 17.6 oz form It has the us organic seal so I assume and hope its organic. It also has a NO MSG label on it.


  37. Julie says:

    I found Marukome Red Miso paste at my local Asian market. It does not have bar,ye or wheat as an ingredient and is listed as gluten free on the company’s website. Used it in this recipe and it was delicious. So GKUTEN FREE can be done for this recipe. Thanks.

  38. Jenni says:

    This is the most natural alternative I found. Thank U.

  39. Lawrence says:

    Our Wok Mei Hoisin Sauce is all natural and Gluten Free!
    Just sayin’

  40. One Hungry Mama says:

    Funny, Lawrence. I just came across it—a great option for store bought. Unfortunately, even in Brooklyn (where you can get everything!), it’s not widely available. Also, I did a taste test and homemade tastes better 🙂

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  42. Tenjo says:

    I buy my red miso from the Japanese market Mitsuwa. Actually, unless specifically stated, most miso is made from soybeans and rice! Even red miso!

    Miso, like wine, comes in all kinds and flavors. Each brand also tastes different depending on the ingredients, processing, and the number of months/years aged. The hatcho miso (rice miso), is aged minimum 3 years to 10 years, and looks so dark brown it’s almost black.

    There are barley miso out there, from yellow to deep red to dark brown. There are also rice miso from mild red to dark brown. You have to read the ingredients to know which kind is gluten-free.

    The red miso I get is the Yamataka brand, the miso name is Mutenka Awase Miso. The ingredients are: Non-GMO soybeans, rice, salt, dried bonito powder, dried bonito broth, kelp extract, sake lees (which is the rice dregs leftover from making sake).

    That’s it! No msg, no artifical flavors, no artifical colors, no hydrolized proteins, etc.

    By the way, I’m a celiac for the last 8 years, so I do have to watch extremely carefully how I eat. Using my miso, I can make GF hoisin! Thank you!!!

  43. Cantstopthemad says:

    5 spice powder.. is better homemade as you can get it fresher in a health food stores bulk aisle: use whole spices rather than pre ground for fresher taste (oils in powders tend to evaporate quicker than in whole spices).
    1 1/2 tbsp star anise
    2 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
    1 1/2 tsp cassia or cinnamon
    1/2 tsp Szechwan pepper
    1/2 tsp cloves
    optional: 1/2 teaspoon white pepper and/or 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger.
    Both will give added bite and depth of flavor.
    just grind the above as fine as you like, and blend well.

  44. stacey says:

    Some red miso has barley in it. Some doesn’t. I’ve bought plenty that were just rice and soybeans. Quite frankly, if you have any kind of food intolerances or allergies, why wouldn’t you read the heck out of every single label you come across before you buy something instead of pointing fingers at someone who was kind enough to share their hard work and recipe with you? I’ve bought plenty of misos of all colours and with all kinds of ingredients. Lots of them don’t have barley or msg. I’ve got some in my fridge right now that has no barley. Just my thoughts on the matter. I’m more inclined to say thanks for sharing rather than anything else. Peace.

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  46. home says:


  47. Maureen says:

    Made this again on the weekend for our lettuce wraps. Was a winner as always! We use a red miso that is gluten free made from soybeans and rice so it’s possible to make these GF which was very important for us. So easy to make – thanks so much for sharing it.

  48. No says:

    This doesn’t have much to do with the recipe, but I’m pretty disapointed to see the use of the term “chemical-free” in your post. Nearly everything you can interact with is made of chemicals, including everything you eat and drink (pure water is also a chemical, dihydrogen monoxide). The vinegar in this recipe, for example, is a chemical known as acetic/ethanoic acid, and the macromolecules (carbs, fats, proteins) in your food are also chemicals. Saying otherwise shows a poor understanding of science, and reflects badly on the quality of knowledge in your posts.

  49. Scottie says:

    To “No” remind me not to invite you to a recipe card swapping shower as your silly all foods are chemicals comment just shows anyone can troll. But if you’d like I can send you some of the kid’s Highlights magazines where you can practice such simple ideas as “Which one of these does not go with the other?”

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