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.

58 Responses

  1. Rowena says:

    Thanks for sharing the recipe!

  2. Kyla says:

    Is there a substitute for Miso paste?

  3. Kyla — to be honest, not really. It’s fermented soy with an umami flavor all it’s own. Some people say that if you HAVE to find a sub, tahini is an option. Not sure I agree with this, but even if it works in some cases, I can tell you that it won’t work well in this recipe. Sorry!

  4. Katrin says:

    Thanks so much!! I feel the same way about the chemical laden commercial Hoisin. Can’t find a natural brand and don’t feel good feeding the family, especially my food coloring sensitive child, the bottled stuff. Bring on the spring rolls!

  5. splot says:

    There is no miso, no peanut butter, no molasses in authentic hoisin sauce.

    It’s simple enough to make it from fermented black beans, why not publish a recipe based on the actual ingredients of hoisin sauce

  6. One Hungry Mama says:

    @splot because fermented black beans are much harder to find. and, honestly, if we’re going to talk about “authentic” — a word i try to avoid when it comes to talking about food (because what exactly does that mean?!) — most store-bought hoisin sauces in America, which, I’d guess, as a white person who did not grow up cooking or eating home-cooked Chinese food and has never had the opportunity to cook in China with Chinese ingredients, hardly qualifies as “authentic”, contains artificial coloring.

    the point of this recipe was to recreate the flavor of Hoisin Sauce using wholesome and (somewhat more) widely available ingredients. i tried adjusting the recipe even further to use even MORE common ingredients, but the flavor suffered. so this is the compromise to achieve the right flavor, keep it all-natural, and use stuff that is, more and more, found at most stores, if not, most natural food stores or Trader Joe’s.

    i hope that helps explain it.

  7. S. Jacques says:

    Thank you very much for this recipe.
    I needed to make a hoisin sauce without garlic for a meal my husband was preparing for a Buddhist monk, so I used a small amount of Hing (asafoeteda) instead of garlic, but otherwise exactly the same recipe.
    My husband said it tasted great (he’s originally from Hong Kong) and he doesn’t praise things readily, so thanks!

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