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Duck Sauce vs Plum Sauce: What’s the Difference?

If you’ve ever been to a Chinese restaurant, chances are you’ve seen both duck sauce and plum sauce grace the tables.

But what’s the difference between these two seemingly similar sauces?

While they might look alike, taste similar, and even have some overlapping ingredients – they each have their own distinct flavor profiles that make them uniquely delicious.

In this blog post, we’ll take a deep dive into duck and plum sauce so prepare for your taste buds to be tantalized as you learn all about how subtly different – yet incredibly flavorful – these two Asian inspired sauces really can be.

What is Duck Sauce?

Duck sauce, what an intriguing name for a condiment.

But what exactly is it? Duck sauce is a sweet and tangy sauce that is commonly served with Chinese dishes, such as egg rolls or dumplings.

Its exact origins are not certain, but it is believed to have been created by Chinese-American immigrants who adapted traditional ingredients to suit American tastes.

This sauce is usually made with apricot preserves, vinegar, sugar, and various spices such as ginger or garlic.

Contrary to its name, duck sauce does not actually contain any duck, nor is it intended to be eaten with duck meat exclusively.

In fact, it can be used as a dipping sauce or glaze for a wide variety of dishes.

If you have never tried duck sauce before, don’t be afraid to give it a chance.

Your taste buds just might be pleasantly surprised.

What is Plum Sauce?

Plum sauce is a Chinese condiment made from simmering plums, sugar, vinegar, and spices.

It has a thick and glossy texture with a sweet and sour flavor.

Plum sauce is commonly used as a dipping sauce for dim sum, spring rolls, and poultry dishes.

It can also be used as a marinade or glaze for grilled meats like pork or chicken.

Apart from enhancing the taste of food, plum sauce also has some health benefits.

It contains antioxidants that help fight free radicals in the body and boost the immune system.

Furthermore, it is low in calories and fat compared to other condiments like mayonnaise or ketchup.

Overall, plum sauce adds an authentic Chinese flavor to any dish.

Its unique taste makes it distinguishable from other sauces like soy sauce or hoisin sauce.

With its sweet and tart flavors blended perfectly together along with its nutritional value, it’s no doubt why plum sauce continues to be a staple dip in many households around the world.

Differences Between Duck Sauce and Plum Sauce

Duck sauce and Plum sauce are two condiments commonly used in Chinese cuisine.

While both share some degree of similarity in their contents, they do have a few differences that set them apart.

Ingredients Used

Distinguishing between Duck Sauce and Plum Sauce boils down to their unique ingredients.

While plum sauce is mainly prepared with dried plums, soy sauce, ginger, and sugar; Duck sauce is made from apricots, vinegar and different spices along with other fruits.

The Chef typically uses these sauces as a dip or a finishing glaze for grilled meats or roasted vegetables.

Flavor Profile and Taste

The characteristics of Duck Sauce and Plum Sauce are unique in terms of their Flavor Profile and Taste.

While both have a sweet and tangy flavor, duck sauce is more pungent with a spicy kick, while plum sauce has deeper fruit notes and is milder in taste.

Plum sauce typically contains added vinegar or lemon juice to enhance the tartness and create an aromatic profile, whereas duck sauce uses dried apricots, sugar, vinegar, and garlic as its primary ingredients to produce its distinct flavor.

When it comes to uses for culinary purposes, Duck Sauce typically pairs well with fried appetizers such as egg rolls or won-tons.

Alternatively, Plum Sauce is generally used for dipping grilled meats like chicken or pork tenderloin.

In addition to this distinction in usage, Duck Sauce contains less fruit than Plum sauce which makes it an ideal condiment for savory dishes like stir-fries and roasted meat.

Overall, even with similarities in flavor profiles, these sauces can offer unique tastes that add depth to foods when paired appropriately.

Culinary Uses

The two popular Asian condiments, duck sauce and plum sauce, have distinctive culinary uses.

For starters, duck sauce is commonly used in Americanized Chinese dishes like egg rolls, whereas plum sauce is a staple in authentic Chinese cuisine and is often paired with roasted meats.

It’s worth noting that both sauces can be used interchangeably for dipping or as glazes for meats and seafood.

When it comes to the ingredients, duck sauce usually contains apricots and sugar while plum sauce has plums, vinegar, and sugar.

Duck sauce tends to be sweeter compared to its counterpart which has a tangy taste.

Additionally, plum sauce often includes other seasonings like ginger and chili flakes that give it a unique flavor profile.

In summary, the differences between duck sauce and plum sauce lie primarily in their culinary uses and ingredients.

Both sauces serve as versatile additions to multiple dishes and offer distinct savory-sweet flavors.

Regional Variations

Some of the well-known Asian dipping sauces are duck and plum sauce.

Originating from different regions, they both have unique flavor profiles that complement various dishes.

Duck sauce is commonly used in American Chinese cuisine, made with apricot puree, sugar, vinegar, and sometimes hot mustard or ginger.

On the other hand, plum sauce has a sweeter taste and is prepared using plums, sugar, vinegar, and soy sauce.

It’s a popular condiment in Chinese and Japanese cuisines.

Apart from their varying ingredients and uses in different regions for certain dishes, these two sauces also have differences in texture and color.

Duck sauce is smooth with a bright orange color while plum sauce has a thicker texture with a darker shade.

Similarities Between Duck Sauce and Plum Sauce

Both Duck Sauce and Plum Sauce have a lot of similarities owing to their ingredients.

They are both sweet yet tangy sauces that are incredibly popular in Chinese cuisines.

The primary ingredient used in these sauces is plum, which gives them their sweetness and tartness.

Both the sauces are commonly used as dipping sauces for various dishes like spring rolls, dumplings, and other fried appetizers.

Moreover, another similarity between Duck Sauce and Plum Sauce is their color, which is deep reddish-brown due to the presence of ingredients such as soy sauce and sugar.

The texture of both sauces is also very similar as they have a slightly thick consistency which makes them perfect for dipping.

One unique detail about duck sauce is that it includes apricot puree along with plums, giving it a distinct flavor profile compared to the plum sauce.

Additionally, most duck sauce versions include ginger powder or fresh ginger, while plum sauce typically does not include this ingredient.

How to Use Duck Sauce and Plum Sauce?

Duck and Plum sauces are two popular Chinese condiments that add a unique flavor to various dishes.

To understand how to use them, here are some tips:

  • Mix them with soy sauce to create a savory dipping sauce for dumplings and spring rolls.
  • Use duck sauce as a glaze for roasted chicken or pork.
  • Add plum sauce to stir-fry dishes such as Kung Pao chicken or beef and broccoli.
  • Drizzle either sauce over rice bowls or noodle dishes to enhance the flavor profile.
  • Combine them with vinegar, honey, and spices to make a sweet and tangy marinade for meats.
  • Use them as spreads on sandwiches or wraps instead of traditional condiments like mustard or mayonnaise.

It’s important to note that while both sauces are commonly used in Chinese cuisine, they have distinct flavors.

Duck sauce is sweet with a subtle tang from apricot puree, while plum sauce has a sweeter yet slightly tart taste due to the addition of plums and vinegar.

Overall, the versatility of these sauces allows them to be used in various ways to elevate any dish into something truly special.

So next time you’re looking to add an extra burst of flavor, try reaching for Duck or Plum Sauce.

Popular Brands of Duck Sauce and Plum Sauce

When it comes to condiments, duck sauce and plum sauce are two popular choices.

Some well-known brands of these sauces include Lee Kum Kee, Kikkoman, and Dynasty.

These sauces are commonly used as a dip or glaze for meats and vegetables in Chinese cuisine.

Duck sauce is made from plums, apricots, vinegar, sugar, ginger and chili pepper flakes whereas Plum sauce is made from sour plums mixed with sugar and seasoned with ginger, chili pepper flakes and vinegar.

Both offer a sweet and tangy flavor profile but duck sauce has a thicker texture than plum sauce.

It’s important to note that while the names imply a specific protein pairing – “duck” for duck sauce and “plum” for plum sauce – while both sauces can be enjoyed on an array of dishes; not just what their name suggests.

Overall, Lee Kum Kee seems prevalent when it comes to Duck Sauce whereas Kikkoman ranks among the top brands for Plum Sauce.


The difference between duck sauce and plum sauce resides in their primary ingredients, flavor profile, and usage.

Duck sauce is a sweet and sour condiment made with apricots, sugar, vinegar, ginger, and chili flakes.

On the other hand, plum sauce has a fruitier flavor due to its namesake fruit along with vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, and sugar.

Duck sauce pairs well with Chinese-American cuisine like fried rice or egg rolls.

Plum sauce complements roasted meats or as a dipping sauce for dim sum.

While both condiments share some similarities in terms of texture and sweetness levels, they are not interchangeable.

Moreover, it’s worth noting that you can make both sauces at home since store-bought options may contain high amounts of sodium.

For duck sauce recipe making at home requires apricots jam pureed along with a mixture of liquid ingredients mentioned above in the paragraph.

For making homemade plum sauce options include using miso paste instead of soy for a milder taste.

In summary, knowing the distinction between duck and plum sauces will elevate your Chinese culinary experience while also providing alternatives that cater to your dietary restrictions or preferences.

Additionally, experimenting with homemade versions can offer unparalleled freshness and flexibility that will impress your guests or family members next time you serve up your favorite dish.

Duck Sauce vs Plum Sauce: What’s the Difference?

Andrew Gray
Considering the contrast between duck sauce and plum sauce? Explore the differences in flavor profiles and traditional uses to enhance your Asian cuisine.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course This vs That


  • Duck Sauce
  • Plum Sauce


  • Choose between duck sauce and plum sauce based on your preference and the flavor profile you desire.
  • Follow the recommended usage instructions for your chosen sauce, incorporating it into your dish accordingly.
  • Adjust the amount of sauce added to your dish based on your taste preferences.
  • Stir or mix well to ensure the sauce is evenly distributed.
  • Enjoy the unique flavors of either duck sauce or plum sauce as it enhances your dish.
  • Experiment with different recipes and dishes to explore the versatility of these delectable sauces.
Keyword Duck Sauce vs Plum Sauce
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