Homemade vegan hoisin sauce combines umami with sweet, tangy, and spicy flavors, is oil-free, low fat, and ready to deliver flavor to wraps, stir-fries, tofu, and more!
I won’t go into too much detail about my battle for the perfect vegan hoisin sauce, but suffice it to say, it's been an exploration. It was dictated by my set of non-negotiating parameters. I wanted a hoisin sauce that was vegan, oil-free and low fat.
Even with my strict requirements, I discovered that a tasty hoisin sauce is easy to achieve. It took a few tries and a bit of creativity - but hey, that's what cooking is all about. That’s not to suggest that any of the ingredients are exotic or unobtainable.
9 ingredients and a blender
This is a no simmer sauce. The process is a matter of gathering the ingredients and blending. Here’s what you’ll need:
1. ½ cup of date paste. Date paste contributes most of the sweet flavor for hoisin sauce.
I used my own homemade brand. It’s just a bit of quality and cost control. If you purchase date paste, check the labels. Only dates, please! Avoid any brand that contains added sugar or high corn fructose. If in doubt, grab a package of Medjool dates and whip up your own.
2. 2 tablespoons of maple syrup. If you don’t have maple syrup, add 2 Tablespoons more of date paste or agave syrup). When you buy maple syrup, it’s the same story as for date paste. Look for the pure stuff that hasn't been laced with sugar or high fructose corn syrup.
3. ⅓ cup of miso paste. I used white, but let's have a little miso discussion at this point.
If you aren’t familiar, miso is a Japanese fermented paste. It's the quintessential umami flavor. Most kinds of miso you’ll run into are made from soybeans. There are three kinds of miso pastes that are widely available.
White, or Shiro miso, is sweet mellow miso that’s fermented for a short time. If you are new to miso, this is your best option. It won’t easily overpower a dish and works in a variety of sauces or even mashed potatoes.
Yellow miso is just white mise that’s been fermented longer. For this reason, it has a more pronounced flavor.
Red, or just 'miso,' if you will, is used to describe any of the darker red and brown miso pastes. Dark miso has a more intense flavor and is saltier than the lighter colored kinds. If you use this for your hoisin sauce, start with less than the recipe requires and increase the amount after you blend the sauce. Darker miso is best for recipes such as marinades or glazes.
You might also run into barley miso, Mugi, which is a combination of barley and soybeans. It has a slightly longer fermentation time than white. Despite its strong barley aroma, it has a mild, somewhat sweet flavor, similar to white miso.
4. 2 tablespoons of soy sauce or tamari for a gluten-free option. Soy sauce is an integral component of the hoisin flavor. I used a standard grade of soy sauce. If you happen to have dark (more concentrated) soy or tamari, you may want to adjust down. The darker kinds can contain a lot of salt.
5. 2 tablespoons of rice vinegar. Don’t be fooled by the color. Rice vinegar and white vinegar have different flavor profiles. Rice vinegar is sweet and delicate. White vinegar is much more sour and harsh. If you are inclined to make a substitution (I don’t recommend this), aim for white wine vinegar, champagne vinegar, or apple cider vinegar.
6. 2 cloves of garlic. Depending on how powerful your food processor or blender, you may only need to peel the garlic. I cut mine into quarters to ensure that it was pulverized and consistently dispersed.
7. ½ a teaspoon of ground coriander. Coriander has an earthy, tart, and slightly sweet flavor. I frequently grab coriander to flavor curries, but it has a lot to offer our hoisin sauce. Ground coriander can sometimes be challenging to find; however, you are likely to find coriander seeds. Then it’s a matter of grinding your own. Use an equivalent of 1 teaspoon of whole coriander seeds for ¾ of a teaspoon of ground.
If you use whole seeds, be sure to grind them before adding them to the hoisin mixture. Once moistened and mingled with the rest of the ingredients, they won’t break apart. Use ⅔ of a teaspoon of whole seeds for this recipe. If that’s too difficult to grind, just grind a bunch and store it in a jar for future use.
8. 1 teaspoon of Chinese 5-spice blend. 5-spice. Have you tried this? It’s amazing. I can't explain how a simple mixture of fennel, Sichuan peppercorns, cinnamon, cloves, and star anise is so powerful, but it most certainly is.
If you can’t find 5-spice, I highly recommend making your own using:
- 1 tsp each of fennel seeds, toasted and ground
- 1 tsp. Sichuan peppercorns, toasted and ground
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground cloves
- 1 tsp ground star anise
If you make your own, you’ll end up with more than you need for one batch of hoisin sauce. Store the rest in an airtight container or jar. You use it. I promise, once you add a teaspoon of 5-spice to your next stir fry, you’ll never be without it again.
9. 1 teaspoon (or more) chili paste.
Yes, you can use Sriracha as your chili paste. But might I suggest the awesomeness of Sambal Oelek? Whereas Sriracha is Thai in flavor and has an abundance of garlic. Sambal Oelek is Indonesian and is a raw chili paste made from red chili peppers, vinegar, and salt. It’s super-hot, so it may not be suited as a 'pile-on' condiment for tacos but delivers unobstructed chili heat to your recipes.
Once you tick through the 9-ingredient list, start tossing everything in your blender or food processor as you measure it out. If you’re adjusting for darker miso or want to start small on the chili paste. Blend everything, taste, then add as needed.
What to do with hoisin sauce
Hoisin sauce stands alone as a most excellent stir fry sauce. It makes a flavorful alternative from sweet and sour sauce when you crave a crispy tofu and vegetable kind of meal. Consider a tablespoon of hoisin in your next Asian-inspired sauces or soups. I’ve used it as an alternative for BBQ sauce for soy curls, or to replace satay sauce, and then there's roasted cauliflower - with more sauce on the side for dipping.
I was first inspired to make my own hoisin sauce out of necessity. I couldn’t find one without oil (and sometimes fish sauce). Many of the recipes I tried had peanut butter, but I wanted something lower in fat. And you know, when you can’t find what you want, then there’s only one thing to do – create it yourself. That path can take time, patience, and, sometimes, more tasting than you are prepared for (ok, not me), but there’s a sense of accomplishment when you get there. And then there's the joy when you get to share it. Peace.Print
homemade vegan hoisin sauce
Homemade vegan hoisin sauce combines umami with sweet, tangy, and spicy flavors, is oil-free, low fat, and ready to deliver a flavor impact.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Total Time: 15 minutes
- Yield: 1 cup 1x
- Category: Dressings & Condiments
- Cuisine: Asian
- Diet: Vegan
- ½ cup of date paste
- 2 Tbsp. maple syrup
- ⅓ cup miso paste (Shiro, white miso is preferred)
- 2 Tbsp. soy sauce
- 2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and cut into quarters or sliced for smoother blending
- ½ tsp. ground coriander
- 1 tsp. Chinese 5-spice blend
- 1 tsp. (or more) chili paste (Sambel Oelek)
- Add everything to a blender or food processor.
- Blend until smooth.
- Taste and adjust any of the seasonings.
- Add hoisin for Asian flavor. Keep leftover sauce in the fridge in a sealed container for up to 2 weeks.
- Alternatively, hoisin sauce can be frozen. Add it to an ice cube tray for convenient flavor bombs.
- To make your own Chinese 5-spice blend, combine 1 teaspoon each of fennel seeds, Sichuan peppercorns, ground cinnamon, ground cloves, and ground star anise. Toast the fennel and peppercorns if desired, and then use a spice grinder to make the blend.
- Sambal Oelek is an Indonesian chili paste made with red chilis, vinegar, and salt. If you substitute with another chili paste, such as Sriracha, be mindful that it will have extra garlic or other flavors. You may want to make adjustments depending on your tastes.
- If you use whole coriander seeds, grind them before adding them to the sauce ingredients. You'll need ⅔ of a teaspoon of seeds, ground for the equivalent of ½ a teaspoon for the hoisin sauce.
Keywords: vegan hoisin sauce