Chinese Brown Sauce Recipe

Some of you may wonder how they make the brown sauces at the Chinese buffets. The truth is, there are many different ways to make brown sauce and each of them is probably different in some way. Here is a pretty standard recipe for Chinese brown sauce that can be used with chicken, pork, beef, shrimp, ect. This is great for stir fry’s and I usually just coat chicken bits with a little corn starch, deep fry them and serve with this sauce. If you require some heat in your sauce try adding some red pepper flakes or chili paste.

3 garlic cloves (minced)
4 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 ½ cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon oil

Cooking Instructions:

Step 1: In a bowl mix soy sauce, brown sugar, chicken broth and corn starch. Make sure the mixture is well combined and set aside.
Step 2: Add 1 teaspoon of oil to a wok or saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and stir fry for 10 seconds. Add the chicken broth mixture and bring to a boil. Cook until the sauce becomes thickened and bubbly.


24 Responses to “Chinese Brown Sauce Recipe”

  1. Nan — May 18, 2010 @ 6:43 pm

    Thank you for the basic sauce recipe. Our fav restaurant closed and I miss the sauces!

  2. misstopaz — May 20, 2010 @ 4:05 am

    This recipe looks definitely good and would love to try it, but what can replace the cornstarch with? Any tips? Thank you.

  3. Bobby — May 20, 2010 @ 8:43 am

    misstopaz – try replacing cornstarch with flour.

  4. Sarah — February 21, 2012 @ 5:22 pm

    Just made this sauce for our stir-fry for dinner tonight. Loved it! Kids ranging in ages from 2-10 loved it. Husband loved it. Best brown sauce recipe I have found on web. I have tried a number of other recipes this one has been the most delicious. Thank you!!

  5. Julie — May 7, 2012 @ 9:00 pm

    I just made this recipe for the first time. I looked at a couple of other recipes before I chose this one. Since I love baby corns in brown sauce, I wanted to make them at home, since buying them from a chinese restaurant gets expensive. I bought a can of baby corns at the grocery store, and the recipe was a success! I had to add 2 extra tablespoons of corn starch though, because I felt the sauce was not becoming as thick as I wanted it to. The recipe tasted just like the chinese restaurant’s baby corns. I will definitely be using this recipe again.

  6. Anthony — July 20, 2012 @ 5:00 pm

    This sauce made Dad’s Chinese chicken, broccoli and rice a huge hit! This is my third time making in a week and a half!!!!! Great sauce the kids have now put this in the weekly dinner rotation!!!!!

  7. Scott — August 29, 2012 @ 8:19 am

    Thank you for this. I saw many recipes online and this was the most simple – but tasted EXACTLY like I was looking for. I was trying to recreate a dish I had at a sushi restaurant by my house and it turned out fantastic. I know I can improve a bit and learned a lot from this first time trying to make this.

    Pan seared sea bass with Chinese brown sauce, scallions, jalapenos, and bamboo shoots. Served with white rice.

  8. Loryn — October 24, 2012 @ 10:07 am

    Just tried this for the first time… this was my first attempt at a brown sauce… good but to much sugar. i would start low on the sugar and work your way up

  9. Momlyn — March 5, 2013 @ 6:04 pm

    I tried this recipe tonight and it was a hit! Tasted very close to my fave Chinese restaurant. I did, however, added 3 tbsp of cornstarch because 1 tbsp was not the thickness I was looking for. This recipe is a keeper. Thanks for sharing.

  10. Horatio — April 23, 2013 @ 5:54 pm

    Replace corn starch with arrowroot

  11. Ciara — April 24, 2013 @ 2:37 pm

    Just made this. Its actually pretty good! Added a tad bit more cornstarch for a thicker consistency.

  12. Diane — May 19, 2013 @ 4:06 pm

    Thanks so much. I love this sauce but most restaurants oreoare it too sweet for my taste, is there a difference between this sauce and garlic sauce?

  13. Bobby — May 20, 2013 @ 8:48 pm

    Diane – I believe this would be very similar to garlic sauce, but I am not positive.

  14. wookiecook — July 15, 2013 @ 6:15 pm

    try using oyster sauce rather than the soy. It have a little thicker consistance. Also has a little better flavor than soy..

  15. Ramona — September 10, 2013 @ 5:50 pm

    Great sauce! Tried it today and it tastes so good

  16. Larry — January 30, 2014 @ 12:39 pm

    What do I add to make it a bit spicy

    • Bobby replied: — January 30th, 2014 @ 9:04 pm

      You could try adding some crushed red pepper flakes, maybe about 1/2 teaspoon.

  17. Bob Russell — July 20, 2014 @ 3:03 pm

    Why is chicken broth used and not beef broth? Or does it really matter?

    • Bobby replied: — July 20th, 2014 @ 7:53 pm

      I have not tried this with beef broth but it should work in its place.

  18. Cris — January 20, 2015 @ 7:55 pm

    I will definitely try this, I luv making a sauce using soy sauce! I also have been using a lot of fresh garlic. Thanx for the recipe. 🙂

  19. Lonna — October 11, 2015 @ 1:13 pm

    Absolutely delicious! I made it just as described, and I, too, would add at least another tablespoon of cornstarch to thicken it up. But man! It’s as close to restaurant quality as it can get – even better, because I know what’s in it. Can’t thank you enough for sharing this! Even my 1 and a half-year-old tried it – ate 3 bites – and it’s impossible to get her to try anything! It smelled so good, she just had to have some! Score!

  20. Paulu — August 2, 2016 @ 4:46 pm

    This is a good starting point for a typical American Chinese-style brown sauce. Most restaurant chefs mix their own house varieties in 5 gallon buckets (no joke – they go through a lot of it). The most typical ingredients are various soy sauces (Kikkoman, Amoy dark, and Swan Brand being some of the most popular), chicken broth, brown sugar, and sometimes oyster and/or hoisin sauces. Cornstarch is the most common thickener although it isn’t added directly to the sauce rather each cooking station has a vat of cornstarch water and the cook adds a ladle full (or more, if required) after the sauce is added to the wok to achieve the desired thickness.

    To the commenter asking about beef broth – American Chinese restaurants typically make their own chicken broth and use it in their soups and sauces. Beef broth is used only where needed (e.g. West Lake Beef Soup, etc.) There’s no reason you can’t use beef broth but if you’re trying to recreate a dish from your local restaurant you’ll do better using chicken broth.

  21. Harry — April 7, 2017 @ 2:50 am

    made this sauce not expecting much success, i was pleasantlysurprised,
    Tasted almost like my local takeaway
    Thanks a bunch

  22. C — September 29, 2017 @ 8:30 pm

    I just made a vegetarian version of this (using 3/4 of a not-chicken bouillon cube instead of chicken broth) and quite liked it. As Loryn said, 3 tablespoons would make very sweet. I made it with one heaping spoonful of sugar, which is fine, but I will probably use less next time.

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