9 Best Substitute For Plum Sauce

Plum Sauce Substitute

Plum sauce is a unique condiment known for its compelling blend of sweet and sour flavors, used extensively in Chinese cuisine. It’s a condiment crafted from salted plums, sugar, and vinegar, often enriched with other ingredients such as ginger, chili, and garlic. The exquisite balance of flavors makes plum sauce a versatile addition to various dishes, adding a distinctively tangy yet sweet note that enhances the overall taste profile.

But what if you run out of plum sauce or can’t find it in your local grocery store? Or what if dietary restrictions prevent its use? This is where the best substitutes for plum sauce come into play. From apricot preserves to hoisin sauce, from sweet and sour sauce to apple jelly, these substitutes offer a spectrum of flavors that mimic the sweet-sour dichotomy of plum sauce. Understanding their unique characteristics and how to use them effectively can save your dishes from losing their flavor zest. In this guide, we’re going to walk you through these substitutes, offering detailed insights into their taste, uses, and nutritional profiles.

What is Plum Sauce?

Plum sauce, also known as “duck sauce,” is a sweet and sour condiment popular in Chinese cuisine. It is made from salted plums, sugar, and vinegar, sometimes with the addition of other ingredients such as ginger, chili, and garlic. Its distinctively tangy yet sweet flavor makes it a versatile accompaniment to dishes like spring rolls, roasted duck, and stir-fries.

Plum Sauce Substitute Panorama

  • Apricot Preserve
  • Hoisin Sauce
  • Sweet and Sour Sauce
  • Apple Jelly
  • Cranberry Sauce
  • Cherry Preserve
  • Barbecue Sauce
  • Raspberry Jam
  • Marmalade

Best Substitutes For Plum Sauce

Each substitute has its unique characteristics that can make your dishes interesting in the absence of plum sauce. Let’s delve into the details.

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Apricot Preserve

Apricot preserve is an excellent substitute for plum sauce with its sweet and mildly tangy flavor. Apricots and plums belong to the same family, which gives them similar flavor profiles, making apricot preserves an almost perfect replacement.

Apricot preserve is made by boiling apricots with sugar and water, which enhances their sweetness while still maintaining a hint of tartness. This combination mirrors the sweet and sour character of plum sauce. With the addition of some spices, you can customize the flavor of apricot preserves to closely resemble that of plum sauce.

In terms of application, apricot preserve can be used just like plum sauce. Use it as a glaze for roasted meats or as a dipping sauce for spring rolls or fried items. Its natural fruitiness brings a fresh note to dishes and can lighten up heavy or greasy foods.

Hoisin Sauce

Hoisin sauce, another favorite in Chinese cuisine, can serve as a replacement for plum sauce. Despite having a unique flavor profile, the overlap in taste with plum sauce is significant enough to make it a suitable alternative.

Hoisin sauce is made from fermented soybean paste, vinegar, sugar, garlic, and various spices. This blend gives it a sweet, spicy, and slightly tangy taste, which mirrors the flavor profile of plum sauce. The spiciness might be a bit more pronounced, but it can add an exciting twist to your dishes.

You can use hoisin sauce in a similar way to plum sauce. It’s ideal for stir-fries, marinating meats, and as a dip. The consistency is also similar to plum sauce, which makes the transition in recipes seamless.

Sweet and Sour Sauce

Sweet and Sour Sauce is another substitute for plum sauce that is easy to find and use. Its name defines its flavor – it’s sweet from the sugar and sour from the vinegar, much like plum sauce.

Sweet and sour sauce can be bought ready-made or can be prepared at home using simple ingredients like vinegar, sugar, ketchup, and soy sauce. The balance of sweetness and sourness can be adjusted to your preference, making it a flexible substitute.

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It can be used as a dip, in stir-fries, and for glazing meats. Its vibrant red color can also make dishes visually appealing.

Apple Jelly

Apple jelly, with its sweet and mildly tart flavor, can be a good stand-in for plum sauce. Apples have a natural sweetness, and when turned into jelly, their taste becomes concentrated, giving you a rich, fruity flavor.

To use apple jelly as a substitute for plum sauce, you might need to add a bit of vinegar or lemon juice to increase the tartness. This helps mimic the sour aspect of plum sauce. Spices like chili and ginger can also be added to increase complexity.

Apple jelly can be used as a glaze for roasts, in baking, or as a dip. Its smooth consistency makes it easy to spread or mix with other ingredients.

Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry sauce, a traditional accompaniment to turkey, can also be used as a replacement for plum sauce. The tartness of cranberries, balanced by the sweetness of added sugar, echoes the sweet and sour profile of plum sauce.

Cranberry sauce can be used as a spread, a topping for desserts, or even in savory dishes. When used in place of plum sauce, you can enjoy a slightly different flavor that still satisfies the need for a sweet and sour note.

Cherry Preserve

Cherry preserve, another fruit-based substitute, can mimic the flavor profile of plum sauce to an extent. The sweet and slightly tangy taste of cherries can resemble the flavor of plums.

Just like the other preserves and jellies, cherry preserve can be used as a spread, a filling, or a glaze. Adding vinegar or lemon juice can enhance its sourness to make it a closer match to plum sauce.

Barbecue Sauce

Barbecue sauce might seem like an unusual substitute, but it can work in some recipes. It has a sweet and tangy flavor profile, with added smokiness and spice that can add a twist to dishes.

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Barbecue sauce is perfect for grilling, marinating, and as a condiment. It’s thicker and richer than plum sauce, so it might alter the texture of the dish, but in terms of flavor, it can be a unique and enjoyable alternative.

Raspberry Jam

Raspberry jam, with its sweet and tangy flavor, can be another interesting alternative to plum sauce. The sourness of raspberries can be more pronounced than in plums, but it can be balanced out with sugar.

Raspberry jam can be used in desserts, as a spread, or even in savory dishes. Its strong flavor can be a good match for rich or fatty foods, just like plum sauce.


Marmalade, especially orange marmalade, can mimic the sweet and sour taste of plum sauce. The bitterness from the orange peel adds another layer of flavor that can complement many dishes.

Marmalade can be used as a spread, a filling for baked goods, or even in savory dishes. The strong citrus flavor can add freshness and lightness to heavy dishes.

Substitutes for Plum Sauce: Nutritional Profile

Here’s a snapshot of the nutritional profile of the various substitutes for plum sauce for a ¼ cup serving:

SubstituteGlutenCaloriesFat (g)Carbs (g)Fiber (g)Protein (g)
Apricot PreserveGluten-Free24006000
Hoisin SauceContains Gluten28045644
Sweet and Sour SauceMay Contain Gluten12003000
Apple JellyGluten-Free24006000
Cranberry SauceGluten-Free400010440
Cherry PreserveGluten-Free20005000
Barbecue SauceMay Contain Gluten14003600
Raspberry JamGluten-Free20005000

Please note that these are average values, and actual values may vary based on the brand and specific ingredients used.

The Sauce Switch: Final Thoughts

Finding a substitute for a unique sauce like plum sauce might seem challenging, but as we’ve explored, there are plenty of alternatives. Whether it’s another fruit preserve or something more unexpected like barbecue sauce, you can find an alternative that suits your dish and your palate. With some creativity, these substitutes might even become your new favorites. Always remember, cooking is an art, and art is all about improvisation and exploration. So go ahead, try these substitutes and enjoy the magic of transformation they bring to your dishes!

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