Sweet sesame sauce is an easy 6 ingredient recipe that can be whisked together in 5 minutes! This Japanese sauce is vegan, gluten free and perfect for topping sushi bowls or poke bowls.
It can also be tossed with steamed vegetables, used as a stir fry sauce, for marinating chicken or glazing fish.
What's in Sweet Sesame Sauce?
- Hoisin Sauce - which adds a thick texture and sweet flavor to the sauce.
- Note: a lot of store-bought hoisin sauce contains wheat, so I used a gluten free hoisin sauce to make this sesame sauce gluten free. I was able to find this in the Asian section at my local grocery store, but you can always order it online, if you can't find it at your grocery store.
- Toasted Sesame Oil - be sure to buy sesame oil that is labeled "toasted", as it will have a significantly different flavor than plain sesame seed oil in this sauce recipe.
- Tamari - this gluten free soy sauce adds saltiness to the sweet sesame sauce. To learn more about the sauce, visit this post: What is Tamari and How is it Used in Recipes?
- Red Pepper Flakes - are added for just a hint of spice to balance out the sweetness of the sauce. If you don't have red pepper flakes, ½ teaspoon of sriracha or chili oil can be substituted in the sauce.
- Fresh Garlic Cloves
- Fresh Grated Ginger
How to make Sweet Sesame Sauce
Combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl and whisk together.
Alternatively, place all of the ingredients in a mason jar, secure the lid tightly and shake the ingredients to combine. The benefit of this method is that you can transfer the mason jar of sauce right into the refrigerator after you've shaken it up, without dirtying any more dishes!
How long will Sesame Sauce last in the refrigerator?
This sesame sauce will last up to one week in the refrigerator stored in an airtight container, such as a mason jar.
How to use Sesame Sauce in Recipes
- Add it to a sushi bowl (pictured above)! Instead of simply serving soy sauce on the side of your homemade sushi bowl, try this sweet sesame sauce. It's perfect for pouring over tuna, salmon or yellowtail!
- Toss diced fish with the sauce for an epic poke bowl! The original inspiration for this recipe came from Poke Chop. They toss your choice of fish, tuna, salmon, albacore, scallops or shrimp in this sweet sesame sauce before adding it to the poke bowl. It's so delicious with tuna and salmon (my go-to poke bowl seafood selections!)
- Use it as a stir fry sauce to stir fry veggies, noodles or both! Stir fry veggies in sesame oil on the stove over high heat for 3-4 minutes, then add 2 tbsp of the sauce per 2 cups of veggies and/or noodles.
- Marinate chicken or shrimp in the sauce for 30 minutes, then grill the chicken or shrimp. Add it to a bowl with rice, edamame, avocado and any other veggies of your choice!
- Note: Use ¼ cup sauce as marinade for every pound of chicken or shrimp.
- Use it to make sesame chicken. Dice chicken breasts or chicken thighs into large pieces. Toss 1 pound of chicken pieces in a bowl with 1 whisked egg, then toss in a mixture of ½ cup cornstarch and 2 tablespoons brown sugar. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat, toss in the coated chicken pieces and cook until the chicken is golden brown on all sides. Pour all of the prepared sauce (which = 10 tablespoons) over the chicken, reduce the heat to low, cover the skillet and simmer for 6-8 minutes.
- Quick Tip! You can make the sesame chicken into a bowl by adding rice to the bottom of a bowl, topping it with the chicken, diced green onions, shredded carrots and steamed broccoli.
Looking for more vegan sauce options to top your favorite bowl? Check out these 4 recipes!
Sweet Sesame Sauce
- 3 tbsp gluten free hoisin sauce
- 2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
- 1 tbsp tamari gluten free soy sauce
- 2 cloves garlic crushed
- 1 tsp fresh ginger grated
- ½ tsp red pepper flakes
- ¼ cup water
- Whisk all of the ingredients together in a small bowl.
- Transfer to a container with a lid and place in the refrigerator for up to one week.
- To eliminate any spice from the sauce, the red chili flakes can be omitted.
- Sriracha or chili oil can also be used in place of the red chili flakes.