Hoisin Sauce vs Plum Sauce: Exploring the Flavors of Asian Condiments

As a food lover, I love to try foods from different parts of the world. And I noticed that East Asia deserves credit for introducing so many different types of sauces. While some of them are very popular, such as hoisin sauce, some are little less known like plum sauce. 

Hoisin sauce is a thick, sweet, and savory sauce made from soybean paste, garlic, and spices. Plum sauce is a tangy and sweet sauce with a fruit base. It is made from plums, sugar, and vinegar. While plum sauce is often served as a dipping sauce, hoisin sauce is used as a glaze for meat dishes.

Both these sauces offer a unique taste to your favorite foods. Let me help you with proper guidance on them so that you can have them with the right food.

Hoisin Sauce vs Plum Sauce

Hoisin Sauce vs Plum Sauce: An Overview

As I already mentioned that plum sauce is not as popularly known as hoisin sauce outside Asia, let me give an overview of the two sauces before discussing their differences and similarities. 

ParameterHoisin SaucePlum Sauce
FlavorSweet, savory, and umami with hints of garlic and spicesTangy, sweet, and fruity with a prominent plum taste
Main IngredientsSoybean paste, garlic, sugar, vinegar, and spicesPlums, sugar, vinegar, and sometimes additional fruits
TextureThick and stickyRelatively thick, but smoother and less sticky
UsageUsed as a glaze for meats and in stir-friesOften served as a dipping sauce for spring rolls, dumplings, and appetizers
VersatilityLimited in use due to its distinctive flavorVersatile and can complement a variety of dishes
ColorDark brown or reddish-brownDeep reddish-brown to dark purple
AllergensContains soy and potential allergensContains plums and potential allergens
Hoisin Sauce vs Plum Sauce

Hoisin Sauce vs Plum Sauce: Detailed Differences

Despite having similarity in their origin, hoisin sauce and plum sauce have many differences. Their differences include:

Main Ingredients

The main ingredients in hoisin sauce include soybean paste, sugar, vinegar, garlic, and various spices. Some variations may also contain ingredients like sesame oil, red chilies, and fermented soybean paste, adding complexity to the sauce’s taste.

As the name suggests, plums form the core ingredient of plum sauce. Apart from plums, it usually contains sugar, vinegar, and sometimes additional fruits like apricots or peaches to enhance the fruity flavor.

Read More: Dark Soy Sauce vs Light Soy Sauce


Hoisin sauce has a complex flavor profile with a predominant sweet and savory taste. The sauce’s sweetness balances the savory elements, creating a well-rounded taste.

Plum sauce has a natural tartness of plums and is complemented by the addition of sugar and vinegar, resulting in a distinctive sweet and sour flavor.


Hoisin sauce has a thick and sticky texture, which helps it adhere well to the surface of meats during glazing. Plum sauce is also relatively thick, but it tends to be smoother and less sticky compared to hoisin sauce.

Read More: Tamari Vs Dark Soy Sauce


Hoisin sauce is versatile and can be used in a variety of ways. It is used as a glaze for meats, such as roasted duck or pork, to add a caramelized and flavorful coating. Additionally, it is a key ingredient in stir-fries, imparting a rich taste to the dish.

In contrast, plum sauce is frequently used as a dipping sauce in Asian cuisine. It is a popular accompaniment to spring rolls, dumplings, and other appetizers. 


Hoisin sauce is prominently featured in Chinese cuisine, especially in Cantonese and Pekingese dishes. It is a fundamental component of classic Chinese dishes like Peking duck and Moo Shu pork.

With a more diverse application plum sauce is used in various Asian cuisines, including Chinese, Thai, and Vietnamese. 


While hoisin sauce offers a distinct and robust flavor, its versatility is somewhat limited due to its specific taste profile. It is best suited for dishes that can benefit from its sweet and savory notes.

Being more versatile, Plum sauce can be paired with a broader range of dishes. Its sweet and tangy character allows it to complement everything from appetizers to main courses and even snacks.


Hoisin sauce typically exhibits a dark brown or reddish-brown color, resulting from the combination of ingredients like soybean paste and sugar. Plum sauce varies in color, ranging from deep reddish-brown to dark purple, depending on the plum variety used and the other fruits included.

Read More: Dark Soy Sauce Vs Soy Sauce

Preservatives and Allergens

Some commercial hoisin sauces contain preservatives and additives to extend shelf life. It is essential to check labels for potential allergens like soy and gluten.

Similarly, some store-bought plum sauces can contain additives or preservatives. It’s essential to review the ingredients list for potential allergens like plums and additional fruits used in the sauce. Homemade versions can offer a more natural and allergen-free alternative.

Similarities Between Hoisin Sauce And Plum Sauce

Apart from their differences, I also noticed many similarities between the two sauces. Their similarities include the following:

  • Both hoisin sauce and plum sauce are popular condiments used in Asian cuisine.
  • They are both sweet sauces, offering a balance of sweet and savory flavors.
  • Both sauces can be relatively thick in texture, allowing them to adhere well to foods during application.
  • Hoisin sauce and plum sauce are often used as dipping sauces for various appetizers.
  • They can both be used to enhance the flavors of meat dishes, though hoisin sauce is used as a glaze for meats.
  • Both sauces are versatile and can complement a wide range of dishes in Asian cooking.
  • Commercial versions of both sauces may contain preservatives or additives.
  • Both hoisin sauce and plum sauce are beloved for their ability to add depth and complexity to dishes.

Read More: Tomato Sauce Vs Tomato Puree

Which Is Good For What?

Both hoisin sauce and plum sauce have distinct flavor profiles, which make them suitable for specific culinary uses. You can use them with different foods. Let me help with it:

Hoisin Sauce

  • Hoisin sauce’s sweet and savory flavor, enriched with umami, makes it a perfect glaze for meats such as roasted duck, chicken, or pork.
  • It is a popular ingredient in stir-fries, as it enhances the overall taste and provides a rich
  • When used as a marinade or brushed onto grilled meats, hoisin sauce imparts a delightful smoky-sweet flavor.

Plum Sauce

  • Plum sauce’s tangy and sweet nature makes it an excellent dipping sauce for spring rolls, dumplings, and other appetizers.
  • It pairs wonderfully with poultry dishes like duck or chicken
  • You can also use plum sauce as a glaze for roasted or grilled fruits and vegetables
  • Diluted with some water or vinegar, the plum sauce can be transformed into a unique and tasty salad dressing.


Hoisin sauce and plum sauce are two distinct condiments that play essential roles in Asian cuisine. Hoisin sauce offers a sweet and savory depth, perfect for glazing meats and stir-fries, while plum sauce delights with its tangy sweetness, making it an ideal dipping sauce for appetizers. You should try them to use your food experience. 

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