10 Keto-Friendly Chinese Sauces

by Ella

When following a ketogenic (keto) diet, finding suitable condiments and sauces can be challenging, especially with the complex flavors and ingredients often found in Chinese cuisine. Traditional Chinese sauces often contain sugar, starches, and other high-carb ingredients that can derail your keto goals. However, with a little knowledge and some savvy shopping or homemade alternatives, you can enjoy the rich and diverse flavors of Chinese cuisine without compromising your low-carb lifestyle. This article delves into the world of Chinese sauces, identifying which ones are keto-friendly and offering tips for modifications or substitutions where needed.

Understanding the Keto Diet

The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, moderate-protein, and very low-carb diet that aims to put your body into a state of ketosis, where it burns fat for energy instead of carbohydrates. This dietary approach can aid in weight loss, improve mental clarity, and provide sustained energy levels. To achieve and maintain ketosis, it’s crucial to limit your carb intake, typically to around 20-50 grams of net carbs per day.


10 Keto-Friendly Chinese Sauces

1. Soy Sauce

Carb Content: Typically 1 gram of carbs per tablespoon.


Description: Soy sauce is a staple in many Chinese dishes, providing a salty, umami flavor. Traditional soy sauce is made by fermenting soybeans and wheat, which gives it a slightly higher carb content due to the wheat.


Keto Tip: For a lower-carb option, opt for tamari soy sauce, which is typically made without wheat and has a similar flavor profile but fewer carbs. Liquid aminos can also be a great soy-free and low-carb alternative.


2. Coconut Aminos

Carb Content: Around 1 gram of carbs per teaspoon.

Description: Coconut aminos are made from the fermented sap of coconut palms and sea salt. This sauce is a popular alternative to soy sauce for those avoiding soy or gluten and offers a slightly sweeter and milder taste.

Keto Tip: Despite its slightly higher carb content than soy sauce, coconut aminos can be used sparingly to enhance flavor without significantly impacting your carb count.

3. Hoisin Sauce

Carb Content: Approximately 6 grams of carbs per tablespoon.

Description: Hoisin sauce is a thick, sweet, and tangy sauce commonly used in Chinese cuisine. Traditional hoisin sauce is high in sugar and carbs, making it unsuitable for a strict keto diet.

Keto Tip: To enjoy the flavors of hoisin sauce on keto, try making a homemade version using a sugar substitute like erythritol or monk fruit, and low-carb ingredients such as almond butter, apple cider vinegar, and soy sauce.

4. Oyster Sauce

Carb Content: Around 4 grams of carbs per tablespoon.

Description: Oyster sauce is a rich, savory sauce made from oyster extracts, sugar, and soy sauce. Its unique umami flavor is often used to enhance stir-fries and marinades.

Keto Tip: Look for sugar-free or low-sugar versions of oyster sauce, which are becoming more readily available. Alternatively, you can make a keto-friendly oyster sauce at home using fresh oyster extract, tamari, and a keto-friendly sweetener.

5. Black Bean Sauce

Carb Content: Approximately 2-3 grams of carbs per tablespoon.

Description: Black bean sauce, made from fermented black soybeans, garlic, and various spices, is known for its robust and earthy flavor. It’s used in many Chinese dishes, especially in Sichuan cuisine.

Keto Tip: Since traditional black bean sauce can contain added sugars and starches, opt for versions with no added sugars or make your own using fermented black beans, garlic, ginger, and a low-carb sweetener.

See Also: Homemade Fermented Black Bean Sauce

6. Chili Oil and Chili Paste

Carb Content: Usually 1-2 grams of carbs per tablespoon, depending on the brand and added ingredients.

Description: Chili oil and chili paste are essential for adding heat and flavor to many Chinese dishes. These condiments are made from chili peppers and oil, with some variations including garlic, soy sauce, or sugar.

Keto Tip: Check the labels for added sugars and opt for pure chili oil or paste. You can also make your own by infusing oil with dried chili flakes and other keto-friendly spices.

7. Plum Sauce

Carb Content: Typically 13-15 grams of carbs per tablespoon.

Description: Plum sauce is a sweet and tangy condiment made from plums, sugar, vinegar, and spices. It’s often used as a dipping sauce for spring rolls and other appetizers.

Keto Tip: Given its high sugar content, traditional plum sauce is not keto-friendly. However, you can create a low-carb version using plums in moderation, a keto-approved sweetener, and apple cider vinegar.

See Also: 6 Ways To Use Chinese Plum Sauce

8. Fish Sauce

Carb Content: Less than 1 gram of carbs per tablespoon.

Description: Fish sauce is a pungent, salty condiment made from fermented fish. It’s a staple in many Asian cuisines, including Chinese, adding depth and umami to dishes.

Keto Tip: Pure fish sauce is naturally low in carbs and can be used freely on a keto diet. Ensure there are no added sugars or fillers by checking the ingredient list.

9. Chinese Mustard

Carb Content: Less than 1 gram of carbs per teaspoon.

Description: Chinese mustard is a spicy, pungent condiment made from mustard seeds, water, and vinegar. It’s commonly served with appetizers like egg rolls and dumplings.

Keto Tip: Pure Chinese mustard is keto-friendly. Be cautious with pre-mixed varieties that may include sugar or starches.

10. Szechuan Sauce

Carb Content: Varies widely but can be up to 5-6 grams of carbs per tablespoon due to added sugars.

Description: Szechuan sauce is known for its bold, spicy, and slightly sweet flavor, often used in stir-fries and as a dipping sauce.

Keto Tip: Create a keto-friendly version at home using chili paste, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, and a sugar substitute. This way, you can control the carb content while maintaining the authentic flavor.

Tips for Enjoying Chinese Cuisine on a Keto Diet

Read Labels Carefully: Always check the ingredient lists and nutritional information for hidden sugars and carbs. Many store-bought sauces contain added sugars, starches, and fillers that can quickly add up.

Make Homemade Sauces: Creating your own sauces at home allows you to control the ingredients and carb content. Use keto-friendly sweeteners like stevia, erythritol, or monk fruit to replace sugar.

Portion Control: Use sauces sparingly to add flavor without significantly increasing your carb intake. A little goes a long way with these powerful flavors.

Pair with Low-Carb Dishes: Complement your keto-friendly sauces with low-carb dishes such as stir-fried vegetables, grilled meats, and cauliflower rice to create a satisfying and balanced meal.

Experiment with Substitutes: Don’t be afraid to experiment with substitutes like tamari, coconut aminos, and sugar-free ketchup to replicate the flavors of your favorite Chinese sauces in a keto-friendly way.

Watch Out for Hidden Carbs: Be mindful of thickening agents like cornstarch or flour in sauces and gravies. Substitute with keto-friendly thickeners like xanthan gum or guar gum.

Sample Keto-Friendly Chinese Recipes

Keto-Friendly General Tso’s Chicken


  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
  • 2 tablespoons coconut aminos
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon erythritol or monk fruit sweetener
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup green onions, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon chili paste (optional for heat)
  • Olive oil for frying


Marinate the chicken pieces in soy sauce or tamari for 15 minutes.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Fry the chicken until golden brown and cooked through, then set aside.

In the same skillet, add sesame oil, garlic, and ginger, and sauté until fragrant.

Add coconut aminos, rice vinegar, chicken broth, and sweetener. Stir well.

Sprinkle in xanthan gum and whisk continuously until the sauce thickens.

Return the chicken to the skillet, coating it with the sauce.

Garnish with green onions and sesame seeds. Serve with steamed broccoli or cauliflower rice.


Navigating the keto diet while enjoying the rich and diverse flavors of Chinese cuisine is entirely possible with a bit of knowledge and creativity. By choosing keto-friendly chinese sauces and making smart substitutions, you can indulge in your favorite dishes without compromising your dietary goals. Whether you’re dining out or cooking at home, this guide will help you make informed choices, ensuring your meals are both delicious and low in carbs. Enjoy the bold and intricate flavors of Chinese cuisine while staying on track with your keto lifestyle.



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