5 Ingredients or Fewer

2-Ingredient Duck Sauce

March 21, 2016
4 Ratings
Photo by Jennifer Perillo
  • Prep time 5 minutes
  • Makes 1/4 cup
Author Notes

I bought my first piece of kitchen equipment when I was 18 years old. It was a hand-hammered wok. Since then, I’ve taught myself to make dumplings, fried rice, wontons, and, more recently, egg rolls. There was just one missing piece in the puzzle to reclaim my Chinese takeout ritual from childhood: duck sauce.

I’ve lost count of how many times I reached for a jar in the grocery store only to read the label, mutter a few words, shake my head, and realize I just couldn’t go through with it. The ingredient list was too daunting, including corn syrup, sugar, caramel color, D&C yellow #6, and D&C red #40.

I admit it, I used to hoard those little packets of duck sauce that come with Chinese food. Then one day, I read the ingredients, and life as I'd known was changed forever. Having mastered many of my Chinese takeout favorites at home, it was finally time to try my hand at making homemade duck sauce.

After a few passes trying to make my own duck sauce, using dried apricots (there’s actually apricots and peaches on the ingredient label of those little packets), I was ready to wave my white flag. None of them achieved that translucent, orange jelly that pervaded my dreams.

That’s when the light bulb went off. My thoughts wandered from jelly to jam and I remembered the homemade apricot jam I’d made last summer. One lone, unopened jar was lingering in the cabinet. I always struggle with opening the last jar of any of my jams, not wanting to close the door between seasons for good. Alas, this was just the special occasion I’d been waiting for.

My apricot jam had half of the crucial ingredients: apricots and sugar. All I needed was one more ingredient to hack my own homemade version to complete my DIY Chinese Takeout dreams at home: some acid to get things going. White vinegar would’ve been my preference, but the red wine vinegar I had available worked like a charm.

No more wrestling with myself mentally at the supermarket, at least not over duck sauce.

Note: My resulting duck sauce was a little chunky, but I didn't mind the texture. If you use an apricot jam with a chunkier consistency and prefer a smooth duck sauce, just give it a whizz in a mini-chopper. —Jennifer Perillo

What You'll Need
  • 3 tablespoons apricot jam
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons red wine or white vinegar
  1. In a small bowl, using a fork, stir the jam and vinegar until well blended.
  2. The sauce be stored in a covered container, in the fridge, for up to 2 weeks.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

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Jennifer Perillo is the Consulting Food Editor at Working Mother magazine, and a regular a contributor to Relish Magazine and FoodNetwork.com. She shares stories about food, family and life at her blog In Jennie's Kitchen and in her debut cookbook, Homemade with Love: Simple Scratch Cooking from In Jennie's Kitchen (Running Press 2013).

5 Reviews

Liz October 14, 2023
Made this with plum jelly and white wine vinegar. So, easy and so good!
Carol D. November 30, 2020
Thanks for this simple recipe. other ones were labor intensive
Yes i think cutting back on the vinegar is helpful
Robin F. September 2, 2020
This was perfect! I added a little salt, but that’s it.
Bekki M. June 27, 2018
Preferred this with 1-1/2 TEASPOONS vinegar, not Tbsp.
Susan S. March 29, 2016
Making this easy duck sauce with some leftover egg rolls for my lunch has been a game-changer. I LOVE this recipe!