Is Duck Sauce the Same as Sweet and Sour Sauce?

As a mom, I’m always looking for ways to make dinner time easier. That’s why I was surprised when my kids told me they preferred sweet and sour sauce over duck sauce. I had always assumed that it was just a fancy name for sweet and sour sauce.

But after doing a little bit of research, I found out that there are actually some key differences between these two sauces.

Is Duck Sauce the Same as Sweet and Sour Sauce?
Close view of Duck Sauce. Credit: canva

Is Duck Sauce the Same as Sweet and Sour Sauce?

  • The first difference is in the ingredients. The sweet and sour sauce is made with sugar, vinegar, and tomato paste. Duck sauce is made with apricots, plums, sugar, and vinegar. This gives the sweet and sour sauce a slightly sweeter taste.
  • Another difference is consistency. The sweet and sour sauce is typically thicker. This is because it contains tomato paste, which acts as a thickening agent. Duck sauce, on the other hand, is thinner and more watery.
  • Finally, sweet and sour sauce typically has a reddish hue due to the tomato paste, while duck sauce is usually brown or orange in color.

So there you have it! Some key differences between them. The next time you’re at the grocery store, be sure to pick up both so you can see for yourself which one your family prefers.

spring roll duck sauce
Spring Rolls with Duck Sauce. Credit: canva

What Goes With Duck Sauce? Great Pairing Guide

Duck sauce is a delicious condiment used on many different foods.

Here are what goes with duck sauce. This sauce goes well with chicken, pork, and fish. It can also be used as a dipping sauce for egg rolls or fried shrimp.

What else can you pair with? And can you make your own sauce?

What You Need to Know

What is duck sauce?

Duck sauce (or orange sauce) is a sweet and sour sauce condiment with a translucent orange color similar to transparent jelly.

It’s a sauce that is served at every American Chinese restaurant. In addition, it is often used as a dip for deep-fried foods like wonton strips, spring rolls, egg rolls, and duck.

The packets are frequently given in single-serving sachets with soy sauce, mustard, hot sauce, or red chili powder.

Despite its name, the sauce is not made with duck meat. However, it’s possible that it was called “duck sauce” since it was initially served with Peking duck in China, a cuisine that has been around for hundreds of years.

When Chinese immigrants arrived in the United States, they modified traditional recipes to appeal to American tastes. They also developed a sweeter sauce than used in China.

What is duck sauce made of?

It is made with apricot preserves, vinegar, brown sugar, and garlic.

You can make your own at home by using apricot jam, white vinegar, brown sugar, garlic powder, and soy sauce.

Is duck sauce an American thing?

While this Chinese duck sauce is most commonly found in American Chinese restaurants, it’s a Chinese condiment modified for American tastes.

Like many dishes on Chinese takeout menus in the United States, it was an American invention.

The sauce is a sweetened Americanized version of Chinese plum sauce or hoisin, with orange tints provided by apricots, which are uncommon in China.

What Goes with Duck Sauce?

Some of the most popular pairings are:

Crispy Duck

Crispy duck is another roasted duck dish that goes very well. There’s nothing better than crispy skin on top of your food.

Sweet & Sour Pork

Sweet and sour pork is one of my favorite dishes. I have tried this dish several times at different restaurants, and each time I was impressed by how good it tasted. The combination of sweet and sour flavors makes this dish so delicious!

Chicken Wings

They go well together because both are spicy and salty.

Stir-Fried Beef

It’s a simple dish, but it tastes fantastic when paired with sweetness.


Wontons are small dumplings stuffed with ground meats, vegetables, seafood, etc. These little dumplings are perfect for eating with.

Spring Rolls

They’re filled with fresh ingredients and rolled around a filling.

Fried Rice

Fried rice is another beautiful dish that pairs well. It’s just plain tasty!

Egg Rolls

The egg roll wrappers can soak up the sauce while still keeping their shape.

Noodle Salad

A noodle salad is a bowl full of noodles and veggies tossed in a creamy dressing. This dish is an excellent choice if you want something light and refreshing.

Fish Fillets

salmon with duck sauce
Salmon Fillet with Duck Sauce. Credit: canva

Fish fillets are another excellent option. You can either marinate them in the sauce overnight or cook them right away. Either way, fish fillets are a quick and easy meal.

Shrimp Cocktail

If you like shrimp cocktails, then you’ll love this dish too.

Spicy Tuna Roll

The tangy flavor of the tuna combined with the sweetness of the sauce makes this dish taste incredible.

Tofu Steak

It’s tough to mess up tofu steaks. Just be sure to buy extra firm tofu and slice it thinly.

Tapioca Pudding

It has a chewy texture that works perfectly with the smoothness of the sauce.

Pork Belly

The pork belly is tender and juicy.

Pork Chop

It’s lean and flavorful.

Steamed Mussels

Steamed mussels are an excellent option for dinner. They’re inexpensive healthy, and they go well with anything. Try these mussels for an unforgettable experience.

Crispy Duck Sandwich

A crispy duck sandwich is another great option for enjoying the richness. It comes with crispy skin, which adds crunch to the sandwich.

Duck Ramen

Ramen is one of those foods that everyone loves. It’s cheap, nutritious, and delicious.

Duck Soup

It’s hearty, rich, and comforting.

Baked Potatoes

They have a soft, fluffy interior that absorbs the flavors from the sauce.

How to Make

roast duck with sauce
Whole Roasted Duck with Orange Sauce. Credit: canva

Easy Homemade Duck Sauce Recipe

Making them is so easy and tasty. With this recipe, you can have your special sauce without going to Chinese restaurants.

  • Prep time: 5 mins
  • Serves: 6


  • 3/4 C all-natural apricot jam
  • 4 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 medium cloves fresh minced garlic*
  • 1 tsp fresh minced ginger*
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/16 tsp cayenne powder (or to taste)


  1. Mix all of the ingredients in a small mixing dish with a whisk until they are evenly combined.
  2. Allow sitting in the fridge for a few hours before serving to blend the tastes. Warm before serving by bringing to room temperature for approximately 30 minutes to an hour.
  3. If you don’t use it right away, store it in an airtight glass container at the back of your refrigerator for up to a month.

Duck Sauce Chicken Recipe

This recipe is quick and easy.

  • Prep time:3 mins
  • Cooking time: 75 mins
  • Serves: 4


  • 1 chicken, about 3 1/2 pounds, cut into 8 pieces
  • 1-1/4 cup duck sauce (Sweet & Sour)


  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Using a 9×13-inch pan, spray it with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Chicken should be washed and then rinsed, pat-dried, and arranged in the pan.
  3. Pour the sauce over the chicken evenly and liberally.
  4. Bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until the skin is crisp and browned. The chicken should be blackened and barbecued, according to taste.

Whole Roasted Duck with Orange Sauce

This whole roasted duck dish, served with a fragrant orange-rosemary sauce, is flavorful, juicy, and a lovely yet simple supper to prepare for guests.

  • Prep time: 1 hrs 10 mins
  • Cook time: 2 hrs 30 mins
  • Serves: 4


  • 1 Pekin, Long Island duck, 5 to 6 pounds
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large navel orange
  • 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary, plus more for garnish.

For the Orange Rosemary Sauce:

  • 1 cup orange juice, freshly squeezed if possible
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon-style mustard
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Zest of 1 orange



  1. Spray a roasting pan and rack it with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Cut 4 slices from the center of each orange for garnish and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  3. Cut the rest into wedges and set them aside.

Prepare the duck:

  1. Remove the duck’s cavity from the neck, gizzard, liver, and heart. Keep them for another use or throw them away.
  2. Remove any flaps of excess skin from the cavity and tail region. Rinse the duck in cold water and pat dry with paper towels both inside and out.
  3. Season the duck’s cavity with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, then stuff it with orange wedges and rosemary sprigs.
  4. Bend the wing tips beneath the bird and tie the legs together with cotton string. Place the duck breast side up on the prepared roasting rack.
  5. If you have the time, leave the duck to chill uncovered overnight. This will assist dry the skin, resulting in a crisper product.

Cooking the duck:

  1. Allow the duck to sit for 1 hour to come to room temperature (do not cover).
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  3. Using a sharp knife, make tiny holes in the duck’s skin all over (1/4-inch gap).
  4. The duck is seasoned with salt and pepper, then roasted for 30 minutes, uncovered.
  5. Remove the duck from the oven, turn it breast side up on a wire rack, and continue to roast. It’s a good idea to rotate the pan in the oven to guarantee uniform browning.
  6. Continue to follow these steps every 30 minutes until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the duck’s thigh reads 165°F. The entire cooking time should be about 2-1/2 hours.
  7. Tilt the duck over a carving board to drain any fat and liquid from the cavity into the roasting pan. Allow it to rest loosely with foil for 10 to 15 minutes before cutting.

Making the sauce:

  1. While the duck rests, prepare the sauce.
  2. Bring the orange juice, rosemary, and mustard to a rapid simmer over medium-high heat in a medium saucepan.
  3. Cook, uncovered until reduced to about 1/2 cup, 6 to 8 minutes.
  4. Remove from the heat, then add the vinegar, butter, and orange zest. Stir until the butter has melted.
  5. Season to taste with salt and pepper.


  1. Arrange the carved duck on a serving dish with orange slices and rosemary sprigs.
  2. Drizzle with sauce and serve immediately.

Tips and Variations

  • You may modify this recipe to your liking. If you prefer the sauce sweeter, add additional sugar preserves. Add more rice vinegar if you want your sauce to be stronger.
  • Try combining 1/2 cup peach jam and 1/4 cup apricot jam for a unique taste sensation. You may also add 1 teaspoon dry ground mustard for more flavor.
  • No strainer, no problem. It tastes delicious smooth or chunky.
  • For storage, place it in an airtight glass container at the rear of your refrigerator for up to a month. I wouldn’t advocate freezing it.


What veggies go well with duck?

You can use whatever vegetables you want. The most common ones include broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, green beans, asparagus, peas, corn, mushrooms, cabbage, onions, peppers, zucchini, etc.

Can I freeze the leftover sauce?

Yes, you can store the leftover sauce in the fridge for up to 1 week. Then, if you don’t eat it right away, cover it tightly and refrigerate it.

Is orange sauce duck sauce?

The orange sauce is made by adding orange juice instead of vinegar. You can make it yourself by simply substituting orange juice for apple cider vinegar.

Does duck sauce go bad?

It will keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Is duck sauce the same as plum sauce?

The two are very similar, but they are different. Plum sauce is thicker. Duck sauce is usually served on meat, while plum sauce is used on fish.

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