Is yum yum sauce usually gluten free?

Quick Answer

Yum yum sauce, also known as white sauce, duck sauce, or plum sauce, is a sweet and sour sauce commonly served with Chinese food in American Chinese restaurants. Yum yum sauce is usually gluten free, but some brands or restaurant preparations may contain gluten. It’s important to check the ingredients list and ask about preparation when dining out. Many major brands of yum yum sauce sold in grocery stores are labeled gluten free.

What is Yum Yum Sauce?

Yum yum sauce is a sweet and sour condiment commonly served with Chinese food in American Chinese restaurants. It has a smooth, creamy texture and is typically pale orange or pink in color. The sauce has a sweet, tangy flavor derived from apricot, plum, or pineapple puree or preserves.

Yum yum sauce likely originated as a version of duck sauce, a traditional Chinese condiment made from pickled or preserved fruits like plums, apricots, and peaches. Duck sauce has been served with roast duck dishes in China since the 1800s. When Chinese immigrants came to America in the early 20th century, they brought duck sauce with them. Over time, American Chinese restaurants adapted the recipe into a thicker, creamier, sweeter sauce that came to be known as yum yum sauce.

The name “yum yum sauce” emerged in the mid-1900s and became popularized by Chinese-American restaurants seeking a catchy, appealing name to market the sauce. The name invokes the sauce’s sweet, mouthwatering flavor. Yum yum sauce became a staple condiment on American Chinese restaurant tables, often served with dishes like egg rolls, fried wontons, and sweet and sour chicken. These days it’s rare to find a Chinese restaurant in the US that doesn’t offer yum yum sauce.

Common Ingredients in Yum Yum Sauce

There is no single definitive recipe for yum yum sauce. It can be prepared in different ways by different chefs and brands. However, there are some ingredients commonly used:

– Fruit puree or preserves, like apricot, pineapple, or plum – This provides sweetness and flavor.

– Vinegar and soy sauce – For sour and savory notes.

– Garlic and ginger – For aromatic flavor.

– Cornstarch or tapioca starch – To thicken the sauce to a creamy consistency.

– Sugar and honey – For added sweetness.

– Vegetable oil – For smooth texture.

– Salt and MSG – For savoriness.

– Chili sauce or cayenne pepper – Some recipes add a touch of spicy heat.

– Food coloring – Gives the orange/pink hue.

Is Yum Yum Sauce Gluten Free?

Most yum yum sauce is naturally gluten free, as the classic recipe does not contain ingredients derived from wheat, barley, rye, or other gluten-containing grains. The primary ingredients like fruit purees, vinegar, soy sauce, and starch thickeners are inherently gluten free.

However, some restaurant or commercially prepared versions may include additives or thickeners that do contain gluten. For example:

– Flour – Wheat flour is sometimes used as a thickener.

– Soy sauce – Some soy sauces contain wheat.

– Modified food starch – Can be made from wheat.

– Hydrolyzed wheat protein – Used as a flavor enhancer in some sauces.

So while yum yum sauce is very often gluten free, check the label or ask about ingredients if you need to avoid gluten. When dining out at a restaurant that serves yum yum sauce, ask your server to check if it is gluten free. Many restaurants do offer gluten-free versions.

Major Yum Yum Sauce Brands

Several major brands of yum yum sauce can be found in grocery stores. Many of them are labeled gluten-free:

Kikkoman Yum Yum Sauce

Kikkoman is one of the most widely available brands. Their classic yum yum sauce is gluten-free and contains sugar, vinegar, water, soy sauce (wheat-free tamari), modified food starch, chili, garlic, potassium sorbate, xanthan gum, and sodium benzoate.

Heinz Yum Yum Sauce

The Heinz brand yum yum sauce is also certified gluten-free. Its ingredients include high fructose corn syrup, sugar, water, distilled vinegar, modified corn starch, chili sauce, garlic, potassium sorbate, xanthan gum, and sodium benzoate.

Annie Chun’s Yum Yum Sauce

Annie Chun’s makes a gourmet version of yum yum sauce that is gluten-free certified. It contains sugar, vinegar, water, soy sauce (wheat-free tamari), ginger, garlic, sesame oil, dried chili peppers, and xanthan gum.

Lee Kum Kee Yum Yum Sauce

Lee Kum Kee is another major Asian condiments brand. Their yum yum sauce is labeled gluten-free and contains water, high fructose corn syrup, sugar, vinegar, modified corn starch, soy sauce (wheat-free), garlic, chili, sesame oil, potassium sorbate, xanthan gum, and sodium benzoate.

Other brands

There are also store brand versions sold at retailers like Walmart which can be good value options. Always check the label carefully for any mention of wheat, barley, rye or malt ingredients. Call the manufacturer if you have any concerns about gluten content.

Gluten-Free Status of Yum Yum Sauce from Restaurant Chains

If you want to enjoy yum yum sauce served at restaurants, here are some of the major chains and their gluten-free status:

Panda Express

Their yum yum sauce is gluten-free. Primary ingredients are water, sugar, soy sauce (wheat-free), vinegar, modified food starch, garlic, chili, sodium benzoate, and xanthan gum.

PF Chang’s

PF Chang’s yum yum sauce is gluten-free. It contains sugar, soy sauce (wheat-free), vinegar, water, orange juice concentrate, garlic, ginger, modified food starch, sesame oil, chili paste, potassium sorbate, and xanthan gum.

Chinese Gourmet Express

Chinese Gourmet Express confirms their regular yum yum sauce is gluten-free.

Manchu Wok

Manchu Wok uses a gluten-free yum yum sauce containing water, high fructose corn syrup, sugar, soy sauce (wheat-free), vinegar, modified food starch, garlic, chili pepper, sodium benzoate, phosphoric acid, and potassium sorbate.

Pollo Tropical

Pollo Tropical states their yum yum sauce is gluten-free. Primary ingredients are high fructose corn syrup, water, sugar, distilled vinegar, modified food starch, soy sauce (wheat-free), garlic, potassium sorbate, sodium benzoate, xanthan gum, and natural flavors.

Other Chains

Other restaurants like Pei Wei Asian Diner, Cafe Asia, and smaller local establishments often carry gluten-free versions, but it’s always wise to check with the restaurant to be sure. Many are happy to accommodate gluten-free diets.

Is Yum Yum Sauce Healthy?

Yum yum sauce is a tasty condiment that can add flavor to different dishes, but it is high in sugar and sodium so it should be enjoyed in moderation as part of an overall balanced diet.

Some nutrition facts about yum yum sauce:

– High in added sugars – Contains around 10g added sugar per tablespoon. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 25g added sugar per day for women and 36g for men.

– High in sodium – Approximately 300mg sodium per tablespoon, which is 13% of daily value. Excess sodium intake can increase risk of high blood pressure.

– Low in nutrients – Does not provide much nutritional value other than trace amounts of garlic and ginger.

– High in calories – Around 40 calories per tablespoon. Can add extra unwanted calories when overused.

– Acidic – Vinegar gives it a relatively low pH around 3.2-3.5. May possibly impact tooth enamel if consumed excessively.

– Low glycemic index – Only raises blood sugar moderately compared to other sugary foods.

So yum yum sauce can be enjoyed occasionally as part of a varied diet. But limit portion sizes to a tablespoon or two and balance intake with more nutritious whole foods. Be mindful of your total sugar and sodium consumption from all foods and condiments over the course of each day.

How to Make Yum Yum Sauce at Home

It’s easy to make homemade yum yum sauce so you can control the ingredients. Here is a simple gluten-free recipe:


– 1⁄2 cup pineapple juice or apricot nectar
– 2 tablespoons rice vinegar or white distilled vinegar
– 1 tablespoon soy sauce or tamari (gluten-free)
– 1 tablespoon ketchup
– 1 teaspoon sesame oil
– 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
– 1 teaspoon ginger, minced or grated
– 1 teaspoon chili sauce or sriracha (optional)
– 3 tablespoons white sugar
– 2 1⁄2 tablespoons cornstarch
– Pinch of salt


1. In a small bowl, mix together the pineapple juice, vinegar, soy sauce, ketchup, sesame oil, garlic, ginger, and chili sauce if using.

2. In a separate small bowl, stir together the sugar, cornstarch, and salt.

3. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and whisk together thoroughly.

4. Transfer mixture to a small saucepan and cook over medium heat.

5. Bring to a simmer while stirring continuously with a whisk or spatula.

6. Reduce heat and continue cooking for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly, until sauce thickens to a smooth, creamy texture.

7. Remove from heat and allow to cool. The sauce will thicken further as it cools.

8. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use. Keeps refrigerated for up to 1 week.

Uses for Yum Yum Sauce

Yum yum sauce can be used as a dip, drizzle, or condiment to add flavor to a variety of dishes:

– Drizzle over fried foods – Use it as a dip for eggrolls, wontons, dumplings, spring rolls, fried shrimp, chicken nuggets, or french fries.

– Sauce for chicken – Great paired with chicken strips, chicken wings, popcorn chicken, or chicken nuggets. Also good with chicken stir fry dishes.

– Dipping sauce – Can be used for dipping appetizers like potstickers, crab rangoons, or fried wontons.

– Sandwich or wrap spread – Adds flavor when drizzled on a chicken sandwich or used as a spread in a wrap.

– Meat marinade – Brush on chicken, pork, or salmon before baking or grilling.

– Salad dressing base – Whisk with oil and other seasonings as the base of an Asian salad dressing.

– Fried rice flavor – Stir into fried rice for a pop of sweet and sour flavor.

– Veggie dip – Dip fresh vegetables like carrots, broccoli, celery, or cauliflower.

– Burger sauce – Spread on hamburgers in place of ketchup for a sweet twist.

– Pizza drizzle – Drizzle over leftover pizza slices for extra zing.

– Stir fry sauce – Toss with chicken or beef stir fry dishes.

– Condiment – Use as a condiment for sandwiches, burgers, hot dogs, fries, fish sticks, chicken nuggets, etc.


Yum yum sauce is a sweet and tangy condiment that can add flavor to a variety of foods, especially Chinese dishes and fried appetizers. While not very nutritious on its own, it can be enjoyed in moderation as part of a healthy diet. Check ingredients to ensure gluten-free status if avoiding gluten. Making your own yum yum sauce at home with natural ingredients is easy and allows you to control what goes into it. Use yum yum sauce to add a pop of sweet, sour, and savory flavor to meats, seafood, veggie dishes, sandwiches, salads, and more. Given its versatility, it’s no wonder this pink or orange sauce has become a staple condiment on American Chinese food tables.

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