Copycat McDonald's Szechuan Sauce Recipe

Sure, McDonald's famous Szechuan Sauce is delicious on McNuggets (or any nuggets), fries, burgers, chicken sandwiches, or anything else from the McDonald's menu. Chef and recipe developer Miriam Hahn has a few other ideas, though, saying: "This sauce is great with egg rolls or lettuce wraps, too." But let's be honest: You could pour this sauce over a pair of loafers, and they'd probably taste pretty good.

The secret to this sauce? No secret at all, actually. It's all about the precise use of a surprisingly long list of ingredients. The sweet, tangy, savory flavor profile of this sauce comes together perfectly. Beyond that hefty list of ingredients, there is also a precise order to when and how you use everything that goes into the sauce. Don't be intimidated, though! Just follow Hahn's recipe closely, and you are going to end up with a sauce every bit as good as the stuff you love from McDonald's. And you don't even have to ask for additional sauce packs — you'll have plenty on hand for your nuggets, sandwiches, egg rolls, fried rice, or whatever sounds great. (Probably skip the loafers, though.)

Gather the ingredients for this copycat McDonald's Szechuan Sauce

This McDonald's Szechuan Sauce copycat recipe calls for several ingredients, more than you encounter with most recipes that result in an entree. But again, don't be intimidated — just go step by step.

And the first step is gathering together water, soy sauce, garlic cloves (which will be processed through a garlic press), sesame oil, minced ginger (use the jarred kind), corn starch, cane sugar, ground Szechuan (a.k.a. Sichuan) peppercorns, coriander, Himalayan salt, finely ground black pepper, rice vinegar, apple cider vinegar, and lime juice.

Toast then grind the peppercorns

In a small to medium sauté pan (cast iron works great, but it's not necessary), toast between one and two tablespoons of the peppercorns over medium heat. Let them heat, stirring occasionally, for about three to five minutes, then cut the heat and pour them from the pan into a bowl. 

When the peppercorns have cooled, grind them in a spice grinder, and then sift them through a mesh strainer to remove any big pieces. Measure out a quarter of a teaspoon of the finely ground peppercorns and discard the rest (or save it for another recipe).

Begin to simmer the sauce

In a small pot, mix a cup of the water, soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger, garlic, and salt, stirring well to combine everything. Put the pot on the stove and cook the sauce over medium heat until the mixture begins to bubble. Then reduce the heat to simmer and cook the sauce for 10 minutes. 

"The only mistake to watch for is when you are simmering the sauce and bringing it to a bubble," says Hahn. You need the sauce at a low simmer. "This is important so the sauce thickens properly," she adds. Too much heat, and it will make a mess. Too little, and it won't reduce. When the simmering is done, cover the sauce and let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes, then pour the sauce through the mesh strainer to catch any lumps. Now return it to the pot and move on.

Add the spices and the vinegars to the sauce

Using a small whisk, mix the cornstarch with the remaining half cup of water, stirring the mixture until there are no lumps. Add this to the pot with the sauce, and then add in the sugar and all remaining spices. 

Heat the sauce again until it is bubbling, then reduce the heat to a simmer for five minutes. Next, remove the sauce from heat and let it cool, and when it has cooled, add in the lime juice and both vinegars. Stir well to combine everything, and then serve the sauce with your favorite foods.

Got some extra? "It will last up to five days in the fridge an airtight container," says Hahn.

Copycat McDonald's Szechuan Sauce Recipe
5 from 25 ratings
McDonald's famous Szechuan Sauce is delicious on McNuggets (or any nuggets), fries, burgers, chicken sandwiches, or anything else from the McDonald's menu.
Prep Time
15
minutes
Cook Time
15
minutes
Servings
12
servings
Copycat McDonald's Szechuan Sauce in a bowl
Total time: 30 minutes
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons ground Szechuan (Sichuan) peppercorns
  • 1 ½ cups water (divided)
  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • ½ teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons minced ginger (jarred)
  • 6 garlic cloves, processed with a garlic press
  • ¼ teaspoon Himalayan salt
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • 6 tablespoons cane sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon coriander
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper, finely ground
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
Directions
  1. In a sauté pan, toast 1 to 2 tablespoons of peppercorns over medium heat for about 3 to 5 minutes. When peppercorns have cooled, grind them in a spice grinder and then sift them through a mesh strainer to remove any big pieces, then measure out ¼ teaspoon of the finely ground peppercorns and discard the rest.
  2. In a small pot, mix 1 cup of water, soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger, garlic, and salt, and cook over medium heat until the mixture begins to bubble.
  3. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for 10 minutes, then cover and let sit for 10 to 15 minutes.
  4. Pour the sauce through the mesh strainer and then return it to the pot.
  5. Using a small whisk, mix the cornstarch with the remaining ½ cup of water until there are no lumps.
  6. Add this to the pot with the sauce mixture, and then add the sugar and spices.
  7. Heat until bubbling, then reduce to simmer for 5 minutes.
  8. Remove from heat and let sauce cool. Once cooled, add in the lime juice and both vinegars, stir, and then serve with your favorite foods.
Nutrition
Calories per Serving 44
Total Fat 0.3 g
Saturated Fat 0.1 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Total Carbohydrates 9.6 g
Dietary Fiber 0.5 g
Total Sugars 6.3 g
Sodium 585.7 mg
Protein 1.1 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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