22 Best Sauces For Rice So You’ll Never Have A Dull Meal Again!

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Rice dishes deserve a good sauce; without one, the rice can taste rather bland. So you can always improve the flavor with all kinds of tasty sauces!

Asian sauces are the best options for rice. I’m sharing my top picks for the best sauces to help you cook the tastiest rice dishes.

The list includes a roundup of sauces from all corners of the world with various flavor profiles. I’ve got everything from hot sauce to soy sauce, curry, and the sauces you can’t miss out on!

Best sauces for rice

Whether you’re cooking a meaty rice stir-fry or a vegetable curry, don’t neglect the rice. The right sauce will spice up any dish and make it taste even better!

The interest in sauces for rice has been increasing steadily over the past two decades when looking at the number of searches done for “sauce for rice” across English-speaking countries.

But after the Covid pandemic hit, searches skyrocketed (especially in the United States, Canada, and Australia) with everyone having to stay home and try new things and haven’t declined since.

Search interest in sauce for rice

I hope this is a trend that stays because rice with a good sauce is a healthy meal anyone can enjoy.

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What makes a good sauce for rice dishes?

How can you tell if a sauce is a good pairing with rice?

Well, rice is naturally a bland grain with a neutral flavor, except maybe jasmine rice, which has a slight floral taste to it. But this neutral flavor makes rice the perfect base for almost all foods and sauces.

So the good news is that almost all sauces taste good combined with rice dishes!

It all comes down to personal preference. Whether you like salty, sweet, or spicy sauces, there’s something for everyone.

A sauce enhances the taste of rice by adding different flavors to it and depending on which part of the world it comes from, you can expect certain flavor profiles. For example, many Caribbean sauces have a sweet or spicy flavor, while many Chinese, Korean, and Japanese ones may have a seafood-like taste.

Keep this in mind while cooking: the sauce should enhance the rice’s flavor yet allow the other ingredients’ tastes to come through.

Here’s a table with the best sauces for rice and then I’ll discuss each sauce in the article in more detail.

Beste sauce for riceFlavor profile
Chili sauceSpicy and sweet
Hot sauceVery spicy, should be used in small quantities
Curry sauceCan be mild, medium, or very spicy
Stir-fry sauceUmami flavor that leans toward savory
Sichuan sauceMix of spicy, savory, and slightly sweet
Duck sauceSweet and fruity
Teriyaki sauceSavory, salty, and a bit sweet
PestoSavory and nutty flavor
TahiniNutty and tangy flavor
Sweet and sour sauceA mix between very sweet and sour
Chinese white sauceMild and savory flavor
General Tso sauceSweet, sour, and spicy
Nuoc cham (Vietnamese dipping sauce)Sour, medium spicy, and sweet
Oyster sauceSweet and salty with a seafood flavor
Asian barbecue sauceFishy, salty, and sweet
Sriracha sauceSalty and very spicy
Sawsawan soy and vinegar sauceSour, salty, and a bit tangy
Peanut sauceNutty and savory
Ginger sauceTangy, salty, sour, and a bit spicy
Hoisin sauceSweet, savory, and tangy
Prawn sauce (cocktail sauce)Seafood flavored, sour and savory
Soy sauceSalty and umami

Best sauces for rice dishes

I’m sharing the 22 best sauces you can use as rice toppings or for cooking rice.

I’m leaving soy sauce (which is many people’s favorite) last because I’ll explain more on how to use it to make the best fried rice a little later on.

Also read: Best rice cookers reviewed for white rice, brown, sushi or even quinoa

1. Chili sauce

Blue Dragon Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce for rice

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This is a spicy sauce made from chili peppers. It’s a very common sauce in Thai cuisine, and you’ll usually find it labeled as “Thai sweet chili dipping sauce.”

Most chili sauces are a combination of hot and sweet, but you can also find outright spicy ones.

The best way to use chili sauce is as a topping on top of rice so as not to make the dish overly spicy.

You might be familiar with sweet and spicy chili sauce, which is one of the most popular dipping sauces of all time. It’s common to cook fried rice with chili sauce (the sweet and spicy variety) because it adds a salty, spicy, and sweet flavor.

You can also cook the meat for your rice dish in this chili sauce, and it’ll have a gooey and sticky texture, similar to the popular Chinese dish called orange chicken.

Check out the Blue Dragon Sweet and Spicy Thai Chili Sauce on Amazon

2. Hot sauce

Tabasco Original Flavor Pepper Sauce for rice

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Known for its bright orange color, hot sauce is a condiment made from very spicy peppers.

It can also be used as a sauce for rice dishes, although it’s primarily used as a garnish or topping poured over the finished dish.

Since the hot sauce is well, hot, you should use it sparingly to add a bit of extra spiciness to a dish. Usually, a quarter or half a teaspoon is enough to add tons of heat to any rice dish.

One of the most popular hot sauces has to be Tabasco, which I’m warning you is extremely spicy. It’s made from tabasco peppers mixed with salt and vinegar. When you taste it, the prominent flavor is a salty spiciness.

Tabasco offers several hot sauce types that you can add to rice dishes to take them from mild to spicy. They also have varying levels of hotness, so there’s something to suit everybody’s preferences.

Check out the best tabasco sauce here

3. Curry sauce

Vermont Curry Mild sauce for rice

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Curry and rice is probably one of the most beloved food combinations. Basmati, jasmine, white, and brown rice are common bases for meat and veggie curries.

Curry is the most popular Indian spice, and there are countless rice and curry sauce recipes out there. And there are many types of curry sauce.

In Thai cuisine, there’s red, yellow, and green curry. The color of the chilies and the other ingredients are what give different colors and flavors to the curry sauce.

Red curry is made with red chili peppers and chili pepper powder, and that’s why it has a red color. The flavor is spicy with a hint of sweetness, and it’s excellent when paired with steamed rice.

Yellow curry is also made with chili peppers and turmeric, which gives it a yellow color. It’s much milder than red and green curry and is often paired with garlic and ginger, then added to rice.

Green curry is made with chili peppers and mixed with cilantro, basil, kaffir, and lime leaves. It has a less spicy taste than red curry, but it’s spicier than yellow curry.

Indian curry sauce has an orange or light red color. It’s made with onions, tomatoes, garlic, ginger, and spices like turmeric, cumin, coriander, and ground chilies. Depending on what peppers and spices are used, it can be mild or spicy.

Most often, Indian curry is served with chicken and a serving of basmati rice. The rice soaks up the curry sauce, making it much more flavorful.

Japanese recipes often used curry roux cubes that give you a delicious mild curry, perfect for healthy rice dishes.

This milder curry contains a bit of apple and honey flavor, so it’s sweeter than spicy curry roux. Find curry roux cubes on Amazon.

Make this mild Japanese beef curry if you can’t handle spicy Indian curry

4. Stir-fry sauce

Kikkoman Stir-fry sauce for rice

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Stir fry sauce typically refers to bottled ready-to-eat sauces you can use to make stir-fries in an instant (although you CAN make a delicious keto sauce like this yourself!). But you can incorporate stir fry sauce into any rice dish.

Most of these sauces contain soy sauce, and they have a dark brown color. The sauces complement meats like beef and chicken, but they add a ton of umami flavors to rice too.

In addition to soy sauce, stir fry sauce usually contains sherry or cooking wine, vinegar, cornstarch (for that gooey texture), salt, sugar, oyster sauce, garlic, and other condiments and spices.

The reason why stir fry sauce is excellent for cooking rice is that it’s thicker and sticks to the rice, so it infuses it with all the flavor.

Expect a sweet and salty taste with notes of ginger. Most stir fry sauce is mild and rarely spicy, so it’s great for light and simple dishes.

Kikkoman stir fry sauce is one of the best-bottled sauces for rice.

Find the latest prices here

5. Sichuan (Szechuan) sauce

House of Tsang Szechuan Stir Fry Sauce for rice

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This sauce originates from China’s Szechuan region, known for tasty spicy dishes.

The sauce has a brown color and a runny texture. The flavor is a combination between spicy, savory, and sweet. So it’s an excellent sauce for rice!

Crushed red pepper flakes make this sauce stand out from your regular stir fry sauce.

Sichuan sauce is made from a base of soy sauce, with brown sugar, cornstarch, chili sauce, garlic, rice vinegar, Chinese five-spice powder, garlic flakes, ginger, and of course, an abundance of red chili pepper flakes.

The sauce is usually poured over stir-fry meats and vegetables, and then the mixture is served on a bed of rice. The sauce seeps into the rice, making it tastier and spicier.

Check out Szechuan sauce on Amazon or try this mapo tofu recipe with Sichuan peppercorn.

6. Duck sauce

Dai Day Duck Sauce for rice

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You might’ve seen duck sauce as a jelly-like orange-colored sauce served at Chinese restaurants. It has a sweet and sour flavor, and it’s commonly served as a dipping sauce for wontons, spring rolls, and deep-fried meats.

But it’s also used as a seasoning sauce for noodles and rice. Contrary to what the name implies, duck sauce contains no duck; it’s a fruity sauce.

Duck sauce, also known as plum sauce, is made from plums, apricots, peaches, or pineapples combined with sugar, ginger, vinegar, and chili peppers.

It’s the classic sauce you think of when you hear “sweet and sour sauce”.

If you want to improve the taste of fried rice or garnish an otherwise bland rice side dish, mix in a couple of teaspoons of duck sauce, and it’ll make it sweet and fruity!

Duck sauce is available on Amazon.

7. Teriyaki sauce

Soy Vay Veri Veri Teriyaki Marinade & Sauce for rice

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Teriyaki sauce is one of the top Japanese sauces of all time. It’s an umami-flavored brown sauce with a semi-runny texture.

If you like the taste of savory and sweet, with hints of garlic and ginger, you’ll love the bold taste of this sauce. It’s used to glaze and marinate meat and vegetables cooked on a grill, which is also called teriyaki.

The sauce, though, is very delicious, and it’s made from soy sauce, sake or mirin (a type of sweet cooking wine vs cooking sake), sugar, and ginger.

While it’s not the healthiest of sauces because it has a high sugar and sodium content, it’s definitely one of the tastiest, especially if you want to improve the flavor of rice.

Teriyaki sauce is sold in bottles at all types of Western and Asian supermarkets, but you can easily make your own at home with about 5 ingredients. Using a bottled teriyaki sauce makes cooking much easier though, and you can drizzle it right onto your rice.

I prefer to use teriyaki sauce in stir-fries with rice as opposed to fried rice. It’s a bit too sweet for fried rice, which benefits from soy sauce’s salty flavor.

Check out this sesame teriyaki sauce on Amazon

8. Pesto

Rustic basil pesto Barilla sauce for rice

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Basil and/or lemon pesto rice is one of the tastiest Western rice recipes.

Pesto has a pasty texture, but it’s easily turned into a runnier sauce with more olive oil, which works like a “pasta sauce”, but for rice. Inspired by Italian risotto recipes, you can use pesto for cooking any type of rice.

Pesto sauce has a thick consistency similar to a sauce like teriyaki, for example. Pesto is actually a very healthy sauce compared to other types of sauces because it’s made primarily of herbs (basil).

It’s made by blending crushed garlic, olive oil, basil leaves, pine nuts, salt, and a hard cheese, like Parmesan or pecorino. Lemon pesto also contains lemon juice.

When mixed with rice, pesto adds a very intense garlic and basil flavor.

You can easily make a rice dish with some cooked jasmine rice and sun-dried tomatoes mixed with a few tablespoons of pesto. It really adds such a refreshing taste and mimics that “pasta sauce” flavor!

Amazon sells excellent pesto from Barilla

9. Tahini

Kevala Organic Sesami Tahini sauce for rice

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Tahini is a very common sauce, popularized in Middle Eastern recipes like falafel and hummus. But it’s also a great sauce to combine with rice dishes!

The sauce is made from a crushed sesame seed paste. It’s then mixed with lemon juice, garlic, and water until it has a semi-runny consistency and smooth texture. It’s similar to a yogurt salad dressing, except it has a light brown-yellow color.

Tahini sauce has a light, refreshing, and slightly tangy flavor. It has a nutty flavor from the sesame seeds, and depending on the spices used, can also be a bit bitter.

It’s the perfect dressing on top of rice. You can also use it as an easy dressing for rice salad bowls to bring out the flavors of the vegetables and enhance the rice.

What makes this sauce so versatile is that you can add more water and make it runnier as needed. Instead of cooking with it, I recommend using it after the food is cooked.

Check out a tahini sauce on Amazon

10. Sweet and sour sauce

Kikkoman Sweet and Sour Dipping Sauce for rice

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If you’ve had Asian food before, you’ve probably tasted the famous sweet and sour sauce.

The term “sweet and sour sauce” basically refers to a sauce made by combining a sour component like vinegar with some sweetness in the form of sugar, honey, or maple syrup.

It’s commonly used as a dipping sauce for egg rolls and spring rolls, but you can use it to sweeten rice. The sauce has a light red color with a sticky and semi-runny consistency.

A common way to use sweet and sour sauce is to drizzle it over a bowl of steaming hot white or brown rice. If you’re not in the mood to cook, you can just have rice with this sauce.

But to make it even better, dip chicken, pork, beef, fish, and all kinds of potstickers into this yummy, versatile sauce.

There are plenty of bottled sweet and sour sauces on the market, but try to look for one with a lower sugar content.

Check out the Kikkoman sweet and sour sauce on Amazon

11. Chinese white sauce (vegan & gluten-free)

Probably one of the best mild Asian sauces, the Chinese white sauce is simple yet very flavorful.

It’s a runny sauce with a stock-like consistency made from clear vegetable stock, garlic, and ginger. Salt and sugar are added, but not enough to give the sauce too much flavor.

To thicken it, cornstarch is added, and then it’s suitable for use as a dressing or dipping sauce. It’s most commonly used in meat and vegetable stir-fries. As well, you can use it when cooking rice dishes.

The sauce is very mild in flavor and used on occasions when you don’t want any overpowering seasonings. It’s a delicate sauce, and best of all, it’s vegan and gluten-free too!

Make it at home to be absolutely sure it’s made with clean and healthy ingredients.

Simply pour the white sauce over cooked rice with some steamed veggies and grilled meat for a tasty yet light meal.

12. General Tso’s sauce

House of Tsang General Tso Sauce for rice

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One of China’s best sauce exports, General Tso’s sauce is a delightful combination of sweet, sour, spicy, and a hint of umami flavor from the addition of hoisin sauce.

It’s a well-rounded and rich flavored dark-colored sauce. This sauce is a popular stir-fry sauce, especially for chicken dishes like General Tso’s chicken.

The sauce is made by combining soy sauce with chicken stock, rice wine, vinegar, sugar, sesame seed oil, and some cornstarch to thicken it.

You’ll notice the sauce also contains ginger, garlic, and red chilies, which amp up the taste. It has a similar thickness and texture to teriyaki sauce, but it’s even more flavorful.

I recommend pairing General Tso sauce with a bowl of fried rice or drizzling it all over your rice casserole.

Amazon sells great General Tso sauce, check it out

13. Nuoc cham (Vietnamese dipping sauce)

BLUE DRAGON Blue Dragon Nuoc Cham Dipping Sauce for rice

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If you like a fish-flavored sauce, then you’ll love this Vietnamese fish sauce. It’s an exciting mix of flavors because it contains fish sauce, but it’s also sweet, sour, and spicy.

So if you want to add a seafood flavor to any rice dish, grab nuoc cham!

It’s usually used as a dipping sauce for spring rolls and rice paper rolls. But who says you can’t douse your rice in this tasty sauce?

The sauce is very runny with a yellow to light orange color and bits of minced chili. It’s made of fish sauce, water, sugar, vinegar, lime or lemon juice, minced chili, and garlic.

The sauce stands out because it has red chili pieces floating at the top. A good nuoc cham sauce strikes the perfect balance between sweet, sour, and medium spiciness.

The flavor isn’t overwhelming, so you can add it to rice stir-fries, soups, and pilaf too.

Find Blue Dragon Nuoc Cham on Amazon

14. Oyster sauce

Panda Brand Oyster Sauce for rice

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It’s exactly what it sounds like: a sauce made of oysters.

The oyster is cooked for a prolonged time until it releases caramelized juices. Then, it’s mixed with sugar, salt, cornstarch, and sometimes, soy sauce.

Oyster sauce is a viscous, brown-colored sauce with a strong seafood flavor.I’d most liken it to a mix between soy sauce’s saltiness and regular barbecue sauce flavor. But then it has a surprising sweetness to it too.

Oyster sauce is a common ingredient in Asian dishes like beef stir fry, Sichuan noodles, and all kinds of chicken recipes. I love it with vegetables too, like in this delicious 10-minute bok choy in oyster sauce stir fry recipe.

You can find bottled oyster sauce in most Asian grocery shops because it’s one of Asia’s best-loved sauces.

If you compare the smell of oyster sauce with that of fish sauce, the former has a milder smell, and it’s not nearly as fishy as the fish sauce. This is probably because there’s more sugar in it.

I recommend drizzling oyster sauce on rice or a rice bowl to give it a fishy flavor instantly.

Check my oyster sauce recommendation here

15. Asian barbecue sauce

Corine's Cuisine Sauce No. 28 Spicy Asian BBQ and Stir-Fry Sauce for rice

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Asian barbecue sauce is nothing like the BBQ sauce you’re used to dousing over your grilled meats.

It’s unique because it’s a mixture of hoisin sauce, fish sauce, rice vinegar, honey, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, sugar, and Chinese five-spice powder. Some versions contain ketchup and mustard.

Either way, the flavor is a mix of savory, sweet, and fishy. It’s a bit runnier than American barbecue sauce, but it’s still great for marinating all kinds of foods.

Most rice dishes can benefit from the unique flavors of this tasty BBQ sauce. It’s less smoky than its American counterpart, but that makes it suitable as a rice sauce.

Add a dollop to your fried rice, or mix it into a rice bowl to enhance the taste. You’ll be pleasantly surprised to taste the pairing of rice with a slightly fishy BBQ sauce.

Find Asian BBQ sauce (often called Korean BBQ sauce) on Amazon

16. Sriracha sauce

Huy Fong, Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce for rice

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This one is for those who love spicy hot pepper sauces. It’s not the same as hot sauce, but it’s similarly spicy.

Sriracha sauce is made from chili pepper paste with vinegar, garlic, sugar, and salt. One defining characteristic is that this sauce is very salty and high in sodium content, so use sparingly.

Besides, you don’t need much because it sets your tongue on fire instantly! Use it to add spiciness to rice dishes that lack flavor.

The best sriracha sauce is the bottled kind you can find from brands like Huy Fong. It’s a cheap, versatile chili sauce with lots of spiciness, and you can drizzle it on all kinds of savory foods.

If you make savory rice porridge, you can add a hint of this hot sauce to improve the taste.

Check out the price on Amazon

17. Sawsawan soy and vinegar sauce

Suka Pinakurat Sawsawan Ng Bayan Original Flavor sauce for rice

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Sawsawan is a classic Filipino sauce primarily used as a dipping sauce for fishballs.

The sauce is made with vinegar, soy sauce, and onions. It has a sour, sweet, salty, and tangy flavor. The spicy version of this sauce contains peppercorns.

This sauce is an excellent pairing for any fried dishes like meats and rice. Sawsawan has a very runny broth-like consistency, and the chopped onions float on top.

It’s a vegan sauce, so you can use it to add tons of flavor to bland rice dishes without adding any animal products. As well, it’s a multi-use sauce that works as a dipping sauce, glaze, and rice topping.

Since it has chopped onions, you can just pour some over your rice instead of adding other garnishes or spring onion. If you’re a fan of vinegared rice, then this is an excellent way to achieve that flavor.

You can find bottled Sawsawan sauce, but you can make it at home quickly as well.

18. Peanut sauce

House of Tsang Bangkok Peanut Sauce for rice

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Thai and Indonesian peanut sauce (also known as satay sauce) is world-famous. It’s commonly served as a dipping sauce for chicken skewers, beef, tofu, and vegetables.

But have you considered how tasty it can be drizzled on top of steamed rice?

Peanut sauce is made with ground peanuts (peanut butter), soy sauce, ginger, rice wine vinegar, sesame seeds, chili spices, and a bit of water. It’s relatively thin and runny, and has a light brown peanut butter color.

Depending on how much spicy chili you add, you can make the sauce mild or very hot.

A great use for peanut sauce is to make fried rice with tofu, carrots, and peanut sauce dressing. It’s light enough to feel like a salad dressing, but has that nutty flavor that improves the taste of rice.

You can also make a rice version of pad thai with peanut sauce, and it has that sweet and salty nut flavor with a hint of spiciness.

I recommend Bangkok-style peanut sauce because it’s mild and has ginger and lemongrass flavor too.

19. Ginger sauce

Japanese Ginger Sauce for rice

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Ginger sauce is the zingy ingredient you’d expect to find at Japanese steakhouses (hibachi). It’s the perfect dipping sauce or marinade for grilled meats and vegetables.

But how about a bowl of rice with this tangy and refreshing sauce? Ginger sauce is commonly mixed into fried rice to give it a bit of a salty and sour flavor.

Ginger is the key ingredient in this tasty sauce, but it’s made by mixing it with onion, garlic, soy sauce, lemon juice, vinegar, and sugar in a blender. The sauce has a thin, runny consistency and a dark color due to the soy sauce.

Ginger is an especially perfect pair for jasmine rice because the spicy freshness of the ginger complements the floral notes of the rice. There’s even a popular ginger and rice recipe in Asia called com gung tuong.

Check out Amazon for the ginger sauce

20. Hoisin sauce

Lee Kum Kee Hoisin Sauce for rice

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Hoisin sauce is a staple of Cantonese cuisine. It’s used as a marinade, meat glaze, stir fry sauce, and even dipping sauce for many types of foods.

The sauce has a very dark brown color and a thick, almost marmalade-like consistency. It’s fragrant but pungent and adds a spicy, savory, sweet, and tangy flavor to your rice.

The Japanese would call it “umami” because it really mixes all the flavors well and becomes a rich, balanced sauce.

Hoisin sauce is made of fermented soybean paste, Chinese five-spice, garlic, chilies, and sugar. The fermented soybeans give the sauce a tangy, pungent taste, but it’s very pleasant and not too overpowering.

The sauce is also vegan, so it’s a versatile condiment to have in your kitchen!

Fried rice and hoisin sauce are an excellent pair. In fact, hoisin sauce is traditionally used for cooking aromatic fried rice.

You can also mix the hoisin sauce with soy or teriyaki sauce to make the ultimate flavorful stir-fry seasoning.

Check the latest prices here

21. Prawn sauce

McCormick Golden Dipt Cocktail Prawn Sauce for rice

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Prawn sauce, Marie Rose, or cocktail sauce, is a sauce paired with seafood. It’s a popular British and American sauce served with prawns and shrimp or other seafood.

The sauce isn’t made from prawns though. Instead, it’s made with tomatoes or ketchup, mayonnaise, Worcestershire sauce, black pepper, and a splash of lemon juice.

In North America, the cocktail sauce also contains horseradish, so it’s tangier and spicier. Some brands of cocktail sauce actually contain fish products like anchovy paste.

I don’t recommend adding prawn sauce over plain steamed rice. Instead, you should make a shrimp and rice stir fry and then add prawn sauce as a dressing.

In terms of flavor, it’s like a spicy version of ketchup with small chunks of tomato. The lemon juice makes it a bit sour and tangy, but it’s very delicious paired with seafood and rice combos.

Check this cocktail sauce on Amazon

22. Soy sauce

Soy sauce is an old-time classic. It’s used in every type of Asian dish you can imagine.

But you can’t ignore the fact that rice and soy sauce is a fantastic combination!

Most commonly, it complements fried rice. You can’t really have fried rice without soy sauce; it’s just not the same.

Soy sauce is the umami flavor people can’t get enough of. The brown sauce is salty with some light sweetness and sometimes, even bitterness. It’s the most versatile Asian sauce of all time!

Read about my recommendations for the best soy sauce for fried rice below.

Best soy sauce for fried rice

I can’t decide on just one soy sauce because there are 2 excellent options.

The first is a more flavorful and salty light soy sauce, and the second is a dark soy sauce that infuses fried rice with a mildly salty flavor and dark color.

Light vs dark soy sauce

Both are excellent options to cook Chinese fried rice.

Chinese-style fried rice has a dark color, which is a result of the dark soy sauce that’s used for cooking it. However, in some parts of Asia, people prefer to use a light soy sauce.

In fact, the soy sauce you’re using is probably considered “light” soy sauce. It’s the most common type of soy sauce in Chinese and Japanese cuisine. Unless the label mentions the word “dark”, it’s likely light soy sauce.

Light soy sauce is very popular in Cantonese-style dishes and fried rice.

So how does light soy sauce differ from dark soy sauce?

It’s lighter in color, has a runnier texture, and contains more sodium (salt). The word “light” in the name is slightly misleading because it doesn’t refer to light in sodium but light in color.

Light soy sauce gives more flavor than dark soy sauce, which mainly adds color rather than flavor to the rice.

Dark soy sauce has a thicker texture, is less salty, and has a hint of sweetness to it. This sauce is highly popular in Northern Chinese recipes and fried rice, as well as in Shanghai cuisine.

Best light soy sauce for fried rice: Lee Kum Kee Premium Soy Sauce

Best light soy sauce for fried rice- Lee Kum Kee Premium Soy Sauce

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A light soy sauce is the best option when you cook fried rice because it has a subtle flavor that doesn’t mask the flavors of the meat, veggies, egg, and other ingredients.

It adds just the right amount of that classic “umami” flavor that fried rice is known for. Unlike dark soy sauce, this one has a much lighter flavor.

It also won’t make the rice dark brown. Instead, it’ll allow the fresh taste of meats and vegetables to be prominent while adding a bit of savoriness.

Lee Kum Kee Premium Soy Sauce has a great balanced taste, and it’s not too salty. It’s made from high-quality ingredients, including water, soybeans, wheat, and sugar, without all those additives and preservatives you can’t even pronounce.

But what makes this a great soy sauce for cooking rice is that it doesn’t have that intense soy sauce flavor that’s more suited for dipping.

It might not be as flavorful if you want to dip your sushi into it, but for fried rice and stir-fries, it allows the other ingredients to shine.

Overall, I recommend this for those who don’t want too much soy sauce flavor in their fried rice.

Check prices and availability here

Best dark soy sauce for fried rice: Pearl River Bridge Superior Dark Soy Sauce

Best dark soy sauce for fried rice- Pearl River Bridge Superior Dark Soy Sauce

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Now, if you’re a fan of that classic sweet-salty taste of soy sauce, dark soy is the way to go.

When used in fried rice, it adds that rich flavor and dark brown color. It’s thicker than the light version and has a similar flavor to molasses with a hint of sweetness.

While the sauce is less salty, it makes up for the flavor with its sweetness, which when combined with the rice, meat, and veggies, definitely amps up the taste.

With its bold taste, the Pearl River Dark Soy Sauce is ideal for all kinds of rice dishes and braised meats. I recommend it for fried rice, especially if you like Northern Chinese-style dishes with bold flavors and lots of spices and condiments.

Plus, the caramel color of this bottled soy sauce will add that “burnt” appearance to the rice and make it look even more appetizing!

The sauce is made with many quality ingredients, and the brand is one of the favorites you can find at Asian grocery stores.

I recommend dark soy sauce for those of you who are really into bold, umami flavors that may slightly mask the meats and veggies’ flavors.

Check the price on Amazon


Sweet, sour, spicy, savory — whatever your palate prefers, we’ve got you covered with these delicious sauces. They’re versatile sauces because you can use them for cooking rice and garnishing rice dishes.

As you know, plain cooked or steamed rice is kind of bland and flavorless, so there’s no reason not to add sauces to enhance the taste.

Bottled or homemade, these sauces are delicious. They can inspire you to experiment with different flavor profiles. There’s so much more out there besides just soy sauce!

Read next: Best saucepan for perfectly cooked rice: Top 5 helpful non-stick tools

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Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.