Nuoc Cham (Vietnamese Dipping Sauce) Recipe

By Alex Au Yeung

4.4/5 - (7 votes)

Get ready to tantalize your taste buds with the vibrant flavors of nuoc cham, the traditional Vietnamese dipping sauce. Bursting with a harmonious blend of sweet, salty, sour, and spicy notes, nuoc cham is the perfect companion for a wide range of Vietnamese dishes.

What is nuoc cham?

Vietnamese cuisine is renowned for its vibrant flavors, and nuoc cham plays a crucial role in bringing those flavors to life. Whether you’re enjoying spring rolls, grilled meats, or noodle dishes, nuoc cham adds a burst of deliciousness that tantalizes the taste buds.

Nuoc cham is a traditional Vietnamese fish sauce dipping sauce that strikes a perfect balance between sweet, salty, sour, and spicy flavors. It is commonly made with fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, garlic, and chili peppers. This combination creates a harmonious symphony of tastes that complements a wide range of dishes.

What goes with nuoc cham?

Nuoc cham is a versatile dipping sauce that can be served with a variety of dishes.

Main dishes

  • Noodle dishes (Bun): Vietnamese dipping sauce can be drizzled over noodle dishes like bun cha (grilled pork noodle bowls) or bun thit nuong (grilled meat noodle bowls) for an extra burst of flavor.
  • Vietnamese rice rolls (Banh uot/ Banh cuon): These delicate rolls filled with ingredients like shrimp, herbs, and vermicelli are incomplete without a dip in Vietnamese fish sauce.
Nuoc Cham (Vietnamese Dipping Sauce) Recipe

Salad and rolls

Nuoc Cham (Vietnamese Dipping Sauce) Recipe

Vietnamese sandwiches (Banh mi): Nuoc cham can be used as a dressing for banh mi such as Pickled Banh Mi, Pork Belly Banh Mi adding a zesty kick to the already delicious sandwich fillings.

Nuoc cham recipe

Cooking note

  • Yield: Approximately 1 cup
  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Course: Condiment
  • Cuisine: Vietnamese
  • Equipment: Bowl, whisk or spoon


To make authentic Vietnamese dipping sauce, gather the following ingredients:

  • Fish sauce: 1/4 cup
  • Lime juice: 1/4 cup
  • Water: 1/4 cup
  • Sugar: 2 tablespoons
  • Garlic: 2 cloves, minced
  • Thai chili peppers: 1-2 peppers, finely chopped


Nuoc Cham (Vietnamese Dipping Sauce) Recipe

  1. In a bowl, combine the fish sauce, lime juice, water, and sugar. Stir well until the sugar is completely dissolved.
  2. Add the minced garlic and chopped chili peppers to the bowl. Mix thoroughly, ensuring the flavors are well incorporated.
  3. Let the sauce sit for about 15 minutes to allow the flavors to meld together.
  4. Give the sauce a taste and adjust the ingredients according to your preference. You can add more lime juice for extra tanginess or chili peppers for an added kick.
  5. Once you’re satisfied with the balance of flavors, transfer the nuoc cham sauce to a serving bowl or airtight container.

Tips and variations

  • For an authentic touch, consider using Red Boat or Blue Dragon nuoc cham dipping sauce, a premium fish sauce highly regarded by Vietnamese cooks.
  • If you prefer a milder sauce, you can reduce the amount of chili peppers or remove the seeds before chopping.
  • Experiment with additional ingredients such as grated carrot, ginger, or even a splash of rice vinegar to create your own unique Vietnamese dipping fish sauce variation.


How long does nuoc cham last?

When stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, nuoc cham can last for up to two weeks.

Can I use bottled nuoc cham instead of making it from scratch?

While bottled nuoc cham is convenient, homemade Vietnamese dipping fish sauce offers a fresher and more vibrant flavor.

Can I use Vietnamese dipping fish sauce as a marinade?

Absolutely! Vietnamese fish sauce dipping sauce makes an excellent marinade for grilled meats or a flavorful dressing for salads.

Is nuoc cham gluten-free?

Most fish sauces used in nuoc cham are gluten-free. However, it’s important to check the label to ensure there are no added gluten-containing ingredients.

Can I adjust the sweetness of nuoc cham?

Yes, feel free to adjust the amount of sugar to suit your taste preferences. Start with the suggested amount and add more if desired.

What is the difference between nuoc mam and nuoc cham?

Nuoc mam is the fish sauce used in Vietnamese cuisine, while nuoc cham is a dipping sauce that incorporates nuoc mam along with other ingredients to create a distinct flavor profile.

Is hoisin sauce the same as fish sauce?

No, hoisin sauce is not the same as fish sauce. Hoisin sauce is a thick, dark sauce commonly used in Asian cuisines, including Chinese and Vietnamese. It is made from a combination of ingredients such as soybeans, garlic, vinegar, sugar, and various spices.


Nuoc cham is the secret ingredient that transforms Vietnamese dishes into culinary masterpieces.

With its balance of sweet, salty, sour, and spicy flavors, this authentic Vietnamese dipping sauce elevates your taste experience.

By following the simple steps outlined in this article, you can create your own Vietnamese dipping fish sauce at home and unlock the vibrant essence of Vietnamese cuisine.

So, what are you waiting for? Grab the necessary ingredients, try out our nuoc cham recipe, and let your taste buds embark on an unforgettable journey!