This is the quick and easy 2-ingredient version of how to make Kecap Manis (Indonesian Sweet Soy Sauce), also called ketjap manis. It's a recipe savior when making a recipe that calls for this delightfully sweet and salty sauce!
Make your stir-fry, fried rice, marinades, and glazes amazingly flavorful!
This recipe is a very quick version, meant to be used in recipes that call for kecap manis to save you a trip to the grocery store (if you have a good Asian market nearby that is) or from buying specialty ingredients online.
Having this recipe on hand has saved us the frustration of knowing that we were missing something particular in a recipe. Something like a certain flavor that a few dishes at Panda Express are known for or other Asian recipes.
Now, about this sweet soy sauce and why you have to have it!
Kecap is a catch-all term for the five core fermented sauces of Indonesia, and manis is 'sweet'.
So kecap manis translates to 'sweet sauce'. That would explain why it is believed to be Indonesia's most popular sauce!
🤔 What Is Kecap Manis?
If you think it sounds a bit like our household staple ketchup, you're right. Kecap manis is indeed a distant relative to the fish-based sauce that was the origin of today's ketchup.
It is, basically, a sweetened and reduced soy sauce.
For my super easy 2 ingredient version, you will need equal parts soy sauce and light brown sugar.
- Sugar - Either light brown sugar, or dark brown sugar, or molasses can be used instead. However, if you happen to have palm sugar on hand it would be closer to a true kecap manis sauce.
- Soy Sauce - I do recommend reduced sodium (lite) soy sauce. You'll be cooking the sauce down to thicken it, which can result in a super-salty flavor isusing regular soy sauce.
💭 Tips & Recipe Notes
There are a wide variety of additions to this sauce! Everything from ginger, garlic, crushed red pepper, star anise, cloves - the list goes on. I've added them to the recipe card with amounts for all of the optional ingredients you may like to try.
Using 1 ⅓ cup each of soy sauce and brown sugar will yield about 1 cup of the kecap manis after it has been reduced. I find this to be the perfect amount for 2-4 dishes over a week or two.
The sauce needs to thicken enough that it clings to a spoon when drizzled back into the pan, but not too viscous yet as it will continue to thicken while cooling.
🔪 Step-by-Step Instructions
Ready to up your stir-fry game?! Grab a saucepan and bring this rich and tasty sauce to a simmer for the best homemade kecap manis!
- Combine and heat. Combine ingredients in a small sauce pan and stir to dissolve the sugar while you bring the sauce to a low boil over medium high heat.
- Reduce heat and simmer. Once you reach a boil, reduce heat and simmer until the liquid becomes syrupy (viscous) about 10-15 minutes.
- Stir. Be sure to stir frequently to prevent over-boiling.
- Check the consistency. The sauce is done when it clings to your spoon when drizzled back into the sauce pan.
- Cool and thicken. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely (the sauce will continue to thicken while cooling).
Stored in an airtight container and kept refrigerated, the kecap manis sweet soy sauce will keep for up to two months.
Kecap manis, or ketjap manis, is actually sweeter than hoisin sauce. Both are sweet, thickened sauces. However, kecap manis is thickened by reducing the sauce ingredients and hoisin sauce is thickened using cornstarch.
Kecap manis is used as a dipping sauce, a marinade ingredient, stir-fry sauce, glazes, barbecue sauce, and much more. It's a staple ingredient to make nasi goreng (Indonesian fried rice) and my Panda Express Shanghai Angus Steak recipe.
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How To Make Kecap Manis (Indonesian Sweet Soy Sauce)
Quick & Easy 2-Ingredient Version
- 1 ⅓ cup palm sugar (brown sugar or molasses can be used instead)
- 1 ⅓ cup soy sauce (reduced sodium soy sauce is best)
- 1 tablespoon molasses (or treacle)
- 2-4 cloves garlic
- ½ tablespoon ginger (peeled and diced)
- 2 curry lime leaves
- 2 star anise (whole)
- 2 cloves (whole)
- ¼ teaspoon coriander seeds (whole)
- ¼ teaspoon black peppercorns (whole)
- Combine ingredients in a small saucepan and stir to dissolve the sugar while you bring the sauce to a low boil over medium-high heat.1 ⅓ cup palm sugar, 1 ⅓ cup soy sauce
- Once you reach a boil, reduce heat and simmer until the liquid becomes syrupy (viscous), about 10-15 minutes. Be sure to stir frequently to prevent over-boiling. *Add optional ingredients once simmering. Stir in molasses, garlic cloves, diced ginger, lime leaves, star anise, cloves, coriander seeds, and/or black peppercorns if desired.1 tablespoon molasses, 2-4 cloves garlic, ½ tablespoon ginger, 2 curry lime leaves, 2 star anise, 2 cloves, ¼ teaspoon coriander seeds, ¼ teaspoon black peppercorns
- The sauce is done when it clings to your spoon when drizzled back into the sauce pan.
- Remove from heat and allow to cool completely (the sauce will continue to thicken while cooling). Store in an airtight container. Will keep refrigerated for up to 2 months.
Angela is an at home chef that developed a passion for all things cooking and baking at a young age in her Grandma's kitchen. After many years in the food service industry, she now enjoys sharing all of her family favorite recipes and creating tasty dinner and amazing dessert recipes here at Bake It With Love!