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Vietnamese dipping sauce in a bowl with a ladle, used limes, chili and sugar in a dish with a spoon in it
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4.67 from 9 votes

Vietnamese Dipping Sauce (Nước Mắm)

Zesty, sweet, savory and light, this Vietnamese Dipping Sauce will be a staple in your house! It's the perfect all-purpose recipe to dress up all your noodle, rice and side dishes!
Prep Time3 mins
Cook Time5 mins
Total Time8 mins
Course: Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine: Asian, Vietnamese
Servings: 30
Calories: 483kcal
Author: Jeannette


  • Mortar and pestle


  • 300 mL / 1.3 US cup water
  • 100 g / 0.22 lb sugar (or to taste)
  • 30 mL / 0.1 US cup vinegar
  • 8 tbsp fish sauce (or to taste)
  • 2 limes
  • 6 cloves garlic (or to taste)
  • chili (optional)


  • Use a mortar and pestle to crush the garlic cloves until they become a fine paste.
    Note: Doing this will enhance the garlic flavor but will make the sauce appear murky. If you'd prefer a clearer or milder aroma, finely chop the garlic instead.
  • Melt the sugar in water over a low-medium heat, then mix in the fish sauce before turning off the heat and adding the vinegar and lime juice.
  • When everything is seasoned to taste, pour in the garlic and chili. Let it infuse with the heat off for 1 minute before transferring the contents to a glass container to cool completely.
  • Serve with your favorite Vietnamese dish!


  • There are many varieties of fish sauce to choose from so the final result will depend on which brand you use. Just remember to taste test and adjust to your preference.
  • If you'd prefer a sweeter dipping sauce with less of a zesty zing, swap the limes for lemons and skip on the vinegar.
  • Remove the cooking liquid from direct heat before adding the lime. Citrus can become bitter if cooked for too long.
  • Use fresh produce. This recipe has few ingredients but together they really pack a punch. Make sure everything is fresh for the end product to really shine.
  • Taste before you finish. Every family likes their fish sauce tasting a particular way, which is why tasting it before storing is vital for any last minute adjustments.


Calories: 483kcal | Carbohydrates: 119g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 11325mg | Potassium: 551mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 107g | Vitamin A: 67IU | Vitamin C: 39mg | Calcium: 106mg | Iron: 2mg