My Vegan Hot Pot Guide is one of the most popular resources on this site. With the weather getting cold again, we’re back to eating hot pot regularly… so I think it’s time to post a recipe for the best Hot Pot Dipping Sauce that accompanies my family’s hot pot meals. You can whip it up in the time it takes for your hot pot broth to boil!
Reasons to Make Your Own Dipping Sauce
- Fresh: Freshly crushed garlic and fresh chopped herbs makes a huge difference. It blows the storebought, prepackaged dips out of the water (or should I say, soup?)
- Customizable: Play around with the ingredients and adjust them to taste. Make this dip your own!
- My family’s favourite: I’ve been making this tried-and-true recipe at all our family’s hot pot gatherings. It’s also my boyfriend’s go-to dipping sauce, and he’s serious about his hot pot dip.
Ingredients + Substitutions
A few important notes on some of the ingredients used in this Hot Pot Dipping Sauce:
Soy Sauce: It’s key for that deep, savoury flavour!
Chinese Black Vinegar: Also known as Zhenjiang Vinegar or Chinkiang Vinegar. It tastes intensely malty and a little bit sweeter than lighter vinegars like white vinegar, rice vinegar, or apple cider vinegar. Also used in my Spicy Tofu Pudding recipe. You can buy this from an Asian grocery store or online; but in a pinch, substitute another type of black vinegar or balsamic vinegar.
Sesame Oil and Sesame Paste: For best results, use roasted sesame oil and roasted sesame paste. Both can be found at your local Asian supermarket. Chinese sesame paste is similar to tahini, made from just sesame seeds, but it’s usually roasted so it’s much more intensely flavoured. I usually use Homemade Sesame Paste, but I also like the Watson and Wang Zhi He brands of storebought sesame paste.
Salt and MSG: Boosts the salty and umami taste from the soy sauce without making the dip too runny.
Chili Crisp: Not quite the same as chili oil. Chili crisp has a lot more solids, and like the name suggests, it has a crispy crunchy texture. It’s a lot more flavourful than chili oil too thanks to all the fried bits. The Lao Gan Ma brand of chili crisp is a staple in my house. Also used in my Sichuan Doufunao and Cucumber Bean Curd Salad recipe.
Garlic: Use anywhere from 3 cloves to a whole bulb, depending on how much you like your garlic. 🧄 We prefer using around 5–6 cloves.
Hot Water: Tones down the harsh notes of the garlic while still retaining its pungent odour.
Scallions and Cilantro: Optional, but adds a nice fresh herbaceous flavour and lightens up the dip.
For a full list of ingredients and quantities, refer to the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
Make it your own! The measurements in the recipe card are just a guideline. Add more or less of each ingredient, to your taste. Or omit any ingredients you don’t like. That’s the best part of this hot pot dip—you can really make it your own.
Step 1: Mash garlic into a paste with a mortar and pestle. Cover with hot water and set aside while you gather the other ingredients.
Step 2: Mix together soy sauce, black vinegar, sesame oil, salt, MSG, black pepper, chili crisp in a bowl. Pour over the garlic and water.
Tip: If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, put the garlic cloves into a ziploc bag and smash them with a rolling pin.
Step 3: Spoon in sesame paste. Sesame paste really changes the flavour and texture of the dip, so add it to taste.
Step 4 (Optional): Top with a generous sprinkling of scallion and cilantro.
Make Ahead & Storage Tips
This hot pot dip tastes best when made fresh right before the meal. However, you can make it ahead and keep it in the fridge for up to one day. I don’t recommend freezing the dipping sauce.
Hot pot sauce is a flavorful condiment used for dipping hot pot ingredients after they are cooked in the broth. The ingredients can be varied to suit individual preferences. Common ingredients include soy sauce, sesame oil, sesame paste, vinegar, garlic, ginger, salt and sugar, chili paste or chili oil, sesame seeds, shacha sauce, and fresh herbs like scallion and cilantro. Usually each person can create their own individual bowl of dip, so they can mix these ingredients in various proportions to create their own personalized dipping sauce. The hot pot dipping sauce complements the ingredients being cooked in the hot pot, whether they are meats, vegetables, or tofu.
Eating a hot pot meal is an interactive and communal dining experience. Typically, a shallow pot is placed in the center of the table, simmering with flavourful broth. Thinly sliced meats (such as beef, lamb, or pork), a variety of vegetables, tofu, and other ingredients are then added to the pot to cook. Each diner uses chopsticks or a small slotted spoon to place ingredients into the simmering broth and waits for them to cook to their preferred level of doneness. Once ready, the cooked ingredients are removed from the pot, dipped into a flavorful dipping sauce, and eaten. It’s a shared experience where everyone at the table participates in the cooking process, customizing their meal by adding ingredients and adjusting the cooking time to their liking.
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The Best Hot Pot Dipping Sauce Recipe
Use Imperial/Metric buttons below to toggle between volume vs weight measurements. I recommend weighing out your ingredients for best results.
- Mortar and pestle (see Note 1)
- 3 to 12 cloves garlic see Note 2
- 1 tbsp hot water
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp black vinegar see Note 3
- 1 tbsp chili crisp
- 1 tbsp Homemade Sesame Paste *optional
- ½ tbsp sesame oil
- ½ tsp MSG
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp ground black pepper
- 1 scallion
- 1 tbsp cilantro *optional
- Mash garlic into a paste with a mortar and pestle (see Note 1 if you don’t have one). Cover with hot water and set aside while you gather the other ingredients.
- Mix together the soy sauce, black vinegar, chili crisp, sesame oil, MSG, salt, and black pepper in a bowl. Pour over the garlic and water.
- Spoon in the sesame paste. Sesame paste really changes the flavour and texture of the dip, so add it to taste.
- Top with a generous sprinkling of scallion and cilantro.
- No Mortar & Pestle? No Problem: Seal the garlic cloves in a ziploc bag and smash them with a rolling pin.
- Garlic: Use anywhere from 3 cloves to a whole bulb, depending on how much you like your garlic. 🧄 We prefer using around 5–6 cloves.
- Chinese Black Vinegar is also known as Zhenjiang Vinegar or Chinkiang Vinegar. It tastes intensely malty and a little bit sweet, a must for many Chinese condiment recipes. You can buy this from an Asian grocery store or online; but in a pinch, substitute another type of black vinegar or balsamic vinegar.