Make Your Own Kecap Manis (Indonesian Sweet Soy Sauce)

Indonesian sweet soy sauce aka kecap manis is one of my most used sauces besides soy sauce and oyster sauce. These 3 sauces are a staple in my everyday Asian dishes. Stir fry, noodles, fried rice…and believe it or not, my own concoction of Chinese stew (may share in another time).

So…what’s the difference between soy sauce and kecap manis?

The obvious difference is soy sauce (or light soy sauce) is salty and with a consistency of water; whereas kecap manis is sweeter (manis means sweet in Malay/Indonesian) and has the consistency resembling maple syrup. I use light soy sauce in replacement of salt and kecap manis for color and the sweetness, of course. I like to use these two sauces together to balance the savouriness and sweetness in my Asian dishes.

I’m aware not everyone has a bottle of kecap manis in their kitchens and may not feel like getting a whole bottle for an one-off recipe; or you simply want the satisfaction of making sauces at home.

Either way, I thought you may be interested to make this at home since it’s neither a difficult nor an expensive exercise. Enjoy!

Make Your Own Kecap Manis (Indonesian Sweet Soy Sauce)

(I tweaked the quantity of sugar from the recipe found on The Peach Kitchen, as I like it a little thicker and more caramelly)

What you need:-

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup + 1/8 cup (i.e one half of a quarter cup) brown sugar

Instead of brown sugar, The Perfect Pantry has suggested palm sugar which I thought to be brilliant also.

Let’s get started:-

(1) In small pot, add brown sugar and soy sauce. (2) Boil the sauce over low to medium flame until thickens resembling maple syrup. If the mixture starts to boil vigorously and looks like it is going to overboil, leave the pot away from the flame until the boiling has calm down and continue to boil over low heat. You have to keep a watchful eye while the mixture is cooking to avoid overboiling. As the mixture cools down, it will further thicken.

Here are how I used kecap manis in my dishes:-

Spicy Basil Chicken (Gka-Prow Gai)

Tagliatelle with Spicy Thai Basil Chicken

Beef with Lemongrass & Chili Stir Fry

Black Beef Dry Curry

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53 thoughts on “Make Your Own Kecap Manis (Indonesian Sweet Soy Sauce)

    • Hi Abby… I used regular kikkoman. Sorry if it turned out too salty for you. Did you try to cook with it and the food turned out salty?

      • I made a lamb stirfry with it and it was delicious! I added a bit of ginger and garlic too, but that’s all. Sorry, I meant to say that it tastes a lot saltier than the ABC sauce, but it was perfect in the stirfry. Thanks Emily!

        • Phew.. i was like “did abby eat it straight or something?” hehe.. I agree it was saltier than abc sauce so one gotta adjust the salt when use the homemade version. Ur lamb stir fry sounds delicious.. i must try the lamb stir fry with kecap manis. :) have a great weekend!

  1. I can eat Gluten anymore and all the Kecap Manis I have found contains gluten which is frustrating as a few of my favourite recipes have Kecap manis and I really like it, so thank you! I look forward to making it. How long does it keep for?

    • Hi katrina
      I normally make a small batch at a time like a cup or so and the longest i have kept for is 2 weeks in the fridge. Since it made of juz soy sauce and brown sugar i suspect i can go even longer as long it does not look like there is mould or taste funny.

      • There are several brands of gluten free soy sauce on the market, depending on the country you live in. Kikkoman, Ayam, Masterfoods all make a gluten free soy sauce. These are all available in Australia. Tamari is also a gluten free soy sauce.

        • Oops I meant Fountain, not Masterfoods.

          I made the Kecap manis this evening so I could make Nasi Goreng. It was yum.

  2. Instead of brown sugar or palm sugar i have used what is known as JAGGERY in India, which is in a way unrefined sugar and made from sugar cane.
    it does resemble palm sugar somewhat but is not as sweet. The results depend on how much Jaggery is added, which in turn depends on how sweet you want it to be. I think it makes a really good substitute. I would like to get some original IKAN BILIS so that I can then match the taste.
    Thank you for the recipes

    Thank you

  3. I have just returned from Bali and am so excited that making kecap manis is so easy. Thanks for the website. I also can’t eat gluten but in the healthfood aisle of the supermarket you can gluten free soy sauce which is not as salty. J

    • Hi Daisy,

      I must admit I have not tried with honey. The function of brown sugar is to provide the caramel & thick consistency, so in this sense honey could work. However may I suggest you try with flavourless honey as some types of honey can taste quite floral. I hope this helps! :)

  4. Growing up in the Netherlands Kecap Manis was a staple in the fridge, now living in the US I used to order it online until making my own. I use low sodium and add some ginger and koriander through mine, you can also spice it up a little using chili pepper paste. Great for making Babi Ketjap

    • Hi Martin

      Thanks for sharing your spin on ketjap manis. The addition of ginger and coriander sounds amazing and I can imagine it could be a staple for stir fry. :)

  5. The use of (as we call It) gula jawa is more preferable for people who suffer from diabetes. Though I myself don’t have diabetes (fortunately) I use this kind of sweetener in almost everything.

  6. im making a dish that requires this sauce, and i found ur recipe very helpful! however, theres one problem. I made it and set it aside to use for the dish later. now, as i check it, i see that it has become so thick that it is no longer sauce! LOL. What should I do? add more soy sauce?

    • Maybe just add a tsp of soy sauce and warm it for a couple of seconds in microwave. From my personal experience as the surrounding temperature drops the sauce.becomes very thick (even for the commercial ones) and the during summer time the sauce is more liquid. I hope this helps.

  7. Definitely going to try making this! I am a huge fan of ketjap Manis! And there have been given some lovely variations too in the comments, I’m getting all excited :)

    • Hi Marie, I personally don’t think it is suitable as a dipping sauce due its very thick and.sticky consistency. And taste was very sweet with some salty undertone behind it. xx Emily

  8. With kecap, I’ve learn my ups and downs, using any soy sauce, low-sodium. or Kikkoman, it goes back to your taste buds, and how you use it. most will say its too salty, or most will say its too sweet. Its all by going how much use it or how much spices your adding to your dish. umami

  9. Good article – but please remove your suggestion that palm sugar is a ‘brilliant’ alternative – palm sugar is a horrible substance – while it may taste good, it is easy to find alternatives and it also ruins the environment for the orangutans and is killing their population off – its a well known issue.

    • Thankfully there are a lot of sustainable coconut sugar products available now that take care in avoiding orangutan habitats while supporting indigenous farming initiatives in indonesia. I just made some with coconut sugar and it was delicious!

  10. Hi Emily

    You are just amazing. Thank you for this recipe. Have been thinking about making this for ever! Think you should make some dishes for your fans!

    Damian

  11. Hi! this looks so good as the other recipes i have looked at use a lot more ingredients. how much does this make because i need a little over a 1/3 of a cup for some beef satay i am doing for dinner :)

    thanks, Sophie

    • Hi Sophie,

      I think it makes slightly under 1/4 cup. There’s some loss of liquid due to evaporation during the process of thickening of the sauce. xx Emily

  12. I will try this recipe shortly!! But as I arrived at your page to find sustainable alternatives to the (evil) palm sugar, I won’t be using palm sugar!!!
    It’s just great I can make this sauce with out contributing to the destruction of any Orangutans habitat or their lives. :)

  13. I applaud commenters for doing what they can to save orangutan habitat, but palm sugar is not made from the same types of palm trees that palm oil is made from, they are made from entirely different species. If you’re still worried, just make sure it’s coconut or date, or from countries where orangutans don’t live.

  14. Oh I am so happy I found this recipe. I can not wait to try it. I was disappointed when my store discontinued the sauce and didn’t want to pay $13.99 a bottle from Amazon

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