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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47 Responses to Make Your Own Kecap Manis (Indonesian Sweet Soy Sauce)
  1. abby @ thingsforboys
    June 4, 2012 | 6:23 am

    I never knew this was so easy! Next time I need some, I’m going to make it. Thanks!

    • Emily
      June 4, 2012 | 9:59 am

      Hi Abby,

      I hope you’ll make many delicious dishes out of this! :)

  2. ophir03
    June 5, 2012 | 4:34 pm

    About how long do you boil it? Thanks!

    • Emily
      June 5, 2012 | 10:54 pm

      I’ll say for the quantity in the recipe… my estimate is no more than 5 minutes using a gas stove. Hope this helps. :)

  3. abby @ thingsforboys
    June 28, 2012 | 6:31 am

    I just made a batch and it’s yum but super salty! Did you use low sodium soy, or just regular kikkoman?

    • Emily
      June 28, 2012 | 9:49 am

      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?

      • abby @ thingsforboys
        June 29, 2012 | 2:57 am

        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!

        • Emily
          June 29, 2012 | 10:21 am

          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!

  4. Katrina
    September 7, 2012 | 6:54 am

    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?

    • Emily
      September 7, 2012 | 10:29 pm

      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.

    • nora
      December 13, 2012 | 12:00 am

      Soy sauce has a lot of gluten

      • Margaret
        May 8, 2013 | 7:27 am

        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.

        • Margaret
          May 8, 2013 | 10:03 am

          Oops I meant Fountain, not Masterfoods.

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

  5. ashraf
    October 12, 2012 | 3:08 am

    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

  6. Judith
    October 12, 2012 | 11:18 am

    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

  7. Grace
    November 25, 2012 | 11:17 am

    Thank you. I had no idea what kecap manis was and now I know how to make it.

  8. Dennis Joseph Li
    February 27, 2013 | 6:03 am

    I have been looking everywhere for Kecap Manis in groceries all over the city but can never find one. I never knew I could MAKE my own. This post is amazing. So is your blog! Subscribing. :)

    • Emily
      February 27, 2013 | 6:41 am

      Thanks Dennis. Sometimes I find it is easier to make things myself hehe! Glad that I can help :)

  9. Daisy
    March 4, 2013 | 9:49 pm

    hi there!

    Thanks for the spicy basil chicken recipe! Can I substitute honey for brown sugar to make this soy sauce?

    • Emily
      March 5, 2013 | 8:15 am

      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! :)

  10. [...] wine (or mirin) 1 tbsp kecap manis (Indonesian sweet soy sauce) – to make it yourself go here 1 tbsp all purp. flour 1 tsp ground black pepper 1/2 tsp salt 1 tbsp Vegetable [...]

  11. Martin
    March 17, 2013 | 3:07 pm

    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

    • Emily
      March 18, 2013 | 1:07 pm

      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. :)

  12. Ellen
    April 21, 2013 | 8:14 am

    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.

  13. masooma
    May 3, 2013 | 11:51 pm

    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?

    • Emily
      May 4, 2013 | 3:39 am

      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.

  14. Daz
    May 21, 2013 | 12:59 pm

    Hi , how long will this last in a fridge, as I would lie to make a batch.
    Thanks
    Daryll

    • Emily
      May 22, 2013 | 2:34 am

      Probably no more than a week.

  15. Liz
    May 26, 2013 | 9:08 am

    Well that’s a lot easier than I thought. Thanks!

  16. Honeybird
    July 19, 2013 | 9:26 pm

    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 :)

  17. marie
    September 17, 2013 | 6:41 pm

    Hi can you use this as a dip for spring rolls etc?? thanks

    • Emily
      September 17, 2013 | 9:06 pm

      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

  18. Kat
    September 22, 2013 | 6:49 am

    Awesome!! Just in Indonesia and LOVED this sauce, didn’t realize it was so simple to make on my own. Thanks Emily :)

  19. chef anthony
    November 10, 2013 | 9:55 am

    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

  20. Lulu
    November 21, 2013 | 9:31 pm

    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.

    • Emma
      March 19, 2014 | 6:29 pm

      Thank You! I was about to make the same comment and I saw yours!

  21. Damian
    December 14, 2013 | 8:17 am

    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

  22. […] Sweet Soy Sauce/ Kecap Manis (see here for the homemade […]

  23. Sophie
    January 28, 2014 | 1:19 am

    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

    • Emily
      January 29, 2014 | 8:49 am

      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

  24. TheChefie
    January 29, 2014 | 2:45 am

    This is good for Nasi Goreng..

  25. […] of sauces, from spicy tangy chilli sauce, earthy savory ginger paste, to the sweet delicious ketchup manis (this is what I use). It may come with a side of soup made from chicken stock and msg, and a plate […]

  26. […] I just googled the recipe for kecap manis which led me to Fuss Free Cooking. Now I’m […]

  27. […] easy to see why…everything she makes looks amazing!! Since she posted her recipe for home made Kecap Manis, I’ve never bought it again and I can’t wait to find an excuse to try out her […]

  28. Beth Rosen
    June 2, 2014 | 12:16 pm

    I’ve seen reference to kecap manis having star anise and garlic in it too?

  29. Cill
    July 12, 2014 | 4:00 pm

    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. :)

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