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5 from 22 votes

Vietnamese Fish Sauce Dipping Sauce (Nuoc Cham)

A quick and easy recipe for Vietnamese Dipping Sauce (Nuoc Cham / Nuoc Mam) made with fish sauce with a balance of sweet, sour and salty flavors.
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time0 minutes
Total Time5 minutes
Course: Sauce
Cuisine: Vietnamese
Servings: 1 cup
Calories: 151kcal
Author: Joyce Lee


  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (approximately 1 lime, or substitute with white vinegar)
  • 2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 6 tablespoons hot water
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • carrots (optional, for color)
  • 1 fresh birds eye chili pepper (optional, for a bit of spiciness)


  • Peel the garlic and finely chop it. Add it to a small bowl (or jar if you are making a bigger batch)
  • Cut the lime in half and squeeze all the lime juice into the bowl (or jar) with the garlic and let it sit for about 10-15 minutes. The acid from the lime juice will cut the sharp garlic spicy bite.
  • Once 10-15 minutes is up, add the sugar into the garlic/lime juice mix and pour in the hot water. Stir everything together until the sugar dissolves completely.
  • Once the sugar has dissolved, add in the fish sauce and mix.
  • Voila! Nuoc cham is done! It can be stored in the fridge or used right away! :)


  • I like my nuoc cham a bit on the sweeter side so that it has a sweet and sour flavor. If you prefer the sauce more sour/tangy, reduce the sugar by ½ tablespoon
  • Most restaurants use vinegar instead of fresh lime juice. To get a nuoc mam closer to the restaurant-style ones, use vinegar instead of fresh lime juice. Keep in mind that fresh lime juice is slightly more tangy than vinegar and has a bit more flavor though.
  • To reduce the raw bite from fresh garlic, soak the garlic in the lime juice for 10-15 minutes. The acid mellows out the garlic slightly so it has less of a spicy bite.
  • This recipe can be doubled, tripled or quadrupled with no issues
  • How long you can store this is highly dependent on whether you use vinegar in the sauce. If you are using only fresh lime juice, then I would not keep this for more than a week or two, but is best enjoyed fresh. If there is vinegar in it, you can keep it for about 2 months. Make sure you store it in an airtight jar in the fridge.
  • If you are using lime juice for your recipe, use fresh lime juice and not the bottled stuff, there is a big difference in flavor between the two.


Serving: 1/4 cup | Calories: 151kcal | Carbohydrates: 37g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 2827mg | Potassium: 116mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 36g | Vitamin A: 5IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 21mg | Iron: 1mg