Try this sweet & tangy classic Vietnamese dipping sauce known as Nước chấm. Made with fish sauce, fresh lime juice, garlic & sugar. A delicious spring roll dipping sauce or vermicelli sauce!
This Vietnamese dipping sauce is so full of flavor and delicious! It's perfectly salty with tons of umami flavor from the fish sauce, it's tangy from the fresh lime juice, and has just the right amount of sweetness.
Also known as Nước chấm, this is best described as a fish sauce vinaigrette with shredded carrots that's used widely in Vietnam as a spring roll or summer roll dipping sauce or a vermicelli noodle sauce.
Why you'll love this recipe
- It's a light, fat free sauce that doesn't weight you down
- Tons of flavor - tangy, bright, sweet, spicy, salty
- It's super versatile - you can use this to dip fresh spring rolls or fried spring rolls, wontons, vermicelli bowls, and more!
- Doubles as a marinade - add in chopped lemongrass and use this to marinate pork, chicken, beef, or seafood!
- Use it as a dressing - add this fish sauce vinaigrette to any Asian style salads
Ingredients you'll need
- Fish sauce - I recommend using this brand of fish sauce. It's not overly salty and has great flavor.
- Chilis - use any kind of red chilis. Thai chilis are great if you want it extra spicy.
- Vinegar - use a bright vinegar such as rice wine vinegar.
- Lime - fresh squeezed juice is best.
- Chili garlic sauce - (optional) if you want the sauce extra spicy.
- Carrots - Add this in right before serving so the carrots stay crunchy.
- Set aside the carrots. Add the remaining ingredients together in a small bowl and stir together until the sugar dissolves completely.
- Add the carrots right before serving. You can also chili garlic sauce if you want it spicier.
Frequently asked questions
In Vietnamese, Nước chấm means "sauce" which can refer to any kind of sauce in general. Whereas, Nước mắm means "fish sauce"which is the main ingredient in this dipping sauce.
If you plan to make this ahead, I would leave out the carrots as they can wilt. Then store it in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. The saltiness of the sauce helps it stay fresh for longer.
Serve this with the following dish:
- fresh spring rolls or summer rolls or fried egg rolls
- vermicelli noodle bowls
- dressing for Asian salads
- dip for vegetable or meat skewers
- 3 Classic Spring Roll Dipping Sauces
- Remoulade Crab Cake Sauce
- Sweet and Tangy Sticky Soy Glaze
- Spicy Asian Chimichurri Sauce
Classic Vietnamese Dipping Sauce (Nước chấm)
- ¼ cup fish sauce - - see Note 1; vegetarian option in Note 2
- ¼ cup sugar
- ⅓ cup water
- 2 Tablespoons lime juice - - freshly squeezed (about half a lime)
- 2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar - - see Note 3
- 1 clove garlic - - finely diced
- 1 small Thai chili pepper - - finely diced
- 1 Tablespoon shredded carrot
- 1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce - - (optional)
- Set the carrots aside. Add the remaining ingredients in a bowl and mix it together until the sugar completely dissolves. Add the shredded carrots right before serving. Makes about 1 cup of sauce.
✎ Recipe Notes
- Fish sauce brands: Different brands of fish sauce vary by saltiness and intensity. You may need to adjust the amounts slightly to according to your taste. If you find it too salty, add more water and sugar. For a tangier sauce add more lime juice or vinegar.
- For a vegan/vegetarian option: replace the fish sauce with light soy sauce. Dark soy sauce overwhelms the sauce and makes it too dark.
- You can skip the vinegar and replace the amount with lime juice but I prefer adding a bit of vinegar because it gives the sauce a bright flavor that the lime juice lacks. The lime juice adds a nice citrus flavor but isn't as tangy as vinegar.
- Storing leftovers: Place leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one week.
- Make ahead: If you plan on making this ahead, leave out the shredded carrots and store the sauce in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. Add the shredded carrots right before serving.
- Serve with these fresh vegetarian summer rolls.
- This recipe is featured in 3 Classic Spring Roll Dipping Sauces.
*Nutritional information is an estimate, calculated using online tools.
I loved the flavor and that it tasted even better than my local restaurant! I served the sauce with some lettuce wraps and they were really delicious. Thank you!
Such a nice dipping sauce! I used it as a buddha bowl vinaigrette using the vegetarian option recommendation on note 2 and it was delicious! Thanks for sharing!
Thank you Tavo! I'm glad you enjoyed the vegetarian option! 🙂
Love this dipping sauce. Made it with some vegan fish sauce that I bought for another dish, but was struggling with what to use the rest for, and my kids loved dipping their spring rolls into the dip. So tasty 🙂
Glad to hear that Jac! Thanks for trying out the vegan option!
We enjoyed this delicious dipping sauce with lettuce wraps for lunch. I'm adding this gem to my recipe arsenal!
Thanks Denay! So glad to hear that! 🙂
I have always wondered what that amazing sauce was that would come with spring rolls... now im going to have to make some spring rolls.
I just wanted to say thank you so much for providing a vegetarian option!
I used your light soy recommendation and we absolutely loved the sauce. I have only recently become a vegetarian, and I am always so grateful when recipes offer alternatives.
Thanks Leonie! So glad you enjoyed the vegan nuoc cham. It's a great vegetarian option that goes with any Vietnamese dish!
This recipe and your hoisin dipping sauce are my two favourites! I find that they can make any meal more delicious and my hubby agrees!
I am looking forward to trying more of your recipes soon - I definitely think your fried chicken will happen this week - I will let you know when I give it a try!
Aww thank you so much Fleur! I'm so happy you've been enjoying my recipes! 🙂
I whisked this up to go along with some spring rolls we were having, and it was super delicious! The fish sauce gave it such a wonderful depth, and it's truly as easy as it gets. This will definitely be our go-to sauce.
Delicious, and full of vibrant flavour! I made some rice paper rolls and served this delicious sauce to go with them. It was a hit, and my friends all asked me to send them the recipe! I will make it again for sure.
Thanks Annie! So glad you and your friends enjoyed it!
The flavors in this sauce are just perfect! We love it with rice paper rolls and over noodles in salad. Just like our favorite Vietnamese restaurant!
Glad to hear Courtney! Thanks for trying it out!
This sauce looks amazing, and perfect for dipping spring rolls or even shrimp!
I made a chicken salad and used this sauce as a marinade - definitely add the lemongrass as Jamie recommends. The flavor is incredible! I am so excited to eat my leftovers for lunch at work tomorrow!
Thanks Lucy! So glad you loved the flavors in this sauce! 🙂
This the best dipping sauce! We loved it, and it was so easy to make. Thank you so much for this fantastic recipe!