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Gluten Free Kecap Manis

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Homemade gluten free kecap manis, also spelled ketcap or kejap, is a common ingredient in Indonesian cuisine. It is a sweet, thick soy sauce that can be bought in Asian grocery stores but I have not yet found a gluten free version. The solution…make it.

I know…some days it feels like I have to make every ingredient to get a gluten free version. Of course that isn’t true…but some days I just want to believe that.

Indonesian cuisine traditionally uses two types of soy sauce, kecap manis and kecap asin. The second is a thinner, saltier light soy sauce. I just use my regular gluten free soy sauce rather than kecap asin. But I do love this thick, sweet kecap manis and so I make it from scratch and keep it in my pantry.

Cooking with Gluten Free Kecap Manis

People debate what country invented satay but Indonesia is top of the list. I think they are the masters of satay and peanut sauce. I have at least six recipes for peanut sauce but this one made with gluten free kecap manis is the most authentic to me and brings me right back to eating satay from a street vendor in Bali. You can read more about that in my post on chicken satay.

Kecap manis is often used as a condiment or dipping sauce by itself or as an ingredient in a sauce. It is also used in the peanut dressing that is served with their famous composed salad called Gado Gado. In my mind this is just a healthy way to eat more peanut sauce and I see nothing wrong with that.

I also posted a four-ingredient rib recipe for summer barbecuing called Sweet Chili Root Beer Baby Back Ribs. This is a North American interpretation with an Indonesian touch but it is a delicious recipe using my kecap manis.

Specialty Ingredients for Gluten Free Kecap Manis

Kecap manis is made with soy sauce, sugar, star anise, garlic and lemon.

  • If you still don’t have a favourite gluten free soy sauce have a tasting and pick one…or two because you can’t always find the one you thought was your favourite.
  • I use my readily available white or brown sugar but if you have palm sugar you can use that.
  • Star anise is an eight-pointed star-shaped spice with a licorice flavour. Omit it if you can’t find it but at some point I suggest you try it. I try to remind myself to just do it! Go the extra mile and find the right ingredient. (Yes, I’ll use five year old star anise from the back of my pantry and I’d be happy to share it with anyone who wants some.)

Kecap manis will keep indefinitely in a cool, dark place providing you always use a clean utensil when dipping into the jar. I generally make it once a year and store it in a jar with a lid. The pouring jar you see in the photo is new idea for me.

I’d love to hear if you made this kecap manis and what recipe you used it in. Let me know in the comments below.



¾ cup sugar (white, brown or palm)
1 cup GF soy sauce
2 Tbsp water
1 Tbsp grated lemon peel
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 star anise


Put sugar in a medium saucepot on low heat. After several minutes the sugar will begin to melt and turn brown around the edge of the pan. Gently stir it allowing the sugar to continue to caramelize stirring occasionally. This will take several more minutes.
Add the remaining ingredients, stirring continually.
Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
Allow to cool slightly then strain into a glass jar.
Label and store at room temperature.


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