Add serious Southeast Asian flair to any salad or Buddha bowl with nuoc cham, the easy, no-cook sauce of Vietnam found in every meal!

nuoc cham dressing title card

Properly speaking, you only need 4 ingredients to kickstart a nuoc cham! Just make sure you have some fish sauce in the pantry. A little fish sauce goes a long way, but you’ll always find a use for it, in both cooked, uncooked, vegetarian, and meat dishes!

Essentially, it replaces soy sauce in this recipe, lending a more complex, fishy, sweet, and slightly sour taste that can’t be replaced! You’ll find it all throughout Vietnamese, Laotian, and Thai cuisines.

fish sauce for Vietnamese buddha bowl
Try one of my favorites, Three Crabs Fish Sauce!

Here are the essential ingredients for Nuoc Cham:

Nuoc cham -vietnamese dressing diagram

Really, that’s it!

With just 4 ingredients, you’re off to the races, but if you wanna stop and bring in some spicy intrigue, definitely try the classic additions of minced Thai chiles (or any fresh hot chiles you have), and a few tablespoons of shredded carrots and daikon radish.

Rice bowls, salads, and grilled meats everywhere will be thanking you.

With the extra veggies, you’ll end up with something a little like this!

Nuoc cham with spice

Additionally, feel free to substitute most of the lime juice with rice vinegar, if desired. I like Mizkan brand unseasoned rice vinegar.

However spicy or vinegary you decide to make it, this staple Vietnamese dressing is ready to enjoy.

Because garlic, lime, and chiles are fresh ingredients, you’ll want to use this within 2-4 days. There’s gonna be so much dipping action going on, you’ll probably be whipping up a new batch in no time anyway.

Yummy recipes that could benefit from a little nuoc cham love!

Rice Noodle Buddha Bowl

Vietnamese Spring Rolls

Ping Gai Chicken – Laotian “Grilled Chicken Chicken”

Vietnamese Spring Rolls with Slow Cooker Pork

Green Papaya Salad (Som Tam)

vietnamese Nuoc Cham dressing title card

Vietnamese Dressing (Nuoc Cham)

Makes 1 cup. Use as a dipping sauce or grilled meats and raw vegetables or as a dressing for salads/Buddha Bowls.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 5 minutes
Course dressing
Cuisine Vietnamese
Servings 8
Calories 18 kcal


  • 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lime juice about 3 limes
  • 3 ½ tablespoons Vietnamese fish sauce, or more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons sugar, brown or white
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Thai chile, minced (optional)
  • ½ cup warm water


  • Mix lime juice, sugar, garlic, chile, and water until sugar is dissolved. Taste and add more fish sauce as desired.


Substitute most of the lime juice with unseasoned rice vinegar, if desired.
Use within 2-4 days.


Calories: 18kcalCarbohydrates: 4gProtein: 1gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 619mgPotassium: 32mgSugar: 3gVitamin C: 3mgCalcium: 5mgIron: 1mg
Keyword buddha bowl
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