If, for some reason, you need a soy sauce substitute, you’ve come to the right place. There are numerous replacements for this condiment that you can use. We’ve curated a list below.
Soy sauce is a popular flavor enhancer in Asian cuisine. It offers rich umami notes to numerous dishes. However, not everyone can have it due to diet restrictions and allergies.
Soy sauce is a widely used condiment with a complex flavor profile, often described as “umami.”
It is a dark, savory liquid that undergoes a meticulous fermentation process.
The making of this sauce involves soybeans, wheat, salt, and the mold Aspergillus oryzae.
Soybeans form the foundation of soy sauce as it provides the base flavor. Wheat, on the other hand, contributes a delicate sweetness and balances the overall taste.
Through fermentation, proteins and carbohydrates in the soybeans and wheat break down. As a result, amino acids and organic compounds develop and give the distinct character of soy sauce.
There are different types of soy sauce, including light (or thin) soy sauce and dark soy sauce.
Soy sauce acts as a flavor enhancer and brings depth and richness to various dishes. This characteristic is all thanks to its complex and umami-packed profile.
It balances sweet, salty, sour, and bitter flavors.
Additionally, it serves as a seasoning agent that intensifies the savory taste of dishes and makes them more satisfying.
Soy sauce is a valuable ingredient in vegetarian or vegan cooking. After all, it can compensate for the absence of meat-based umami flavors.
This condiment is also a common addition to marinades. It can tenderize proteins while imparting a delightful savoriness.
Soy sauce is also a popular base ingredient in sauces, providing depth and a robust flavor foundation.
The dark color of this ingredient adds an appealing deep brown hue to dishes and enhances their visual appeal.
Lastly, this condiment offers nutritional value. It contains essential amino acids, minerals, and antioxidants.
You can use plenty of swaps to replace soy sauce in your recipes. If you have dietary restrictions, allergies, or a mere shortage of soy sauce, the substitutes below will be handy.
Here are the best 11 substitutes for soy sauce.
Fish sauce is a great soy sauce substitute as it boasts a similar savory flavor and a strong umami taste.
Like soy sauce, it is also a mainstay in Southeast Asian cuisine. It will pair well with most dishes that call for soy sauce.
Its unique flavor imparts a delightful brightness and brininess. It tastes great in marinade, stir-fries, soups, and broths. Similarly, you can also use this as a standalone dipping sauce.
Do note that fermented fish is the main ingredient of this sauce. For this reason, it is not suitable for vegans and vegetarians.
Also, depending on the brand, fish sauce may contain gluten. So, if you have gluten sensitivity, check the label first to be sure.
Lastly, fish sauce is not as dark in color. If soy sauce is the main coloring ingredient of your recipe, expect a lighter color on your final dish when using fish sauce.
Use the same amount of fish sauce as the soy sauce your recipe calls for.
Another kitchen staple that you can use a swap for soy sauce is Worcestershire sauce. This British condiment is also fermented sauce and usually has anchovies, malt vinegar, sugar, and salt.
This sauce also contains tamarind extract, garlic, onions, and molasses. As a result, traditional versions of this condiment can offer a similar umami quality without too much sodium, soy, or gluten.
Because it contains anchovies, individuals with shellfish or seafood allergies should take caution. Just the same, this swap is also not suitable for vegans.
With its tangy flavor profile, Worcestershire sauce can be an exciting addition to broths and marinades, especially for those who appreciate its unique taste.
A 1:1 ratio is ideal to substitute Worcestershire sauce for soy sauce. Due to its tartness, adding a pinch of salt may be necessary for a better flavor match. Vegan versions of the sauce are available if you’re on a vegan diet.
Another soy sauce alternative that ticks nearly all the boxes is coconut aminos. Made from fermented coconut sap, it does not contain soy and wheat. As a result, it is gluten-free and suitable for vegans.
Another plus for this swap is that it contains less sodium. People watching their sodium intake will find this a great option.
Aside from that, it does not lack the distinct umami notes you’ll get from soy sauce. The downside is that coconut aminos come with a hint of sweetness.
This flavor makes it slightly different from soy sauce but does not compromise the rich and complex flavors.
Convenience is also on the side of coconut aminos. You can readily find it in health food stores and well-stocked groceries. This condiment is also abundant in online marketplaces.
Use the same amount of coconut aminos as the soy sauce your recipe calls for.
Similar to soy sauce, miso paste is a product of fermentation. It typically uses soybeans, salt, and kōji, but other varieties include rice and barley.
Due to the similarity in the production process, this paste has a rich umami flavor. For this reason, it is one of the best soy sauce alternatives.
However, this paste has a milder flavor compared to most soy sauces. You may need to use more to achieve a similar taste intensity.
The biggest difference here, though, is that it is a paste. For this reason, adjustments are necessary to prevent it from changing the consistency of your dish.
Additionally, due to different variations around, miso paste is not always gluten-free. Always check the label first if you have sensitivity to gluten.
If the thick texture of miso paste will not affect your dish, use a 2:1 substitution ratio of miso paste to soy sauce. If you need to thin it out, use coconut aminos instead of water to give it a better flavor payoff.
With its dark and syrupy consistency, oyster sauce makes a fitting alternative. It won’t change the appearance or the texture of your dish. Plus, it has less sodium, making it perfect for people watching their sodium intake.
The oyster sauce does not taste fishy like fish sauce. However, you do have to consider that oyster sauce does not boast an intense umami taste.
This lack of a strong umami flavor might be a dealbreaker for some dishes. On the other hand, people who are looking for a milder umami taste will find it perfect.
It is also worth noting that because the main ingredient of this sauce is oysters, it is not a vegan option.
Use a 1:1 substitution ratio when replacing soy sauce with oyster sauce in recipes. As with any other alternative, it’s essential to check the labels, as certain brands of oyster sauce may contain soy and gluten.
If you want an alternative that tastes close, liquid aminos are your top choice. Liquid aminos share a similar color and texture to soy sauce, too. After all, people make it using soybeans as the main ingredient.
Understandably, people with soy allergies should stay away from this swap. The good thing is that liquid aminos do not contain wheat. As such, it is gluten-free.
Liquid aminos do not undergo fermentation, resulting in a milder and sweeter flavor than regular soy sauce. Still, it has the same level of sodium. That said, there are better choices for people wanting to reduce their sodium consumption.
To use liquid aminos as a substitute, opt for a 1:1 ratio.
Another option you have for a soy sauce replacement is hoisin sauce. This condiment is an aromatic thick sauce that uses soy sauce as one of its main ingredients.
With other ingredients in this sauce, like sugar and five spice powder, hoisin is not an exact flavor match.
Still, it makes a great option for people wanting to add a twist to their classic recipes. Also, the other elements in hoisin sauce make it flavorful without too much sodium.
The thick consistency of hoisin sauce also makes it great as a dipping sauce and a meat glaze. Its texture allows it to adhere well to ingredients, creating a rich and flavorful coating.
The intense flavor of hoisin sauce can easily overpower other tastes. To maintain a harmonious balance, use hoisin sauce sparingly. Start with a small amount first and add more if necessary.
Shittake mushrooms boast a pleasant umami flavor that can be a soy sauce alternative when you’re in a pinch. Do not worry; you won’t have to chop or blend the mushrooms to make the swap.
You simply have to rehydrate dried shiitake mushrooms and use that water to replace soy sauce in your dishes.
This liquid is soy-free, gluten-free, and low in sodium. It won’t have the same dark hue, though, so it won’t work if your recipe relies on soy sauce for its color.
Conveniently, you can find shiitake mushrooms in most grocery stores, typically in the mushroom section. This swap will be a quick replacement if you’re ever in a pinch.
Remember that the liquid’s flavor is less concentrated than traditional soy sauce. For this reason, it’s best for recipes that do not call for a lot of soy sauce.
Maggi seasoning sauce originates from Europe. It boasts a rich history spanning over a century. As a result, it has amassed a devoted following for its remarkable ability to enhance the flavor of countless dishes.
As soy sauce is also a flavor enhancer, Maggi seasoning can easily step in for it. It is not an exact flavor match but is equally savory and dark in hue. Using it won’t result in a significant change in your dish’s final look.
Wherever you are, the recipe for this seasoning will pair well with your cuisine. After all, this company thoughtfully tailors its mix to accommodate various regional cuisines.
While this seasoning sauce is renowned for its versatility, it’s important to note that certain variations may have soy and wheat. To ensure compatibility with specific dietary needs, it is essential always to check the ingredient list.
Kecap manis is a sweet and thick Indonesian soy sauce. People make it from water, soybeans, palm sugar, and spices.
Unsurprisingly, kecap manis is a lot sweeter. For this reason, it is among the best substitutes for soy sauce if you like sweet dishes.
Kecap manis works wonderfully as a glaze or marinade for grilled or roasted meats. It also imparts a delightful umami flavor to noodles and rice dishes.
The thick and syrupy consistency of kecap manis may affect the texture of your dish. Thin it out with water or use it in recipes with a lot of liquid to compensate. In recipes where the texture is insignificant, use a 1:1 ratio of kecap manis to soy sauce.
Tamari, also known as shoyu, is a fermented Japanese soy product. It is an excellent swap due to its similar taste and composition. Like soy sauce, tamari uses fermented soybeans, providing a comparable taste profile.
The key distinction is that tamari is gluten-free as it does not contain wheat. Still, it shares a similar saltiness. Without wheat, the umami flavor shines more in tamari than in soy sauce.
If your recipe needs an umami boost, tamari should be at the top of your list.
Whether stir-frying, marinating, or adding a finishing touch to your dishes, tamari will do a great job.
You can use this versatile sauce in a 1:1 ratio as a replacement.
Here are some key factors to consider when selecting the best substitute for soy sauce:
Soy sauce offers a distinct umami flavor with varying degrees of saltiness. Consider the flavor profile of the substitute and how well it complements your dish. Some alternatives may have a milder or stronger taste, so choose accordingly. For a similar umami taste, tamari and liquid aminos are excellent substitutes.
Consider any allergies or restrictions in the diet you or your guests may have. Soy sauce contains soy and wheat, which are known allergens. Tamari is a top gluten-free choice, while coconut aminos are a soy-free alternative.
Soy sauce is known for its high sodium content. If you’re monitoring your sodium intake, opt for substitutes with lower sodium levels. The liquid from rehydrating dried shiitake mushrooms is your best bet for a low-sodium substitute.
Coconut aminos are a great substitute for soy sauce without soy. This equally dark-colored condiment comes from the fermented sap of coconut trees. They offer a similar umami flavor profile while being free from soy.
Hoisin sauce is an excellent thick alternative to soy sauce. It has a syrupy texture but offers a similarly complex salty flavor to dishes. Hoisin is not an exact flavor match, as it has additional ingredients. Still, it is a worthy alternative if you want to enhance your recipes’ taste.
Tamari and soy sauce share similarities, but they are not the same. Both sauces have soybeans as their main ingredients and undergo fermentation. However, tamari doesn’t usually have wheat, catering to individuals with gluten sensitivities.
Finding a replacement for soy sauce is a must for individuals with dietary limitations or allergies. Luckily, numerous accessible options can give you a comparable flavor profile and elevate your culinary creations. Viable alternatives include fish sauce, Worcestershire sauce, coconut aminos, miso paste, oyster sauce, liquid aminos, and hoisin sauce.
When selecting the ideal soy sauce substitute, consider factors such as flavor profile, allergens, sodium content, and availability.