Coconut aminos is a dark-colored sauce that can be a great substitute in the kitchen for popular condiments, including soy sauce.
This can be a game-changer for individuals with certain food allergies (like a soy allergy) or a gluten intolerance. Plus, adding any sauce to your food is a surefire way to give it flavor, and visual appeal.
What can you substitute for coconut aminos?
Coconut aminos make a great alternative for other sauces that provide a salty and savory (also called umami) flavor. This includes:
- soy sauce
- liquid aminos
- miso paste
- fish sauce
We know what you’re thinking, and no, coconut aminos doesn’t actually come from coconuts. The sauce is actually made from coconut plant sap that is fermented to give it a savory, sweet flavor. This makes it an ideal addition to marinades, salad dressings, or dipping sauces.
One of the most comparable sauces to coconut aminos is soy sauce. While neither of these sauces are nutrient-dense, coconut aminos do have a leg up for being soy-, wheat-, and gluten-free. It’s also a little less salty compared to soy sauce, containing only 66 milligrams (ml) of sodium per 5 milliliters versus soy sauce’s 306 ml for the same serving.
Ready to get cooking? Try coconut aminos in place of some of these commonly used sauces.
The most consumed seasoning in East and Southeast Asian cuisine, soy sauce provides a salty and umami flavor to dishes. It’s made with 5 ingredients that are fermented, including:
Soy sauce is very comparable in consistency and color to coconut aminos, making it a simple 1:1 ratio swap for any recipe.
When it comes to taste, you may notice a slight difference. Coconut aminos give a mild, sweet flavor while traditional soy sauce can be more salty and rich. As we mentioned previously, soy sauce contains large amounts of salt compared to coconut aminos (even low-sodium soy sauce contains 162 mg of sodium per teaspoon).
In this scenario, coconut aminos is a great option for individuals who have allergies to the ingredients found in soy sauce including wheat, gluten, and soy.
Tamari, also referred to as shoyu, is a popular Japanese-style soy sauce. It contains similar ingredients to soy sauce, but tamari contains little to no wheat and uses a special fungus and brine for fermentation. The lack of wheat and higher soybean content gives tamari a stronger umami flavor (but less salty) compared to soy sauces.
The consistency of tamari is similar to that of coconut aminos, making it easy to swap on a 1:1 ratio. On the other hand, tamari is darker and is more savory than coconut aminos, possibly making your food taste and look different.
Psst… It’s also important to note that tamari can still have some traces of wheat, therefore choosing coconut aminos instead is ideal for those with wheat and soy allergies.
While coconut aminos come from coconut sap, liquid aminos come from soybeans. Instead of being fermented, liquid aminos is made by adding hydrochloric acid to the soybeans to make free amino acids. In order to neutralize any remaining acid, sodium bicarbonate is added which then creates sodium chloride (aka salt). This results in a dark, salty sauce that is very similar to soy sauce.
Coconut aminos is much lower in sodium compared to its liquid amino counterpart. For a 5 ml serving, liquid aminos can contain up to 310 mg of sodium, which is just as much as regular soy sauce.
Since coconut aminos have much less salt, using it in place of liquid aminos may alter the flavor of your food and make it less salty but sweeter. Liquid aminos also still contain soy, similar to soy sauce and tamari, making coconut aminos the perfect substitute for those with soy allergies.
When you combine soy sauce, sake (a Japanese alcoholic beverage created from fermented rice) or mirin (rice wine), sugar, and ginger, you wind up with a sweet and salty sauce called teriyaki.
While coconut aminos provide a similar sweet flavor that teriyaki brings to a recipe, the consistency won’t be the same. With the addition of sugar (commonly brown sugar), teriyaki can be a bit more thick and sticky while coconut aminos is thin, similar to straight soy sauce. Adding cornstarch to coconut aminos and making a slurry is an option to make it thicker if it’s being used to cook with.
Again, since teriyaki contains soy sauce, it’s not an ideal option for those with food allergies. One option is to make your own teriyaki sauce and use coconut aminos in place of soy sauce.
We’re venturing away from Asian-inspired sauces and including a sauce that was created in England. Worcestershire is made from a variety of ingredients to give it an umami flavor, including:
These ingredients are fermented to create the end result, a thin, dark, and salty sauce that’s often used to complement steaks, create Caesar salad dressing, and spice up Bloody Mary cocktails. Unlike the former sauces, Worcestershire sauce and coconut aminos have similar sodium levels, with Worcestershire containing 45 mg per 5 ml.
While consistency and saltiness may be comparable between coconut aminos and Worcestershire, the spices found in Worcestershire set it apart from coconut aminos. In order to have a relatively similar flavor when cooking with coconut aminos in place of Worcestershire, be sure to add spices such as garlic, anchovies, chili pepper, and clove.
Miso is another soybean-based sauce. It’s made by fermenting soybeans with koji mold and then mixing it into a paste. According to a 2021 article, koji mold is commonly created with rice, but other grains such as barley or even soybeans can be used.
There are a variety of miso options, but some of the most common ones include:
- White miso: mellow, sweet
- Red miso: pungent, fermented for a longer period of time
- Yellow miso: a combination of white and red
When it comes to the three varieties of miso paste, coconut aminos would only be a good alternative for the white miso since they share mild and sweet flavors. The stand-out difference between coconut aminos and miso is that one is a liquid and the other is a paste. Miso can be combined with water to give it a similar consistency as coconut aminos, but it may wind up a bit diluted.
No secrets here, fish sauce is made from fish. Following the same pattern of many of these other sauces, it’s made from fermenting fish (typically anchovies) which leaves a briny liquid. Since the fish is fermented by being crusted with sea salt, it contains a whopping 1260 mg of sodium per tablespoon.
While both coconut aminos and fish sauce are a thin, liquid consistency, the downfall of using coconut aminos in place of fish sauce is that coconut aminos don’t provide that “fishy” flavor. You’ll likely notice the difference.
Coconut aminos can be found at many major grocery stores these days, but if you don’t feel like hunting for coconut aminos, you can easily DIY it. Try this recipe from The Real Simple Good Life. Just note this isn’t plant-based friendly.
- 1 cup beef broth
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 teaspoon tomato paste
- 2/3 teaspoon onion powder
- 2/8 teaspoon salt
How to make it:
Combine all the ingredients, except the sea salt, in a saucepan and whisk it up. Put the pan over high heat until the ingredients start to boil, then turn the heat to low and let simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let it cool down. From there, season with salt and place into an airtight container.
Needing a little inspo for recipes that contain coconut aminos? We’ve got you covered:
- 12 Asian Recipes That Have No Soy: Whether you’re in the mood for chicken, salmon, or noodles, coconut aminos make a great swap out for soy in many of these savory sauces.
- 29 Asian Noodle Recipes: We’re a sucker for noods (the pasta kind 😉). Using coconut aminos in place of miso, soy, or any of the other sauces we mentioned lets you put your own spin on these recipes.
- 7 Easy Chinese Food Recipes: When you need to whip up something quick and easy, try out these recipes. Coconut aminos is great for dunking dumplings or coating shrimp fried rice.
Coconut aminos may be a little more costly, and hard to find in stores compared to commonly used sauces. But there are a few key reasons to make the swap:
- Less sodium than many of its counterparts. Currently, about 90 percent of Americans over the age of 2 are consuming more sodium than is recommended (which is 2,300 mg per day). According to the CDC, the average intake of sodium is over 3,400 mg each day. Keeping sodium intake lower may help prevent high blood pressure and the risk of developing heart disease and stroke.
- Less allergens. Coconut aminos is also soy-, wheat-, and gluten-free, which makes it an ideal replacement for individuals with any of those allergies.
- Fits numerous lifestyles. Coconut aminos can be used in paleo, plant-based, vegan, and Whole30 diets.