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Looking for a stellar soy sauce substitute? Whether you’re avoiding yet another grocery store run (yeah, we see you) or looking for an alternative that’s gluten-free or low sodium, you have some options.
There are dozens of soy sauces on the market, but they pretty much all consist of these 5 ingredients:
But while it is delicious, soy sauce poses a problem for folks with soy or wheat sensitivities.
Folks watching their sodium intake might also want to steer clear of this pantry staple — 1 tablespoon of regular soy sauce has almost 40 percent of the recommended Daily Value (DV) for sodium. Lower sodium versions are available but still have about 22 percent of the DV per tablespoon.
Tamari, also called shoyu, is a fermented Japanese soy product. The difference between this and soy sauce is simple: Tamari is made without wheat. That’s a #win for the gluten-free crowd.
Tamari is probably the most straightforward soy sauce swap. It contains comparable ingredients that are processed similarly. That means it’s *still* pretty dang salty, though. The lack of wheat translates to heftier umami flavor too.
How to sub: Swap tamari for soy sauce at a 1:1 ratio.
2. Coconut aminos
This condiment is a major player in the soy sauce substitute arena. And it’s a great option for folks with multiple food sensitivities.
Coconut aminos is:
- lower in sodium than soy sauce
How to sub: Swap coconut aminos for soy sauce at a 1:1 ratio.
3. Fish sauce
Fish sauce makes a strong soy sauce alternative for folks who enjoy fishy flavor and don’t mind a hefty dose of sodium. But not all fish sauces are gluten-free, so check your nutrition labels. You’ll also want to skip this one if you’re vegetarian or vegan — the name says it all.
How to sub: Swap fish sauce for soy sauce at a 1:1 ratio.
4. Worcestershire sauce
Worcestershire sauce is made from a fermented blend of ingredients like sugar, anchovies, salt, spices, and vinegar. Originating from England, it has a different flavor profile that’s a little less umami and a little more tang. If that’s your jam, Worcestershire sauce might become your new fave broth and marinade ingredient.
Because Worcestershire has more sugar than some other options, it may not be the best choice for those who are counting carbs.
Also, with anchovies in the mix, it’s not usually vegan-friendly — but some vegan versions are available.
How to sub: If you’re OK with tartness, swap Worcestershire sauce for soy sauce at a 1:1 ratio. If you prefer less tang, use a little less Worcestershire and add a sprinkle of salt for good measure.
5. Liquid aminos
Because it’s made will soybeans, it offers a pretty comparable swap in recipes, but it has a slightly milder, sweeter taste than soy sauce. It also contains more sodium.
How to sub: Swap liquid aminos for soy sauce at a 1:1 ratio.
You’ll notice that miso’s flavor is milder than those of most soy sauces. But the more significant difference between these two products is texture.
TBH, replacing a liquid with a paste isn’t always easy. Your success will depend on the recipe. Still, miso can be a solid soy sauce substitute that also adds some protein to recipes.
How to sub: Swap miso with soy sauce at a 1:2 ratio (more miso to match the flavor) *or* thin the miso paste with liquid aminos and use the liquid as a 1:1 swap.
7. Oyster sauce
This dark, syrupy sauce adds a similarly complex flavor to Asian and Southeast Asian dishes with less sodium than soy sauce. But the flavor is a bit more sweet and salty than umami (and, unlike with fish sauce, you don’t have to worry about a strong fish flavor).
Just check your labels if you’re trying to swap oyster sauce for soy sauce because of a food sensitivity. Some oyster sauces contain soy and gluten.
And, as with the other seafood-based sauces, you’ll want to go with a different option if you’re vegetarian or vegan.
How to sub: You can swap oyster sauce with soy sauce at a 1:1 ratio, but don’t expect an exact flavor match.
Wanna whip up your very own soy sauce swap? We trawled the supermarket for ingredients with umami oomph, compared a slew of soy sauce substitution concoctions, and created a soy sauce alternative of our own.
Here’s what you need to create about 1 cup of faux soy sauce.
- 1 cup beef broth or vegetable broth (low sodium if you prefer)
- 2–3 dried shiitake mushrooms
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon dark molasses
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Pinch of ground black pepper
- Bring broth to a boil in a saucepan on the stovetop.
- Dump mushrooms into boiling broth, cover tightly, then remove from heat.
- Allow mushrooms to soak for 20 minutes, then remove them with a slotted spoon and set them aside to use in another recipe.
- Add all remaining ingredients to the mushroom-infused broth and place back on the heat.
- Simmer mixture for 10 minutes.
- Remove from heat, let cool, and then store in an airtight container.
Soy sauce is a common ingredient in Asian and Southeast Asian dishes. It infuses food with a complex salty, umami flavor created by fermenting soybeans and wheat.
Folks with dietary restrictions can use alternative liquids like tamari, fish sauce, and more. But it’s essential to consider sodium content, flavor profile, and liquid consistency to find the best swap for your recipe.