Do you ever make a stir-fry on Monday night and just when you want to finish it with the salty soy sauce but realized you’re out of soy sauce at home?
Well, you’ve come to the right place.
How to replace soy sauce: here are 10 delicious options
Soy sauce is one of our pantry heroes. It’s salty, spicy and tangy in every sense of the word, not to mention versatile.
But if you’re allergic to soy or wheat, the condiment is off limits. Or maybe you watch your sodium intake and just try to avoid it. Is there a valid substitute for soy sauce? Yes, in fact, there are 10.
But first, what is soy sauce?
Originating in China, the salty brown liquid known as shoyu is actually made from a fermented paste of soybeans, toasted beans, brine (aka salt water) and a mold called kōji. Traditional soy sauce requires months of preparation.
First, the soybeans are soaked and cooked, then the beans are roasted and crushed. Then the mixture is inoculated with kōji, mixed with brine and left to ferment. The liquid is pressed from the solids, pasteurized and bottled, and voila, it ends up on your table.
Depending on the country and region of origin, soy sauce can taste different from bottle to bottle and there are endless varieties and flavors.
How to use soy sauce
Soy sauce serves a dual purpose: it acts as a condiment and adds layers of umami flavor. You can use it in any recipe that could benefit from a savory kick, from simple fried eggs and steamed rice to stir-fried vegetables, soups, marinades, salad dressings and sauces. Here are some of our favorite soy sauce applications:
- Roasted pumpkin and tofu with soy, honey, chili and ginger
- Sweet and sour pork skewers with pineapple
- Carrot and ginger vinaigrette
- Seasoned steamed eggplant
- Shallot fritters
If you’re avoiding soy sauce for dietary reasons (or just ran out), don’t worry. You can substitute other similar ingredients. The following ten soy sauce substitutes can be successfully swapped out, but keep in mind that they are not exactly the same and may change the flavor of the final dish. We always recommend starting slowly and tasting as you go (instead of substituting in a 1:1 ratio) for the best results.
Best Soy Sauce Substitutes
If you don’t have a soy allergy or watch your sodium intake, tamari is the closest flavor to soy sauce. In fact, it is also made from soybeans and prepared in the same way, but it does not contain wheat and is therefore gluten-free. This sauce can replace soy in a 1:1 ratio as it is also salty.
Another fermented sauce, this British condiment usually contains a mixture of malt vinegar, anchovies, spices, sugar, salt, garlic, onions, tamarind extract and molasses. It has the same umami quality as soy sauce, but with much less sodium and no soy or gluten.
Coconut Amino Acids (coconut aminos)
A sauce made from fermented coconut sap, coconut aminos has an umami flavor profile similar to soy sauce. It is slightly sweeter, but it is also low in sodium (about 90 milligrams per teaspoon, compared to 290 milligrams for soy sauce) and gluten-free.
Liquid amino acids
Liquid amino acids are a liquid protein concentrate made from soybeans, but not fermented. Like coconut amino acids, it is gluten-free, but contains soy and has a similar sodium content. It tastes very similar to soy sauce, although milder and sweeter.
If you need a low-sodium, gluten-free, soy sauce substitute, dried mushrooms may do the trick if you need it. Rehydrate the mushrooms in water, then use this soaking liquid in place of the soy sauce. It’s not the closest substitute to the group, but it has an umami effect. You can find dried shiitakes at most grocery stores.
This tasty condiment is made from fish or