Best Soy Sauce Substitutes for 2023
Soy sauce is a staple in Asian cuisine. The Japanese call this shoyu sauce. It is used as an ingredient, condiment, and flavoring agent for many dishes. But soy sauce can be expensive if you do not have access to it at home or work. Luckily, some best soy sauce substitutes will give your favorite recipes the same rich flavor without breaking the bank.
But first, let us get to know more about soy sauce to know which alternative is closer to its components.
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Things You Should Know About Soy Sauce
The main ingredients of traditional soy sauce are wheat flour, salt, water, sugar, yeast extract, caramel color, natural flavors, sodium benzoate, potassium sorbate, calcium propionate, citric acid, magnesium chloride, phosphoric acid, and other additives. The most important one among them is wheat flour because it gives soy sauce its characteristic taste. Other than these, all the ingredients help make soy sauce look appealing on the shelf.
There are two types of soy sauces: light and dark. The difference between them lies in how they were made. Light soy sauce was traditionally produced by fermenting cooked soya beans with rice bran, salt, wheat flour, and water. In comparison, dark soy sauce has been fermented longer than light soy sauce. This results in a darker color and a stronger taste.
But if you are going to pick the most popular one, rot the darker soy sauce. It has a distinguished taste that makes every food better.
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What are the Things to Consider When Buying Soy Sauce Substitute
So what should you look out for when buying soy sauce? Here’s what we recommend.
1. Look For A Balanced Flavor
The main ingredients of soy sauce include roasted sesame oil, sugar, malt vinegar, yeast extract, koji, and salt. These all contribute to making the final product flavorful. Check their labels carefully if you want to make sure that your soy sauce substitutes contain these elements.
2. Check Their Sodium Content
If you don’t like salty foods, then avoid using high-sodium soy sauce. There are also low sodium versions available on the market. However, this does not mean that they lack any flavors. In fact, they still provide a good amount of umami.
3. Choose One That Is Gluten Free
Gluten-free soy sauce contains gluten-free tamari instead of regular soy sauce. Tamari is similar to soy sauce but lacks a strong tangy flavor. Therefore, it works well as a replacement for soy sauce.
4. Consider Your Health Concerns
Some people may find themselves allergic to some ingredients found in soy sauce. They might experience symptoms such as hives, itching, swelling, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and breathing difficulties. To prevent yourself from getting sick, choose a soy sauce substitute that does not contain any common allergen.
5. Go Organic When Possible
Organic soy sauce is free from pesticides and other chemicals. As a result, it tastes much fresher compared to non-organic ones. Plus, organic products tend to cost less too.
6. Pick Up Some Flavors From Other Ingredients
You can add different spices into your soy sauce substitutes to create new flavors. Just remember to keep things simple because adding too many ingredients could affect the overall balance of the dish.
Top 10 Best Soy Sauce Substitutes
Here is our list of the top 10 best soy sauce alternative:
Tamari is an excellent choice for anyone who wants to enjoy Japanese cuisine without worrying about allergies or intolerances. Its milder flavor allows you to use it interchangeably with regular soy sauce. This is the closest alternative you can get since it is mostly made of 100% soybeans. This is best used in stir-fried dishes, as well as soups and casseroles.
2. Light Soy Sauce
Some would prefer light soy sauce over dark soy sauce due to its lighter color. You will be able to see through it more easily, which means you won’t have to strain your eyes while cooking. Also, it doesn’t take up space in your refrigerator, unlike dark soy sauce. Use it mainly in Asian dishes where you need something that brings out the umami flavor in the dish. And it is best to mix a little dark molasses to sweeten up the flavor.
3. Coconut Aminos
Coconut aminos are another great option if you are looking for a natural soy sauce substitute. It has no preservatives, so you know exactly what goes into each bottle. The only downside is that it tends to be quite expensive. But when you consider how healthy coconut aminos are, it makes sense why it costs so much. Besides being packed full of nutrients, coconut aminos taste very close to real soy sauce. So feel free to swap them around whenever you want.
4. Liquid Aminos
Liquid aminos are made from liquid protein concentrate. Soybeans are also present, but it does not go through a fermentation process like in soy sauce. If you want something healthy, liquid aminos would be a great substitute since it is gluten-free. Taste-wise, it comes in a sweeter and lighter taste, which can be mixed in your favorite recipe.
5. Balsamic Vinegar
Balsamic vinegar is one of the oldest forms of alcohol known to man. In fact, balsamic vinegar dates back to at least 1,000 BC. While this type of vinegar is not commonly used anymore aside from salad dressing, some still believe it adds a unique tangy flavor to their food. Since it contains high amounts of sodium, make sure to dilute it before using it on meat. For example, drizzle 2 teaspoons per cup of water. You do not have to worry about having a sour taste since balsamic vinegar is palatable in nature.
6. Hoisin Sauce
Hoisin sauce is similar to ketchup, except it uses Chinese chilies instead of tomatoes. Like other types of chili sauces, hoisin sauce is usually thickened by cornstarch. However, there are several brands available today that contain less than 5 grams of carbs per tablespoon. That said, they all work just fine in any recipes calling for hoisin sauce. They even come in low-carb versions! This condiment is used as an alternative to store-bought soy sauce because of its sweet and salty flavor profile, which is commonly needed in stir-fried food. The only downside of hoisin sauce as an alternative is the high amount of garlic and chili pepper, which can be unnecessary for some dishes.
7. Fish Sauce
Fish sauce is often considered a staple ingredient in Southeast Asian food. It is typically added to soups or stews to give off a savory flavor. Depending on the region, some people use fish sauce as a seasoning for rice, noodles, vegetables, meats, etc. It may not contain soybean, but the fermented fish can produce a tasty umami flavor like the soy sauce. And you do not have to worry about the “fishy” flavor because it does not give any amount. However, fish sauce is very high in sodium content, so use this in moderation.
8. Worcestershire Sauce
Worcestershire sauce is a popular choice among those who prefer more traditional flavors. Made with anchovies, molasses, spices, and salt, this sauce is perfect for adding depth to beef stew, baked potatoes, pasta, salad dressings, dipping sauce, and many others. Although it is best served cold, you can still get the same level of sweetness and tanginess. Also, this is a good choice for those wanting to have low sodium content.
9. Maggi Seasoning
Maggi seasoning is another common option when looking for a healthier version of soy sauce. Unlike most soy sauces, Maggi has no wheat flour or sugar added to it. Instead, it relies heavily on natural ingredients, including onion powder, paprika, turmeric, cayenne pepper, black pepper, celery seed, etc. These ingredients help create a rich and flavorful dish without compromising your health. If you want to add an extra kick to your meals, try mixing one tablespoon into each serving.
10. Miso Paste
Miso Paste comprises various kinds of seaweed, grains, beans, mushrooms, and herbs. There are two main varieties: red miso paste and white miso paste. Red miso paste tends to be sweeter, while white miso paste is slightly stronger in flavor. Both are great options if you are trying to cut down on carbohydrates. Use them sparingly, though; too much will overpower the rest of the recipe.
What can I use as an alternative to soy sauce in a stir fry?
Soy Sauce substitute recipe: Soy sauce is traditionally used in stir-fried dishes. However, you can substitute it with alternatives written above, such as Tamari and Hoisin sauce.
What is the healthiest alternative to soy sauce?
The healthiest on the list would be the liquid aminos. It is a gluten-free sauce with soybean as part of its major ingredient. The Worcestershire could also be the healthiest option for those taking a low-sodium diet.
What can I substitute for soy sauce in teriyaki sauce?
In making teriyaki sauce without soy sauce, you can use Worcestershire sauce. To do this, replace half a cup of soy sauce with 4 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce and 1 tablespoon water.
Homemade Soy Sauce can be made but I feel that buying an organic traditional soy sauce or a low sodium soy sauce is easier and cheaper.
Other sauce to consider is
- thin soy sauce
- oyster sauce
- apple cider vinegar
- coconut amino
- beef bouillon
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