Soy sauce, through Asian in its origin, is now one of the most used condiments in the United States. It’s used in marinades, as dipping sauce and in cooking. In this article, we discuss what alternative to soy sauce you can use to season your food.
For one reason or another, you may want to find a substitute for soy sauce. It may be because of its high sodium level. A tablespoon of soy sauce contains 879 mg of sodium. That’s about 38% of the daily recommended limit of 2,300 mg.
Or, you may just want variety. That way you can switch up your food’s flavor when you feel like it.
Below we’ve compiled a list of alternatives to soy sauce. We’ve split them up into two groups, beginning with those that are healthier substitutes then followed by others that can be used in place of dark or light soy sauce for cooking or adding to your meals.
Healthier Substitutes for Soy Sauce
Tamari is the closest substitute to soy sauce you can buy.
They have a similar look and taste with one main difference – tamari is wheat free. While both soy sauce and tamari are made with soy, most soy sauce is made with wheat grain added to the fermentation process. This means tamari can be used safely by those with wheat intolerance and sensitivity.
Tamari is a slightly darker color than soy sauce, and doesn’t have such a harsh salty taste like soy sauce. Tamari can be bought in most grocery stores where regular soy sauce is found.
2. Coconut Aminos
If you’re looking for a gluten free substitute for soy sauce, then look into coconut aminos.
Coconut aminos are another popular substitute for soy sauce. Made from the sap of coconut trees, coconut aminos are gluten and soy free, and vegan.
This makes them appropriate for individuals who have diet restrictions or choose to follow specific types of diets.
Coconut aminos also contain 65% less sodium than soy sauce, making it a great alternative for those watching their sodium intake. It also contains 17 amino acids, which benefit overall health.
The taste is very similar to soy sauce however it has a slightly sweeter aftertaste.
3. Umeboshi Vinegar
Umeboshi vinegar can be substituted in recipes calling for soy sauce as well.
Umeboshi vinegar is made of ume plums that has a salty, tangy, and fruity taste. Because of its slightly fruity taste, add umeboshi vinegar to your dishes slowly until you get your desired flavor.
4. Balsamic Vinegar
You can also use balsamic vinegar and add sugar to taste in place of soy sauce. However, this one falls under the substitute for soy sauce category rather than an alternative as it offers a totally different flavor profile to soy sauce.
As with vinegar, the aroma and taste are very strong. So adding a bit at a time is best.
With this, you’ll get the same dark color as soy sauce and you can make this substitution quite easily.
Other Alternatives to Soy Sauce
1. Bragg Liquid Aminos
Marketed as a healthier alternative to soy sauce, liquid aminos from Bragg offers a somewhat similar taste to soy sauce.
It’s a bit thinner in texture and the taste isn’t as strong. So do be careful that you don’t use a ton of it for flavor because it does contain a good amount of sodium still.
Bragg liquid aminos are another amino product you can use as a substitute for soy sauce. Just like coconut aminos, Bragg liquid aminos also contain 16 amino acids.
The flavor of Bragg liquid aminos is similar to soy sauce because it’s also made with soy. Bragg’s however is GMO free, making it a great choice of sauce for people who wish to stay away from genetically modified foods.
2. Maggi Seasoning Sauce
Maggi seasoning sauce can be used in many dishes that call for soy sauce. It enhances the flavor of almost any dish. And a little of this sauce goes a long way making it very cost effective.
Maggi seasoning sauce contains soy and wheat just like regular soy sauce so if you have a sensitivity to either ingredient this sauce might not be for you.
3. Fish Sauce
Used heavily in Thai cooking, fish sauce is a popular seasoning used in Southeast Asian countries. It is another substitute you can use instead of soy sauce.
Fish sauce is made with fermented fish and salt, so it has the same salty flavor profile as soy sauce. However, fish sauce has a fishy taste like the name suggests.
Use fish sauce in place of soy sauce in a stir fry, but not for dipping since the fish taste might overpower the food being dipped.
4. Worcestershire Sauce Diluted with Water
With a small adjustment, Worcestershire sauce can be used as substitute for soy sauce as well.
By diluting 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce with 4 tablespoons of water you can make a quick alternative to soy sauce.
Often used as steak sauce or marinating meats, water dilutes both its taste and thickness making Worcestershire sauce come closer to soy sauce.
Since both Worcestershire sauce and soy sauce are salty and pungent in flavor, and have the same dark color, the Worcestershire sauce substitute works well.
5. Teriyaki Sauce
If you’re just looking for a change from soy sauce. Or want a bit of shift in flavor, try teriyaki sauce.
Teriyaki sauce is made with soy sauce mixed with mirin (Japanese rice wine), sake and sugar. This gives teriyaki sauce similar texture to soy sauce except with a tinge of sweetness thanks to the mirin and sugar.
This is one of the most popular Japanese sauces around and makes for a great alternative to soy sauce if you want to flavor your food differently.