Substitutes for Soy Sauce

11 Healthy Substitutes for Soy Sauce

The soy sauce is one of the most popular condiments, which has the ability to make any sandwich exceptional. Soy sauce is easy to use and requires little effort. However, it’s important to consider not just soy sauce, but other options as well. Here are 11 alternatives that will be an ideal substitute for soy sauce in sandwiches, stir fry or even for vegetable dipping sauces:

What is Soy Sauce?

Soy sauce is a sauce made by mixing soybeans with fermented grain, usually rice or wheat. The mixture is allowed to ferment and yield a liquid that has the flavor and color of soy sauce. The mixture is then strained and the liquid, which still contains much of its original solids, is then left to stand for several weeks until it ferments some more. It can also be added to hot water at this point (usually after removing any scum), or combined with whey from making cheese or yogurt. For the final stage, salt, sugar and additional flavors are added before bottling it into containers such as bottles or tins.

History of Soy Sauce

Soy sauce has been made for at least 2,000 years in China and is a fundamental ingredient in Chinese cuisine. It is traditionally used as a condiment in combination with many foods. Soy sauce was probably first made by blocking the fermentation of soybean curd by salt.

Into this mixture, microorganisms were introduced to start the fermentation process and generate the desired product – soy sauce. In modern times, this has been simplified to simply mixing soybeans, water and a starter culture into koji that is then left to ferment.

In other parts of the world too, soy sauce production developed from the making of miso soup where fermented bean products were added to taste to make it more palatable. Over the period, it has become an integral part of other cuisines and is now used to flavor dishes from French fries to meatloaf.

How to Use Soy Sauce?

The use of soy sauce varies with the type of meal being prepared. For example, a small amount may be used in a stir fry whereas stronger flavor may be called for when preparing fondue. Soy sauce is also a vital ingredient in Worcestershire sauce, which evolved from being a type of fish sauce that was found in China called wu cai and was primarily made from fermented fish.

There are many ways to use soy sauce. Soy sauce is typically used as a condiment for soups, meat dishes, or seafood. Soy sauce can also be combined with hot water in a bowl and flavored with additional spices such as ginger, garlic, and lemongrass before serving with sushi rice in place of wasabi paste.

It is also a common ingredient in marinades and barbecue sauces. However, soy sauce should not be used in vegetarian recipes where the meat flavor is sought.

Why Can People Not Use Soy Sauce?

In diets that do not permit the consumption of wheat or gluten, soy sauce should be avoided because it is made from wheat. To consume soy sauce safely, individuals must watch out for MSG (monosodium glutamate) which has been known to cause allergic reactions in some individuals.

Individuals should also be aware that various brands of soy sauce contain a high amount of sodium. In fact, some types of soy sauce contains even more sodium than sea water.

People should also be aware that some brands of soy sauce have added ingredients such as corn syrup, caramel color, and hydrolyzed wheat gluten.

In addition to these ingredients, the following is found in many brands of commercially available soy sauce: natural flavors, salt, alcohol (varies by brand), hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP), corn syrup solids and potassium sorbate (to preserve freshness).

The Best Soy Sauce Substitutes

1. Tamari


Like soy sauce, tamari is made from fermented soybeans while in the process of becoming miso paste. It can have a bolder taste than soy sauce and this comes down to the amount of wheat used. Tamari also tends to be less salty than regular soy sauce.

Unfortunately, a good tamari is expensive (sometimes $10-15 for 3oz/85g) because it’s still hard to cultivate with wheat and gluten free processes (remember that wheat must be used when making most conventional soy sauces). So if you’re on a tight budget, opt for low sodium tamari which will save you some money or try out coconut aminos instead.

2. Worcestershire sauce

Worcestershire sauce

A thick, dark sauce that tastes like a combination of soy sauce and anchovies. This popular condiment is known for its umami flavor. It was originally used in English cookery as a sauce for steak and fish dishes.

It is commonly paired with chilies and anchovies to give it its distinct taste. Worcestershire can be used as a dipping sauce or in marinades and meat dishes that are glazed.

Taste-wise, it’s the closest substitute we’ve found to soy sauce — but keep in mind that the taste of your final dish will vary slightly when you make this substitution.

Worcestershire sauce should be stored in the fridge or freezer as it does not need refrigeration.

3. Coconut aminos

Coconut aminos

This condiment is made from coconut milk, which undergoes a process similar to that of miso paste. It contains several vital amino acids and is highly nutritious for humans at all stages of life, making it ideal for cooking.

Coconut aminos can be made from the meat of coconuts and comes in various flavors including tamari, sesame and chili pepper. It works well when used as a dipping sauce, marinade and as a substitute to soy sauce in meat dishes that are glazed or served with a chili-based topping on top. It can be used in meat and poultry dishes in a 1:1 ratio with soy sauce.

This condiment is also suitable for people who have a soy allergy as it is gluten-free. Coconut aminos need to be stored in the fridge or freezer as they do not need refrigeration but they do tend to lose their taste faster than soy sauce, so you might want to keep an extra bottle around the house just in case.

4. Fish sauce

Fish sauce

Fish sauce is made by fermenting fish (usually anchovies) with salt. It should be used only in small amounts due to its strong flavor and can be found in Asian grocery stores.

It’s the most commonly used substitute for soy sauce, but it has a distinct flavor that cannot be substituted perfectly by other liquid fish sauces such as oyster sauce and dashi. To make sure your dish tastes the same, you should reduce the amount of fish sauce in your recipe by 50%.

5. Liquid aminos

Liquid aminos

This is a thick sauce made from soybeans and undergoes a similar process during manufacture to tamari. This is labelled as natto. It is used in Japanese cooking as both a dip and condiment and can be found in Asian grocery stores at various flavors including tamari, garlic chili and ginger chili.

6. Dried mushrooms

Dried mushrooms

These are powdery, red or brown dried grains of fungus. They are often used as a condiment in Asian cooking and can be found in cans or dried form. Their flavor is similar to soy sauce, but they offer a different texture and are less pungent than soy sauce.

You should use other versions of soy sauce (such as tamari) instead of using this substitute since it will affect the flavor of the dish you’re cooking.

You should store dried mushrooms in an air tight container in a cool dry place so they don’t get moldy.

7. Miso paste

Miso paste

Miso paste is made from fermented rice beans, sugar and salt. It is used in Japanese cooking and has been eaten for centuries. It can be found in the refrigerated section of Asian grocery stores.

There are various types of miso paste on the market, but they all taste very similar to soy sauce. They can be used as a substitute to soy sauce in Asian cooking and can also be used in soups, marinades and meat dishes that are glazed.

8. Maggi seasoning

Maggi seasoning

Maggi seasoning is an onion-like flavor enhancer that comes in a variety of flavors including tomato, spicy chili and lemon chicken. It’s commonly used by westerners to make sauces and meats taste like Western food during their time abroad or out of the country.

It is essential for such dishes as a Western burger or an omelet.

Maggi seasoning can be purchased online and in grocery stores. It is free of gluten, soy and lactose, making it a great choice for people who suffer from these allergies.

9. Anchovies


Anchovies are small salt-cured fish that come in cans or jars and are sometimes used to season various foods including Italian pasta dishes and Asian meat dishes. Their salty taste makes them a close match to soy sauce, but their strong flavor means you should use them sparingly — just like fish sauce.

You can also use anchovies as a substitute for pickled plums (which is commonly eaten with sushi).

Anchovies are high in protein, iron and calcium. But like fish sauce, they should be stored in the fridge or freezer as they do not need refrigeration but they tend to lose their taste faster than soy sauce. You should keep this in mind when stocking up on these items, especially the anchovies.

10. Umeboshi vinegar

Umeboshi vinegar

Umeboshi vinegar is made from umeboshi plums and comes in a sweet and sour flavor, making it a great substitute for soy sauce. This is because of its strong salty taste. It can be found in Asian grocery stores and is used as a seasoning for various dishes.

It’s commonly used as a topping for hiyayakko (cold tofu), yakitori (grilled chicken), natto sushi, soba noodles and yakitori (grilled chicken) dishes.

It is also commonly eaten with sushi.

11. Shoyu sauce

Shoyu sauce

Shoyu is a soy sauce made from fermented soybeans, rice and salt. It has a slightly salty taste.

It’s used as a dipping sauce for sushi or as a marinade for meat or poultry dishes. It can be found in grocery stores with various flavors including shiitake, chili and garlic chili.

It works very well in marinades, especially with fish dishes like salmon and tuna where the strong flavor of tamari might overpower your dish. You should use other types of soy sauce (such as tamari) instead of this substitute to prevent it from affecting the flavor of your final dish.

Homemade Substitute for Soy Sauce


Is Soy Sauce Keto-Friendly?

Some ketoers note that soy sauce contains a carbohydrate called “D-glucose”. Soy sauce is not considered a keto-friendly food by the ketogenic diet and is often avoided.

Is Soy Sauce Vegan?

No, soy sauce is not vegan because it is made from a fermented soybean-based ingredient.

Is Soy Sauce Gluten-Free?

No, soy sauce is not gluten-free because it is made from fermented soybean-based ingredients.


In conclusion, soy sauce is a key ingredient in many Asian dishes. It should be used in moderation as it can change the taste of your food if overused. You should find a substitute for soy sauce that tastes the same if you want to avoid eating animal products.

However, it should not be avoided completely since soy sauce is often used as a flavor enhancer and as an ingredient used in meat and poultry dishes where its strong flavor is welcomed by many.

The best option would be to try to make homemade soy sauce because aside from being healthier, you can also make it with less salt and more flavors which makes it taste better than the commercial versions of this condiment.

But if you don’t have the time to make homemade soy sauce, then you should find a substitute for soy sauce that tastes the same and is likely healthier

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