Finding the best substitute for soy sauce can be a daunting task. Will it taste just as good? And exactly what is a substitute for soy sauce?
Overwhelmed? Don’t be! The best part is that if you don’t find an alternative for sale that you like, you can just make your own! Put it in a handy mason jar and store it for later.
A Healthy Alternative To Soy Sauce
Who doesn’t love the flavor of soy sauce? This savory dark liquid is the main ingredient in many cuisines, namely Asian cuisine. I love Asian food, and I know soy sauce is in almost every dish.
There are a few different ways to make soy sauce. Usually it is done by soaking soybeans in water and then roasting and crushing the wheat. As you may know, wheat is a common allergen for people who are sensitive to gluten. This unfortunately means that soy sauce is not gluten-free. So, how on earth do people with Celiac disease enjoy Asian food?
Some people also have allergies to soy, making soy sauce inedible. Luckily there are some soy sauce substitutes out there that give the flavor and texture of soy sauce but that are actually soy- and gluten-free. There are people with gluten sensitivities all over the world, so let’s explore the best sub for soy sauce.
Some Soy Sauce Alternative Options
Many use coconut aminos, which are made from the sap of coconut trees. It is cultivated in the Philippines and has less sodium than regular soy sauce. Coconut aminos can also have a sweeter aftertaste than soy sauce.
You can also use Worcestershire sauce in place of a soy sauce substitute. It is a salty sauce, yet it has less sodium than soy sauce. Worcestershire has a savory “cooked all-day” type of flavor.
Common Questions About Soy Sauce
As I’ve been making my substitute for soy sauce for years, my friends often come to me as the soy sauce expert. Below are some commonly asked questions about soy sauce.
Is Soy Sauce Vegan?
Yes, store-bought soy sauce is typically vegan. Here’s more information on the two most popular brands, Kikkoman and La Choy.
- Kikkoman Soy Sauce: This is probably the most common vegan soy sauce out there, and I hate to be boring, but there’s a reason it’s popular. Most Asian restaurants have this bad boy at the table or in the back. You just have to ask for it. The four main ingredients for Kikkoman are soy, wheat, salt, and water.
- La Choy Lite Soy Sauce: This one has good flavor, but because it’s also light, it doesn’t pack the same punch as you might find in normal soy sauces. It’s not bad, it’s just not my favorite. The main ingredients in La Choy are water, soy protein, corn syrup, salt, and caramel color.
Is Soy Sauce Gluten-Free?
No, most store-bought soy sauces are not gluten-free because they are typically made with wheat. However, several well-known brands do have a gluten-free version, such as Kikkoman Gluten-free Soy Sauce.
Tamari vs. Soy Sauce
Tamari-style soy sauce is gluten-free because it is made with rice as a base instead of wheat. Additionally, any soy sauce made with coconut aminos as a base will also be gluten-free.
Tamari is one of my favorite alternatives to soy sauce. It has a very similar flavor to soy sauce since it is made in almost the same way, except with rice. People with gluten allergies can enjoy tamari, but those with soy allergies cannot unfortunately.
Is Soy Sauce Keto-Friendly?
For soy sauce to be keto-friendly, it has to be low-carb. If you do look at the nutritional value of a store-bought soy sauce, then technically yes, soy sauce is keto-friendly. That being said, if the soy sauce contains by-products of wheat and gluten, then it’s not considered a pure, clean keto food.
Typically, for keto recipes you will find coconut aminos on the ingredients list instead of soy sauce.
Can You Substitute Worcestershire Sauce For Soy Sauce?
You can definitely substitute Worcestershire sauce for soy sauce. If you do, I recommend making a homemade one or Worcestershire sauce substitute so you can adjust it. The flavor profile of a store-bought version such as Lea & Perrins is different from the taste of soy sauce. Also, do keep in mind that most Worcestershire sauces are made with fermented anchovies, so they are not vegetarian or vegan.
Be careful, as some homemade Worcestershire sauce recipes call for soy sauce, which we are trying to avoid in the first place! Be very mindful of all ingredients when researching recipes for your homemade condiments.
Best Healthy Alternatives To Soy Sauce
Soy sauce is not a typical healthy condiment because it’s very high in sodium and heavily processed. However, there are several adjustments you can make to ensure your soy sauce is a healthier option.
First, many of the store brands will sell low-sodium options.
Additionally, my homemade recipe at the end of this article can be made with lower sodium by skipping the sauce and using a low-sodium version of beef broth or vegetable broth. Both of these should be readily available in stores. And by making homemade soy sauce, you avoid all the heavy processing that goes into the manufactured soy sauce.
Best Store-Bought Soy Sauce Alternatives
If you prefer to buy your soy sauce substitute instead of making it, here are some really fantastic vegan soy sauce alternatives for all of you out there who avoid all things animal. These are also Kosher-certified products
1. 365 Everyday Value Shoyu Sauce: This soy sauce alternative is vegan, kosher, tasty, and non-GMO. Hooray!
2. Coconut Secret Coconut Aminos: This one is the jack of all trades. It’s vegan, kosher, paleo, keto, organic, and non-GMO. It’s made from the sap of coconut trees. The only downsides are limited availability and higher cost.
If you’re in the market for a keto-friendly soy sauce or a paleo-friendly soy sauce substitute, Coconut Secret Coconut Aminos is the best I’ve found. This is going to have to be my new go-to soy sauce alternative permanently because of its health benefits and low sodium content.
Plus, it’s made from the sap of the coconut tree, not the actual coconut. If you don’t like coconut flavor, you’ll still like this one because there’s no texture from the coconut flesh. I do not find the flavor to be reminiscent of coconut at all.
3. Tamari Sauce: Tamari sauce is an excellent soy sauce substitute, as it maintains a similar flavor but is vegan and gluten-free. While it’s still high in sodium, there is < 1 net carb per serving, making Tamari sauce technically keto-friendly as well.
How To Make Your Own Soy Sauce Substitute
If you’d rather create your own soy sauce substitute at home, here is my favorite recipe that you can easily make yourself.
The best thing about making your soy sauce is that you are in control of what goes into it. If you’re truly changing up your soy sauce intake for health reasons, this is the only way you have complete knowledge of what you’re eating.
That said, making your own condiments is a great way to take control of your health. Soy sauce alternatives are better for you, in addition to homemade ketchup, mustard, salad dressing, and pickles. So much salt, sugar, and chemicals are pumped into store-bought condiments. Just go to your fridge and read some of the ingredients on your condiments bottles—you will be surprised!
Soy Sauce Alternative Ingredients
Many of these ingredients are things that you already have in the pantry!
- 1 cup beef broth (substitute vegetable stock if you’re vegan)
- 2 tablespoons of your favorite vinegar (Choose balsamic if you like the dark color, but you can also use red wine vinegar or cider vinegar. Balsamic is also sweeter than most other vinegar!)
- 4 teaspoons blackstrap molasses or date sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon black pepper (substitute organic white pepper if preferred)
- ⅛ teaspoon garlic powder
- ⅛ teaspoon ground ginger
- ⅛ teaspoon onion powder (optional)
- 1 teaspoon fish sauce or sesame oil (adds a nice, flavorful kick, but certainly optional)
How To Make My Soy Sauce Alternative Recipe
Making a homemade sub for soy sauce is way easier than you may think! Just be sure to have a clean jar or bottle for storage before beginning.
- Add all of your ingredients to a saucepan, leaving out the salt and sesame oil for now.
- Bring it to a boil and then let it simmer on medium heat for 10 minutes.
- Turn off the heat, add the salt and sesame oil (or any alternative you choose), and stir until it’s mixed well.
- Let your soy sauce cool, then place it in an airtight container and store it for up to a week. You can even freeze it for later use.
Tips & Tricks For Making A Soy Sauce Replacement
- Some ingredients tend to make homemade soy sauce look a bit lighter in color than traditional soy sauce. If you have a thing about color or this weirds you out a bit, then when looking for the best dark soy sauce version, you’re going to want to stick with dark base ingredients like Worcestershire or balsamic vinegar.
- When it comes to substituting any of the ingredients in this recipe, do so to accommodate your taste preferences and dietary needs. Just remember, it may alter the color, taste, or consistency, and it may take you a couple of tries to get it right.
- The great thing about this recipe is that you can substitute almost any part of it to make it vegan, kosher, paleo, or keto. It’s easy to adapt to your unique dietary restrictions. Just be patient with yourself. It sounds easy, but if you do adjust the ingredients you may need to adjust your proportions too.
If you’re looking to test your new soy sauce substitute on something, I would suggest drizzling it over instant pot Mexican rice or Thai yellow curry with fresh veggies. While soy sauce doesn’t typically fit in with Mexican cuisine, I have found that I like it almost as much as drizzling sweet and sour sauce over my food, so give it a try!
Soy Sauce Substitute Recipe
- 1 cup beef broth substitute vegetable stock if you are vegan
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar choose balsamic if you like the dark color, but you can also use red wine vinegar or cider vinegar
- 4 tsp blackstrap molasses alt: date sugar
- ¼ tsp salt
- ⅛ tsp black pepper (substitute organic white pepper if preferred)
- ⅛ tsp garlic powder
- ⅛ tsp ground ginger
- ⅛ tsp onion powder (optional)
- 1 tsp fish sauce or sesame oil (adds a nice, flavorful kick, but certainly optional)
- Add all of your ingredients to a saucepan, leaving out the salt and sesame oil for now.
- Bring it to a boil and then let it simmer on medium heat for ten minutes.
- Turn off your heat, add the salt and sesame oil (or any alternative you choose), and stir until it’s mixed well.
- Let your soy sauce substitute cool, then place it in an airtight container and store it for up to a week. You can even freeze it for later use.
Other Vegan Recipes Worth Trying
Looking for some additional vegan or gluten-free recipes? We’ve got a few others that I’d recommend:
- Delicious Thai Cucumber Salad is a fabulous salad that is sweet and savory. The crunch of the cucumbers gives this salad a freshness that all vegans will love!
- If you are a fan of roasting your veggies, Oven Roasted Green Beans with Spicy Tahini is the perfect recipe for a flavorful main course or side dish on your vegan table.
- Simple Vegan Walnut Banana Ice Cream is a “nice” creamy recipe that is made from blended frozen bananas—the easiest, healthiest ice cream you will ever have!