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How Do I Choose the Best Soy Sauce Substitutes?

Selecting the ideal soy sauce substitute hinges on your culinary needs and dietary preferences. Whether it's for allergy concerns or flavor nuances, options like tamari, coconut aminos, and Worcestershire sauce offer diverse profiles. Consider the dish's origin and desired taste intensity when deciding. What might your perfect alternative enhance in your next kitchen adventure?
Cynde Gregory
Cynde Gregory

Home cooks from around the world know that soy sauce lends a wonderfully mysterious, almost smoky flavor to foods. There are a number of alternatives to the ubiquitous, dark-brown soy sauce available in Chinese restaurants. These include liquid aminos, which are also dark brown and, like soy sauce, offer a number of health benefits; tamari sauce; and low-salt soy sauce. Individuals with high blood pressure, allergies to gluten, or who just find the taste of soy sauce a bit overwhelming may find these soy sauce substitutes work better for them.

Liquid amino sauce has been available in health food restaurants and groceries stores for decades. The taste is very close to that of soy sauce; it lends a salty, deep note to foods. There are a number of reasons cooks might turn to this relatively expensive choice among soy sauce substitutes. Not only is liquid amino sauce low in salt, but it is also contains no gluten because of the way it is manufactured. The presence of a multitude of amino acids mean this healthy alternative is rich in protein.

Soy sauce.
Soy sauce.

Tamari sauces can be used as soy sauce substitutes as well. Like soy sauce, they are made from soybeans but contain no added wheat products, so they, like liquid aminos, are gluten free. In taste, tamari is a little lighter than soy sauce, although the flavor is nearly identical. Miso, which is fermented soybean paste brimming with probiotics, is the base for tamari, which means this sauce, too, not only flavors food but adds a healthy touch. Tamari is readily available both in health food sections and on the Asian food shelves of most grocery stores.

Bacon-wrapped scallops with a gluten-free soy dipping sauce.
Bacon-wrapped scallops with a gluten-free soy dipping sauce.

For the cook who is caught without soy sauce when a marinade or stir-fry calls for it, homemade soy sauce substitutes are at the ready. One requires only steak sauce and water. One part steak sauce to four parts water yields a similar rich, dark flavor that does a good imitation of traditional soy sauce.

Another homemade variation uses red wine vinegar or darker, stronger balsamic vinegar in addition to honey and water. A little minced ginger and an equal amount of minced ginger with a quick shake of pepper and sea salt are all it takes to mix up a serviceable and delicious alternative to soy sauce. Whether the home cook is hunting for soy sauce substitutes because of health concerns or because there’s no traditional soy sauce in the house, finding acceptable substitutes is easy.

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Discussion Comments


@literally45-- I know that there is a soy-free, low-sodium amino sauce made from coconuts. You can use that. Or you can use vinegar, broth and spices to make your own alternative.


@literally45-- Some liquid amino sauce is made from soy protein. If you're not allowed soy products for health reasons, liquid amino sauce is probably not a good idea.

Not all amino sauces will be the same, but the one I have is not low in salt. It actually has almost the same amount of salt as soy sauce. So please make sure to compare and do your research before using a liquid amino sauce in place of soy sauce.


What is liquid amino sauce made from?

I have high blood pressure and I'm also not allowed to have soybeans because it's an estrogenic food. I need an alternative because I love cooking Chinese food. Is liquid amino sauce a good alternative? Can anyone tell me more about it?

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    • Soy sauce.
      By: photoliving
      Soy sauce.
    • Bacon-wrapped scallops with a gluten-free soy dipping sauce.
      By: Matthew Antonino
      Bacon-wrapped scallops with a gluten-free soy dipping sauce.
    • Gluten-free tamari is a popular substitute for soy sauce in Asian dipping sauces.
      By: ginauf
      Gluten-free tamari is a popular substitute for soy sauce in Asian dipping sauces.