I’ve personally taste-tested a variety of hoisin sauce substitutes to find the best one for every cooking or baking occasion.
Whether you’re on the hunt for the closest flavor match, in need of a last-minute pantry swap, or want a substitute that fits your diet, I’ve got the answers.
The best substitute for hoisin sauce is a makeshift version made with peanut butter, honey, and soy sauce. Or you use the trusty bottle of BBQ sauce in your fridge mixed with Chinese 5-spice powder. Other Asian sauces like teriyaki or oyster sauce are also decent options.
Ready? Let’s jump right in.
I made glazed pork chops to test out several different hoisin sauce substitutes.
Hoisin sauce is a thick and sticky condiment made from fermented soybean paste, sugar, chili, and warming spices like Chinese 5-spice.
It boasts a salty-sweet flavor with lots of umami goodness, bringing a delicious Asian flavor to your dish.
Hoisin sauce is commonly used in Cantonese cooking. You can use it as a glaze for meat or vegetables, in a stir fry sauce, or even to make a dipping sauce.
I was looking for a substitute that would match the moreish flavor and was just as versatile!
Here are the substitutes I tested and my verdicts:
|Substitutes||How to Substitute||Verdict|
|Easy homemade hoisin sauce||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||10/10|
|Soy sauce and honey||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||9/10|
|American-style BBQ sauce||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||7/10|
|Oyster sauce||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||7/10|
|Teriyaki sauce||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||8/10|
|Chee hou sauce||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||8/10|
|Miso paste||Use 1/4 of the amount||7/10|
Common uses for hoisin sauce
Here are some popular ways to use hoisin sauce and the best substitutes for those situations:
- As a dipping/finishing sauce: The best substitute to use is a mixture of honey and soy sauce. You can easily adjust the ratios to create the perfect sauce for your dish. You can also use American BBQ sauce. But to take its flavor closer to hoisin, mix it with soy sauce, molasses, and five-spice powder.
- For marinades and dressings: Try using the homemade version, oyster sauce, or teriyaki sauce. Miso paste is a departure from the flavor of sticky hoisin, but will taste great in marinades.
- For stir-fries, soups, and stews: The homemade version tastes the best in stir fries, but you can also use oyster or teriyaki sauce. White miso paste also works great as a flavor booster in soups and stews.
Homemade hoisin sauce
The best substitute for hoisin sauce is to make your own. It’s actually pretty simple and the flavor you get is far better (and less sugary) than the commercial version.
Chili Pepper Madness’ recipe uses a blend of soy sauce, peanut butter, honey, Chinese 5-spice, and sriracha to create a similarly moreish sauce.
Cook the mixture with a dash of cornstarch to thicken it up and you’ll be good to go.
But this is far from the only homemade recipe available.
Another makeshift recipe I found skipped the peanut butter (great if you’re allergic), and instead used prunes and black bean sauce as the base.
There’s a lot of trial and error with creating something as complexly flavored as Hoisin sauce, so if you enjoy experimenting in the kitchen you can have a lot of fun!
Try adding ingredients like kidney beans, fresh plums, ginger, or miso paste to the mix. As long as it’s tasty, that’s all that matters.
How to substitute: replace commercial hoisin sauce in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with your homemade hoisin sauce.
Soy sauce or tamari + honey
A quick blend of soy sauce and your favorite sweetener is a perfect last minute replacement for hoisin sauce.
I went with honey, but feel free to use maple syrup, molasses, brown sugar, or even monk fruit sweetener to make this sub sugar-free.
Start with about a cup of regular soy sauce and a quarter cup of sweetener, and go from there.
The result isn’t a perfect replica of hoisin sauce’s flavor (it’s got far less depth), but it brings a balanced sweet-salty note.
And for all my gluten-free pals, swap soy sauce for tamari, liquid aminos, or coconut aminos. These say sauce alternative have a natural sweetness, so you
How to substitute: Replace hoisin sauce in a 1:1 ratio with a soy sauce and honey mixture.
American-style BBQ Sauce
Did you know hoisin sauce is often called the “Chinese BBQ sauce.”?
And a few tweaks can get it remarkably close to the flavor of hoisin sauce!
Mix 1 cup of your favorite BBQ sauce with 3 tbsp molasses, 4 tsp soy sauce, 4 tsp yeast extract, and 2 ½ tsp Chinese-five spice powder. If the mixture ends up too thick, use a little water to thin it.
These extra ingredients give the sauce more depth and you even get a smokey note from the BBQ.
Psst… not got all of these ingredients? It’s okay to skip one! The sauce will still taste great.
How to substitute: replace hoisin sauce in a 1:1 ratio with your revamped American-style BBQ sauce.
From one Asian sauce to another.
Oyster sauce doesn’t taste like hoisin sauce. But if you don’t mind varying the flavor, it works well in most dishes you’d find hoisin sauce in.
It’s made from oyster extract, which means it’s very salty and has briney notes that will remind you of the ocean. Hoisin sauce is much sweeter and more focused on spices.
I suggest mixing half a cup of oyster sauce with a tablespoon of brown sugar to up the sweetness. Experiment until you hit the sweet spot – pun intended!
How to substitute: replace hoisin sauce in a 1:1 ratio with oyster sauce.
Teriyaki sauce shares a soy sauce base with hoisin sauce and it has a delicious sweetness from the addition of brown sugar and honey.
But it’s far less complex-tasting because it doesn’t have the warmth of five-spice powder or funkiness from black bean sauce.
I used commercial teriyaki sauce which had a similar consistency to hoisin sauce, so it was a seamless swap for my pork chops.
And it gave them an inviting glossy sheen! YUM.
How to substitute: Replace hoisin sauce in a 1:1 ratio with teriyaki sauce.
Chee hou sauce
Chee hou sauce is more similar to hoisin sauce than both oyster and teriyaki sauce, but I put it below them because it’ not something most people have lying around!
It’s made from fermented soybean paste with a mix of unique seasonings like salted plums, salted lemons, and bean curd.
These extras give it a fruitier twist.
You might think it’s hard to find but guess what? Lee Kum Kee sells it, and it’s probably sitting on your local Asian grocery store’s shelf.
How to substitute: Replace hoisin sauce in a 1:1 ratio with chee hou sauce.
Miso paste isn’t sauce, so it won’t always work to replace hoisin sauce (you can’t use it as a dipping sauce for example).
But it’s a solid substitute in dishes where hoisin sauce isn’t the only ingredient.
It has a range of flavors depending on the type of miso. But for substituting hoisin, the best match is white miso.
It offers a salty flavor with lots of umami and a mild sweetness. The darker varieties are too salty.
The flavor is a lot more potent than hoisin sauce, so you’ll only need around a 1/4 of the amount. And you can mix it with water if you need more volume.
Pro-tip: allergic to soybeans? Try chickpea miso instead.
How to substitute: Replace hoisin sauce with a 1/4 of the amount of miso paste, adding some sugar if you want more sweetness.
Other substitutes to consider
The list above features my top picks for hoisin sauce substitutes, but they’re not the only options.
Here are some more!
- Sweet bean sauce – this is a dark brown condiment made from wheat flour. It has a similar sweet-salty flavor to hoisin sauce and packs a hefty umami punch. It has a thicker consistency, so I had to dilute it with a splash of water.
- Ground bean sauce – this is a condiment made from fermented yellow soybeans. It has a spicier, salty flavor than hoisin with less sweetness. But you can always mix it with a bit more sugar to bridge its flavor close to hoisin sauce.
- Kecap manis – this is also known as sweetened soy sauce. It has a syrupy consistency and a sweet-salty flavor. The downside is its flavor is more one-dimensional than hoisin sauce. It’s very similar to the soy sauce and honey substitute suggestion.
- Plum sauce – plum sauce and hoisin sauce are both often served with pecking duck pancakes. Plum sauce is sweeter and more fruity without any of the savory flavor. But it’s a delicious dipping sauce.
Substitutes to avoid
While I was researching I came across websites suggesting you replace hoisin sauce with sweet and sour sauce, but I wasn’t a fan of this option in my test.
I thought the flavor was too far from hoisin sauce.
Another option that came up a lot was fish sauce. Fish sauce is more of a flavor enhancer rather than a sauce.
It’s a LOT saltier than hoisin sauce and you can only add a few drops to a dish before it would be too much.
11 EASY Hoisin Sauce Substitutes + 3 To Avoid
- ⅓ cup dark brown sugar
- 2 tbsp water
- 3 tbsp black bean sauce
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp rice vinegar
- 4 prunes
- ½ tsp sesame oil
- ½ tsp Chinese five-spice powder
- sriracha, optional
- Combine all the ingredients in a blender. Blitz everything until smooth. Chill overnight before using.