I’ve personally tried and tested a range of liquid aminos substitutes for cooking to find the best one.
Whatever your reason for avoiding liquid aminos is and whatever dish you’re cooking.
Here’s the quick answer.
The best substitute for liquid aminos is coconut aminos or tamari, both of these are also gluten free. If you don’t have any dietary restrictions you can use soy sauce. Maggi seasoning sauce, marmite mixed with water, and Worcestershire sauce are also good options.
Ready? Let’s jump right in.
I made a basic stir-fry sauce to put 15 liquid aminos substitutes to the test.
Liquid aminos is made from soybeans, and it’s a popular gluten-free alternative to soy sauce. Braggs is a popular brand. It’s packed with umami goodness and has a mildly salty flavor profile with a sweet under note.
I was looking for a substitute that would bring the same oomph to my stir fry as liquid aminos.
Here’s what I tested and the verdicts:
|Coconut aminos||1 tbsp liquid aminos = 1 tbsp coconut aminos||10/10|
|Soy sauce||1 tbsp liquid aminos = 1 tbsp soy sauce||10/10|
|Tamari||1 tbsp liquid aminos = 1/2 tbsp tamari||10/10|
|Maggi liquid seasoning||1 tbsp liquid aminos = 2-3 drops Maggi liquid seasoning, adjust to taste.|
|Yeast extract + water||1 tbsp liquid aminos = ½ tbsp yeast extract mixed with 1 tbsp water||9/10|
|Worcestershire sauce||1 tbsp liquid aminos = 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce||8/10|
|Oyster sauce||1 tbsp liquid aminos = 1 tbsp oyster sauce||8/10|
Common uses for liquid aminos and the best substitutes
Here are some common use cases for liquid aminos and the best substitutes for those situations:
- For dipping sauces – coconut aminos, tamari, oyster sauce
- For stir-fries, stews, and soups – coconut aminos, soy sauce, Maggi liquid seasoning
- For marinades and glazes – coconut aminos, soy sauce, Maggi liquid seasoning
Coconut aminos is the perfect alternative to liquid aminos.
It comes from fermented coconut sap instead of soybeans, making it gluten-free and soy-free.
But don’t worry – it doesn’t taste like coconut at all.
It’s a little sweeter than liquid aminos but offers a similar salty, umami flavor in every drop.
The downside? A bottle of coconut aminos usually costs more than liquid aminos and other alternatives.
But it’s a worthy investment, especially if you have dietary restrictions.
How to substitute: 1 tbsp liquid aminos = 1 tbsp coconut aminos
If you aren’t cooking for someone with dietary restrictions, you can stick with your plain old bottle of soy sauce (the ingredient liquid aminos is usually replacing).
It’ll save you a couple bucks and a trip to the grocery store!
Soy sauce has more salt than liquid aminos, so you’ll want to hold back on adding any extra salt before you taste the dish.
Or opt for a low-sodium soy-sauce variety to make your dish healthier.
How to substitute: 1 tbsp liquid aminos = 1 tbsp soy sauce
Tamari is another excellent alternative to liquid aminos, Most brands are gluten-free but always check the labels to be sure.
Its got a similar savory taste to liquid aminos, but what makes tamari special is the extended fermentation.
This gives it a bolder, richer flavor that will add a layer of complexity to your dishes. If you want to keep the flavor more muted, mix the tamari with a splash of water.
Psst… tamari is a thicker than liquid aminos, so your sauce will be stickier.
How to substitute: 1 tbsp liquid aminos = 1/2 tbsp tamari
Maggi liquid seasoning
Some people thing Maggi seasoning is the only seasoning sauce you’ll ever need.
It’s jam packed with umami, and has a complex meaty flavor that will boost any dish you add it to.
Like soy sauce, Maggi seasoning has more salt than liquid aminos. So you’ll want to dial back any other salty ingredients.
Pro tip: Maggi seasoning is very potent and intense. You don’t need a lot to replace the taste of liquid aminos.
Knorr liquid seasoning is another option.
How to substitute: 1 tbsp liquid aminos = 2-3 drops Maggi liquid seasoning, adjust to taste.
Marmite + water
You can usually find marmite slathered over crunchy toast, but I bet you didn’t know this spread is a decent substitute for liquid aminos.
It has a salty, concentrated umami flavor reminiscent of liquid aminos.
You choose to thin it out with a bit of water to make a liquid, or add it directly to whatever you’re cooking.
I’ve used marmite as the example here, but any yeast extract will work. Vegemite is another popular brand, or you can even use bovril if you want a meaty twist.
Pro-tip: a little goes a long way with this sub.
How to substitute: 1 tbsp liquid aminos = ½ tbsp yeast extract mixed with 1 tbsp water
Worcestershire sauce doesn’t taste the same as liquid aminos, but it’ll work to enhance the other flavors in your dish in the same way.
It has similar mixture of sweet-and-savory notes, but thanks to the vinegar in its ingredients list, it also has a hint of tartness.
I didn’t mind the added sour note, but you can easily offset it with a dash of sugar.
Psst… Worcestershire sauce has English routes, but it’s also great with Asian dishes like egg fried rice.
How to substitute: 1 tbsp liquid aminos = 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
Oyster sauce is another substitue thats moving away from the exact flavor of liquid aminos, but will lift your dish in the same way.
It’s made from oyster extract, soy sauce, and sugar, which means it’s salty like the ocean, and it has a sweet note that’s more prominent than liquid aminos.
Worried about its thicker consistency? Just dilute it with a few drops of water, and you’ll be good to go!
How to substitute: 1 tbsp liquid aminos = 1 tbsp oyster sauce
Other substitutes to consider
The primary aim of liquid aminos is to add some umami to your dishes and enhance the other flavors.
Luckily there are plenty of ingredients that do a similar thing! These substitutes are moving further away from replicating the flavor of liquid aminos.
But they will all boost the umami in your dishes.
- Fish sauce – this classic Asian condiment has salty, umami notes similar to liquid aminos. It’s super briny when you taste on its own, but I didn’t really notice this once it’s was cooked into my stir fry.
- Miso paste – miso paste is made from fermented soybeans and has a salty, umami flavor like liquid aminos. White miso paste is the mildest tasting, while red miso is more intense.
- MSG – if you’re only after the umami aspect of liquid aminos, consider using MSG powder instead. It tastes like salt on its own but will give your dish a savory, meaty flavor. You can also use a small amount of bouillon granules if you can’t find MSG powder for a meatier twist.
- Dried shiitake mushrooms – dried mushrooms have more umami power than fresh mushrooms. Soak them in warm water to reconstitute them, then add liquid and the mushrooms to your cooking for an extra flavor boost.
- Anchovy filets – these small fish are salty and naturally loaded with umami, just like liquid aminos. Mince them into a paste, and they’ll dissolve in your dish without imparting a fishy taste.
- Salt – salt can work in a pinch if it’s all you have. It won’t be as flavorful as liquid aminos, but you can make up for it by adding more herbs and spices to your dish.
Substitutes to avoid
Not all dark brown sauces are good substitutes for liquid aminos. Here are some options I tried that didn’t work out so well:
- Teriyaki sauce – I thought this would work because it had soy sauce in the ingredients, but it turned out to be way too sweet compared to liquid aminos. Adding lemon juice helped a bit, but it was still too much for me.
- Soyaki sauce – this is a combination of soy sauce and teriyaki sauce, so it’s not as sweet and a better flavor match for liquid aminos (although it’s still not great). But one major downside is it’s not as accessible as the other substitutes because it’s only sold in Trader Joe’s.
Best Liquid Aminos Substitutes
- 1 tbsp coconut aminos
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1/2 tbsp tamari
- ½ tbsp yeast extract + 1 tbsp water
- 2 to 3 drops of Maggi liquid seasoning
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tbsp oyster sauce
- Cook your meal according to the recipe.
- Add your chosen liquid aminos substitute at the appropriate cooking time.
- Mix until thoroughly combined and continue with the recipe.