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BEST Soy Sauce Substitutes + 2 To Avoid

I’ve personally taste-tested a variety of soy sauce substitutes to find the best one for every cooking occasion.

Whether you’re on the hunt for the closest flavor match, in need of a last-minute pantry substitute, or seeking an alternative tailored to your specific dietary requirements, rest assured that I’ve got you covered.

Tamari and liquid aminos are both great gluten-free soy sauce substitutes. If you need gluten and soy-free, coconut aminos is your best bet. If you’re not worried about dietary restrictions, Maggi seasoning, fish sauce, or Worcestershire sauce are all great umami boosters.

Ready? Let’s jump right in.

The experiment

I made small batches of fried rice to test different soy sauce substitutes. 

Soy sauce is made by fermenting soybeans in brine. It has a salty, slightly sweet flavor and will bring a delicious dose of umami to your dishes.

It’s a must-have ingredient for many Asian recipes, but its flavor-boosting properties have made it super popular in Western cuisine too

Here are the substitutes I tested and the verdicts: 

SubstitutesSubstitute directionsVerdict
TamariReplace in a 1:1 ratio10/10
Liquid AminosReplace in a 1:1 ratio10/10
Coconut AminosReplace in a 1:1 ratio10/10
Faux Soy SauceReplace in a 1:1 ratio9/10
Fish SauceReplace with ⅓ the amount, adjust to taste9/10
Maggi SeasoningReplace with ¼ the amount, adjust to taste9/10
Worcestershire SauceReplace in a 1:1 ratio8/10
Oyster SauceReplace in a 1:1 ratio8/10
Ready-made soy-based saucesReplace with 1/2 the amount at first8/10
Mushroom BrothReplace in a 1:1 ratio, add salt to taste7/10

Common uses of soy sauce

Here are some common ways to use soy sauce and the best substitutes for those situations

  • For marinades, sauces, and glazes: Try using tamari, liquid aminos, or coconut aminos. Ready-made ponzu sauce works really well in marinades. 
  • For stir-fries, noodles, and rice dishes: Try using tamari, liquid aminos, or coconut aminos. Maggi seasoning or oyster sauce are also great options, or you can use ready-made teriyaki sauce.
  • For soups, stews, and broth: Try using tamari, liquid aminos, or coconut aminos. To add a deep flavor, go for Worcestershire sauce or mushroom broth.
  • As a dipping sauce: Try using tamari, liquid aminos, coconut aminos, or homemade soy sauce. Ponzu sauce is also a good option. 


Tamari always tops the list for soy sauce substitutes, and for a good reason – it’s typically made without wheat, making it a popular alternative for those with gluten allergies.

This isn’t a free pass to skip reading the labels, though. It’s always better to double-check! 

Tamari tastes super similar to soy sauce and has a rich, umami flavor thanks to the extended fermentation process.

But it’s less salty (another health benefit – lower sodium!), and has a slightly more viscous consistency.

Once it was mixed it my fried rice I didn’t care about the differences, I was too busy eating.

Psst… although tamari has less salt than soy sauce, it’s still considered a high-sodium ingredient so use it in moderation.

How to substitute: replace soy sauce in a 1:1 ratio with tamari.

Liquid aminos

Next in line is liquid aminos. This is made from concentrated amino acids derived directly from soybeans, another champion in the gluten-free community.

At first glance you’d be hard-pressed to differentiate it from soy sauce because of its similar deep, brown color and thin consistency.

In terms of flavor, liquid aminos is commonly described as a milder version of soy sauce.

It has all the same flavor notes: meaty, savory, salty, and a subtle sweetness but it’s not as rich.

Perfect if you don’t like strong flavors.

How to substitute: replace soy sauce in a 1:1 ratio with liquid aminos.

Coconut aminos

If you’re watching you sodium intake, swap soy sauce for coconut aminos.

This savory sauce is made from the amino acids extracted from fermented coconut sap, as well as being low in salt, its also gluten and soy free.

It contains about 60% less salt than soy sauce.

But still has delicious flavor-enhancing properties with a savory, umami forward flavor.

(and no, it’s doesn’t taste like coconut).

How to substitute: replace soy sauce in a 1:1 ratio with coconut aminos. 

Homemade soy sauce

Like doing things from scratch?

Why not try your hand and making your own ‘faux’ soy sauce – this recipe from Don’t Mess With Mama is gluten and soy free (I also have a recipe at the bottom of this post).

And you can control the salt content.

It uses bone broth as the base and a medley of basic spices, like garlic and ginger powder, to mimic soy sauce’s characteristic meaty, savory flavor. 

The key to achieving that deep brown color? A touch of dark molasses and balsamic vinegar!

On a plant-based diet?

Vegan Lovelie has a similar recipe that uses vegetable bouillon instead of bone broth.

How to substitute: replace soy sauce in a 1:1 ratio with faux soy sauce.

Fish Sauce

Now here’s a curveball – fish sauce. 

It’s also a staple in Asian cuisine because it’s chock full of umami goodness, and adds a complex layer of flavor.

The catch with fish sauce is it’s a lot saltier than soy sauce, so you should only use it in small doses.

It works well as a substitute when soy sauce is a background ingredient and is just helping enhance other flavors.

But avoid using fish sauce in a recipe where soy sauce makes up the bulk of the flavor (i.e. a dipping sauce).

How to substitute: replace soy sauce with ⅓ the amount of fish sauce, adjust to taste.  

Maggi seasoning

Maggi liquid seasoning is a flavor enhancer made from hydrolyzed wheat protein

This rich condiment boasts an intensely savory flavor doesn’t skimp on the umami.

It’s got notes of celery, fennel, and parsley that give it more depth than soy sauce – some food enthusiasts even prefer using Maggi seasoning because of it’s unrivalled complexity.

This stuff is downright addictive, but I wouldn’t recommend this if you’re watching your salt intake!

Psst… try sprinkling a few drops over a fried egg. Pure perfection.

How to substitute: replace soy sauce with ¼ the amount of Maggi seasoning, adjust to taste. 

Worcestershire sauce

This British condiment can work to replace soy sauce in a pinch.

Its a blend of vinegar, anchovies, tamarind, and molasses (amongst other things) giving it a savory, sweet, and tangy flavor profile that’s more nuanced and spiced than soy sauce. 

But it tasted fantastic in my fried rice. And it’s amazing in a spaghetti bolognese.

The most popular brand of Worcestershire sauce, Lea & Perrins, is naturally soy-free so it’s a good option for those with soy sensitivities.

It’s not gluten-free though. 

Pro tip: again, I always recommend checking the ingredients list just to be sure.

How to substitute: replace soy sauce in a 1:1 ratio with Worcestershire sauce.

Oyster sauce

Don’t let the name fool you. This condiment is made from oyster extract, but it doesn’t taste fishy. 

It has earthy undertones and a sweet, salty flavor that’s full of umami. It was definitely sweeter then soy sauce, with a caramel-like after taste.

And it’s consistency is a lot thicker than soy sauce.

To bring it closer to say sauce, I diluted it with some chicken broth. This thinned it out and also added a touch more salt.

You can also use lightly salted water instead of chicken broth.

Psst… I also have a great article on the best substitutes for oyster sauce.

How to substitute: replace soy sauce in a 1:1 ratio with oyster sauce, adding water or cooking liquid if needed to achieve the right consistency.

Ready-made soy-based sauces

Ready-made sauces like teriyaki and ponzu sauce use soy sauce as their base, so you can use these as a substitute.

But each one will have added ingredients and a different flavor.

For example, Teriyaki sauce is a lot sweeter than soy sauce. So you’ll need to skip any sugar your recipe calls for, and potentially add a splash of vinegar or lemon juice to temper the sweetness.

I used teriyaki sauce in my fried rice and I didn’t get any complaints.

Ponzu sauce is typically used as a dipping sauce, but its light citrus notes and acidity make it a solid alternative for soy sauce in marinades.

Psst… I also have a great article on substitutes for ponzu sauce.

How to substitute: replace soy sauce half the amount of teriyaki or ponzu sauce, adding more if needed.

Mushroom broth

Lastly, let’s talk about mushroom broth. 

This is a decent choice if you’re looking for a vegan, gluten-free, and soy-free substitute for soy sauce. 

You can easily make it yourself by steeping dried mushrooms in hot water. The mushrooms will transfer their umami-ness to the water. I also added a small amount of salt, but you don’t have to.

The broth will be a lot lighter in flavor than soy sauce, but will still help add depth to your food.

Pro tip: if you’re making fried rice, cook the rice in the mushroom broth. YUM!

How to substitute: replace soy sauce in a 1:1 ratio with homemade mushroom broth, adding salt to taste.

Other substitutes to consider

The list above are my top picks for soy sauce substitutes, but they’re not the only options (there are loads!).

Here are some more alternatives you can try: 

Hoisin sauce

This is a classic Chinese condiment that comes from soybean paste. It has a salty, slightly sweet flavor but can be overpowering if you use too much.

I would dilute it with water before using it as a replacement for soy sauce.

Miso paste/doenjang

Miso paste and the lesser known doenjang are made with fermented soybeans, like soy sauce.

They have a very prominent salty, umami flavor so you’ll only need to add a small amount to your dish to replicate the effects of soy sauce.

Psst… you can also use soy sauce as a substitute for miso paste.


If you’ve tasted Marmite before, this substitute won’t be too much of a surprise – it’s very salty!

But did you know it’s also rich in glutamates that’ll add umami to your dish? It’s especially great as a substitute in soups and stews. 

Umeboshi vinegar

This is no ordinary vinegar.

It’s the brine produced from umeboshi or sour plums, which gives it a salty flavor.

The caveat is it is noticeably tangy, so you’ll need to offset this with a pinch of sugar before using it to replace soy sauce.

Other umami-rich ingredients

If your recipe only requires a small amount of soy sauce, there’s a big chance it’s there solely for an umami boost.

The good news is there’s an abundance of other ingredients that could give you the same effect: 

  • MSG
  • Mushroom powder
  • Anchovies/anchovy paste
  • Nutritional yeast
  • Tomato paste
  • Parmesan rind 
  • Bouillon (only a pinch) 

Salt + sugar + hot water 

This isn’t the best alternative, but it’s a last resort if you can’t make a grocery run and don’t have any of the other substitutes I’ve listed.

This mixture won’t add umami to your dish, but it will help enhance the other flavors.

Avoid balsamic/red wine vinegar

I came across LOTS of suggestions for soy sauce substitutes while I was doing my research, and most of them turned out to be pretty good.

But I have to respectfully disagree with some sources that suggested balsamic vinegar or red wine vinegar.

Their flavor is too sharp and tangy to stand in for soy sauce. 

Plus, they don’t have much of a salty kick – save these for your vinaigrettes instead! 

Soy Sauce Substitutes, A Homemade Version, + 2 To Avoid

I tested loads of soy sauce substitutes to find the best one, and I also have a great recipe for a homemade version.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Ingredient
Cuisine: Asian
Keyword: soy sauce substitutes, substitutes for soy sauce
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 1 bottle
Calories: 9kcal


  • 1.5 cups bone broth or beef bouillon
  • 2 tsp balsamin vinegar
  • 1 tsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp molasses
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp onion powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp peper
  • 1/8 tsp ground ginger


  • Mix all the ingredients together in a saucepan apart from the salt.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil and simmer it on medium heat for 10 minutes.
  • All the salt.
  • Let the mixture cool and then store it in the fridge for up to a week. Or freeze it in an ice cube tray.


Substitue options: tamari, liquid aminos, coconut aminos, teriyaki sauce, ponzu sauce, Worcestershire sauce, Maggi seasoning, fish sauce, miso paste, salt


Serving: 1tbsp | Calories: 9kcal

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