Are you looking for the perfect dark soy sauce substitute? Dark soy sauce isn’t easy to find in many stores. It is a common sauce used for many Asian cuisines including pork recipes, stews and barbecue favourites.
Most Western stores may not carry the ingredient. Here are some possible alternatives.
- Balsamic Vinegar
- Coconut Aminos
- Double Black Soy Sauce
- Fish Sauce
- Hoisin Sauce
- Light Soy Sauce
- Miso Paste
Before we delve deep into each possible alternative, let’s understand a bit more about the origins of this popular Asian sauce.
14 Best Substitute For Dark Soy Sauce
Dark Soy Sauce is perhaps one of the oldest condiments in the world. It started in China and has been used for more than 3,000 years!
Fortunately, there are passable substitutes for dark soy sauce that’s easier to find. You can also choose substitutes based on your dietary requirements.
For example, there are gluten-free substitutes, cheaper sauces, or low-sodium replacements. Calorie-wise, dark soy sauce has around 8 calories per tablespoon.
Balsamic vinegar is a good choice if you want your food to have that deep and dark coloring. It gives a sweet and sour taste to the food – much like dark soy sauce.
They’re best used for cold dishes like salads. Since balsamic vinegar is more sour than sweet, you’d want to use less of it in a dish. You can also use water to dilute the vinegar.
Note that while it comes up early in this list – balsamic vinegar should NOT be your first choice as substitute. Opt for other items in this list and use this as a last resort. One tablespoon of this contains around 16 calories.
Coconut aminos carry the same dark shade of dark soy sauce. Since it’s made from coconut, you don’t have to worry about gluten and its’ safe to eat for people who have a soy allergy.
It also has significantly less sodium, making it the perfect substitute for people who suffer from hypertension. It’s a combination of sweet and salty but at a subtler feel.
Despite the name – coconut aminos tastes nothing like coconut. You can use this as a 1:1 substitute for most recipes. One tablespoon of coconut aminos contains roughly 20 calories. However, this still depends on the brand, so make sure to check beforehand.
Double Black Soy Sauce
The double black is made with extra molasses. This creates a sauce with thicker consistency and a sweeter taste. From the name itself, you can already tell that the soy sauce has a darker shade.
Use less of this soy sauce because the added sweetness can drastically change the overall taste of the product.
They’re best used for cooking dishes like beef and broccoli where you want to achieve that deep and dark coloring. The calories in a double black soy sauce depends on the brand itself. Typically, each tablespoon contains around 20 calories.
Fish sauce is a fixture in many Asian countries – especially the Philippines! It has this very distinctive fishy smell and taste.
The unique taste makes it a perfect substitute for seafood dishes. You can use it for any type of cooked food – but not too much.
Use just half of what the recipe requires for black soy sauce. So for example – you need half a cup of black soy sauce, put in just one-fourth of fish sauce.
This should improve the taste of the dish without overpowering the food with the fishy smell. It’s also pretty low calorie – one tablespoon contains just 8 calories.
Hoisin sauce is a favorite in many Asian cuisines. Sauce ingredients include garlic, sesame seeds, and chili peppers. Each creation is different so expect slight changes in flavor, depending on the bottle you’re getting.
Like dark soy sauce, it’s a combination of sweet and salty tastes but with a slightly different twist.
Others like to compare Hoisin Sauce to American barbeque sauce because of its thick texture. For cooking, the sauce is best used to marinade beef, duck, pork, and chicken. You can also use it for vegetables.
One tablespoon of the sauce contains 35 calories.
Light Soy Sauce
Light soy sauce goes through the same process as dark soy sauce. The difference is with the aging process. Since dark soy sauce goes through a longer period of aging, it comes out thicker, darker, and with a sweeter taste compared to light.
The light version is a good substitute if you’re using the sauce to add a salty taste to the dish. The subtle sweetness of the dark version can be replicated by adding molasses to light soy sauce.
Combined with other ingredients, light soy sauce can also be used to marinate meat. Note that light soy sauce has a diluted texture, so it won’t give you a creamy dipping sauce.
The flavor won’t be heavily affected, but you’ll definitely notice a difference in the dipping experience.
One tablespoon of light soy sauce generally contains 8.5 calories, although this may change, depending on the brand. Follow a 1:1 ratio.
If you want it to taste as close to dark soy sauce as possible, you can also create your own mix with light soy sauce as your base. For every 2 teaspoons of light soy sauce, add ½ teaspoon of molasses and ½ teaspoon of sugar.
Miso paste is best used as a substitute for cooked dishes. As the name suggests, the ingredient is a paste instead of a sauce. Adding it to cooked dishes lets it melt and mix with the rest of the food. If you’re using it as a sauce however, you will need to dilute it with water.
Taste wise, the paste tastes just like dark soy sauce – without the dark shade. Miso paste is made from fermented soya beans and adds umami to every dish. One tablespoon of miso paste contains 33.7 calories.
You can also use molasses as a substitute if you’re looking for something that adds a deep and dark shade to the food. Note however that molasses has a sweet and smoky flavor.
It has no trace of salt, so you might not get the exact result you want.
Light molasses bleeds have a milder feel to them and won’t overpower you with its sweetness. It’s a last resort substitute since in terms of flavor, there’s a huge difference with dark soy sauce.
Molasses can also be high-calorie with some brands ranking at 61 calories per 1 tablespoon. Use this only if you’re adding molasses in very small amounts.
Some people also add molasses to regular soy sauce to create a better dark soy sauce substitute.
Mushroom Flavored Dark Soy Sauce
Mushroom offers a very unique taste in dishes. This is something you can add by substituting dark soy sauce with the mushroom flavored type.
This isn’t really a big leap taste-wise because mushroom offers a deep but subtle flavor to the dish. The color and thickness of the sauce is largely the same and will give you that deep hue.
Substitution follows a 1:1 ratio so there’s no need to worry about portion sizes. The calorie content of the soy sauce depends on the brand you’re getting. Generally though, you can get around 25 calories per tablespoon of the mushroom soy sauce.
Oyster sauce is easier to find in most stores, and therefore an easier substitute. It can be a problem for people who have a shellfish allergy. In terms of taste however – it’s pretty close to dark soy sauce. The flavor is both salty and sweet but obviously tasting heavily of oyster.
The color is equally dark so you can get a beautifully dark hue using this product. Because of the oyster taste, this sauce is best added to dishes where seafood is the primary ingredient.
Others like to use the sauce for meats like tofu, chicken, beef, and duck. This helps bring out the flavor of the dish while adding layers to the flavor. A tablespoon of oyster sauce contains around 9 calories.
Tamari is another good substitute. It’s made from soybeans too and has the same salty taste. Color-wise, tamari isn’t an exact match to dark soy sauce. It also has a diluted feel to it. The sauce is best added to dishes where the flavor and not color is the goal.
Using a 1:1 ratio substitution, tamari helps add a burst of umami into the food. It blends well with any type of meat and is a gluten-free option for those who are following a specific diet.
A tablespoon of tamari contains approximately 11 calories, although you’d want to check the specific brand.
Teriyaki sauce has this thick and glossy look that largely resembles dark soy sauce. It makes for a perfect glazing in meat and gives your stir-fry recipes this very appealing look. The taste is a mixture of sweet and salty, just like dark-soy.
Soy sauce has more antioxidants than red wine!
You can use it as a marinade, as a sauce in itself, or added into cooked dishes. Note that teriyaki typically contains additional ingredients like garlic. The overall taste therefore is slightly different and will give your food an added umami kick.
Compared to other substitutes in this list, teriyaki sauce is actually one of the best possible choices. Plus, the substitution is simple and straightforward. Just follow a 1:1 ratio.
You can find different brands of teriyaki sauce. Generally, 1 tablespoon of the product contains 16 calories.
This sauce is an excellent marinade. It has a salty and savory flavor with an added tang that’s perfect for meat dishes. It’s probably one of the easiest substitutes to find – especially since the sauce is commonly used in other dishes.
Italian cooking uses Worcestershire heavily in their sauces while Americans love to add it to their burger patties. The sauce carries a heavy color but with a more watery texture.
Taste-wise, note that Worcestershire has a less sweet taste. Most people who use this as a substitute try to add sugar or spices to the mix for added flavor. For the sauce itself, just follow a 1:1 ratio. One tablespoon of Worcestershire contains approximately 13 calories.
DIY Own Dark Soy Sauce
Finally, it’s perfectly possible to make your own dark soy sauce. To do this, you’ll have to mix 2 cups of dark brown sugar, one cup of generic soy sauce, and ½ cup of water. Combine these three ingredients together and cook them on the stove.
Consistently mix while applying low to medium heat until the sugar dissolves completely. The liquid should have a slightly thicker consistency as the sugar mixes with the liquid. Adjust the taste, depending on your personal preferences. Let it cool down and mix with your final dish!