dark soy sauce substitutes

13 Best Dark Soy Sauce Substitutes

Dark soy sauce has been a staple ingredient if you’re a fan of Asian cuisine. But if you forgot to stock up on this condiment and are in a pinch, here are 13 of the best substitutes for dark soy sauce!

You’ll need an alternative which achieves to give the same color and umami flavor which is characteristic of dark soy sauce. Moreover, it is essential in marinades to give your food that dark yet shiny appearance. 

Outline

13 Best Dark Soy Sauce Substitutes

1. Light Soy Sauce

Possibly my top recommendation when it comes to substitutes for dark soy sauce, light soy sauce checks out most of the boxes when it comes to emulating the former. Similar to dark soy sauce, light soy sauce is made with fermented soybeans, but they don’t contain molasses.

This makes it considerably thinner and less sweet. But light soy sauce is equally salty and gives your dish the umami flavor you’re looking for whenever you use dark soy sauce. If appearance isn’t a factor, light soy sauce can give you the same flavors at the cost of dark glaze.

If you want to add some sweetness to light soy sauce, you can add light brown sugar or molasses in small quantities to achieve that.

How to Substitute: 

1 tablespoon of light soy sauce can substitute 1 tablespoon of dark soy sauce. 

2. Coconut Aminos

Coconut aminos is a condiment that is quickly gaining popularity as a healthier choice, as well as an alternative for dark soy sauce. 

It is made with fermented coconuts and sea salt. Despite what the name might have you believe, most of the sauces available in the market do not taste like coconuts! This is a perfect substitute for people allergic to soy or wheat. 

Coconut aminos contain essential amino acids, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and even lesser amounts of sodium to help reduce your overall salt intake throughout the day.

How to Substitute:

Coconut aminos can substitute dark soy sauce in a 1:1 ratio. 

3. Teriyaki Sauce

Teriyaki sauce has been used in meats, seafood, and stir-fries in many Asian cuisines. It has a dark and glossy color similar to that of dark soy sauce. Its flavor profile is characterized by its saltiness, sweetness, and umami. Teriyaki sauce has long been used as a marinade, ingredient, and condiment. 

It can be used in any recipe which calls for dark soy sauce. However, keep in mind that teriyaki sauce has additional ingredients infused in it, such as garlic and ginger. This will affect the overall flavor of your dish. You can choose to use lesser quantities of these ingredients when using teriyaki sauce to replace dark soy sauce. 

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How to Substitute:

1 tablespoon of teriyaki sauce can substitute 1 tablespoon of dark soy sauce. 

4. Oyster Sauce

With a similar dark color and thick texture, oyster sauce is a perfect add-on to your seafood dish. Oyster sauce is rich in umami, as well as having the same saltiness and sweetness you’d find in dark soy sauce.

The name might lead you to believe it has a strong oyster flavor with it, but that is not the case. Oyster sauce only has a hint of caramelized oyster in its flavor profile. Its color and texture means it is a perfect substitute for dark soy sauce when you’re making stir-fry, tofu, simple beef dishes, Sichuan noodles, and even duck. 

How to Substitute:

Oyster sauce can substitute dark soy sauce in a 1:1 ratio. 

5. Hoisin Sauce

Another staple in Asian cuisines, hoisin sauce is widely used in several stir-fries, duck, pork, and other meat-based dishes, and vegetables. 

Hoisin sauce has a rich umami flavor, alongside a flavor profile that is sweet and salty. The color is similar to that of dark soy sauce. However, using this will not give you the same results as dark soy sauce as hoisin sauce contains additional ingredients which give it a unique flavor. Some of these include sesame seeds, chili peppers, and garlic. 

Alternatively, you can simply choose to use less of these ingredients if they’re present in your recipe already. 

How to Substitute:

1/2 teaspoon of hoisin sauce substitutes 1 teaspoon of dark soy sauce. 

6. Worcestershire Sauce

Moving from Asian staples to an ingredient that spans several countries, Worcestershire sauce adds a tangy kick regardless of whichever dish you add it to. A popular component of burger patties and Italian dishes, Worcestershire sauce is salty and rich in umami flavor. 

With that said, it is different from soy sauce in more ways than one. Worcestershire sauce is considerably thinner and lacks the subtly sweet taste which would have been present in dark soy sauce. This might leave you with a dish that tastes nothing like the original recipe. Like light soy sauce, you can add a tad bit of sweeteners like molasses or light brown sugar. 

How to Substitute:

1/2 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce can substitute 1 teaspoon of dark soy sauce.

7. Tamari

A type of sauce that is more prevalent in Japanese cuisines, tamari is also a great substitute for dark soy sauce. Some people go as far as to view it as the Japanese version of soy sauce. 

Tamari is also a great gluten-free alternative because it doesn’t contain wheat. Tamari is perfect for when you want to recreate the umami flavors as well as the saltiness and sweetness you would have gotten from dark soy sauce. However, the difference between the two comes from their color. Tamari’s color is somewhere in between light and dark soy sauce. 

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Unless color is a vital factor in your dish, tamari is another perfect alternative for dipping sauce and ingredients. 

How to Substitute:

Tamari can substitute dark soy sauce in a 1:1 ratio. 

8. Mushroom Flavored Soy Sauce

As the name might have given it away, mushroom soy sauce is made with mushrooms, dark soy sauce, some herbs, and so on. Mushrooms have been a major ingredient whenever a dish calls for umami flavors. 

However, depending on which brand you buy, you will get varying degrees of mushroom flavors in your dish. But if you’re okay with mild quantities of that, mushroom soy sauce is a great substitute for dark soy sauce. Given its color and saltiness, most people cannot distinguish between the two regardless. The texture of this sauce aligns perfectly with dark soy sauce too.

How to Substitute:

1 teaspoon of mushroom-flavored soy sauce can substitute 1 teaspoon of dark soy sauce. 

9. Double Black Soy Sauce

In case you weren’t satisfied with regular dark soy sauce, double black soy sauce is here to give you a more intense kick! 

What makes it different is the added molasses, which means it is more sweeter and intense. While most people might not be into that kind of flavor profile, it will certainly work in a pinch when used in moderation. 

Double black soy sauce may be a little harder to find in Western markets, but it can be purchased from several online retailers. It even has a darker color. The flavor profile, texture, and color combine together to make double black soy sauce perfect for braising or caramelizing.  

How to Substitute:

1/2 teaspoon of double black soy sauce can substitute 1 teaspoon of dark soy sauce.

10. Miso Paste

A common ingredient in Japanese cuisine, miso paste has been used to liven up several dishes such as soups and ramen. 

Similar to dark soy sauce, miso paste is made with fermented soybeans and a mold called “koji”. It is extremely concentrated, so you have to dilute this before you can use it in your recipes, or just use a small fraction of it. 

Miso paste comes extremely close to tasting like dark soy sauce. However, the texture is extremely different. The paste itself is sold and diluting which means it gets thinner than dark soy sauce. But it is still a viable alternative when you need that umami kick in a pinch.

How to Substitute:

1 tablespoon of miso paste can substitute one cup of dark soy sauce. 

11. Fish Sauce

Like the oyster sauce, fish sauce is another great substitute if you don’t mind the fish-y flavor, or need it for seafood. 

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Fish sauce is made by fermenting fish in salt over a couple of years, which ends up producing an intense, salty, and umami-rich condiment. However, keep in mind that fish sauce can overpower most flavors in your dishes, such as meat or poultry. 

Given its intense flavor, it is best used in smaller quantities, and avoided if you’re making vegetarian dishes!

How to Substitute:

1/2 tablespoon of fish sauce can substitute 1 tablespoon of dark soy sauce. 

12. Balsamic Vinegar

Balsamic vinegar is probably my last resort. It might not be ideal, but it works if you’re in desperate need of dark soy sauce. 

Balsamic vinegar possesses the same dark color and sweetness, but its intense sourness makes it completely different from dark soy sauce in terms of flavor. Although used mostly in salads and Italian dishes, balsamic vinegar can be used in more or less any recipe which calls for dark soy sauce, provided you improvise a little on the taste aspect of it.

Much like some of the other entries, balsamic vinegar has to be diluted a little in order to be used in dishes that need the umami. 

How to Substitute:

1/2 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar can substitute 1 tablespoon of dark soy sauce.

13. Make Your Own Soy Sauce!

Lastly, if you have none of these options available, making your own dark soy sauce from the comfort of your home takes no more than 5 easy steps! 

To begin, you need light soy sauce, light brown sugar, and water. To make the sugar syrup, you just need to add 2 cups of light brown sugar to 1/2 cup of water. Mix them till they start to boil, and place them on medium heat till you’re left with sugar syrup. Once this liquid cools down, it’ll darken up to a color similar to molasses.

Gradually start adding 1 cup of light soy sauce to the sugar syrup until it has blended completely. Once thickened, remove the dark soy sauce from the heat and store it in a cool place once it has settled down.

How to Substitute:

Homemade dark soy sauce can substitute dark soy sauce in a 1:1 ratio. 

Conclusion 

Geographical restraints should never come in between your culinary adventures. When you’re specifically craving the rich variety of Asian cuisine, you can never skip out on the essential umami kick that you get from dark soy sauce.

Fortunately, you now know 13 of the best substitutes for dark soy sauce, so you don’t have to hunt down a bottle of it whenever you’re in a pinch! 

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