11 Best Substitutes For Sweet Soy Sauce

Are you craving a delicious Indonesian meal but have run out of sweet soy? Then this article is for you. 

Originated in Indonesia, sweet soy has a velvety-sweet flavor that works fantastically to prepare the base for dips, marinades, and salad dressings.

Also referred to as kecap manis, its sweet aromatic flavor comes from a significant proportion of palm sugar, molasses, and jaggery. Spices including cinnamon, black peppercorns, star anise, clove, and coriander also enhance its flavor profile. 

Sweet soy sauce makes Indonesian dishes taste rich in flavor and attractive in appearance. But if you cannot find it in your kitchen cabinets, do not worry.

Because here is a list of 11 sweet soy sauce substitutes that will save you from the embarrassment of serving an Indonesian dish lacking the rich flavors of kecap manis.


11 Best Substitutes For Sweet Soy Sauce

1. Oyster sauce

oyster sauce with lemon

One of the first ingredients that come to mind when looking for a sweet soy sauce substitute is oyster sauce.

Its sweet-salty taste combined with its health benefits makes it an ideal alternative. The best applications of oyster sauce are in savory recipes that call for just the right amount of sweetness.

Additionally, it works well in stir-fries and dipping sauces. The gluten-free nature and fewer calories content of oyster sauce makes it a healthier alternative. It is a wise choice for people seeking to control their weight or blood pressure. 

How to substitute: Two tablespoons of oyster sauce can easily substitute for one tablespoon of sweet soy in any recipe. 

However, if you want to reduce the amount of sugar added to your recipe, then the same quantity of oyster sauce can be satisfactorily used as a replacement.  

2. Soy sauce with brown sugar

Soy sauce mixed with brown sugar

Always check your pantry for regular soy sauce when you have run out of sweet soy. And if you have it in store, then here you go. You have your ideal sweet soy sauce substitute. 

A combination of brown sugar and regular soy sauce works best to replace kecap manis. The two components complement each other, providing a luscious texture and flavor. 

It works particularly well in marinades, glazes, sauces, and stir-fries. Additionally, it can be applied to poultry or meat and as a coating.

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How to substitute: An equal quantity of brown sugar and soy sauce mixed together can easily replace sweet soy sauce in any recipe.

3. Tamari sauce

Tamari sauce

A Japanese soy sauce, tamari is another substitute that will nicely replace sweet soy sauce in your recipe.

Its gluten-free characteristic makes it a fantastic option for people suffering from gluten sensitivities. It works well in marinades and dipping sauces. 

You must be cautious with the quantity used as tamari is a milder variation of soy sauce. Using it with a sweetener works best and can help you transform it into a satisfactory sweet soy sauce substitute.

How to substitute: An equal quantity of tamari sauce can easily replace sweet soy in any recipe. 

4. Hoisin sauce

Hoisin sauce in a spoon

Popularly used in Cantonese cuisine, hoisin sauce comes next on the list of sweet soy substitutes. 

Several components, including soybeans, sugar, vinegar, and spices, blend to form the thick, dark hoisin sauce. Its similar consistency and sugary flavor to sweet soy make it a perfect substitute. 

It can be utilized as a dipping sauce in addition to its traditional uses as a marinade, glaze, noodles, vegetables, and stir-fries.

How to substitute: Use the same amount of hoisin sauce as stated in your recipe containing sweet soy sauce.

5. Coconut aminos

Coconut aminos

If you are looking for a gluten-free, low-salt substitute, coconut aminos is an excellent option. Food items that constitute a part of Asian cuisine like various noodle meals and stir-fries taste great with coconut aminos. 

It has a lighter color than sweet soy, much less salt, and a little sweeter flavor. However, the combination of its salty, sweet, and umami flavors makes it a fantastic alternative.

Sweet soy sauce is a healthier option and a smart choice for people aiming to limit the amount of sodium they consume in their diet. 

How to substitute: An equal quantity of coconut aminos works best to replace sweet soy in any recipe.  

6. Barbecue sauce

Barbecue sauce

A staple in most households, barbecue sauce works well as a sweet soy sauce substitute. 

Although the flavor profile is similar, it is a little sweet, and slightly salty. Barbecue sauce is popularly used to prepare stir-fries, dipping sauces, or marinades.

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The added advantage of using Barbecue sauce as a replacement is that it is easily found in most stores and is less expensive than soy sauce.

How to substitute: An equal quantity of barbecue sauce can be satisfactorily used to substitute sweet soy sauce.

7. Lao chou

Dark soy sauce

Dark soy sauce or Lao chou is popularly used in Southeast Asian and Chinese cooking. Soybeans are fermented to provide Lao chou with its strong flavor and syrupy texture. 

Most people prefer using dark soy sauce as a seasoning or coloring ingredient instead of serving it as a table condiment. It might not provide the exact taste of sweet soy as it has a mild sugary flavor, but you can efficiently use it to give a rich color to your dish.

It has a characteristic umami flavor that will make you nostalgic for vegemite and marmite spreads made with yeast extract. 

How to substitute: An equal quantity of Lao chou can best replace sweet soy sauce in any recipe. 

Further, adding a quarter portion of the palm, maple syrup, brown sugar or coconut will complement the sugary taste of kecap manis.

8. Tianmian sauce

Tianmian sauce is a silky, thick, dark brown paste usually used in Chinese cuisine that serves as a great sweet soy sauce replacement.

Fermented wheat flour and salt comprise their key components. In terms of taste and color, the two sauces are comparable. Although tianmian sauce is a little sweeter and has low salt quantity than soy sauce, its flavor can range from mildly sweet to strongly savory.

It is ideal for stir-fries, marinades, beef fry, dips, and chicken because of its slightly smokey and sweet flavor. 

How to substitute: Use an equal amount of tianmian sauce to substitute sweet soy in any dish.  

9. Teriyaki sauce

Teriyaki sauce

Teriyaki sauce is another easy substitute for sweet soy sauce. It has a great flavor that goes well with a wide range of food items, making it adaptable enough to be utilized in a variety of recipes. 

However, you need to be cautious when substituting teriyaki as it has a much more sugary taste than sweet soy. 

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Since teriyaki lacks the umami flavor, it is best employed in recipes where the balance of savory and sweet taste takes precedence over the richness of its flavors.

How to substitute: Teriyaki sauce should be added in half the quantity of sweet soy sauce mentioned in your recipe. 

10. Fish sauce

Fish sauce

Fish sauce is another powerful substitute for sweet soy sauce. Popularly used in Asian cuisine, it is prepared from fermented fish and contains an umami flavor with saline undertones.  

Fish sauce enhances the flavor profile of marinades, dips, and pan-fries. You can also use it as a condiment or a dipping sauce. 

Because fish sauce has high salt content, it may be necessary to alter the other flavors in recipes when using it as a substitute for sweet soy sauce.

How to substitute: Use one-fourth cup of fish sauce for every cup of sweet soy sauce recommended in the recipe.

11. Regular soy sauce with honey

Regular soy sauce with honey

If it is one of those days in your kitchen when you run out of a major chunk of ingredients, then this substitute is for you. 

Regular soy sauce, when mixed with honey, works as efficiently as sweet soy sauce. Honey works as a natural sweetener providing a salty-sugary flavor to this combination making it ideal for marinating and preparing dips. 

Further, adding honey to soy sauce makes it a healthier alternative because it has fewer calories. 

How to substitute: To prepare this mixture, you will need soy sauce and water in an equal proportion mixed with honey (three-fourth cup). Put these ingredients in a heating pan and boil the mixture.

Then use this mixture in an equal amount when substituting sweet soy in any dish. 


Running out of ingredients while preparing your favorite dish can be extremely frustrating. But when it comes to sweet soy, you no longer have to worry.

You will find this sweet soy sauce substitute handy in your kitchen at any time of the day. So go ahead, choose your ideal substitute, add a pinch of your twist, and do not let your family miss out on the velvety richness of sweet soy sauce. 

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