Hoisin Sauce vs Oyster Sauce: What’s the Difference?

Hoisin Sauce

If you are a fan of Chinese cuisine, you have most likely heard of hoisin sauce and oyster sauce. Both are important ingredients in many dishes because of their unique flavor.

These sauces are used with Asian dishes and they grow in popularity in other cuisines as well. If you want to learn how are these sauces different as well as how are they similar, read on.

Hoisin Sauce vs Oyster Sauce: Key Differences

The main difference between these two sauces is in terms of flavor.

Hoisin sauce is sweeter and a bit salty while the oyster sauce is saltier and just a bit sweet. There are also differences in terms of color. Hoisin sauce, for instance, has a dark red color while oyster sauce has lighter, brownish color.

At the same time, you will discover that hoisin sauce is thicker than oyster sauce but this feature depends also on the recipe used.

Hoisin Sause vs Oyster Sauce: Comparison Chart

Name  Hoisin sauce  Oyster sauce 
Ingredients  Soybeans, chili, garlic, sesame seeds, sugar, vinegar, spices, salt, starches, water  Oyster extract, sugar, salt, thickeners, flavors, starches, water
Color  Dark red  Brown 
Texture  Thicker texture  More watery texture 
Flavor  Sweeter and salty  Saltier and sweet 
Nutritional value 1615mg/100g salt

27g/100g sugar 


2733mg/100g salt 

0g/100g sugar

Not vegan

Can I Substitute Oyster Sauce for Hoisin Sauce in a Recipe?

In spite of the differences between these two sauces, you can still use them one instead of the other in most Asian recipes. This works even better if you prefer one sauce over the other so you can definitely choose to use the one you like most.

If you replace hoisin sauce with oyster sauce it is crucial to consider that the oyster sauce is saltier. So, use smaller amounts of oyster sauce in this case or reduce the added amount of salt to your recipe.

For any meal where you replace the oyster sauce with hoisin sauce, you can keep the same ratio. If you want to get a saltier taste with a fish flavor, you can always add salt and fish sauce to obtain a more similar flavor to the one offered by the oyster sauce.

The exception to these rules is if you want to use oyster sauce as a dipping sauce which is not the best option. However, if you still have to use oyster sauce like this, you can try diluting it with water in order to reduce the salty taste it has.

Do Hoisin and Oyster Sauce Go Together?

If you want to mix hoisin sauce with oyster sauce, you can do so.

However, if you like the result or not will depend on your taste. When you mix hoisin sauce with oyster sauce in the same recipe, do that in a separate bowl. That way, you can get better control over the quantities.

Start by adding 1 part of hoisin sauce and half the quantity of oyster sauce. Taste your mix and adjust according to your preferences by adding more hoisin or more oyster sauce. 

Hoisin or Oyster Sauce for Fried Rice?

When you prepare stir-fries or fried rice, oyster sauce is the perfect option if you want to respect the traditional Asian recipes. Oyster sauce is better than hoisin sauce in fried dishes as well as other cooked recipes but you will have to control the salt in your dish.

The oyster sauce is saltier than other sauces, so you might need to dilute it or skip adding any extra salt to your food. Also, oyster sauce is one of the best substitutes for fish sauce in a variety of recipes.

Oyster sauce will add the umami flavor that is so specific to Asian cuisine. It will also compliment your dish with a nice glazed look that will make it more appealing to you and your guests.

How to Use Hoisin Sauce in Your Recipes?

Hoisin sauce

Hoisin sauce is ideal as a dipping sauce. However, you can use it in other dishes including salad dressings, stir-fries instead of oyster sauce, and baked dishes.

This sauce will replace oyster sauce successfully, especially if you add a pinch of salt or some fish sauce to top it.  If you use hoisin sauce as a dipping sauce, just know that it will perform best for pancakes, spring rolls, dumplings, and other similar recipes.

You can use hoisin sauce plain or combine it with other sauces or spices according to your preferences. Having a thick texture, this sauce is perfect to dip into it and you only need a little of it to satisfy one portion. 

You will love hoisin sauce as a glaze for different meats and fish and you can use it in marinates too. It goes great with chicken, beef, different veggies, noodles, and stir-fries. 

How to Use Oyster Sauce in Recipes?

Besides using it in fried rice or other stir-fries, you can also use it in Sichuan noodles, Pad Thai, Chow mein, Kung Pao Shrimp, or different meat dishes. It goes great with beef and fish since it already has a fish taste to it due to the oyster extract.

The brand of oyster sauce you use is very important. Different brands might make this sauce taste different, so you will have to try it out more and stick with the one that works best for you.

Some types of oyster sauce are too salty or the oyster taste might be too strong. And this could further overwhelm the flavor of your recipe.

Tasting your oyster sauce before using it will help you identify how much of it you should use or if you might want to try a different brand. 

Is Hoisin Sauce Better Than Oyster Sauce?

In moderation, both hoisin sauce and oyster sauce are safe to be consumed. However, if you are looking to reduce your salt intake, you will want to choose hoisin sauce rather than oyster sauce.

However, hoisin sauce has a good amount of sugar that you will not find in oyster sauces. So, when it comes to your health, what you pick is according to your needs and taste.

Both sauces are rich in ingredients that could harm you if you eat them frequently and in larger quantities. When you decide on the ratio, follow your personal preferences. However, don’t add too much of any of these sauces because they could take over other flavors in your dish. 

It is important to mention that you will have to pay attention to the ingredient list when you purchase either one of these sauces.

Some brands modified the original recipe significantly and you might find that they have more sauce or sugar as well as more artificial flavoring than usual.

It is best to stay away from the cheapest options on the market when investing in these sauces and make sure they use high-quality ingredients.


Hoisin sauce and oyster sauce can definitely take your recipes to new levels and give your food the umami flavor you are looking for.

Most likely, your recipes will suggest you use a certain amount of one of these sauces. However, you can go for your preferences when you decide the ratio.

As long as you taste the sauces beforehand, you will not fail in terms of flavor and your guests will be impressed. If you want a unique flavor, you can always try making a mix of these sauces and you might be charmed by the result.

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