Soy sauce is specific to Asian cuisine, but in the past years, it became just as popular in different parts of the world. You can use it in stir-fries, other sauces, and even in soups, stews, and salads.
This sauce can enhance the flavor of any type of food and you can also get creative with it when you use it in your kitchen. However, if you can’t find light soy sauce, there is no need to worry as we gathered the best substitutes you can use to save your recipe.
You can use some of the substitutes for light soy sauce like dark soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, Hoisin sauce, Tamari sauce, oyster sauce, fish sauce, teriyaki sauce, coconut aminos, dried mushrooms, miso paste, Maggi seasoning, and anchovies.
We will talk about each one of these substitutes in today’s guide so you can easily decide what’s the best option for your recipe!
Best Substitutes for Light Soy Sauce
Use the following substitutes according to your taste and the recipe you are making. Even if the flavor of your dish might be slightly different, you can be sure that it will be just as tasty.
1. Dark soy sauce
If you don’t have light soy sauce, you can still prepare your recipe with dark soy sauce.
The taste is fairly the same but the dark version of soy sauce is more intense. The flavor of dark soy sauce might be slightly different, depending on the manufacturer and the recipe that was followed.
Another thing to consider is the color of this sauce. If you use dark soy sauce, your dish will look darker but if this doesn’t bother you, it is a great option to go for.
2. Worcestershire sauce
Worcestershire sauce is also a fermented sauce that could replace light soy sauce and even dark soy sauce in any type of recipe.
You will find a similar umami flavor to Worcestershire sauce that you find in soy sauce, even if the ingredients are a bit different. Worcestershire sauce contains less sodium and is gluten-free as well as soy-free.
So, if you replace your light soy sauce with Worcestershire sauce, you might have to add some extra salt, according to your taste. Other than that, you can keep the same ratio and follow your preferences.
3. Hoisin sauce
The taste of hoisin sauce is tangy and salty, which makes it a good substitute for soy sauce.
It also has soybeans along with other ingredients like fennel, garlic, red chili peppers, and several seasoning that might differ from one recipe to another. This sauce has darker color so if you use it instead of light soy sauce, your food will look different.
You can keep the same ratio when you replace light soy sauce with hoisin sauce. However, check your sauce beforehand to decide how much you need to add according to your taste.
This alternative is a great option for meat dishes as well as stir-fries.
4. Tamari sauce
If you don’t have light soy sauce but you have tamari sauce, you can still make your desired dish successfully.
The flavor of tamari sauce is incredibly close to soy sauce in both light and dark versions. So, in some dishes, you might even find it hard to notice the difference.
Tamari sauce is made of soybeans, but it is gluten-free, making it a preferable alternative for those who try to avoid gluten. Thanks to the similar amount of salt between soy sauce and tamari sauce, you can use these sauces interchangeably, with the same ratio.
5. Oyster sauce
If you want to add oyster sauce instead of light soy sauce, you will end up with a delicious dish. However, it is important to taste the oyster sauce you are using because there are several types on the market and the taste will also differ.
This alternative is also gluten-free and the amount of salt is generally smaller than in soy sauce. If you choose a darker oyster sauce, it will also be thicker, so your food will have a different aspect.
You can substitute soy sauce with oyster sauce by following the same ratio but it will help you to taste your oyster sauce before adding it so you know exactly how much to add to your dish.
6. Fish sauce
Fish sauce can successfully replace both dark and light soy sauce, in any recipe you want. This replacement has a fish taste that you will not find in soy sauce.
Therefore, your food will taste slightly different. The salty and umami taste of fish sauce makes it a perfect replacement for soy sauce in a wide range of recipes.
Note that this option is not vegan. Therefore, if you are looking for a vegan substitute you will have to pick something else. Keep the same ratio when substituting soy sauce with fish sauce.
7. Teriyaki sauce
We have to mention the teriyaki sauce as a substitute for soy sauce as it also contains soy sauce along with garlic, ginger, honey, and other seasoning ingredients.
You can use Teriyaki sauce in different dishes including salads, meat dishes, stir-fries, etc. And you will not go wrong as it is a delicious ingredient to add to your food.
Teriyaki sauce comes from Japan and it was easily incorporated into many cuisines around the world thanks to its flavor. Use it instead of soy sauce on the same ratio and your final dish will have a very rich taste that everyone will love.
8. Coconut aminos
Coconut aminos is a sauce that has the same umami flavor as soy sauce but it is sweeter and it contains less salt. So, if you use this alternative, you will have to adjust the extra salt you add to your food accordingly.
If you like a mild taste of coconut in your food and prefer less salty options, this is a great substitute for you. Many people use more coconut aminos sauce than soy sauce. However, you can start with an equal ratio and increase the amount according to your preferences.
9. Dried mushrooms
Dried mushrooms might come as a surprise when you are looking for soy sauce substitutes but they can truly save your recipe. You will not use the mushrooms unless you want to, but you will rehydrate them in water and use the water as a replacement for soy sauce.
This will give your food a lovely, umami flavor, without the added salt or other ingredients you find in soy sauce. Shiitake mushrooms make a great choice as they have a richer flavor than other types of mushrooms.
You can add as much of it as you want. However, keep in mind that you might have to complete this substitute with salt in order to obtain a closer flavor.
10. Miso paste
Miso paste is easy to find, especially in Asian markets and you can use it in any dish that calls for soy sauce. The main ingredient in miso paste is fermented soybeans so you will obtain a similar flavor.
You will have to mix the miso paste with water. The common ratio is one teaspoon of miso paste mixed in one cup of water to obtain a sauce.
If you want, you can dilute it more or less according to the consistency you are looking for and how intense you want its flavor to be.
11. Maggi seasoning
Maggi season is a Swiss ingredient that also adds the umami flavor you get from soybeans, even if the taste of this condiment is slightly different.
This replacement can be a lot more intense in flavor compared to light soy sauce, thus you want to add half of the quantity you would normally use if you had light soy sauce.
However, if you like its taste, feel free to add as much as you want to create a tasty dish.
Anchovies might not be the first substitute for light soy sauce but they can definitely add a tasty flavor to your dish.
They will not add the sauce texture you get from soy sauce but if you chop them and add them to your dish, you will definitely obtain a delicious taste. They go great in curries and stir-fries as well as soups and stews.
Depending on how long you cook your food and how fine you chop your anchovies, they might melt in your dish or give it an interesting texture. Add as many anchovies as you want to obtain a dish that everyone loves.
How Do You Make Light Soy Sauce From Soy Sauce?
If you have dark soy sauce, you can use it as it is in your recipe instead of light soy sauce. Or you can dilute it with water. Dark soy sauce is darker and more intense than light soy sauce, which is why many people and chefs, prefer to dilute it to get it as close as possible to light soy sauce.
You can dilute it by adding one part of dark soy sauce and one part of the water in a bowl and mixing. Then, add the mixture to your recipe just like you would use light soy sauce.
Is Kikkoman Soy Sauce Light or Dark?
Kikkoman soy sauce is a traditional dark soy sauce, commonly used in Asian cuisine, especially Chinese cuisine. However, nowadays you will find options of this sauce that are tagged as light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, and even thin soy sauce or thick soy sauce.
There is also a gluten-free version of the Kikkoman soy sauce that uses rice instead of wheat. So, this is one of the most diverse types of soy sauces you will find on the market.
Light or Dark Soy Sauce for Sushi?
Sushi calls for dark soy sauce, as a general rule. However, you can use light soy sauce just as well if you don’t have the dark version.
If you prefer light soy sauce with your sushi, however, you only have a dark one, don’t hesitate to dilute it with water.
You will obtain just the taste you are looking for and you will be able to enjoy your sushi just the way you like it.
Dark or Light Soy Sauce for Fried Rice?
When it comes to fried rice, the choice between light soy sauce and dark soy sauce can be very subjective. The dark one will give your food a darker color that not everyone likes. On the other hand, dark soy sauce has a more intense flavor even if it generally contains less salt.
You can use both types of soy sauce for fried rice. However, the traditional recipes call for light soy sauce.
Even if you are lacking light soy sauce in your kitchen, you can still cook your favorite dish with one of the substitutes in this guide. In some cases, you might even prefer to keep the substitute as a permanent ingredient for your recipe as many will add an interesting flavor to your food.