13 Best Dark Soy Sauce Substitutes For Your Food

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Sauces are vital prerequisites if you aim to brew something magical and mouthwatering. They add tanginess, sharpness, texture, and moisture to dishes. Not to mention the flavors they add to the dishes.

Dark Soy Sauce

Soy sauce is perhaps one of the oldest condiments used for culinary purposes. This staple Chinese pantry item has two types; light and dark.

As the name suggests, the former is lighter while the latter is darker in color. Dark soy sauce is thicker and darker in texture. With rich color, flavor, and aroma, it effortlessly enhances the taste of any dish that you cook. 

In dishes where dark soy sauce is the major ingredient, there isn’t much you can do to cook your dish victoriously without it. Yeah, the ride isn’t so funny if this elite passenger isn’t aboard. Thought about its substitutes?

Some of the best dark soy sauce substitutes are tamari, light soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, oyster sauce, mushroom soy sauce, and coconut aminos.

You must have very well heard of dark soy sauce. Care to dive in deeper? I promise to bore you with relevant facts only.*wink*

Quick Peek: Dark Soy Sauce

Dark Soy sauce in a bowl

Before moving on to its substitutes, let us have a really quick look at dark soy sauce, its culinary uses, and its health benefits. 

Dark Soy Sauce In The Culinary World

Dark soy sauce is prepared using regular soy sauce, sugar, and molasses. It is thicker, darker, and sweeter, with less salinity than regular soy sauce. An enlightened soy sauce it is! 

So now you won’t falter to explain when someone deems both dark soy sauce and soy sauce the same. Talk some sense to their sauce there! 

Dark soy sauce is primarily used as a dipping sauce. Additionally, it is used in marinades, sauces, gravies, and stir-fries. It renders an irresistible effect on cooked meat when braised. 

Dark Soy Sauce On The Health Radar | Looking Through The Wellness Telescope

Do you know about antioxidants? Well, dark soy sauce is high in antioxidants which prevent or delay cell damage. Consumption of dark soy sauce can ensure you get the necessary sodium which is really important.

Apart from these, there is nothing much to talk about dark soy sauce and its health benefits. Everything is to do with its taste and taste only! 

Why Should We Substitute Dark Soy Sauce?

With all the praises that I have showered dark soy sauce with, it must be hard for you to let go of it. Imagine a scenario when you are out of dark soy sauce but are brimming with cooking spirit? You need the help of a bunch of ingredients that can simulate a close flavor of dark soy sauce so that your recipe goes as you wish.

Some of us may have developed an allergic reaction to dark soy sauce and thus seek its best substitutes so that the stir-fry we planned can be enjoyed without going to the doctor for treatment.

Also, you are a buff of creativity, and you wish to experiment by trying out alternatives. There are reasons galore, and it is now time to find out the best substitutes for dark soy sauce.

Other Food Substitutes You Can Try

13 Best Dark Soy Sauce Substitutes

Let us get into finding the substitutes for dark soy sauce. The thirteen best dark soy sauce substitutes are as follows:

1. Tamari


Our first best dark soy sauce substitute is tamari, a Japanese soy sauce variety. It is made using fermented soybeans that are actually obtained as a by-product while preparing miso paste.

While tamari looks and tastes akin to dark soy sauce, it has little to no wheat. It tastes less salty than dark soy sauce but has an underlying umami flavor.

Many people believe that both tamari and dark soy sauce are the same. Well, they are not. Tamari is a type of Japanese, not Chinese, sauce that is the closest substitute to dark soy sauce. Hey, it is also gluten-free! You can use it in dips, soups, and stews. 

2. Light Soy Sauce

Light Soy Sauce

Light soy sauce is an often-used substitute for dark soy sauce due to their inseparable bond (yeah, the sibling stuff). It has the same salty, umami flavor as its darker older sibling.

For sure, light soy sauce will not yield that dark finish. It’s not as sweet as dark soy sauce, and hence a little adjustment is necessary to make it flavorful. 

Light soy sauce can be used with molasses while substituting dark soy sauce in recipes. The only issue that could bother you is that light soy sauce doesn’t have the same texture as dark soy sauce.

3. Teriyaki Sauce

Teriyaki Sauce

Japanese teriyaki sauce is made of soy sauce, mirin, garlic, ginger, sugar, and sake. It has a rich, thick texture and an intense umami flavor. It is frequently used as a marinade, dipping sauce, or glaze.

Teriyaki sauce is a good substitute for soy sauce. The irony here is that soy sauce is also an ingredient in teriyaki sauce.

Teriyaki sauce gives that dark, shiny appearance to dishes like dark soy sauce. The presence of sugar ensures a candied flavor. It has a thick consistency, and you can use it as a cooking agent.

Teriyaki sauce can be used to replace dark soy sauce due to the sweet and salty flavor akin to dark soy sauce. But the presence of other ingredients such as ginger and garlic may give you an altogether different flavor.

4. Oyster Sauce

Oyster Sauce

Oyster sauce emulates both the sweetness and saltiness of dark soy sauce, making it an excellent substitute for dark soy sauce. It smoothly perks up the umami and caramel flavor in your dishes.

However, be mindful of the subtle taste of the oyster it comprises. If you aren’t a fan of oysters, then oyster sauce might not be the alternative for you. Otherwise, it is a great alternative considering the enriching umami flavor.

5. Hoisin Sauce

Hoisin Sauce

A very popular sauce variety used in Cantonese cuisine, hoisin sauce is made from fermented soybeans, five-spice powder, garlic, red chili peppers, and sugar.

It is a delightful addition to stir-fries or is used as a dipping sauce, glaze or marinade. It has an intense salty taste with a slightly sweet flavor as well. It also has a thick texture.

Hoisin sauce is a great alternative to dark soy sauce, considering the salty, umami flavor. But, while choosing to use hoisin as a substitute, be mindful of the other ingredients present in it so that the ultimate flavor of your sauce is not compromised.

6. Mushroom Soy Sauce

Mushroom soy sauce

Fan of mushrooms? If you are an ardent lover of mushrooms, mushroom soy sauce is a perfect solution for you. Mushroom flavored soy sauce is made by adding the essence of straw mushroom to the soy sauce while it’s brewing.

Mushroom soy sauce has a dark color and that umami flavor making it a great dark soy sauce substitute. Its rich texture, flavor, and color can easily replace dark soy sauce in your meals (of course, if you are okay with subtle mushroom flavor).

7. Coconut Aminos

Coconut Aminos

Coconut aminos is a popular seasoning sauce made from fermented coconut sap. It is devoid of soy, wheat, and gluten. Surprisingly, it doesn’t taste like coconut.

It has a salty, savory flavor with subtle hints of sweetness as well. Since it doesn’t contain soy, those allergic to soy or its derivatives can easily use this sauce in their recipes.

Coconut Aminos is not as salty as dark soy sauce. If you wish for a less sodium content version of dark soy sauce clubbed with no soy and gluten, coconut aminos is the perfect dark soy sauce substitute.

8. Molasses


You probably know what molasses is. It is a shiny, dense, brown-colored syrup that is obtained as a result of refining sugar or sugarcanes. It has a rich sweet flavor and a smooth texture. Mild molasses, blackstrap molasses, and dark molasses are the three available varieties of molasses.

If you are out of substitute sauces, replace dark soy sauce with a pinch of molasses and adequate salt. It has a dark color, thick texture, and a bitter-sweet flavor, making it the simplest, most easily-available substitute for dark soy sauce.

9. Miso Paste

Miso paste

Miso paste is a classic Japanese seasoning paste made using fermented soybean. It has an intensely sweet, savory flavor with a gluey texture. There are varieties of miso available, including white, red, and yellow miso paste.

Miso paste is a great substitute for dark soy sauce due to the typical saltiness it renders to your recipes. It might not add color to your meals but can give your dishes an enriching taste and umami flavor.

10. Worcestershire Sauce

Worcestershire Sauce

Hailing from the UK, Worcestershire sauce is a well-known condiment blended with vinegar, molasses, garlic, anchovies, tamarind, chili pepper, cloves, pickles, soy, sugar, and salt. The usage of anchovies and soy sauce gives this sauce a powerful umami flavor. 

Worcestershire sauce has so much in common with dark soy sauce. It has a rich dark color and an unmissable umami flavor. The sweetness of the sauce comes from molasses and added sugar.

The sauce has a tangy flavor due to tamarind and vinegar. These sweet, salty, and umami flavors make Worcestershire sauce a great substitute for dark soy sauce. 

11. Fish Sauce

Fish Sauce


Ever wondered how fish sauce is made? For a period of six to twelve months, fish and salt are subjected to a fermentation process. After around six months, fish extract is further extracted to take out the liquid, which is simply the tasty, flavorful fish sauce.

Behold this perfect sauce if you are cooking seafood or dishes. Fish sauce has a strong flavor with a predominant salty taste. It also adds a brownish color to your dishes. It is wise to add it only after knowing your preference because it has such an intense, umami taste.  

12. Maggi Seasoning Sauce

Maggi Seasoning Sauce

Maggi seasoning is a flavor enhancer used to upgrade the flavor of dishes. It comprises fermented wheat, salt, water, and other natural flavors. You can get it in dark brown liquid, granulated powder, and cube forms. It has an intense salty, umami flavor similar to dark soy sauce.

Maggi seasoning sauce can be another great substitute for dark soy sauce, considering its consistency and salty flavor. Instead of dark soy sauce in soups, stews, and meat, you can use it for that enticing look and luscious flavor! 

13. Balsamic Vinegar

Balsamic Vinegar

Balsamic vinegar is a type of flavorful vinegar coming to us all the way from Italy. It is made using freshly crushed grape juice keeping all the skin, stems, and seeds. It has a well-balanced flavor profile – a play of both sweet and sour flavors.

Balsamic vinegar can be your last resort if you are out of dark soy sauce. It might not enhance the flavor of your dishes like dark soy sauce but can give a salty touch to your dishes.

How To Make DIY Dark Soy Sauce At Home?

dark soy sauce

If you can’t find any of these substitutes (or if they cheated you by ruining your dish), make a dashing dark soy sauce on your own. Here’s how you can make your dark soy sauce at home. 

  • Add 2 cups of dark brown sugar and ½ cup of water in a pan and boil it over high flame, stirring often. 
  • After the sugar dissolves, refrain from stirring and boiling the mixture over medium flame.
  • Continue the process until sugar darkens and obtain something very similar to molasses. 
  • At this juncture, add a cup of soy sauce and stir until you have a much thicker texture. 
  • Your dark soy sauce is ready to be stored and served!

Short Recap

Do you need a short recap on the best substitutes for dark soy sauce? The following points will help you with that:

Flavor: The best dark soy sauce substitutes for flavor would be tamari, light soy sauce, teriyaki, and hoisin sauce.

Texture: The best substitutes for dark soy sauce in terms of texture would be tamari, light soy sauce, teriyaki, mushroom soy sauce, and Maggi liquid seasoning.

Final Musings

Replacing dark soy with substitutes mentioned above isn’t a hefty task. But the nature of your recipe should be considered when choosing any substitute. Except for light soy sauce, tamari and molasses, the rest of the substitutes must be carefully added to whatever you cook.

Feel free to try these substitutes, and let me know if they turned out well. If not for a resounding success, thank me for I have given you the way to make it on your own!

How To Substitute The Above Mentioned Ingredients For Dark Soy Sauce

Dark Soy Sauce

Dark Soy Sauce Substitutes

Here is how you can substitute the above mentioned ingredients for dark soy sauce in a recipe.
5 from 1 vote


  • Tamari
  • Light Soy Sauce
  • Teriyaki Sauce
  • Oyster Sauce
  • Hoisin Sauce
  • Mushroom Soy Sauce
  • Coconut Aminos
  • Molasses
  • Miso Paste
  • Worcestershire Sauce
  • Fish Sauce
  • Maggi Seasoning Sauce
  • Balsamic Vinegar


  • Go through the substitutes and see which one seems fit for the recipe
  • Collect your ingredients and use your preferred substitute.
  • Use the substitute in the required amount and proceed to make the dish according to the recipe.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can double black soy sauce be used to replace dark soy sauce?

Double black soy is basically dark soy sauce with molasses added to it. It can be used in place of dark soy sauce.

Can dark soy sauce be made at home?

Dark soy sauce can be made at home using light soy sauce, brown sugar and water.

Is Kikkoman sauce light or dark?

Kikkoman sauce is a type of dark soy sauce.

What’s the difference between regular soy sauce and dark soy sauce?

Dark soy sauce is a thick soy sauce with a rich, dark color and a sweet flavor unlike soy sauce which has a mild flavor profile.

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