Soy sauce is a staple condiment in many kitchens and restaurants. Its use in Asian cuisine is prevalent, and you might use it in other recipes, such as homemade sauces, comfort foods, and soups.
If you want to avoid soy sauce, it may be difficult to find another ingredient to use in its place. There are alternatives to this savory sauce, but some may work better than others for your needs.
Why Avoid Soy Sauce?
One main reason you may wish to stay away from soy sauce is because of its main ingredient, soy. Soy is a common allergen, especially among children, with 0.4 percent of children having a soy allergy. While many outgrow their soy allergies, some do not.
There are other reasons one may want to avoid soy sauce. It contains gluten, which is a problem for people with Celiac disease or gluten intolerance. It also often contains high levels of sodium. No matter your reasons, there are several alternatives on the market and substitute recipes to try.
4 Store-Bought Alternative Sauces
There are several soy sauce alternatives that you can purchase from retail outlets. Some of these are well-established brands and others are newer innovations.
1. Coconut Aminos
A popular soy-free, gluten-free, and vegan soy sauce alternative is coconut aminos, made by Coconut Secret. This sauce comes from the sap of coconut trees and is made with gran molucas sea salt, cultivated in the Philippines. It contains just 90 milligrams of sodium per serving, which is far less than soy sauce and some other alternatives. The sauce also contains 17 amino acids, giving it health benefits beyond soy sauce. Drawbacks to coconut aminos are the cost and availability, and some people notice a sweeter flavor and aftertaste as compared to soy sauce.
2. Bragg Liquid Aminos
Another soy sauce alternative rich in amino acids is Bragg liquid aminos. It does contain soy and 320 milligrams of sodium, according to its nutrition facts, but it has a serious following among health food circles. It is concentrated in flavor, so less is needed than with soy sauce.
3. Red Boat Fish Sauce
This sauce is derived from wild-caught anchovies from the Phu Quoc island in the Gulf of Thailand. The sauce does not contain soybean proteins and is gluten-free. It will enhance the flavor of your food without having to use soy sauce. The Red Boat brand does contain 1,492 grams of sodium per serving, however, so it would not be a good choice for those watching their salt intake.
4. Maggi Seasoning Sauce
This is a more-than-a-century-old sauce from Europe with many fans. People use Maggi seasoning sauce to enhance the flavor of just about any food dish. However, Maggi can contain soy and does contain wheat. The manufacturer customizes the recipe by world region to tailor its flavors to the local cuisine, so be sure to check the ingredient list if you are avoiding a particular product. You would not want to consume the sauce if you had a soy or wheat allergy, but if you are looking for another flavor enhancer that differs from soy sauce, try Maggi.
Tamari is also an option, which is wheat-free soy sauce with a similar flavor and sodium content.
Homemade Alternative Sauces
If prebottled soy sauce alternatives don’t suit your needs, try making a sauce from scratch. By preparing your own sauce, you control the ingredients added to the recipe and can modify them if needed.
Don’t Mess With Mama’s soy sauce substitute is soy-free and gluten-free. It contains bone broth, vinegars, molasses, and date sugar, among other ingredients. The sauce can be used for up to a week when stored in an airtight container.
The Clothes Make the Girl recommends a recipe that incorporates beef broth, cider vinegar, blackstrap molasses, and other ingredients to make a soy sauce alternative. The recipe also recommends adding 1/2 teaspoon of fish sauce to enhance the sauce’s flavor.
A similar recipe on Wellness Mama uses beef broth, regular molasses, balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar, and fish sauce with other ingredients.
For a vegan soy sauce alternative recipe, try this one from Vegan Lovlie. It calls for vegetable bouillon, blackstrap molasses, and even fenugreek to establish a flavor that mimics soy sauce. It is a budget-friendly recipe that can be made in larger batches for freezing.
Life Beyond Soy Sauce
It may take some trial and error to use soy sauce alternatives in your cooking, but there are plenty of options to try. Some substitutes may work better than others for specific recipes. You may decide that springing for a more expensive option is best for entertaining while thriftier options work fine in day-to-day cooking. Thankfully, there is plenty of choice when it comes to soy sauce substitutes.