Want to know a secret? One simple ingredient can make your favorite Chinese food recipes even better.
One ingredient can make your foods taste sweet, salty, spicy, and authentic. What is that magic ingredient? Black bean sauce.
Black bean sauce is a delicious ingredient that is used very often in Chinese cooking. It is made primarily with fermented black beans and spices.
A scoop of black bean sauce will transform any Chinese dish, adding so much flavor that you will definitely want seconds (or thirds!). Black bean sauce can be hard to find outside of specialty Asian markets.
If you want to have that same, incredible taste but can’t find black bean sauce, these substitutes will also work well.
The best substitute for black bean sauce is hoisin sauce. It has a similar flavor and consistency and it is easy to find in the grocery store. Miso paste and soybean paste are great substitutes for stir fry and marinades. Use low sodium soy sauce as a low sodium substitute for black bean sauce. Kecap Manis is a good spicy substitute for black bean sauce as well.
Black Bean Sauce Substitutes
1)Hoisin Sauce – Best Black Bean Sauce Substitute For Stir Fries
Hoisin sauce is made from fermented soybeans rather than black beans. However, the fermented bean paste tastes very similar to black bean sauce.
It has that same dark color, salty and sweet flavor that you love in black bean sauce. Hoisin sauce is made with spices like fennel, salt, and sesame seeds.
It is perfect for mixing into stir-fries or using as a dip. It is also very easy to find in the Chinese food section of any grocery store.
Hoisin sauce is nutritionally comparable to black bean sauce. A tablespoon of hoisin sauce has about 35 calories and .5 grams of fat.
It has about half the sodium of black bean sauce with just 238 mg. Can I substitute black bean sauce for hoisin? Yes, you can!
The ingredients are basically interchangeable without little flavor alterations.
Miso paste is a thick mix made from fermented soybeans, salt, rice, barley, and a mold called koji. The mix ferments for several months and grows darker and darker while the flavor grows stronger.
Red and white miso paste has a unique salty sweet taste with an umami flavor as well. It is similar to black bean sauce but much thicker.
Use about half the amount of miso paste to replace black bean sauce. Use miso paste in stir fries, sauces and soups. It blends into recipes well.
A tablespoon of miso paste has about 30 calories and 1 gram of fat. It is higher in protein, with one full gram, but also much higher in sodium with 780mg.
3)Vietnamese Soybean Paste
Vietnamese soybean paste is also called Tuong. It is made from soybeans fermented with a specific kind of mold. It is very similar to miso paste but not quite as thick or dry.
Soybean paste can replace black bean sauce in any recipe, using the same quantity. It has a salty, sweet flavor that is great on fish or vegetables.
Vietnamese soybean sauce also makes a fantastic dip! It is the perfect black bean paste substitute for jajangmyeon, too.
Try this jjajangmyeon recipe from Maangchi which is super flavorful. Soybean paste has about 35 calories per serving.
It does have 830 mg of sodium and 4 grams of carbs. Keep this in mind when using Vietnamese soy bean paste in place of black bean sauce.
Oyster sauce is made by slow cooking oysters until they caramelize into a thick, dark sauce.
Oyster sauce has a salty and sweet flavor along with a little umami taste thanks to the seafood.
While oyster sauce may not be fermented, it is a fantastic substitute for black bean sauce. Use the oyster sauce in any stir-fry or noodle recipe.
Oyster sauce has 30 calories per serving and almost no fat. Keep in mind that oyster sauce is very high in sodium, with 840mg per serving.
Tamari sauce is a specific type of Japanese soy sauce. It is a little less salty than regular soy sauce and a little bit thicker.
This is perfect as an Asian chili black bean sauce substitute. Use tamari to make soups, stir-fries, or sauces.
It has about 10 calories per tablespoon and zero grams of fat. This means it is a perfect low-calorie substitute.
Tamari does have about 930 mg of sodium per serving which should definitely be noted!
6)Kecap Manis – Best Spicy Substitute for Black Bean Sauce
Kecap Manis is a type of Indonesian soy sauce. It is made from fermented soybeans, salt, palm sugar, and a specific type of mold.
Kecap Manis often has cinnamon, cloves, and black pepper which makes it a spicy substitute for black bean paste.
Use the same quantity of kecap manis to replace black bean sauce in marinades, salad dressing recipes, or to coat grilled meats. It is also a delicious dipping sauce.
7)Tianmian Sauce – Best Black Bean Sauce Substitute For Dipping
Tianmian sauce is made from fermented wheat flour and soybeans. It has a very sweet flavor and is often called sweet bean sauce or sweet wheat paste.
The sauce has a similar black color that looks much like black bean sauce. Tianmian sauce is very often served with Peking duck. It is fantastic as a sweet dipping sauce but is also a nice marinade or glaze for meats.
Use about ¾ the amount of tianmian sauce to replace black bean sauce and then replace the remaining ¼ with soy sauce to get a salty flavor.
One tablespoon has about 40 calories and 7 grams of carbohydrates. It is still high in sodium at 550mg.
8)Black Bean Garlic Sauce
When you can’t find black bean sauce, look for black bean garlic sauce. This is essentially black bean sauce with some garlic mixed in.
Garlic just adds more flavor! You can use black bean garlic sauce as a perfect dipping sauce.
Just open the jar, pour it into a bowl and enjoy! It has the same calories and fats as regular black bean sauce, it just has an enhanced flavor!
Teriyaki sauce is made by boiling soy sauce with sugar and mirin wine. The sauce gets super thick as it boils and has the same, jelly consistency as black bean sauce.
Replace black bean sauce with a big scoop of teriyaki sauce for a yummy sweet flavor. Teriyaki sauce is great to marinate fish, veggies, and poultry.
It is also delicious as a dipping sauce, adding lots of sweet, sake flavor to any food.
A tablespoon of teriyaki sauce has about 30 calories, zero grams of fat, 1 gram of protein and 450 mg of sodium.
It does, however, have 6 grams of carbohydrates thanks to all that added sugar. It does taste pretty sweet!
10)Low Sodium Soy Sauce – Best Low Sodium Black Bean Sauce Substitute
Soy sauce is a classic Chinese food ingredient. It is salty and delicious!
Soy sauce can be used to replace black bean sauce in stir fry recipes however you may want to make a few adjustments.
Soy sauce is not nearly as thick as black bean sauce. Use double the quantity of soy sauce to replace black bean sauce in order to get the same, intense flavor.
You may also want to stir in a teaspoon or two of brown sugar to get the sweet taste. Low sodium soy sauce only has 250mg of sodium per tablespoon.
It also only has 10 calories per tablespoon. It is definitely a lighter substitute for black bean sauce.
11)Homemade Black Bean Sauce
When you can’t find black bean sauce in the grocery store, make your own instead!
Homemade black bean sauce is super flavorful and you can control how much salt, sugar, and spice to add to the sauce.
Use less salt to make a lower sodium version. Take a look at our homemade black bean sauce recipe below and then start cooking.
You are going to love this homemade sauce. I use it for everything from marinades to dips!
Black bean sauce keeps in the fridge for about 2 weeks. Use it often - it is good on everything!
Black bean sauce keeps in the fridge for about 2 weeks. Use it often - it is good on everything!
What is Black Bean Sauce?
Black bean sauce is made from fermented black beans. Chinese fermented black beans are also called douchi and black bean sauce is called tochidjan.
No matter the name, it is absolutely delicious! Douchi is made by salting beans, inoculating them with a specific mold, and letting them sit and cure.
Black bean sauce is made with crushed douchi, garlic, soy sauce, ginger, and light brown sugar. The sauce is sweet, savory, salty, and also a little bit spicy.
Chili peppers are often added to black bean sauce to make it even spicier! Black bean paste and black bean sauce is packed into glass jars and sold as a condiment.
You can find it in specialty Asian markets or the Chinese food section in your grocery store.
Black Bean Sauce vs Black Bean Paste
When shopping for black bean sauce, you may see black bean paste on the shelf, too. These two ingredients are not the same!
Here is a quick look at the difference between the two.
|Black Bean Sauce||Black Bean Paste|
|Sauce like consistency||Thick and pasty|
|Herbs and spices||No seasonings|
|Fermented black beans||Fermented soybeans and wheat|
|Slightly spicy||Slightly sweet|
|Used as a savory condiment||Used in desserts and sweets|
Be sure to pick up the right fermented bean product for your specific cooking needs! Both ingredients are useful but will not really work the same in recipes.
How To Use Black Bean Sauce
There are lots of ways to use black bean sauce. It is responsible for a lot of the delicious flavors in your favorite stir fries, noodles and steamed Chinese food dishes.
It really is the secret ingredient that makes Chinese food taste so good! Mix a little black bean sauce into fried rice or sauce some vegetables in the sauce.
This garlic black bean sauce stir fry veggie recipe from The Kitchen Girl is my absolute favorite way to make easy Chinese style veggies. They are better than take out!
Black bean sauce is also fantastic as a dip. Serve it on the side of some steamed dumplings or with a fried egg roll.
Everyone will wonder what that mysterious, irresistible black dip is! Its just a simple scoop of black bean sauce!
Black Bean Sauce Nutritional Facts
Black bean sauce is cholesterol free and fat free. It adds so much flavor without adding too many negative calories.
Black beans are prized for their high protein and high fiber content. Adding a scoop of black bean sauce will not only boost the flavor of your favorite Asian style foods, but also increase the nutrition.
Black bean sauce does have a decent amount of sodium which you should keep in mind if you are sticking to a lower salt diet.
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Is Black Bean Sauce Healthy?
Overall, black bean sauce is pretty healthy. It has lots of protein and fiber which are important to a balanced diet.
You do need to watch the sodium content, however! But we have some low sodium substitutes below for you to check out, too.
Here is a quick look at the nutritional content of black bean sauce. These numbers are based on one tablespoon of classic black bean sauce.
Black Bean Sauce Substitute For Stir Fries
A tablespoon or two of black bean sauce stirred into a stir fry is an easy way to brighten up the flavor. It will really make your stir fry restaurant worthy. And it is so easy!
So what can be substituted for black bean sauce in stir fry? When you don’t have black bean stir fry sauce on hand, try one of the substitutes instead.
Spicy Substitute for Black Bean Sauce
Some black bean sauce is made with chilis. Spicy black bean sauce adds a whole new level of flavor.
Try a spicy black bean sauce substitute that will add a nice kick of heat to your meal.
Black Bean Sauce Substitute For Dipping
Black bean sauce can be a super easy, delicious dip. I love dipping egg rolls right into black bean sauce for a yummy, bonus flavor.
Black bean sauce is the key to making a lot of Chinese food recipes taste authentic and delicious. It is the mystery ingredient you have been wondering about!
Try a black bean substitute for stir fry, dipping sauce or to make your recipe lower in sodium. Each substitute has its own special flavor but they are all delicious! Enjoy.
My name is Keren Tayler. I am a stay-at-home mama to three lovely girls, Sarah + Rachel + Hannah. Prior to becoming a mom, I had a successful career in the accounting field, steps away from becoming a CPA. I decided to give up on my career in order to raise my own kids (as opposed to letting a nanny do it, no judgment here :)) I learned a lot and I love sharing it with other moms. Along the way, I also became a Certified Food Handler.