10 Substitutes For Dark Soy Sauce [Gluten Free & More]

A popular ingredient in Chinese cuisine, dark soy sauce is added to a host of dishes involving rice, noodles, or meat. It is also added to soups and stir-fries to enhance the color, flavor, and thickness.

Compared to other types of soy sauces, dark soy sauce is aged longer, making it richer, thicker, sweeter, and less salty than regular soy sauce.

If you’re making a Chinese dish and have run out of dark soy sauce or can’t use it due to allergies or other health concerns, there are several flavorful alternatives you can use instead.

The best substitutes for dark soy sauce are Kecap Manis, uskuchi, and hoisin sauce. If you are making a stir fry then Teriyaki Sauce would be a great dark soy sauce substitute. Tamari Shoyu is the ideal gluten free substitute in soups or stews.

If you’re looking for dark soy sauce substitutes to use in casseroles, mushroom soy sauce and light soy sauce are fantastic sauces to try.

These substitutes are also gluten-free, healthy, and kid-friendly. So you can add them to your little ones’ favorite dishes as well without worrying about its health impact.

Best Dark Soy Sauce Substitutes

1)Kecap Manis – Great substitute when making a meat dish

Dark soy sauce is great for giving an Oriental spin to your steaks, jerk chicken, glazed or braised meats, or other meat preparations. It adds a richer, slightly sweeter flavor and a gorgeous mahogany color to them.

Kecap Manis is an Indonesian soy sauce that is slightly sweeter than dark soy sauce

1 teaspoon dark soy sauce = 1 teaspoon Kecap Manis

But if you don’t have this sauce on hand and are wondering, “What is a substitute for dark soy sauce in meats?”, you need to get your hands on Kecap Manis.

Made from fermented soybeans, the sauce is great in meat dishes. You can also use it in meat marinades and rubs for an extra kick of flavor and to add a dark color.

It is also vegan, so you can add it to vegan dishes, too.

2Oyster Sauce

Is there a substitute for soy sauce for seafood lovers? Yes, there is! Oyster sauce includes — you guessed it! — oysters, salt, sugar, and cornstarch. It’s a fantastic dark soy sauce substitute in recipes that call for seafood and other meats.

It has a sweet and salty taste, much like dark soy sauce, but more umami flavor than the latter.

It will go well in this soy sauce braised fish recipe from Coaster Kitchen or this quick and easy soy sauce prawns recipe.

If you’re unsure how to replace dark soy sauce with oyster sauce in your cooking, use an equal quantity of oyster sauce in place of dark soy sauce.

1 teaspoon dark soy sauce = 1 teaspoon oyster sauce

3. Teriyaki Sauce – best substitute when making stir fry

Dark soy sauce is a wonderful, flavorful addition to vegetable or meat stir-fries such as this colorful, healthy vegan tofu stir-fry recipe.

It gives the dish a rich dark color and a sweet, salty taste. But if you need a dark soy sauce substitute without molasses, Teriyaki sauce would be your best bet.

Teriyaki is an Asian soy-based sauce with a sweet and salty flavor and will give your dishes a dark glossy color like dark soy sauce.

It also contains ginger, garlic, mirin, brown sugar, and another sweetener like agave nectar or honey that come together to create a signature flavor without the addition of molasses.

Teriyaki sauce will give your dishes a dark glossy color like dark soy sauce

1 tablespoon dark soy sauce = 1 teaspoon Teriyaki sauce

4. Koikuchi Shoyu – 1 teaspoon dark soy sauce = 1 teaspoon koikuchi shoyu

Koikuchi shoyu is a vegan dark soy sauce made from soybeans and wheat. One of the most popular soy sauces used in Japan, it has a dark brown color and a salty, mildly sweet flavor.

The soybeans used in its preparation also give this sauce a lot of umami and slight fruitiness.

As koikuchi shoyu tastes almost similar to regular dark soy sauce, it makes for a great substitute in stir-fries and sautés such as this delicious beef stir-fry in dark soy sauce and lemon.

5)Usukuchi ShoyuBest Dark Soy Sauce Substitutes In Rice

When making fried rice or a noodle dish like a quick Lo Mein or Chow Mein, dark soy sauce is a key ingredient that uplifts the flavors of the other ingredients in these recipes.

Now, if you’re thinking, “What if I don’t have dark soy sauce or don’t want the dark brown color that it lends to dishes,” check out usukuchi shoyu!

This vegan Japanese light soy sauce has a thinner consistency and a saltier taste than dark soy sauce. It is also mildly sweet due to the presence of mirin.

If you’re using usukuchi shoyu instead of Chinese dark soy sauce, use it sparingly as it has a bolder flavor that can overpower your dish.

Usukuchi Shoyu can be a dark soy sauce substitute for Rice And Noodle Dishes

1 teaspoon dark soy sauce = ½ teaspoon usukuchi shoyu

6)Hoisin Sauce – 1 teaspoon dark soy sauce = 1 teaspoon hoisin sauce

Another great vegan option to use in noodles and rice dishes is hoisin sauce. It is soy-based and sweet like dark soy sauce because of the addition of a sweetener like molasses, brown sugar, or honey.

If you’re wondering if dark soy sauce is the same as hoisin sauce? No, hoisin sauce also contains other ingredients like peanut butter, sesame oil, wine vinegar, garlic, and sriracha sauce that give it a richer flavor than dark soy sauce.

But, is hoisin sauce a good substitute for dark soy sauce in Lo Mein?

Yes! This sauce is a great addition to noodle and rice dishes. Use it in a 1:1 ratio for a similar flavor profile.

7)Tamari ShoyuBest Gluten-Free Dark Soy Sauce Substitute

Cooking a stew or soup and need a gluten-free alternative to dark soy sauce?

Substitute tamari shoyu in your dips, soups, or stews. Like dark soy sauce, it is vegan, made from fermented soybeans, and has a dark color.

Is Dark Soy Sauce The Same as Tamari?

Despite their similar color and almost-similar flavor, they are prepared differently.

Tamari shoyu is a Japanese soy sauce that has a higher soybean content than Chinese dark soy sauce and has no wheat, which makes it a great gluten-free option.

However, some brands do have wheat in their list of ingredients for tamari shoyu, so check the ingredient list carefully to be sure.

Tamari shoyu has a more intense umami flavor and works well in dipping sauces that are paired with Asian dishes like wontons and dumplings.

Tamari Shoyu is a gluten-free alternative to dark soy sauce

1 teaspoon dark soy sauce = 1 teaspoon tamari shoyu.

8)Shiro Shoyu

Wondering what is a good dark soy sauce substitute in dips, soups, and stews? Get a bottle of shiro shoyu!

This vegan Japanese white sauce is made using a lot of wheat and a lesser proportion of soybeans.

It doesn’t add color to dishes like dark soy sauce does but adds a mild umami flavor along with a touch of sweetness.

If you’re not fond of dark soy sauce’s strong, bold flavor, shiro shoyu is the one for you.

1 teaspoon dark soy sauce = 1.5 teaspoons shiro shoyu.

9)Light Soy SauceBest Dark Soy Sauce Substitute In Casseroles

Casseroles get a richer flavor with the addition of dark soy sauce, which is why you’ll see this sauce in a lot of casserole recipes like slow-cooked beef casserole recipe.

If you’re thinking, “Can I use regular soy sauce instead of dark soy sauce?” Yes, you can! Regular soy sauce, aka light soy sauce, is essentially the lighter version of dark soy sauce.

So, what’s the difference between light soy sauce and dark soy sauce? If you’re comparing soy sauce vs dark soy sauce, light soy sauce has a saltier and less sweet taste and is fermented for a shorter period.

It is versatile enough to be substituted in any dish that calls for dark soy sauce. But if you want a similar color, consistency, and flavor, add some molasses or brown sugar and cornstarch to the mix, too.

If you’re confused about how to substitute dark soy sauce for light and vice versa, use it in an equal ratio.

1 teaspoon dark soy sauce = 1 teaspoon light soy sauce.

10)Mushroom Soy Sauce

Want more umami in your casseroles than what your usual dark soy sauce gives? Sub in some mushroom soy sauce. Wondering, “What is mushroom dark soy and how is it different from regular dark soy sauce?”

It is basically dark soy sauce with mushrooms added to its list of ingredients. This vegan sauce has pretty much the same flavor profile as dark soy sauce, except for the increased umami flavor.

Use it in the same ratio as the latter, and you’re good to go.

1 teaspoon dark soy sauce = 1 teaspoon mushroom soy sauce.

Making Your Own Homemade Soy Sauce

To make dark soy sauce, soak soybeans for several hours, preferably overnight, and then steam them. Roast and crush wheat and add it to the cooked soybeans.

Add a fermenting agent like Aspergillus oryzae or kōji mold and leave the mixture for about 3 days.

Mix in brine and then leave it to ferment for a month to up to 4 years, depending on how strong you want the flavor to be.

After the fermentation period, press the mixture to separate the liquids from the solids.

Heat the liquid to pasteurize it and then bottle it. Your homemade dark soy sauce is ready for use!

Pro Tip: Beef broth is often added to brown gravy to give it a dark brown color and a wholesome meaty taste. But you can also achieve the same color with a dark sauce like dark soy sauce or steak sauce.

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