Dark Soy Sauce Substitute

The robust flavor of soy sauce is utilized in cooking all across the world. It’s quite versatile and works well in anything from salads to stir-fries. Light soy sauce and dark soy sauce are the two varieties available.

In this article, we will also cover the primary distinction between these various soy sauces. But what should you do if you don’t have any black soy sauce and a recipe asks for it? Or perhaps you just don’t plan on using it.

As its name indicates, dark soy sauce is a Chinese sauce that is dark in color. It’s used to give color and umami taste to savory meals like noodles and fried rice, and it’s sweeter, darker, and thicker than light soy sauce. The use of this ingredient gives marinades a luxurious black and glossy look.

Despite its widespread usage in Asian cuisine, many Western kitchens still lack this ingredient. You’ll need to find an alternative if you don’t want to or can’t use black soy sauce in your next dish.

There are, fortunately, alternatives to soy sauce that are equally as delicious. Teriyaki sauce, or even just light soy sauce, is a great substitute for dark soy sauce. But let’s take a closer look at the other options you have.

Light soy sauce

You may achieve the same salty flavor as dark soy by using just a few drops of light soy sauce in your cooking. As a bonus, it improves the meat’s natural umami. This is a good substitute for its darker relative, and it goes well with any dish that takes its inspiration from Asia.

If you’re looking for a dipping sauce with a comparable consistency to regular soy sauce, light soy sauce may not be your best choice. It’s not as dark or silky-looking as dark soy because it’s lighter in hue.

Since light soy lacks the sweetness of regular soy, a little molasses may be necessary to offset the saltiness of the meal.

Teriyaki sauce

Like soy sauce, teriyaki sauce has a glossy, black hue that makes stir-fry seem appetizing on the table. As a marinade, ingredient, or condiment, it pairs beautifully with dark soy’s salty, sweet flavor.

While soy sauce is a mainstay in teriyaki sauce, other ingredients like ginger and garlic round out the flavor profile. Although the extra components make a delightful addition to most recipes that call for black soy sauce, it’s important to remember that the finished product will have a unique flavor.

In many recipes, from stir-fries to salads and soups, you may substitute the same quantity of teriyaki sauce for dark soy sauce.

Oyster sauce

Oyster sauce has an earthy, salty, sweet flavor and is often created with oyster, water, salt, sugar, MSG, and corn starch. Its deep red color and robust flavor complement many foods, notably tofu and meat meals.

Substituting dark soy sauce for oyster sauce is a great way to reduce sodium without sacrificing flavor. Oyster sauce is best used with seafood if you don’t care for the caramelized oyster flavor.

Because of its salty and sweet taste, the oyster sauce can be used as a stand-in for dark soy sauce. It also enhances the umami flavor in meats like beef, chicken, tofu, and duck, and gives dishes a beautiful color.

Oyster sauce enhances a meal with a delicate flavor of oyster and caramel. It’s not traditional black soy sauce, but it will do the trick. Spicy Sichuan noodles, kung pao shrimp, or even beef and broccoli may all benefit from an extra dose of flavor.

You may use oyster sauce on everything from seafood to vegetables. Using the same amount as regular dark soy sauce, you may get the same satisfying umami flavor.

Hoisin sauce

You’ve undoubtedly seen hoisin sauce in action if you’ve ever gawked at the Peking ducks that adorn the fronts of certain Asian eateries. You may use this vibrant marinade on duck, beef, chicken, hog, or even vegetables. Hoisin is a wonderful addition to stir-fries because of the sweet and salty taste mix it imparts.

Hoisin sauce and black soy sauce have a similar flavor profile. However, hoisin sauce’s composition differs due to the addition of components such as sesame seeds, chili pepper, and garlic.

Hoisin isn’t the ideal choice if you want your meal to appear and taste just like the original. Sesame seeds, garlic, and chile pepper are just a few of the numerous extras thrown into the mix.

However, while these additions might enhance the dish’s overall flavor, they will undoubtedly change its taste. Remember to start with a small amount because hoisin sauce has a strong taste.

Double black sauce

Double black sauce is a decent substitute if you want dark soy sauce but don’t have any on hand. In this case, the added molasses makes the black soy sauce sweeter, darker, and thicker.

This alternative sauce is sweeter, so use it sparingly not to ruin the dish’s overall flavor.

Considering that many Western kitchens don’t have double dark soy sauce on hand, we decided to highlight it farther down the list.

Worcestershire sauce

In a single bottle, Worcestershire sauce has all three flavors—salty, savory, and sour. It works great for boosting the umami flavor in various dishes, including Asian, Italian, burger, and marinade.

Worcestershire is not as sweet, and its viscosity is more watery than the dark soy sauce.

However, it is a great replacement for recipes that call for a sauce with a pronounced umami taste. It’s versatile enough to work in both marinades and sauces. It’s important to remember that Worcestershire sauce has a bold taste, so you might need to add a sweetener like honey or sugar to have the same effect as dark soy sauce.

In all other respects, Worcestershire sauce can be substituted for dark soy sauce in any recipe at a 1:1 ratio.

Mushroom-flavored soy sauce

The mushrooms, dark soy sauce, and spices in mushroom-flavored dark soy create a complex and satisfying flavor. It looks and feels like regular dark soy sauce, but it has a somewhat mushroomy flavor that makes it unique.

If you’re looking for a way to give your savory meals that same rich, black color and exquisite texture as dark soy sauce but don’t mind a tiny variation in flavor, mushroom-flavored dark soy sauce should work wonderfully.

You may use it in the same proportion as conventional dark soy sauce, but be aware that your cuisine will also have a mushroom flavor.


The Japanese soy sauce, Tamari, is saltier than its sweeter counterpart, dark soy sauce. The absence of wheat in Tamari makes it another excellent substitute for those who must avoid gluten.

Although Tamari can help you replicate the rich umami flavor of dark soy sauce, its hue will vary since it is midway between dark and light soy sauce. It is possible to attain the same flavor profile with a 1:1 substitution of Tamari for soy sauce if the dark, rich color isn’t necessary for the recipe.

Balsamic vinegar

Balsamic vinegar isn’t typically used right away. However, it may be your only hope if you’re in a dire situation. You’ll love the black hue and the sweet and sour flavor.

If you’d like to use balsamic vinegar in place of black soy sauce, dilute it with water or use less of it. Because balsamic vinegar has a more concentrated and sour flavor, just a quarter of the recommended amount is needed. Salads and other cold meals can benefit greatly from this.

Related: Out Of Balsamic Vinegar? 7 Super-Easy Balsamic Vinegar Substitute Suggestions

Fish sauce

Fish sauce is an excellent alternative to dark soy sauce, just like oyster sauce is. Its inherent fishiness makes it a perfect complement to seafood and fish meals.

You are free to use this sauce in any meal that calls for soy sauce of any kind; however, the quantity that you use will need to be adjusted accordingly. In order to get the desired level of umami flavor in the dish you are preparing, you will need to add half of the amount of fish sauce compared to the amount of dark soy sauce you had planned to use.

Miso paste

The flavor of miso paste is comparable to that of black soy sauce, although it is not an exact substitute. You can find miso in a paste form, in which case you may either add it straight to your soup or stew, or dilute it with water to make a sauce.

Miso paste can substitute dark soy sauce at a rate of 1 tablespoon per 1 cup. The dish may not be as dark in color as you’d want, but it will have a really appetizing flavor.

Exactly what characteristics distinguish dark soy sauce from light soy sauce?

Dark soy sauce is a thick, dark-colored sauce that imparts a salty and sweet taste to dishes. It may be used as a marinade base, a dipping condiment, and as a flavoring and coloring agent for various savory foods. Light soy sauce is a common item found in homes around the globe. It has a thinner viscosity, less sweetness, and does not provide the same dark color to a dish as dark soy. Light soy sauce may be used in most of the same applications as dark soy sauce.

Hong Shao Rou, Cantonese noodles, and fried rice all call for dark soy sauce. It’s used to get the deep crimson hue so beloved in Asian cuisine.

Use only a small amount of dark soy sauce when cooking. Only one or two tablespoons are typically all needed to impart a rich, deep hue. In order to prevent meals from being too salty, it is important to taste as you go and slowly apply this sauce.

Since the salt level of most Asian sauces is rather high, reduced-sodium soy can be used as a healthy replacement for regular dark soy. If you choose, you may omit it entirely and the dish would still taste great.

How To Prepare Dark Soy Sauce?

Dark soy sauce might be difficult to get in stores; therefore, some people opt to create their own. You’ll be relieved to find it’s really not that tough.

Two cups of dark brown sugar, half a cup of water, and one cup of standard soy sauce is all you need to produce your own dark soy sauce at home. Just combine the water and sugar in a pot and heat it up on the fire.

Let the mixture boil until you can see that the sugar has dissolved entirely and a liquid with the consistency of syrup has been created. Once the sugar and water have come to a boil, you may add the soy sauce while stirring continually.

As the liquid is combined, you will see a gradual thickening. Remove the mixture from the heat after it has mixed and formed a liquid that resembles molasses.

When the black soy sauce has cooled, place it in a covered container and place it in the fridge. As long as the container is airtight, it may be kept like so for weeks.

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