What is the Best Substitute for Dark Soy Sauce?

What is the Best Substitute for Dark Soy Sauce?

Mildly sweet, viscous, and flavorful, dark soy sauce is dark-colored soy used to add flavor and color to dishes. Although most popular in Asia, and particularly in China, dark soy sauce has a place in kitchens around the world. It is the thickest of all soy sauces and usually has an almost metallic taste.

From noodles to spiced chicken, a small dash of dark soy sauce can add a unique oriental flavor to any dish. A little of it in marinades can transform it into a pleasant dark shiny liquid with an inviting aroma.

Although it has an appreciable presence, dark soy sauce isn’t as widely available as we would love it to be. This means there’s a good chance that it may not be available when we need it to prepare a dish.

So, what are the best substitute for dark soy sauce? The best substitutes for dark soy sauce are coconut aminos, tamari, and teriyaki sauce. Other plausible substitutes include light soy sauce and worcestershire sauce.

An Overview of Dark Soy Sauce

Owing to its rich and unique flavor, dark soy sauce is a very popular sauce featured in several recipes. It is treasured not only for its inviting aroma but also for its attractive deep dark coloration.

Dark soy sauce is not new to the culinary world; it has been a mainstay in Chinese culture as far back as 2,500 years ago. It has also featured in different styles in Indonesian, Malaysian, and Japanese cuisines. It hugely in demand, nearly a necessary thing to have in the kitchen in some Asian countries.

Although it has been introduced into the Western culinary culture for a while now, dark soy sauce hasn’t gained as much popularity as it has achieved in the East. 

Why Replace Dark Soy Sauce?

 Savory as dark soy sauce can make your dishes, you might need substitutes for it for several reasons. It could be:

  • You Have Soy Allergies: soy is quite a common allergen, even much so among children. Around 0.4 percent of children have a soy allergy. If you or your child has a soy allergy, you might need a non-soy alternative to dark soy sauce. 
  • You need a sweeter Alternative: dark soy sauce has a mildly sweet taste, but it has a bit of a salty taste. If you need a sweeter alternative, we’ll share some options below. 

Best Substitutes for Dark Soy Sauce

 Below are some great substitutes for dark soy sauce:

Coconut Aminos

If you ever need something that offers a similar savory experience as dark soy sauce, but with a different flavor, then coconut aminos is the source to bring in. Just like dark soy sauce, it is savory and a bit salty. Coconut aminos are usually made from sea salt and the fermented sap of coconuts. However, don’t expect it to taste a lot like coconuts. For some reason, most brands of coconut aminos do not taste like coconuts.

Nonetheless, it is still an excellent replacement for dark soy sauce in a number of dishes. If you have issues with soy or wheat allergies, coconut aminos offers a breath of relief. Coconut aminos are wheat-free and soy-free. They’re also gluten-free, meaning they’re a healthier alternative to dark soy sauce for people with food sensitivity and allergies.

While dark soy sauce contains around 280 milligrams of sodium per 5 ml teaspoon serving, coconut aminos contains just 90 milligrams of sodium in the same serving size. This means, if you’re trying to reduce sodium (salt) intake in your diet, you’ll find coconut aminos to be an excellent low-salt alternative. 


An excellent substitute for dark soy sauce is the Japanese soy sauce tamari. Both tamari and dark soy sauce the product of the fermentation of soybeans. Like dark soy sauce, tamari is dark-colored and has soy as a primary ingredient. Those comfortable with soy sauces should find tamari just as appealing as a traditional dark soy sauce.

Unlike dark soy sauce, tamari is usually gluten-free and has no added wheat. They’re usually prepared with much higher amounts of soy, which ensures its signature viscous nature with a slight salinity. It is a great soy sauce for those who need gluten- and soy-free diet. They’re usually a terrific dip for sushi or dumplings.

Tamari is the closest any sauce has gotten in similarities to dark soy sauce. It is usually considered a Japanese version of the dark soy sauce, although that’s not entirely accurate. 

Teriyaki Sauce

Teriyaki sauce is another soy-based sauce that is similar in appearance to dark soy sauce. Like dark soy sauce, teriyaki can add a dark coloration to your dishes by just adding a dash of it. They’re great for making stir-fries and can make a dull looking pot of noodles look irresistible on a plate. It has a comparable sweet, salty flavor that is akin to that of a dark soy sauce.

Also, like dark soy sauce, teriyaki sauces are great as marinades. In addition to soy, which is the main ingredient in teriyaki sauce, ginger and garlic are also added. However, the presence of strong-flavored spices can make teriyaki sauce a little less similar to a dark soy sauce.

Other Plausible Substitutes for Dark Soy Sauce

Light Soy Sauce

Light soy sauce is basically the light-colored brother of a dark soy sauce. However, light soy sauce isn’t as vicious as dark soy sauce and won’t provide the invitingly dark coloration that dark soy sauce offers.

Nonetheless, a dash of it will provide a similar salty flavor that you would normally get from dark soy. It is a versatile substitute that can be used as a replacement in an enormous number of dishes that would normally require dark soy sauce. 

Worcestershire Sauce

Another plausible substitute is the umami-flavored Worcestershire sauce. They’re great for steaks and can be used instead of dark soy sauce in a number of traditional dishes. It is also a healthier option because, unlike dark soy sauce, it doesn’t contain gluten. 

Finding the perfect sauce to replace dark soy sauce may take a bit of trial and error. However, the substitutes listed above should cut down an enormous list of possible options to try. Ultimately, the sauce that works for you may depend on the recipe involved. Oyster source and hoisin sauce also deserve some considerations.