Here are 8 dark soy sauce substitutes. Dark soy sauce is a typical ingredient in Chinese cuisine, darker in color and thicker than traditional soy sauce. The flavor is much stronger but, most of all, it provides that lovely golden-brown color to dishes like fried rice.
Unfortunately, it’s not as common as light soy sauce in the West. Thus, it can be rather challenging to find unless you order it online or have an Asian grocery nearby. Don’t worry if you can’t find it though, here are eight great substitutes!
Luckily, there are other Asian sauces that can yield similar results in terms of flavor and color.
1. Light Soy Sauce
Add the same amount of light soy sauce as you would dark soy sauce. It’s not as thick or dark in color but it will provide a pretty similar level of saltiness and flavor. If you want to make a dipping sauce with it, go for it but keep in mind it won’t have the same thickness as it would if you used dark soy sauce. Taste-wise, it should be quite similar though.
Light soy sauce tends to be slightly saltier than dark soy sauce so you might want to add a sprinkle of brown sugar to round out the flavor.
2. Teriyaki Sauce
It is similarly glossy and dark, so feel free to use it as a substitute! However, since it usually has other ingredients like garlic or ginger, the flavor will probably come out different. On the bright side, it does have that kick of sweetness that dark soy sauce has.
It’s definitely not the same but it’s not worlds away either.
3. Oyster Sauce
Similar in sweetness to teriyaki sauce and dark soy sauce, oyster sauce is another perfect substitute for all your Asian dishes! Thick, glossy, and dark in color… This is probably our favorite ingredient on this list.
Add it to your stir-fries, biang biang noodles, or tofu recipes and you’re set! Although it’s more sweet than savory, we highly recommend it. However, you may want to balance out the flavor with light soy sauce or enough salt so that it’s not overly sweet.
4. Hoisin Sauce
Ever wondered what gives Peking duck that lovely caramelized look and color? It’s hoisin sauce! Even though it’s not the only ingredient responsible for its amazing taste, it’s definitely an important ingredient on the list. We don’t recommend it for stir-fries because it does tend to change up the flavor quite a bit but you can go wild with it in marinades!
5. Double Black Soy Sauce
Comparatively speaking, dark soy sauce is the light soy sauce of double black soy sauce. That’s right! Double black soy sauce is darker, thicker, and even sweeter than dark soy sauce so go easy when you pour it in.
It’s one of our favorite substitutes but, like dark soy sauce, it’s not so easy to find so you may have to order it online.
6. Worcestershire Sauce
If you’re just looking for something to boost the umami, then Worcestershire is your new best friend. It doesn’t taste anything like soy sauce of any kind so be careful when you incorporate it into your dish otherwise it might end up tasting completely different. However, we’re pretty sure you have some in your fridge so we thought it was a good ingredient to put on this list. Our recommendation? Use it alongside other Asian sauces we’ve mentioned on this list and not on its own.
7. Mushroom Flavored Dark Soy
It’s the perfect vegan-alternative! In terms of color and saltiness, it’s pretty similar to dark soy sauce. However, it will definitely add a strong mushroom taste to your dishes so keep this in mind. If you’re not a fan of mushrooms, steer clear of it or it will turn all your meals into nightmares.
8. Homemade Dark Soy Sauce
With a little patience, you can make magic! Here’s our quick recipe for DIY dark soy sauce:
- 1 cup dark brown sugar
- ½ cup light soy sauce
- ¼ cup water
- Add the water and sugar into a saucepan over high heat. Stir well and bring it to a boil.
- Once all of the sugar has dissolved, lower the heat and let the mixture continue to simmer and reduce until it darkens and thickens.
- Slowly pour the light soy sauce into the mixture and stir to combine. Once you get a smooth syrup-like consistency, remove the mixture from the heat and set it aside to cool.
- Once fully cooled, pour it into an airtight container and refrigerate it until you’re ready to use it.
Dark soy sauce is used in traditional Chinese cuisine alongside light soy sauce. As a result, in the absence of its darker sibling, light sauce is the perfect substitute. It’s also super easy to find and most households have a bottle of it in their fridge. However, should you run out of it, there are other suitable alternatives you could replace both soy sauces with. For example: teriyaki sauce, oyster sauce, hoisin sauce, double black soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, mushroom-flavored dark soy, and your own DIY version!
Keep in mind these other substitutes do change the flavor anywhere from slightly to significantly so use them with care. We recommend sticking to the Asian sauces on the list for best results though. Aside from that, don’t be afraid to have fun!
- Dark soy sauce is used in many iconic Chinese and Cantonese dishes like BBQ pork and fried rice!
- Don’t go crazy when adding dark soy sauce to your recipes. Add it a little bit at a time to avoid its flavor overpowering the rest of your dish.
- Most Asian sauces, including dark soy sauce, have lots of salt in them so be careful when seasoning your dish or you might end up salting it too much. A good way to watch your salt intake is to buy low-sodium soy sauce.
The best substitutes for dark soy sauce are, of course, all of the Asian sauces. Thus, we hope you’ve either got light soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, oyster sauce, hoisin sauce, or double black soy sauce in your fridge. If you don’t, not all is lost. Making our DIY version will also yield similar results. Mushroom-flavored dark soy and Worcestershire sauce also work but the flavor can change significantly so we’re not big fans of them…
However, dark soy sauce is usually used alongside other Asian sauces to give recipes a lovely golden color. Thus, it’s not the end of the world if you choose to omit it from the preparation altogether.
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