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The 5 Best Substitutes for Fish Sauce

Have you ever heard about Fish Sauce and wondered how it’s cooked and used in food?

This condiment has an intense flavor, featuring a combination of sweet, sour, and salty elements that mix together to create something delicious.

Fish sauce typically derives its umami taste from fermented fish, salt, sugar, and other ingredients like anchovies or shrimp.

If you’re looking to access robust but complex flavors in your recipes without having to use fish sauce, there are some great alternatives that can provide quite similar results.

Let’s explore the five best substitutes for fish Sauce and how to use them in cooking.

What’s Fish Sauce?

Fish sauce is an indispensable condiment in many Southeast Asian cuisines – but what is it? Fish sauce is a fermented liquid made from salted and aged fish, typically anchovies and/or other types of small fish.

It’s believed to have originated during the Roman Age when it was used as a condiment for food.

The taste of fish sauce varies somewhat from brand to brand, but generally speaking, good quality varieties have a savory umami flavor, are sometimes salty, and contain a high level of glutamate acid.

It’s also quite pungent and packs a punch.

In Southeast Asian cuisine, it’s often added to dishes at the end of cooking as a flavor enhancer or used to make dipping sauces.

You can even use it as an ingredient in homemade salad dressings or marinades.

So if you’re looking for something extra special to spice up your meals – think fish sauce.

The 5 Best Substitutes for Fish Sauce

If you wish to avoid fish sauce due to dietary reasons, there are many substitutes that can provide similar levels of umami and savoriness.

Here is a list of some of the best alternatives you can use in place of fish sauce:

1 – Soy Sauce

Soy sauce is a beloved condiment all over the world, used to bring umami flavor to all types of dishes.

Originating in China centuries ago, it has since become a pantry staple for many.

It is typically made with fermented soybeans and wheat, allowing it to have a salty, savory flavor that can elevate various cuisines.

While some may think that fish sauce is its only substitute, soy sauce can actually be an even more versatile replacement.

Those who don’t consume fish or prefer something milder than fish sauce can use the same amount of soy sauce and add just a dash of sugar instead to sweeten up their dish while still attaining an authentic flavor profile.

2 – Tamari Sauce

Tamari sauce is a fermented soy sauce that originated in Japan over two thousand years ago.

It is considered to be a high-quality and flavorful condiment, offering a savory and often slightly sweet taste.

Its purpose is more for seasoning than saltiness, making it an ideal alternative to fish sauce when looking for an umami flavor without the fishy notes.

Tamari can be substituted for fish sauce in many recipes and offers an even more powerful flavor when combined with other ingredients like ginger or garlic.

The key to successfully using it as an ingredient is adding it at the end of the cooking process, so it doesn’t lose its flavor and aroma.

3 – Oyster Sauce

Oyster sauce is a popular condiment used in many Asian cuisines, mainly originating in what is now known as China.

While the flavor of true oyster sauce varies depending on its brand, it has a dark and thick texture with a mild salty-sweet taste that can add depth to stir-fries, vegetables and noodles.

For those looking for an alternative to fish sauce, the oyster sauce can make an excellent substitute.

The intense flavors are more subtle than traditional fish sauces while still adding umami but without overpowering the other ingredients.

4 – Worcestershire Sauce

Worcestershire sauce is a condiment with a rich history and a distinct flavor.

Originating in the 18th century in Britain, this thick, dark brown sauce adds depth to many dishes, from steak to salad dressings.

It is made from a blend of malt vinegar, molasses, sugar, salt, anchovies, and other spices that create a complex flavor combination consisting of sweet, sour, salty, and savory elements.

If you are out of fish sauce or just want to mix things up a bit in your cooking, Worcestershire sauce can be substituted as an alternative while still offering full-bodied flavors to your dishes.

5 – Hoisin Sauce

Hoisin sauce is a savory condiment with a deeply satisfying flavor.

It comes from traditional Chinese cooking and is made from sugar, vinegar, fermented soybeans, garlic, and spices.

The rich taste and intense aroma of hoisin sauce are a real treat for the senses.

When used as part of a marinade or as a finishing touch to a dish, it is sure to satisfy.

For anyone looking for an alternative to fish sauce, hoisin makes for an excellent substitute that still offers a depth of flavor.

Simply reduce the amount used when replacing fish sauce with hoisin, as it has higher levels of sweetness and saltiness than other sauces.


In the end, when looking for a substitute for fish sauce, it can be helpful to know what flavor profile you are looking for and then choose one of the options listed above.

Soy sauce, tamari sauce, oyster sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and hoisin sauce all offer unique flavors that can elevate your dishes without overpowering them with the flavor of fish.

With a little creativity and experimentation, you can find the perfect balance between salty, sweet, and savory that will tantalize your tastebuds without hesitation.

Yield: 1 Serving

The 5 Best Substitutes for Fish Sauce

The 5 Best Substitutes for Fish Sauce
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes


  • Soy Sauce
  • Tamari Sauce
  • Oyster Sauce
  • Worcestershire Sauce
  • Hoisin Sauce


  1. Pick your favorite substitute from the list above.
  2. Follow cooking directions for your selected substitute with the proper ratio of ingredients.
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