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Gourmet Hacks: 5 Excellent Shoyu Substitutes

Have you ever wondered what the familiar umami flavor in your favorite dishes is?

Shoyu, a type of soy sauce, is an essential ingredient in many Asian cuisines that add that distinctly savory and salty taste.

While Shoyu is integral to much Japanese cuisine and easily attainable, you may find yourself needing a substitute whenever you’re looking to shake things up.

You can substitute it without overwhelming the dish by understanding how to cook with it and memorizing the five best replacements for Shoyu.

Knowing how to use a replacement ingredient like Tamari or Coconut Aminos can make all the difference when attempting to put together an international fusion meal.

What’s Shoyu?

Shoyu is an ancient Japanese seasoning made from soybeans and wheat and brewed into a delicious, fermented unique-tasting liquid.

Its taste adds a heightened level of umami – a fifth taste sensation – to soups, noodle dishes, marinades, and dressings.

The taste itself is quite complex; it has a salty flavor that isn’t overwhelming or strong, yet, subtlety enhances the flavor of the food it’s added to.

Texture-wise, it’s a thin but slightly viscous liquid that effortlessly coats dishes without leaving any residue behind.

To use in cooking, shoyu can be combined with other condiments such as mirin and sake for more depth in flavor – this mixture makes tare sauce great for ramen.

Alternatively, you can use shoyu alone as a marinade for grilling chicken and vegetables or even incorporate it into sauces for dressings.

Either way, shoyu will make your dish irresistibly tasty thanks to its versatility to mingle with other seasonings.

The 5 BEST Substitutes for Shoyu

If you’re like me, you love the taste of shoyu.

That unique blend of salty and savory is the perfect way to add flavor to any dish.

But sometimes, you just can’t find it when you need it.

Whether you’re out of shoyu or can’t eat soy for dietary reasons, these five substitutes will help you achieve the flavor you crave.

SubstituteKey CharacteristicsSubstitute Ratio
Coconut AminosSweet and salty flavor, soy-free1:1
TamariLess salty than soy sauce, rich umami flavor1:1
Fish SauceSavory, salty, and slightly fishy flavor1:1
Worcestershire SauceTangy, savory, and slightly sweet flavor1:1
Miso PasteFermented soybean paste with a salty, umami flavor1:1

1 – Coconut Aminos

Coconut aminos have become an increasingly popular flavor enhancer, offering a unique and delicious twist on classic dishes.

Made with coconut nectar and sea salt, this condiment contains 65% less sodium than traditional soy sauce, as well as a low glycemic index—making it perfect for those looking to watch their sugar content.

The taste and texture of coconut aminos are slightly sweeter than a classic Shoyu, plus the flavor hints of apple cider vinegar and tamari.

An easy way to substitute coconut aminos in lieu of Shoyu is to reduce the amount used due to its stronger flavor concentration; one tablespoon of coconut aminos equals three tablespoons of traditional soy sauce.

This allows you to experience all the umami subtleties associated with a soy sauce-based creation without high levels of sodium or sugar.

2 – Tamari

Tamari is a delicious umami-rich condiment that has captured the hearts of many culinary enthusiasts.

It is an aged soy sauce made from fermented soybean paste and wheat that sprang to prominence in Japan but is now used widely worldwide.

Its deep color reflects its intense flavor that boasts savory yet mellow notes that make it so desirable.

It has the same depth of flavor as Shoyu, a traditional Japanese soy sauce, but because it’s wheat-free, tamari adds complexity without any heaviness or stickiness.

Its first salty taste masks its subtle sweet aftertaste, which gives dishes an extra bit of zest.

To substitute for Shoyu in a recipe, simply add a quarter cup of water to every three tablespoons of tamari for amazing results.

3 – Fish Sauce

Fish Sauce is a savory ingredient used in many meals throughout Southeast Asia and beyond.

It is made from fermenting small fish with salt, producing a powerful umami flavor that can be used as a flavor enhancer in many dishes.

Traditionally, it has a very distinct smell and taste due to its fermented nature, and some may find it strong or pungent.

However, when added to food in the correct quantities, it can be delightful and pulls together the flavors of many different herbs and spices.

Its thin texture adds a salty kick to rice dishes and makes for an interesting substitute for shoyu or soy sauce due to its unique flavor – try mixing the half fish sauce and half soy sauce.

4 – Worcestershire Sauce

Worcestershire sauce is an intricate condiment often used to add burstiness and flavor to food.

Originating from the small British town of Worcester in 1835, this dark brown sauce is primarily composed of vinegar and molasses.

Worcestershire Sauce is also known for its savory sweetness and slightly spicy flavors, making it a perfect pairing for marinades and dressings.

Its thick texture makes it ideal for thickening soups or even as an alternative to soy sauce in many recipes.

While substituting Worcestershire sauce for shoyu may require you to make some additional modifications to your recipe, done right, it can make all the difference when crafting a unique meal.

5 – Miso Paste

There is nothing quite like the flavor of miso paste.

Originating in China more than 2,000 years ago, this fermented form of soybean has made its way into many Eastern cultures and dishes.

As an aged, salty paste with a slightly sweet undertone, it offers an interesting complexity of flavors that you can’t get with standard sauces or condiments.

When adding it to recipes, such as soup and marinades, many people report its texture as both smooth and perfectly creamy.

To substitute Shoyu in a recipe, you can use Miso paste by diluting it in warm water or broth until desired taste is achieved.

Allowing its umami flavor to blend in provides unique notes to the dish without being overwhelming.

Overall, the usage of miso paste adds a sense of culinary nuance for those who want to take traditional dishes up a notch.


In conclusion, by exploring the options presented above – coconut aminos, tamari, fish sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and miso paste – you’re sure to find something that can be used as a substitute for Shoyu in your meals.

Each of these alternatives offers unique flavor notes and various levels of complexity, allowing you to experiment with different combinations depending on the dish.

So the next time you’re looking for a perfect substitute for Shoyu, try out one of these five alternatives to kick your dish up a notch.

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