What Can I Substitute for Dark Soy Sauce?

We’re all aware of the wonders of soy sauce, a versatile and popular condiment we use on so many dishes. But have you ever heard of dark soy sauce?

You’re probably thinking – dang, isn’t hot sauce dark enough? Or at least, that’s what we thought!

All jokes aside, dark soy sauce is just as incredible as regular soy sauce, but we know that not everyone has this in their kitchens. So, if your recipe calls for dark soy sauce, what do you do?

Read on and let our list of the best substitutes for dark soy sauce for you.


12 Best Dark Soy Sauce Substitutes For All Your Cooking Needs

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Soy sauce originated in China over 2,000 years ago and is now a kitchen staple found in many Asian dishes. It’s created from fermented soybeans, then mixed with brine for that rich and salty flavor you want.

Dark soy sauce is the Chinese version, having a darker color and slightly thicker texture. We only use this for cooking rather than as a sauce beside our dishes.

We use dark soy sauce to darken the colors of sauces, noodles, fried rice, and other dishes. People use it in braised or red-cooked dishes, stir-fries, or rice and noodle dishes.

1.   Light Soy Sauce

Light soy sauce is the perfect dark soy sauce substitute as it has the similar salty flavor you expect from dark soy sauce. Furthermore, it enhances the umami flavor of meat, making it a versatile option for many dishes.

Light soy sauce has a thinner consistency than dark soy sauce, so it might not be the best substitute if you want a thicker dipping sauce. It may also not have the dark and silky appearance dark soy sauce has.

You can fix this by adding a bit of molasses to the light soy sauce, which thickens the sauce while adding some sweetness to it.

2.   Double Black Soy Sauce

Yes, there’s such a thing as double black soy sauce, too! It has the same flavor and texture as dark soy sauce but much sweeter, thicker, and darker as it contains more molasses.

When using this as a substitute for dark soy sauce, add half the amount your recipe needs first. Since double black soy sauce is sweeter, it can throw the dish’s flavor off-balance if you add too much.

This is the best substitute for dark soy sauce, but it may also be challenging to find in Western supermarkets. You may find it in Asian supermarkets, though!

3.   Molasses

Molasses has a rich and bittersweet flavor, usually found in barbecue sauce. However, it does not contain any salt, as opposed to dark soy sauce. That’s why you’ll need to add more salt to your dish.

While molasses has a similar color to dark soy sauce, it has a thicker texture and might burn quicker, so avoid adding it to your dishes early on.

4.   Teriyaki Sauce

This sauce offers a similar dark and glossy appearance that has stir-fries look even more delicious! Teriyaki sauce also provides a similar sweet and salty flavor you can find in dark soy sauce; may you use it as a condiment, marinade, or cooking ingredient.

Teriyaki sauce is a good substitute since one of its main ingredients is soy sauce. What makes it different is that teriyaki sauce contains other spices and ingredients like garlic and ginger. That said, expect a similar appearance but different taste!

5.   Oyster Sauce

Thanks to the sweet and salty flavor that works amazingly as a substitute for dark soy sauce, we recommend oyster sauce. It adds more color to dishes while enhancing umami flavor in duck, chicken, beef, or tofu.

Expect a bit of oyster and caramel flavors to your dish, though in our opinion, those make any dish better!

6.   Hoisin Sauce

If you have seen Peking ducks hanging in Asian restaurants before, you most likely witnessed hoisin sauce. It’s a colorful marinade made for beef, chicken, duck, pork, and vegetables!

This sauce adds sweet and salty flavors to dishes and is fantastic when used on stir-fries.

However, hoisin sauce contains many other ingredients, such as chili pepper, garlic, and sesame seeds. Because of this, you shouldn’t expect the exact same flavor as dark soy sauce, but it will still work in adding color and good taste.

7.   Worcestershire Sauce

If you want the combination of salty, tangy, and savory flavors, then go for Worcestershire sauce! It’s not only great for Asian dishes but Western cuisine as well.

You can use this versatile sauce and up the umami in marinades, sauces, burgers, and the like. However, Worcestershire sauce isn’t as sweet and thick as dark soy sauce, with a waterier texture.

8.   Miso Paste

Miso paste has the same flavor as dark soy sauce, but they aren’t the same texture. Like the name, it comes in a paste form, so you need to dilute miso paste in water to make it into a sauce, or you can just add it to your stew or soup.

Since miso paste has a strong flavor, use one tablespoon for every cup of dark soy sauce required in a recipe. While the color won’t be the same, the taste will be similar and just as delicious.

9.   Tamari

Tamari is an excellent dark soy sauce substitute since it has a similar flavor, is made from soybeans. Furthermore, it’s gluten-free and contains the same sodium content as dark soy sauce.

While the color won’t be similar, tamari gets the flavor right so that you can use an equal 1:1 ratio.

Read more: What Can You Substitute for Tamari Sauce?

10. Fish Sauce

If you have fish sauce in your kitchen, you may want to consider this as your substitute, too. However, it has a powerful fish flavor and different colors, so you’ll need to reduce the required quantity.

It might not also pair with all types of dishes requiring soy sauce, so we highly recommend using it more on fish and other seafood dishes.

11. Mushroom-Flavored Dark Soy

Mushroom-flavored dark soy, as the name suggests, adds mushroom flavor to your food. It will give your dish a different taste, but an interesting one if you’re willing to explore.

We think it’s a good substitute for dark soy sauce as it has a similar texture and color, which works in various savory dishes. Since mushroom-flavored dark soy contains dark soy sauce and mushrooms, you can use it with an equal 1:1 ratio.

12. Balsamic Vinegar

We definitely won’t have balsamic vinegar as our first dark soy sauce alternative, but if this is the only ingredient you have, then it’s worth trying. It’s best to use in cold dishes or salads.

This sauce gives off a sweet and sour flavor while adding the dark color you want to fish. Just make sure you add only half the amount needed or dilute the vinegar with water.

Frequently Asked Questions

There’s a lot more to learn about when it comes to dark soy sauce! Check out these frequently asked questions:

1.   Can you make your dark soy sauce?

Yes, you can make homemade dark soy sauce! Here are the ingredients:

  • 2 cups of brown sugar
  • 1 cup of regular soy sauce
  • ½ cup of water

Follow these directions:

  • Add your water and sugar to a pan, cooking on high heat and stirring until boiling.
  • After the sugar dissolves, stop stirring and let the mixture continue cooking on low-medium heat until it starts to darken. You’ll notice it begins looking like molasses.
  • Add the regular soy sauce in, then stir until you achieve the thick texture similar to molasses. Once you do, remove your homemade soy sauce from the heat, storing it in an airtight container once it cools.

2. What’s the difference between dark and regular soy sauce?

Regular and light soy sauce would have a light color, whereas dark soy sauce has a darker brownish shade. Furthermore, dark soy sauce is slightly sweeter than regular or light soy sauce!

Surprisingly, dark soy sauce has a similar salt content as regular and light soy sauce but with stronger soy flavors.

3.   How much soy sauce do I need when cooking dishes? 

Use only one or two teaspoons to color your dishes. It’s best to add a small amount and add more until it reaches your desired taste.

If you add too much soy sauce, not only will your dish look darker, but it will end up being too salty!

Wrapping It Up

If you’re creating an Asian-inspired meal but have no dark soy sauce, look into any of these substitutes for dark soy! These will work excellently with your dishes without compromising the delicious taste.

Did you find the perfect ingredient to replace dark soy sauce with? Let us know which one worked best for you in the comments section below!

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