If you’re whipping up a favorite Asian seafood dish or need a rich dipping sauce for roast pork, you’re likely to come across hoisin sauce in the ingredient list.
And for excellent reasons, because hoisin sauce is rich, sweet, salty, and with the thick consistency, giving off all the umami flavor you need to make your dish absolutely mouthwatering.
We can always find the best authentic hoisin sauce in the Asian specialty store, but what happens when you can’t find any in your local store or have no time to buy any?
Or maybe, you’re looking for a less sugary alternative for healthy eating?
Regardless of why you need another substitute, we’ve got you covered.
- What’s Hoisin?
- Top 9 Delicious Substitutes For Hoisin Sauce
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Wrapping It Up
Read on as we share the best alternatives to hoisin when your recipe calls for it.
Hoisin sauce is popularly used as a marinade or glaze for meat, from duck to pork. You can also use it in stir-fry, curry, or a dipping sauce. (*)
This sauce is made from bean paste, along with ingredients like soybean, sugar, vinegar, and salt. That’s what gives hoisin sauce its umami, sweet flavor, and thick texture.
Fun fact: Hoisin sauce is considered vegetarian and vegan. However, do check the ingredient list when purchasing store-bought sauces as some companies may use animal products as a thickening or setting agent.
For those who have no hoisin sauce or prefer using another ingredient for their dishes, consider using any of these alternatives:
Top 9 Delicious Substitutes For Hoisin Sauce
1. Soy Sauce
Soy sauce is one of the most basic ingredients you most likely have in your pantry.
It’s the quickest and most inaccessible substitute for hoisin sauce.
While soy sauce and hoisin don’t have the most similar flavors, the former can still achieve the similar benefits hoisin offers as both are made of fermented soy. Both would add depth and umami to recipes.
Soy sauce is very salty though, so we suggest adding rice wine vinegar and a pinch of brown sugar or honey to elevate the flavor.
To improve the consistency of soy sauce, add a spoonful of creamy peanut butter.
Soy sauce might be less interesting than hoisin as a dipping sauce, but it matches many dishes.
Plus, add the right ingredients and you can boost the flavor profile!
Fun fact: Try kecap manis, an Indonesian soy sauce tasting sweeter than hoisin.
2. Garlic Teriyaki Sauce
Teriyaki sauce is an excellent substitute thanks to the way it looks. But it isn’t just about appearance, as teriyaki sauce has a sweet taste and versatility that works well as a dip or marinade, like hoisin.
Teriyaki is a Japanese sauce that’s become very popular around the world. If you plan to use it, then we recommend the garlic teriyaki variety, which has a similar flavor to hoisin.
If you use the regular variety, a spoon of soy sauce and crushed garlic.
Also, you may not have to add brown sugar, as this sauce is sweet enough.
Besides using it as a marinade or sauce, we like using it in stir-fry recipes with sesame oil.
3. Miso Paste
Miso paste is another Japanese ingredient, fermented soybean paste adding complex savory flavors without much sugar.
It is stronger, thicker, and saltier than hoisin, so it’s best to use 1/4 of the amount a recipe needs, adding more only if desired.
If you want to make your paste sweeter for recipes, consider adding sugar or honey. Brown or palm sugar can add caramel flavors when cooked with this paste! If you want a healthier sugar alternative, opt to use dates or raisins.
4. Sriracha and Molasses
If you have both of these ingredients at home, then you’ll love using them as a substitute! Mix these ingredients:
- 1/4 cup of soy sauce
- Two tablespoons of molasses
- One garlic clove
- One tablespoon of peanut butter
- One tablespoon of rice vinegar
- One tablespoon of sesame oil
- One tablespoon of sriracha sauce
- One tablespoon of water
- Half a teaspoon of Chinese five-spice powder
Heat all the ingredients in a pan over medium heat, stirring frequently until well blended. After that, you get a sweet and spicy sauce with a thick texture.
5. Ginger and Plum Jam
While you can use pitted prunes or whole plums, you can use plum jam. That way, you can make a plum hoisin sauce for stir-fries and other recipes!
All you need to do is to mix your plum jam with two garlic cloves, grated ginger root, one tablespoon of teriyaki, and half a teaspoon of crushed red pepper.
You can also add Chinese five-spice powder or sesame oil to experiment with the flavors.
Fun fact: Garlic and prunes work as well, with the addition of dry sherry, soy, and water.
6. Barbecue Sauce and Molasses
Hoisin sauce is considered Chinese barbecue, so it comes as no surprise that American barbecue sauce is a great substitute.
You can use regular barbecue sauce on its own, but if you want a more authentic flavor, there are different things you can do.
Depending on the sauce’s sweetness level, you might want to add brown sugar or molasses.
We suggest using molasses as it has a deeper flavor that can mimic hoisin’s original flavor.
Dark brown sugar can work, but it doesn’t have a thick consistency.
If you have neither sweeteners, you can try honey or maple syrup.
But if your barbecue sauce is already too sweet, counteract it by adding soy sauce or a pinch of Chinese five-spice powder.
Or, you can use a splash of red wine vinegar or white vinegar for zest.
7. Black Bean Sauce
Black bean sauce is a stir-fry sauce we can find in major supermarkets.
It’s made of the same base as hoisin sauce.
While hoisin has a more complex flavor, black bean sauce can stand in when needed. Since they have the same consistency and flavor base, you can use black bean sauce in recipes that require large amounts of hoisin.
We advise boosting your black bean sauce’s flavor by adding brown sugar, soy sauce, and vinegar. If you can, add a dash of crushed fennel seeds and half a teaspoon of Chinese five-spice powder, too.
Fun fact: Elevate the flavor profile of barbecue or black bean sauce by adding a splash of hot sauce, particularly sriracha sauce.
8. Oyster Sauce
Oyster sauce is another common ingredient in Asian cuisine.
It’s also difficult to make your own sauce. However, it’s much easier to make the oyster sauce than fish sauce!
While the ingredient list looks simple, you’ll have to prepare a ton of oysters to create the sauce.
If you plan on pairing hoisin with a vegetable or seafood dish, we suggest using the oyster sauce.
They have a different flavor but similar consistency having a rich texture. Plus, the oyster sauce tastes delicious on its own.
That said, note that this sauce has a strong flavor, so don’t add too much yet.
Fun fact: Speaking of fish sauce, this Asian sauce works well as a substitute, though add very small amounts of it as it is very salty and sharp in flavor.
9. Make Your Own Hoisin Sauce
That’s right, you can make homemade hoisin sauce easily with the right ingredients.
It may take some time so we don’t recommend it if you need a substitute quickly, but it’s worth doing if you want to adjust the sugar levels and other ingredients.
Here’s an excellent recipe to follow when making your own hoisin sauce:
- 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
- Two tablespoons of water
- Three tablespoons of black bean sauce
- Two tablespoons of soy sauce
- One tablespoon of rice vinegar
- Four pitted prunes
- Half a teaspoon of sesame oil
- Half a teaspoon of Chinese five-spice powder
- Black pepper, sriracha, or crushed red pepper blend for some heat
- Blender or food processor
Simply mix all the ingredients in a blender or food processor, pureeing until smooth. Then, store it in the fridge in an airtight container, chilling overnight.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do you still have questions about using hoisin sauce and its substitutes? Check out our frequently asked questions below!
1. Is hoisin sauce known as Chinese barbecue sauce?
Yes, some people consider hoisin sauce as Chinese barbecue sauce. It’s a fragrant sauce from Cantonese cuisine traditionally made from a black bean paste base.
Fun fact: Hoisin translates to "seafood sauce" in Chinese, but this sauce contains no seafood at all!
2. Can I use Worcestershire sauce as a substitute for hoisin sauce?
No, Worcestershire sauce and hoisin sauce aren’t the best substitutes for one another, though they are helpful in a pinch. What these two sauces do have in common is their sweet and umami flavor.
That said, they have major differences.
Worcestershire sauce is thinner than hoisin and with a fruitier flavor. On the other hand, hoisin is thicker and has a vinegar tang.
We only recommend using these sauces as substitutes for one another when only a small amount is needed. If you plan on using Worcestershire as a dipping sauce, we advise against it because of the consistency.
Fun fact: Instead of considering Worcestershire sauce to substitute hoisin sauce, we recommend using oyster sauce because of its similar consistency and seafood base.
3. What tastes like hoisin sauce?
Hoisin sauce takes on a unique flavor, having a combination of sweet, salty, and umami. We love how its thick and rich texture sets it apart from everything else. But even if it’s unique doesn’t mean it’s impossible to replace!
We recommend playing around with different sauces as the best substitute depends on the recipe and your tastebuds.
The sauces that taste like hoisin sauce the most are:
- American barbecue sauce, since hoisin is sometimes known as Chinese barbecue sauce, with a similar blend of salty and sweet.
- Molasses adds more depth to your recipe.
- Soy adds the umami flavor that hoisin sauce has.
- Chinese five-spice powder can reenact authentic hoisin sauce.
- Black bean sauce has a similar flavor base to hoisin, especially when you add sugar, rice wine vinegar, and soy sauce.
- Oyster sauce has a similar consistency and umami profile.
4. Is hoisin sauce the same as soy sauce?
No, hoisin sauce is not the same as soy sauce. Hoisin sauce is a Chinese condiment made from soybeans, vinegar, sugar, and spices. Soy sauce is a Japanese condiment made from fermented soybeans and wheat.
5. What’s the difference between hoisin sauce and oyster sauce?
Hoisin sauce and oyster sauce are both popular Chinese sauces that are used in a variety of dishes. Hoisin sauce is made from a combination of soybeans, garlic, sugar, and spices, while the oyster sauce is made from oysters and other seafood (usually shrimp or scallops) that have been cooked down into a thick paste. Both sauces are dark brown in color and have a slightly sweet and salty flavor.
In general, hoisin sauce is used as a marinade or dipping sauce, while the oyster sauce is used as a stir-fry ingredient or to top noodles or rice dishes. That said, there is some overlap in how these sauces can be used – for example, ho
Wrapping It Up
No hoisin sauce available in your local grocery or have none at home? You can always refer to this list to find the best hoisin sauce substitute!
Let us know which ingredients above worked best for you below. Happy cooking!