What is a Good Substitute for Oyster Sauce? (UPDATED)

img of oyster sauce substitutes, alternatives, replacements

Do you enjoy Asian-inspired food and are keen to make it? Oyster sauce is a staple in Asian cuisine that adds a satisfying savory and rich umami flavor to stir-fries, sauces, and marinades. (*) We understand it is not always readily available, or if you have dietary restrictions, finding an alternative to oyster sauce is essential to keep the overall taste and meal balance intact. With that in mind, what is a good substitute for oyster sauce?, and how do you use it for ultimate flavorful results?

Let’s dive in and learn more about suitable substitutes, dietary-restricting alternatives, and delicious homemade recipes.

What is Oyster Sauce Exactly?

Oyster sauce hails from Southern China. Its journey began in the late 1800s when a restauranteur named Mr. Lee Kum Sheung forgot about an oyster soup he was boiling. 

As a result, the simmering soup turned into a thick gravy. Upon tasting it, Lee Kum discovered a new and palate-appealing flavor. He jumped on the opportunity to sell it and called it “Oyster Sauce.”

We can thank Lee Kum for introducing this delicious sauce sensation to Asian cuisine used to this day. 

How to Use Oyster Sauce

Oyster sauce brings an inviting sweet and umami touch to stir-fries, sauces, and marinades. 

It enhances the flavor of various ingredients, including:

  • Vegetables – perfect for greens, such as bok choy, broccoli, spinach, and kale
  • Meat – used for marinating beef, chicken, and pork
  • Seafood – complements fish and other seafood
  • Noodle and Rice – adds richness and depth to stir-fried noodles and rice
  • Dipping sauce – delicious paired with deep-fried shrimp or a fresh crudite platter

On the whole, oyster sauce complements your dishes with a pleasing balance of sweetness and saltiness.

img os sub for oyster sauce

What is a Good Substitute for Oyster Sauce?

If you’re looking for a substitute for oyster sauce, here are some options to consider: 

1. Fish Sauce 

You may think fish sauce and oyster sauce could have a similar flavor, being seafood-based. However, these products offer slightly different tastes and consistencies.  

That said, fish sauce is used in several Asian recipes, making it a suitable oyster sauce substitute in times of need.  

Fish sauce is made from fermented fish, such as krill and anchovies. For this reason, it is salty with a distinct fishy flavor. 

It is thicker than oyster sauce, and given its strong fishy flavor, a little goes a long way.  If you prefer less sweetness in your dish, fish sauce is a great option.  

To replace oyster sauce with fish sauce, follow these general guidelines:

  • Use a 1:1 ratio for substitution – Use one tablespoon of fish sauce for every tablespoon of oyster sauce required in the recipe.
  • Adjust the saltiness – Fish sauce tends to be saltier than oyster sauce, so you may need to reduce the additional salt or soy sauce in your recipe.
  • Consider adding a touch of sweetness – Oyster sauce has a slightly sweet taste, so you may want to add a small amount of sugar or honey to balance the flavors. (Add ½ a teaspoon (2.5ml) of sugar or honey to every tablespoon (15ml) of fish sauce for a touch of sweetness)
  • Taste and adjust: Always taste your dish as you cook and adjust the seasonings as needed for the perfect balance of flavors.

Learn more: What is a Good Substitute for Fish Sauce?

Soy Sauce – Vegan and Vegetarian Friendly

Probably the most well-known Asian cooking sauce is soy sauce.  

This sauce is slightly thinner and does not offer the complex flavors of oyster sauce. Yet, its distinct salty flavor is familiar to several palates and makes a flavorful alternative.  

How to use:

We prefer soy sauce in stir-fries, marinades, and dipping sauces, enhancing the flavor of fried noodles and rice.  

You can substitute soy sauce with an even 1:1 ratio. If you want more flavor, add a dash or two when serving your meal.  

Pro Tip:  Add ½ a teaspoon (2.5ml) of sugar to 1 tablespoon (15ml) of soy sauce to mimic oyster sauce’ssauce’s sweet and salty combination.  

Hoisin Sauce – Vegan/Soy-based

Hoisin sauce is thick and fragrant, matching the umami flavor alongside a pleasantly sweet and salty balance.  

It is also known as Asian barbeque sauce, as its consistency is remarkably similar to American Barbeque Sauce.

How to use:

If you follow a vegan diet, use hoisin sauce on grilled eggplant or marrow steaks and plant-based burgers.

This oyster sauce substitute is perfect for meat marinades if you are a meat eater. 

Besides these options, it works well with stir-fry and as a dipping sauce.  

As with soy sauce, you can substitute it with an even 1:1 ratio.

Worcestershire Sauce – Soy based

Although Worcestershire sauce originates from England and is not an ingredient in Asian cooking, it makes an excellent replacement.  

Worcestershire sauce is made with fermented anchovies and has a powerful umami flavor with a delightful sweet and sour taste. These qualities make it similar to oyster sauce and fish sauce.  

How to use: 

It has a complex and satisfying taste and matches a soy sauce consistency. This sauce works best in stir-fries and marinades.

This sauce replacement has a robust flavor. Therefore, we recommend you start with ½ the amount and go from there.  

Pro Tip:  Add authentic Asian notes by mixing one part Worcestershire sauce with one part soy sauce. Delicious! 

Discover Other Oyster Sauce Substitutes 

Teriyaki Sauce -Vegan/Soy based

Teriyaki sauce is a sweet, tangy, and sticky sauce with a similar consistency to oyster sauce. The ingredients include:

Notably, teriyaki sauce is sweeter than oyster sauce and comes in various flavors, such as honey teriyaki. We suggest you choose plain teriyaki sauce to keep a similar flavor resemblance.  

However, there is no harm in experimenting with different teriyaki flavors. You can create a new and enticing meal for all to enjoy.  

How to use:

Teriyaki pairs well with chicken, pork, beef, fish, and vegetables. It makes a delicious dip for dumplings and a marinade for chicken wings, steak, and shrimp.  

To replace oyster sauce with teriyaki sauce, follow these general guidelines:

  • Use a 1:1 ratio for substitution – Use one tablespoon of teriyaki sauce for every tablespoon of oyster sauce required in the recipe.
  • Adjust the sweetness – Teriyaki sauce tends to be sweeter than oyster sauce, so you may need to add salt or soy sauce to your recipe.
  • Taste and adjust: Always taste your dish as you cook and adjust the seasonings as needed for the perfect balance of flavors.

Tamari – Vegan/Gluten-free options

Some varieties of Tamari have a small amount of wheat in them. However, most options are wheat-free, gluten-free, and vegan.

Tamari is thicker than oyster sauce but has a similar complex flavor profile. It has a deep, rich, umami flavor and is less salty than soy sauce.

How to use:

This sauce pairs well with turkey, chicken, fish, pork, and vegetables—a popular choice to complement meat-based, vegan, and gluten-free diets.  

Coconut Aminos – Vegan/Gluten-free/Soy-free

Have you heard of Coconut Aminos? No, let’slet’s dig a little deeper into it.  

Vegan-based diets use coconut aminos as an oyster sauce alternative to complement various dishes. Yet, it is not limited to vegan cuisine.  

Coconut Aminos are made by fermenting coconut palm sap with sea salt. This method produces a brown, thin sauce slightly sweeter than soy sauce.  

In addition to vegan diets, it accommodates gluten and soy allergies—an extremely versatile product, a healthy oyster sauce substitute, and ideal for Asian cooking.  

Surprisingly, it does not taste like coconut. Therefore, it is an excellent replacement for palates that do not enjoy a coconut flavor and have gluten or soy allergies.

While it is slightly sweeter than soy sauce, it still offers a palate-pleasing saltiness. 

Furthermore, this replacement pairs with just about any base ingredient. 

How to use:

Try it with beef, chicken, pork, fish, duck, vegetables, and tofu.  

Pro Tip:  Although Bragg (™) Aminos contains soy, it is a great vegan oyster sauce replacement to consider.  In the same way, make reference to our table above on how to use it.  

Homemade Oyster Saucy Sub Recipes

How to Make Oyster Sauce from Scratch

This recipe guides you through making an authentic oyster sauce. Try it out and let us know your thoughts.

Homemade Vegan Oyster Sauce

We love this recipe. It is vegan, gluten and soy free. Ideal for those with gluten, soy, fish, or shellfish sensitivities or allergies.  Check it out!

FAQ’s

Final Saucy Thoughts

In short, oyster sauce in Asian cuisine is flavor specific and doesn’t always accommodate diet and allergy restrictions.  

However, plenty of flavorful alternatives create close to authentic and delicious meals that accommodate everyone’s tastes and dietary restrictions.  

So, what is a good substitute for oyster sauce?  Our list of replacements is sure to offer just what you are seeking. 

Which one was perfect for your dish?  Let us know!

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