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Dark Soy Sauce Substitutes

Last Updated on August 23, 2023

Dark Soy Sauce Substitutes that you need to know! Dark soy sauce is a rich and thick soy sauce with a sweet and full-bodied taste.

The following are the 9 best substitutes for dark soy sauce if you don’t have any in hand!

What Is Dark Soy Sauce

Chinese Dark Soy Sauce, also known as 老抽 in Chinese, is made from soybeans. It is generally used for adding color or flavor to food.

It is richer, slightly thicker, and less salty than other types of soy sauce due to the addition of molasses or other sweeteners.

As its Chinese name implies, it is also aged and matured longer than regular soy sauce.

In stews, stir-fries, and sauces, dark soy sauce is often used. It is frequently used in dishes requiring darker colors. It only takes a dash to add a touch of color and sweetness.

Dark Soy Sauce can be found in a variety of Chinese dishes, including Garlic Chili Noodles, Chinese Eggplant Sti-Fry with TVP, Chop Suey, or used as a dipping sauce for deep-fried Tofu Puffs.

Popular dark soy sauce brands on the market are L.K.K (Lee Kum Kee) and Pearl River Bridge superior dark soy sauce.

Is dark soy sauce vegan? You can check out this article: Is Soy Sauce Vegan?

9 Dark Soy Sauce SUBSTITUTES

1. Light Soy Sauce (Best Substitute for Dark Soy Sauce)

Fermented soybeans and wheat are the ingredients of light soy sauce, a thin, reddish-brown liquid condiment.

In Chinese cooking, it is as significant as rice vinegar and Shaoxing wine. It has a rich soy aroma and is quite salty.

When replacing dark soy sauce with light soy sauce, you need to be more cautious of the saltness (taste and add bit by bit at a time).

2. Oyster Sauce

egan king oyster mushroom with cashews
King Oyster Mushrooms Recipe made with vegan oyster sauce.

Oyster sauce is a sweet and salty condiment made from oyster juice, salt, and sugar.

In addition to umami, it also has a savory and tangy flavor. A common seasoning sauce in Asian cuisines, such as Chinese and Thai dishes, for stir-fries, marinades, and dipping sauces.

As oyster juice is present in most oyster sauces, they are not vegan. However, there are some brands such as Lee Kum Kee or Ayam, that offer vegan oyster sauce for vegans and vegetarians.

3. Hoisin Sauce

corn on the cob in the oven
Vegan Corn Ribs made with Hoisin Sauce.

The name Hoisin sauce in Chinese means “seafood sauce”, often used as a dipping sauce for seafood dishes.

Made with fermented soybeans, five-spice powder, garlic, red chili peppers, and sugar, hoisin sauce is a thick, fragrant sauce commonly used in Cantonese cuisine as a glaze sauce, an addition to stir fry, or as a dipping sauce.

Despite its name, most Hoisin sauces on the market are vegan and contain no animal products.

4. Teriyaki Sauce

Japanese teriyaki sauce combines soy sauce, mirin, sugar, and sake to create a sweet and tangy sticky sauce.

In making teriyaki sauce, manufacturers often add cornstarch as a thickener. Authentic teriyaki delivers a big hit of salty umami flavor similar to dark soy sauce. 

5. LKK Vegetarian Stir Fry Sauce

vegan chop suey with sauce

The Lee Kum Kee Vegetarian Stir-Fry Sauce combines fermented soy sauce and other ingredients, giving it a distinct mushroom taste.

Being excellent for stir-frying, it is also great for dipping and enriching any vegan or vegetarian dish.

Vegans can enjoy a similar texture and appearance to regular oyster sauce with this sauce specially designed for them.

6. Mushroom-Flavored Soy Sauce

Mushroom Flavored Soy Sauce is a soybean product. A mix of all-purpose soy sauce and earthy mushroom flavor.

Since it has a richer taste than light soy sauce and regular soy sauce, it is a great alternative to dark soy sauce.

7. Doubled Black Soy Sauce

Brewed with a combination of molasses and the first extract of raw soy sauce.

Double Black Soy Sauce has a thicker consistency and a darker color than regular soy sauce, making it a perfect replacement for dishes that call for dark soy sauce.

8. Kecap Manis (Sweet Soy Sauce)

Ketjap manis has a sweet, aromatic taste and a molasses-like consistency.

This sauce is thick and dark, made with palm sugar, soy sauce, and aromatic spices. Most people know it as “sweet soy sauce” because the word “manis” means sweet in Malay and Indonesian.

9. Tamari

The main ingredient in Tamari is soybeans. Tamara is a by-product of miso, you can taste salty and thin on the tongue which gives you a burst of flavor. For cooking, you can replace tamari with dark soy sauce in a 1:1 ratio.

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Which of these Dark Soy Sauce Substitutes have you tried? Leave a comment below and let me know what you think.



Soy sauce is a staple condiment of many Asian cuisines and dishes. There are many varieties available, each with unique flavor profiles and ingredients.
Light soy sauce is the most common variety and has a thin consistency with a salty flavor. Light soy sauce is usually quite salty, so you can use light soy sauce instead of salt to season your fried rice.
Dark soy sauce is thicker, richer, and sweeter than light soy sauce.
Sweet soy sauce is thicker than regular light soy sauce and has added sugar for sweetness.
Tamari is a gluten-free version of dark soy sauce that is rich in umami flavor.
Japanese shoyu has more wheat than other types of soy sauce, creating a milder flavor.
Chinese mushroom-flavored soy sauce adds an earthy depth to dishes and can be used as both a marinade and a dipping sauce.
Lastly, Indonesian kecap manis has an intense sweet-savory flavor due to its higher sugar content. With so many delicious varieties available at grocery stores, there’s sure to be a type of soy sauce perfect for your recipe calls for!


The taste of light soy sauce is saltier, thinner, and more refreshing than that of dark soy sauce. 

In general, light soy sauce is used to enhance the saltiness of food. In contrast, dark soy sauce is sweeter, thicker, and fuller in flavor. As opposed to adding flavor to a dish, it usually adds color. 


Shoyu, or Japanese soy sauce, is available in both dark and light varieties, but Japanese dark soy sauce is actually more similar to Chinese light soy sauce in that it’s more frequently used in cooking. 


Japanese people consider Kikkoman’s naturally brewed dark soy sauce.


Yes, you can. Compared to regular soy sauce, tamari is also thick and dark. As a by-product of miso paste, it’s naturally gluten-free.

Therefore, tamari will add a bit of dark color to your food and can be used as a substitute for gluten-free dark soy sauce. As a condiment, tamari has a richer, deeper taste than light soy sauce.

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dark soy sauce substitute

Substitutes for Dark Soy Sauce

Dark Soy Sauce Substitutes that you need to know! The following are 9 best substitutes for dark soy sauce if you don't have any in hand!
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Author: SHU-CHUN


  • Replace dark soy sauce substitutes accordingly.

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