6 Dark Soy Sauce Substitute Options

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If you’ve run out of dark soy sauce, don’t fret. This guide provides six straightforward Dark Soy Sauce Substitute Options, including accessible choices like light soy sauce and sweet soy sauce (Kecap Manis), to keep your dishes flavorful and visually appealing without the original ingredient.

Dark Soy Sauce Substitute Options

Key Takeaways

  • Several substitutes for dark soy sauce exist, including light soy sauce combined with sugar, double black soy sauce, sweet soy sauce (Kecap Manis), hoisin sauce, oyster sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and coconut aminos for special diets.
  • To recreate the flavor profile of dark soy sauce with substitutes, balance is key; sweetness and thickness can be adjusted using ingredients like molasses, sugar, or cornstarch to match the original sauce’s rich, umami taste and consistency.
  • Different substitutes will impact the flavor and texture of a dish in unique ways, from the sweetness of Kecap Manis to the tanginess of Worcestershire sauce, requiring careful consideration and potential modifications to achieve the desired culinary results.

Alternatives to Dark Soy Sauce

The realm of dark soy sauce substitutes is diverse, featuring a range of options that can closely mimic its rich, umami-infused profile, including mushroom flavored soy sauce. Each alternative brings its unique touch to your dishes, opening new dimensions of flavor.

We will explore four notable substitutes in detail: light soy sauce, double black soy sauce, sweet soy sauce or kecap manis, and a homemade blend of light soy sauce and molasses, which can be used as an alternative to teriyaki sauce.

If you love soy sauce be sure to check out our Honey Soy Asian Pork Belly and Instant Pot Chicken Adobo recipes.

Alternatives to Dark Soy Sauce

Light Soy Sauce: A Versatile Stand-in

Light soy sauce, a common staple in Asian cuisine, is a versatile stand-in for dark soy sauce. It’s less sweet, thinner, and saltier, making it an efficient substitute when added sweetness and thickness are introduced. You might wonder, “How does one transform this lighter version into the robust taste of dark soy sauce?”

This can be accomplished with a simple tweak: adding a touch of sugar or dark brown sugar to light soy sauce can recreate the salty and sweet flavor balance of dark soy sauce. Light soy sauce, being lower in sodium, is also a healthier alternative for those watching their salt intake. It blends beautifully with stir-fries, marinades, and dipping sauces, ensuring no compromise on flavor when dark soy sauce is off the cards.

Double Black Soy Sauce: The Closest Match

Double black soy sauce, another variant of the soy sauce family, is a closer match to dark soy sauce. Produced similarly to dark soy sauce, but with the addition of molasses, it offers a mildly sweet taste with a slightly higher salt content. It shares similarities with dark soy sauce in terms of its thicker consistency and darker color, making it a reliable alternative.

Double Black Soy Sauce

However, its denser consistency may require a bit of thinning. A mixture of double black soy sauce and light soy sauce can closely replicate the consistency of dark soy sauce, helping your dishes maintain their original texture and taste.

Sweet Soy Sauce (Kecap Manis): The Indonesian Favorite

Stepping away from the traditional soy sauce substitutes, let’s venture into the realm of Indonesian cuisine with Kecap Manis, a sweet and thick soy sauce. Crafted from soy sauce and palm or coconut sugar, Kecap Manis boasts an intricate flavor profile that sets it apart from other soy sauces. It offers a rich, almost metallic taste with a bittersweet quality, making it less salty than traditional dark soy sauce.

Despite its thicker consistency, Kecap Manis balances sweetness with less saltiness, providing a delightful contrast to the robust flavor of dark soy sauce. If you’re looking to experiment with flavors and don’t mind a bit of sweetness in your dish, Kecap Manis might be your new favorite dark soy sauce substitute.

Combining Light Soy Sauce and Molasses

If you’re up for a bit of culinary experimentation, consider making your homemade dark soy sauce substitute. A blend of light soy sauce and molasses can mimic the desired sweetness and thickness of dark soy sauce. By combining these two ingredients, you create a flavor akin to dark soy sauce, with a distinct sweet undertone reminiscent of molasses.

This homemade substitute is particularly advantageous for dishes such as marinades for meats, tofu, and vegetables, as well as glazes for salmon fillets. It not only enhances the flavor but also affects the texture by adding sweetness and thickness.

Enhancing With Additional Flavors

Beyond the sphere of soy sauce and its variants, there lies a world of other sauces that can step in as a substitute for dark soy sauce. Each sauce brings its distinctive flavor, further enriching your dishes.

Enhancing With Additional Flavors

We will examine three such alternatives in depth: hoisin sauce, oyster sauce, and Worcestershire sauce.

Hoisin Sauce

Hoisin sauce, a thick and sweet sauce prevalent in Chinese cuisine, serves as an exciting alternative to dark soy sauce and can also be used as a dipping sauce. It gets its dark appearance and sweet flavor from the inclusion of molasses or honey and sometimes sesame seeds. While its sweet and salty flavor profile is different from Chinese soy sauce, it can mimic the saltiness and color, making it a viable substitute in recipes that call for dark soy sauce.

This substitute adds a sweet and salty taste to the dish, contributing additional depth and complexity to its flavor profile. Consider hoisin sauce as a substitute if you’re looking for a sweeter twist to your dishes.

Oyster Sauce

Oyster sauce is another substitute that brings a unique flavor profile to the table. Offering a dark caramel flavor, it provides a distinct sweetness that sets it apart from the slightly bitter molasses note of dark soy sauce. Despite its sweeter taste, oyster sauce shares a similar saltiness with dark soy sauce, making it a suitable substitute.

However, due to its thicker consistency and sweeter flavor profile, oyster sauce requires careful addition when used as a substitute. Consider oyster sauce as a substitute if you’re willing to experiment with a uniquely sweet and savory flavor. Our Instant Pot Black Pepper Chicken recipe uses Oyster sauce instead of soy sauce.

Worcestershire Sauce

Worcestershire sauce, known for its tangy and savory characteristics, serves as an alternative to dark soy sauce. It contains a blend of vinegar, anchovies, spices, sugar, and molasses, making it a suitable substitute for dark soy sauce. However, due to its distinct taste and thinner consistency, it’s advisable to use smaller quantities of Worcestershire sauce when substituting dark soy sauce.

The tangy and savory characteristics of Worcestershire sauce can enhance the flavors of stir-fries, marinades, and barbecue sauces. If you’re up for a tangy twist to your dishes, Worcestershire sauce can be your go-to substitute and works well in Instant Pot Salisbury Steak.

The Best Dark Soy Sauce Substitutes for Special Diets

Navigating dietary restrictions can be challenging, especially when your recipe calls for specific ingredients like dark soy sauce. However, there are several soy-free and gluten-free alternatives that can step in, offering a world of possibilities. One such standout alternative is coconut aminos.

Coconut Aminos: The Soy-Free Solution

Coconut aminos, made from pure raw coconut sap, is a soy-free and gluten-free substitute for dark soy sauce. It offers a sweeter and milder flavor in comparison to dark soy sauce, making it an ideal alternative for those with dietary restrictions or those seeking a less sweet and salty taste.

Coconut Aminos

Moreover, coconut aminos provide nutritional benefits by having lower sodium content compared to dark soy sauce, making it a suitable choice for those watching their salt intake. If you’re on a hunt for a healthier alternative or dealing with dietary restrictions, coconut aminos could be the solution.

The Impact of Substituting Dark Soy Sauce on Flavor and Texture

Substituting dark soy sauce is more than just a swap; it can affect the overall taste and consistency of your dish. Understanding these impacts can help you make more informed choices about which substitute to use and how it might change your culinary creation.

The Role of Sweetness and Saltiness

When substituting dark soy sauce, it’s vital to balance sweetness and saltiness. This balance lends a slightly sweeter dark soy sauce taste than regular soy sauce, thereby enriching the depth and richness of flavor in dishes.

The Role of Sweetness and Saltiness

Adjusting this balance can be achieved through various methods. For instance, coconut aminos can be used as a 1:1 substitute for a slightly sweeter taste, or a dash of sugar or honey can be added to balance the salt content. The goal is to create an equilibrium of flavors that satisfies the palate while staying true to the dish’s original taste profile.

Achieving the Ideal Consistency

Getting the right thickness is another important factor when replacing dark soy sauce. The thickness of dark soy sauce adds a fuller body that improves the texture of a dish, setting it apart from lighter, more viscous soy sauces.

To mimic this thickness, natural thickening agents like cornstarch or reduction can be used. Alternatively, soy sauce alternatives such as hoisin sauce, oyster sauce, or coconut aminos can also help achieve the desired consistency. By understanding how to adjust the consistency, you can ensure your dishes retain their intended textures.


Navigating the world of dark soy sauce substitutes opens up a rich tapestry of flavors and textures. From the versatile light soy sauce and the closely matched double black soy sauce to the sweet Kecap Manis and the homemade blend of light soy sauce and molasses, the alternatives are abundant. Even beyond the realm of soy sauces, options like hoisin sauce, oyster sauce, and Worcestershire sauce can offer exciting flavor profiles. And let’s not forget the dietary-friendly coconut aminos, a testament to the inclusivity of the culinary world. So, the next time you’re out of dark soy sauce or just in the mood for an experiment, remember, the kitchen is your playground – explore, create, and most importantly, savor every moment.


What Can I Use Instead of Dark Soy Sauce?

You can use light soy sauce, kecap manis, double black soy sauce, coconut aminos, or mushroom sauce as substitutes for dark soy sauce. Worcestershire sauce, Teriyaki sauce, hoisin sauce, and mushroom-flavored dark soy sauce are not recommended as substitutes.

How to Make Dark Soy Sauce From Regular Soy Sauce?

To make dark soy sauce from regular soy sauce, mix 2 teaspoons of light soy sauce with 1/2 teaspoon molasses and 1/8 teaspoon sugar. If molasses is not available, heat light soy sauce and dark brown sugar over medium-high heat until it thickens and reduces.

What Is the Difference Between Dark Soy Sauce and Regular Soy Sauce?

The main difference between light soy sauce and dark soy sauce is their use. Light soy sauce is saltier and used for flavor, while dark soy sauce is thicker, less salty, and slightly sweeter, making it ideal for adding color.

Is Hoisin Sauce the Same as Dark Soy Sauce?

No, hoisin sauce is not the same as dark soy sauce. While both are used in Asian cuisine, hoisin sauce has a sweet and salty flavor profile, while dark soy sauce is primarily salty with a hint of sweetness.

What Are Some Common Substitutes for Dark Soy Sauce?

You can substitute dark soy sauce with light soy sauce, double black soy sauce, sweet soy sauce (Kecap Manis), hoisin sauce, oyster sauce, Worcestershire sauce, or coconut aminos. These options offer a range of flavors and richness.

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