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The 9 Best Soy Sauce Substitutes for Fried Rice

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Soy sauce is a staple ingredient in many forms of cooking. So much so, that many think running out of it to be a huge sin. However, it’s not always the end of the world since there are typically many items around the kitchen that can mimic soy sauce effectively in most recipes, including fried rice.

Here are 9 replacements that will allow you to create delicious fried rice without a drop of soy sauce:

1. Oyster Sauce

Oyster Sauce on a Spoon

Oyster sauce is a dark syrup-like sauce made from oyster juices. It makes an excellent substitute for soy sauce in fried rice because it packs the same sweet-salty umami taste as soy sauce. 

Like soy sauce, oyster sauce is traditionally Chinese, so it makes a great blend with many Asian dishes, including fried rice. One important difference between both sauces is that oyster sauce is not quite as sharply salty as soy sauce. 

You should use oyster sauce as a replacement for soy sauce in a 1.5: 1 part ratio. Oyster sauce also contains a caramel coloring that adds a signature dark color to your rice.

As its name implies, oyster sauce is seafood-based, so vegetarians and vegans may prefer to abstain from it. Some brands of oyster sauce also contain small amounts of possible allergens like soy and gluten. If you’re swapping out soy sauce because of an allergic condition, you should confirm the composition of your oyster sauce substitute before using it.

2. Tamari/Shoyu Sauce

Shoyu Sauce for Sale in a Store

Tamari sauce, also called shoyu, is a Japanese sauce made from similar ingredients as soy sauce but without wheat. It makes a great replacement for soy sauce because it adds the same complex flavor with a stronger umami component. This sauce is often vegan and gluten-free.

Being a gluten-free substitute for soy sauce, tamari sauce is a very popular condiment for people with celiac disease or any other condition causing gluten intolerance. However, this sauce is produced from fermented soy, so aside from being wheat-free, it’s largely similar to soy sauce.

Tamari sauce is not a suitable substitute for people with soy allergies or salt sensitivity. It is about as salty as regular soy sauce, so you can use tamari sauce in a 1:1 ratio.

3. Worcestershire Sauce

Bottle of Heinz Worcestershire Sauce

Worcestershire sauce is a savory European vinegar-based sauce that you can use to replace soy sauce in fried rice. It has a flavor similar to soy sauce but with less umami and a sharper tang. Worcestershire sauce has a lower sodium content and is often soy-free.

Aside from vinegar, Worcestershire sauce has a variety of ingredients that contribute to its flavor profile. These ingredients include:

  • Sugar from molasses
  • Malt
  • Salt
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Tamarind extract
  • Anchovies
  • Spices

The anchovies mean that Worcestershire sauce isn’t vegetarian or vegan. You can use Worcestershire sauce in a 1:1 ratio as you’d typically use soy sauce.

Allergies are rarely an issue with this sauce because it doesn’t contain the common allergens –  gluten and soy.

4. Coconut Aminos Sauce

Coconut aminos is a sweet-and-salty sauce made from fermented coconut sap and sea salt. It can serve as a near-perfect vegan substitute for soy sauce in fried rice that is soy-free, wheat-free, and gluten-free. The flavor of coconut aminos is free of actual coconuts and very similar to soy sauce.

While coconut aminos sauce is widely preferred because it has few to no potential allergens, its health benefits extend beyond that. The sauce contains up to 17 amino acids that offer various nutritional benefits. It also has more than three times less sodium than soy sauce, making it great for sodium control.

Like other substitutes, you can use coconut aminos sauce in a 1:1 ratio, in the same proportion that you’d use soy sauce. However, it is less salty, so you might want to add more salt for flavor.

5. Miso Paste

A spoon scooping up miso paste from a plastic container

Miso is a paste made from a fermented mixture of soybean, koji mold, salt, and grains like barley or rice. Though it comes in a solid or semi-solid form, miso paste can be blended and diluted with other liquids to make a great substitute for soy sauce in fried rice.

Miso paste packs a lot of health benefits with its protein-rich additions, but it may need some extra work on the texture before you can use it as a liquid sauce substitute. A cool hack is to mix miso paste with another sauce like liquid aminos and use the mixture in a 1:1 substitution ratio, in the same proportion as soy sauce.

Miso paste retains the great umami flavor of soy sauce, but like other substitutes, it may need some extra salt. However, it is not gluten-free.

6. Fish Sauce

Fish sauce can knock soy sauce out of the park in your fried rice while adding a delicious fishy flavor. It’s made from the fermented product of fish or small crustaceans like krill. The sauce replaces the umami flavor from soy sauce and retains its fishy scent as well.

The fermentation process for fish sauce is done over two years, so it requires a lot of salting. The final product of the sauce has a lot of salt, so its sodium content is almost higher than regular soy sauce. Fish sauce is quite potent, so it’s best to use it in a ½:1 ratio, using half as much fish sauce as the soy sauce. 

Some brands of fish sauce are gluten-free, but this varies, so do your due diligence and check the labels and nutritional information before you purchase fish sauce. 

7. Shiitake Mushroom Liquid

Marinated shiitake mushrooms in a wooden bowl

The liquid from shiitake mushrooms can serve as a cooking substitute for soy sauce. They have a natural, milder version of the umami flavor in soy sauce that can be concentrated by drying. When you dip the fresh mushrooms in your fried rice or soak the dried ones, the hydration releases the flavor.

Shiitake mushrooms are the only ingredient needed here, so you can extract gluten and soy-free flavor from them with minimal sodium. For the best results, soak the dried shiitake mushrooms overnight in cool water or for a couple of hours in boiling water to rehydrate them. You can add the liquid liberally to your fried rice with some salt to intensify the flavor.

8. Liquid Aminos Sauce

Liquid aminos is a protein-rich derivative of soy sauce extracted from unfermented soybeans. It can be used as a gluten-free substitute for soy sauce because it packs a similar but milder flavor. Liquid aminos also have a sweeter taste and slightly higher sodium content.

This sauce has the edge over soy sauce as a healthier alternative. Most brands of this sauce contain no harmful preservatives or potentially allergic gluten. Liquid aminos sauce also contains a concentrated amount of beneficial amino acids. You can use this sauce in a 1:1 ratio, in the same amount as soy sauce.

9. Homemade Oil-and-Spice Mixture

A homemade substitute for soy sauce is a combination of spices like fresh garlic and peppers sautéed in flavorful sesame oil with a low flame. This healthy combination of spices releases the complex flavor of soy sauce without needing to use any packaged products. 

You can customize your homemade substitute to enhance the flavor of your fried rice. Play around with various combinations and ingredient ratios till you find the perfect mix. 

Fresh peppers and garlic have many health benefits. They are especially beneficial in serving as antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents. You can use the mix of sautéed spices liberally to add the umami punch to your fried rice.


Here is a recap.

The best soy sauce substitutes for fried rice are:

  1. Oyster sauce
  2. Tamari/Shoyu sauce
  3. Worcestershire sauce
  4. Coconut aminos sauce
  5. Miso paste
  6. Fish sauce
  7. Shiitake mushroom liquid
  8. Liquid aminos sauce
  9. Homemade oil-and-spice mixture

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For more, don’t miss The 7 Best Substitutes for Teriyaki Sauce.

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