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Savory Tweaks: BEST Shoyu Substitutes

Shoyu is a type of soy sauce widely used throughout East Asia.

It is made with fermented soybeans and wheat, delivering a sweet and salty flavor that pairs perfectly with a variety of dishes.

While it can be purchased commercially, many people opt to make it at home to ensure that their shoyu is fresh, preservative-free, and genuinely delicious.

Unfortunately, some people may not have access to shoyu or find themselves out of it while cooking an Asian recipe.

If this happens, don’t panic — there are quite a few alternatives that can substitute for shoyu.

Knowing the best replacements will allow you to continue making your favorite dishes even in the absence of this unique seasoning.

In this article, we’ll provide an overview of shoyu and its substitutes so you can get back in the kitchen as soon as possible.

What’s Shoyu?

Shoyu is a type of Japanese soy sauce that is as popular as ketchup in the United States.

Its flavor is often described as being salty and sweet, with a hint of smokiness.

It’s used to add a unique umami (or savory) flavor to dishes, much like Worcestershire sauce.

Shoyu is made by fermenting wheat, soybeans and salt with Aspergillus oryzae bacteria, which gives it its distinctive flavor.

Although it doesn’t provide much nutritional value, shoyu does have antioxidant properties that can help protect cells from harm and promote healthy digestion.

How to Use Shoyu?

Shoyu is a traditional Japanese-style soy sauce originating from Japan, made from fermented soybeans, wheat, and salt.

It is used to enhance the flavor of many dishes and gives them a better-rounded finish.

Shoyu has a slightly sweeter taste than regular dark soy sauce and has a more balanced aroma.

Depending on the brand, it can be slightly darker in color and less salty than regular soy sauce.

In Japanese cuisine, shoyu is often used as a seasoning agent or condiment to add flavor to meals such as soups, steak, sushi dishes, and curries.

5 BEST Shoyu Substitutes You Should Consider

Shoyu can be used to enhance the flavor of soups, sauces, stir-fries, curries and marinades.

However, if you don’t have shoyu or are looking for an alternative, there are some great alternatives that will provide comparable flavor profiles.

Here are five of the best shoyu substitutes you should consider:

1 – Coconut Aminos

Coconut aminos is derived from the sap of coconut palm trees, which is combined with sun-dried, mineral-rich sea salt and aged to create a flavorful alternative to soy sauce.

It is slightly sweeter than regular soy sauce and contains 73% less sodium while also providing trace amounts of minerals like zinc and magnesium.

Coconut aminos also contains 17 amino acids, making it a good source of protein.

Use this in place of shoyu as a healthier alternative in stir-fries, dressings and marinades.

2 – Tamari

Tamari is a dark and richly flavored soy sauce, made without wheat and brewed for up to six months.

It has a mellow taste, often compared to the flavor of the miso soup.

Tamari usually contains less salt than ordinary soy sauce and has a more complex taste.

It’s an excellent substitute for shoyu in stir-fries, marinades, soups and sauces – though it might require a bit of tweaking of amounts depending on how salty you like your dishes.

3 – Fish Sauce

An incredibly common condiment in Southeast Asian cuisine, fish sauce is often used to add a salty flavor to dishes, as well as enhance their savory nature.

It is made from fermented fish and usually has a murky appearance.

The flavor can be quite strong at first, but quickly mellows out after cooking.

Many people also enjoy it raw as a dipping sauce or an ingredient in simple dressings/marinades.

Fish sauce is easy to find in Asian markets and online if you’re unable to find it locally.

When shopping for fish sauce, it’s best to look for brands labeled “naturally brewed” on the label since they tend to have the most complex flavors available.

4 – Worcestershire Sauce

Worcestershire sauce may not be the first thing you think of when considering substitutes for shoyu, but it can actually make a passable replacement.

It has a similar salty-sweet flavor profile, with some added spices and aromatics.

Worcestershire is mostly composed of malt vinegar, molasses, sugar, anchovies and other seasonings, so it will give you the savory saltiness that shoyu provides.

While it is not an exact match for shoyu, Worcestershire will certainly work in many circumstances.

For example, try using Worcestershire instead of shoyu when marinating or glazing meats as the fish and fruit flavors won’t be too overpowering in these dishes.

5 – Miso Paste

Miso paste is a popular fermented soybean condiment and seasoning that is widely used in Japanese cuisine.

It is made from soybeans, salt, koji (a type of fungus), and sometimes other grains like rice or barley.

Depending on the type and fermentation time, miso pastes vary in color from light yellow to dark brown.

Because it is a fermented food, miso paste has a very pungent aroma and taste which comes mainly from its high levels of umami compounds.

It can be used as a condiment or marinade to add flavor to dishes such as soups, salads, stews, sauces, marinated vegetables and proteins.

When used as a replacement for shoyu (soy sauce), miso paste has similar properties with an added bonus of containing powerful probiotics that boost your gut health.


Shoyu is a type of soy sauce that’s widely used in Japanese cuisine.

Though it’s traditionally made with soybeans, wheat, salt and water, some brands add more complex flavors like mushrooms, kelp and fruit.

Unfortunately, not everyone can get ahold of authentic shoyu for their recipes.

However, there are plenty of delicious alternatives to help get you through any shoyu-free recipe.

Depending on what flavor you’re looking for and what kind of item you’re making, different substitutes may work better than others in your recipes since the taste profile varies from one item to another.

Ultimately, picking the best substitute for shoyu depends on personal preference and experimentation.

So don’t be afraid to experiment and find the perfect substitute that fits your individual needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Shoyu?

A: Shoyu is a Japanese soy sauce that is made from soybeans, wheat, salt, and other ingredients.

It has a dark, salty, and sweet flavor that is traditionally used in Japanese cooking.

What are the 5 BEST substitutes for Shoyu?

The 5 best substitutes for Shoyu are Tamari, Coconut Aminos, Miso Paste, Worcestershire Sauce, and Hoisin Sauce.

All of these sauces have their own unique flavor profiles that can be used to replace the flavor of Shoyu in recipes.

5 BEST Shoyu Substitutes You Should Consider

5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Substitutes


  • 1 – Coconut Aminos
  • 2 – Tamari
  • 3 – Fish Sauce
  • 4 – Worcestershire Sauce
  • 5 – Miso Paste


  • Choose your preferred substitute from the list of options.
  • Organize all of your ingredients.
  • Use the proper substitute to cook your recipes.
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