3 Best Dark Soy Sauce Substitutes

Dark soy sauce, also known as black soy sauce, is a staple in many Asian-inspired dishes. However, if you don’t usually cook Asian dishes, you probably don’t have dark soy sauce in your pantry. Dark soy sauce is commonly used in dishes like Cantonese noodles and stir-fries as it darkens the color to a rich amber that is popular in many Asian dishes. If you have dark soy sauce available, use it sparingly. A little goes a long way; you typically only need 1-2 teaspoons to achieve the desired color. Make sure to taste as you add to ensure the flavor is not overpowering.

Dark Soy Sauce Substitutes

[1] Teriyaki Sauce

Like dark soy sauce, teriyaki sauce adds a dark red coloring to any dish and has a similar flavor profile with a sweet and slightly salty taste. Soy sauce is the main ingredient in Teriyaki sauce, but additives such as ginger, sugar, garlic, and mirin deepen the flavor. Keep in mind the taste will be slightly different if you substitute teriyaki sauce, but if you are going for a traditional Asian style presentation and desire the dark coloring for your dish, it will do the job.

Teriyaki sauce is a type of sauce that is made from soy sauce and other ingredients. The most common teriyaki sauce ingredients are water, shoyu (soy sauce), mirin, sake, sugar, and sesame oil.

The origins of teriyaki sauce come from Japan, where it was first created in the 17th century. It is now used in many different cultures around the world as a marinade for meat or fish before cooking.

teriyaki sauce

[2] Oyster Sauce

Like Teriyaki sauce, oyster sauce will change the flavor profile of your dish slightly but will still add a salty/sweet combination that works so well in Asian dishes. Like Teriyaki sauce, oyster sauce also contains soy sauce with oyster extract, mushrooms, and sugar. Oyster sauce will add a slight oyster and caramel flavor to your dish, making it the perfect substitute for seafood dishes that call for dark soy sauce. 

Oyster sauce is a condiment made from oysters and brine. It is commonly used in Asian cuisine to add flavor to savory dishes like stir-fries, fried rice, or noodles. The sauce is often used in conjunction with other sauces like soy sauce or hoisin sauce.

oyster sauce to substitute

[3] Soy Sauce + Water + Brown sugar

You can create your own if you don’t have dark soy sauce! Start by adding the brown sugar and water to a pan and cooking on high until it’s boiling. Make sure to stir frequently. Wait until the sugar completely dissolves, then switch to medium-low heat.

Continue stirring, and you will notice the color starts to darken, resembling molasses. After you see the color change, pour in your soy sauce and stir until the sauce thickens and has a molasses-like consistency. Once you have your desired appearance and texture, remove from heat, let cool, and store in an airtight container and refrigerate.

Soy sauce is a salty condiment made from fermented soybeans. It’s often used to season foods like ramen, stir-fries, and sauces. It can also be used as a dipping sauce for dumplings and other snacks.

Soy sauce has been around since 300 BC in China, where it was called “jiang.” It spread to Japan by the 7th century and was originally made from wheat or millet. Today’s soy sauce is usually made from soybeans and wheat or barley.

soy sauce
brown sugar substitute

Best Brands of Dark Soy Sauce

If you want to find the best dark soy sauce for your Asian-inspired recipes, you may need to visit a Chinese market or order your product online, as many grocery stores do not stock dark soy sauce.

[1] Lee Kum Kee Premium Dark Soy Sauce

The Lee Kum Kee brand is known for being authentic and is the brand of choice for Michelin-starred restaurants. Their dark soy sauce is made with non-GMO soybeans and contains no added MSG. Lee Kum Kee is only $7.80 for a 16 oz bottle on Amazon.

[2] Yakaroku Aged Soy Sauce

Yakaroku is a well-established Japanese brand. Their products are brewed on Shodu island, which is famous for its soy sauce production. The company has been around for 150 years and naturally brews all its products in kioke barrels, creating a distinctively rich flavor. This soy sauce brews for four years which darkens the color and enriches the flavor. Because of the brand’s high quality, an 18-ounce bottle costs $46.95 on Amazon, but you can find it slightly cheaper on sites such as Japanese Taste and Soy Sauce Japan.

[3] Pearl River Brand Superior Dark Soy Sauce

Pearl River is a Chinese brand and is typically easier to find than Lee Kum Kee or Yakaroku. This dark soy sauce is fermented for over 100 days to bring out the dark color and rich flavor. It’s affordable at only $19.99 for a 16 oz bottle.

What is the Difference Between Dark and Light Soy Sauce

Dark soy sauce has a thicker consistency, a darker color, and a slightly sweeter taste than regular soy sauce. It’s typically added to darken the color of the dish and add an umami flavor.

dark soy sauce substitutes

Because of its sweeter taste, many people assume dark soy sauce contains less salt, but it has about 15% more salt than light soy sauce, so consider this if you are watching your sodium intake. Dark soy sauce is typically aged, which creates a thick consistency. Dark soy sauce typically works better for marinades and dipping sauces than regular soy sauce because its thick consistency makes it stick to food better.  


What Can I Sub for Dark Soy Sauce?

If you don’t have any dark soy sauce on hand, use teriyaki sauce or oyster sauce, or create your own using soy sauce, water, and brown sugar. When using a substitute, start with less than the recipe calls for and taste test as you add more to ensure the slight differences in flavor don’t compromise your dish.

Is Hoisin sauce Dark Soy Sauce?

While the flavors of hoisin sauce and dark soy sauce are similar, hoisin sauce also contains garlic, chili peppers, and sesame so consider these additional flavors before substituting hoisin sauce for dark soy sauce.

Does Worcestershire sauce taste like soy sauce?

The two sauces have a similar flavor and consistency and are both fermented, but Worcestershire sauce also contains malt vinegar, anchovies, sugar, salt, garlic, onions, tamarind extract, and molasses. Worcestershire sauce is soy free and contains less sodium than soy sauce. If a recipe uses soy sauce to make the dish saltier, Worcestershire sauce will not add this flavor, so consider this before using it as a substitute.

About Rachelle

Hi, I'm Rachel! I love cooking and finding new recipes but was always missing one of the ingredients in my kitchen. I created Can I Substitute? for people like me who are one substitute away from a great meal. If you're looking for great ingredient substitutes you've come to the right place. Feel free to contact me with any questions or comments.