10 Best Tamari Sauce Substitutes

Need a tamari substitute? I have the ten best tamari alternatives listed here, some of which you already have in your pantry!

Four bottles filled with different tamari substitutes.

Cooking a recipe that requires tamari? If all you have is an empty bottle and you need a tamari substitute, I have compiled the best alternatives. A wide range of replacements are accessible, each bringing something different to the table. 

Let’s see the best tamari substitutes that will work for your recipes.

What is Tamari?

Tamari is a Japanese soy sauce prepared using fermented soybeans, wheat, and salt. Also known as dark soy sauce, it is the key ingredient in numerous dishes, including rice, noodles, sushi, tofu, and dumplings.

Even though soy sauce is the next best substitute for tamari, these two are quite different regarding color and texture. Tamari sauce tends to be richer and thicker. 

This sauce has a rich umami flavor in diverse dishes. It is perfect for savory dishes that necessitate a thicker consistency, such as sauces and dips. Tamari sauce is also outstanding for seasoning stir-fry. It is a gluten-free Japanese condiment with less salt and is darker when compared to soy sauce.  

Several dumplings arranged on a plate.

Best Tamari Substitutes

Sometimes, it could be a challenge to find tamari in the market. In these situations, you can use one of the alternatives to tamari mentioned below:

1. Soy Sauce

Easily the closest and most commonly accessible, soy sauce is the best tamari replacement. Soy sauce offers a similar umami flavor, even though it’s rather thinner in consistency. It is highly versatile and works perfectly for stews, stir-fries, and even as a dipping sauce for sushi. You can substitute tamari with soy sauce in a 1:1 ratio. Soy sauce can also be used as a marinade for different meats and combined with ketchup, sugar, and garlic to make a barbeque mix. 

2. Fish Sauce

If you are into Thai cuisine, fish sauce offers a unique flavor that tastes similar to tamari. Mostly used in Southeast Asian cuisine, it is a condiment made from fermented fish. It might take some time to get used to the strong fish flavor and aroma because it can be overpowering if you add too much. Remember that fish sauce is stronger, so you can use ½ teaspoon of fish sauce for 1 tablespoon of tamari. Getting the right ratio will add depth and a rounded flavor to your dish, which will impress our guests. This substitute for tamari gives your dish a funky, tangy, salty flavor.

Soy sauce in a bowl with soy beans scattered around.

3. Balsamic Vinegar

Another alternative to tamari is balsamic vinegar. It has a salty and sour taste, making it a versatile ingredient in your pantry. It pairs ideally when it comes to vegetables and meat. You can also pair it with honey or sugar to sweeten it because balsamic vinegar is sourer than tamari. Balsamic vinegar is commonly paired as a salad dressing. You must use ½ teaspoon of balsamic vinegar for 1 tablespoon of tamari.

4. Hoisin Sauce

If you want a gluten-free substitute for tamari, hoisin sauce is a great option. It is made with fermented soybeans; this sauce provides a sweet, tangy, spicy, umami flavor. Hoisin sauce is thicker and sweeter than tamari, easily adding depth to your dishes. It can be used as a tamari replacement for infusing seafood, meat, and poultry. This sauce tastes pungent compared to tamari, so you’ll want to use a smaller quantity.

Grilled Japanese eggplants next to a bowl of hoisin sauce.

5. Anchovies

It may be hard to believe, but adding finely chopped anchovies to your dish gives tamari a similar flavor profile. Although everyone does not love anchovies, this ingredient is pretty versatile. This tamari replacement will give your dish a deep flavor and provide an ideal balance of umami, salty, and fish flavors. It is imperative to get the right proportion; otherwise, you might have an overly salty dish. From pasta sauces to Caesar salads, anchovies are a convenient ingredient for numerous dishes. To substitute for tamari in a stir-fry, utilize a ratio of 1:1.

6. Oyster Sauce

Despite its name, oyster sauce provides a less fishy flavor than anchovie or fish sauce. With a tangy taste, oyster sauce is similar to hoisin and can be used in a 2:1 ratio. This makes it a perfect sauce to prepare dips and stir-fry. Oyster sauce is a great substitute for tamari but is sweeter in taste and thicker in texture. It is commonly utilized in Asian cuisine, particularly Chinese, to give it a dissimilar savory flavor. Remember, when adding oyster sauce, you should cut out the sugar if the recipe calls for it. 

7. Miso Paste

Another wonderful substitute for Tamari is miso paste. This alternative is commonly used in Japanese cuisine and offers the same umami flavor.  Miso paste tends to have a thicker texture, so adding a splash of water loosens the texture, depending on your recipe. This tamari replacement could be a great addition to vegetables, meat, or tofu, even though the flavor may not match certain recipes. If you are unsure about the flavor, taste miso first to get an idea of how it will affect the general flavor of the dish.

Hand holding a small bowl of miso paste.

8. Coconut Aminos

Coconut aminos are an excellent soy-free alternative to tamari. It contains a similar flavor, so you can swap tamari in a 1:1 ratio. This substitute is less salty, so you might need to add more to taste. It is sweeter and milder than tamari, so it is best to begin with half the amount of tamari.

9. Teriyaki Sauce

If you want the perfect marinade or glaze on your poultry, opt for teriyaki sauce as a substitute for soy sauce. It has four components: tamari, sugar, ginger, and brown sugar. It offers a rich flavor and a delicate sweetness to every dish that is put into it, and it tastes like Tamari sauce. Try using it at a 2:1 ratio to get similar levels of salt.

10. Salt

Easily available in your pantry, salt will flavor Tamari similarly. Although the dish won’t taste the same, salt can be used if you do not have any other ingredients. You can select from various salts, including chili, garlic, and onion. Even without the umami flavor, it still makes the perfect seasoning. 

Ramen noodles being held up with chopsticks.

Check Out My Other Substitute Articles

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I replace tamari with soy sauce?

For any recipe that calls for tamari, you can substitute it with the standard soy sauce. The flavor profile is slightly different, with tamari being stronger and soy sauce being saltier. I recommend starting with less and adding more as needed.

Is tamari sauce gluten-free?

Yes, Tamari sauce is gluten-free and an ideal soy sauce substitution for those following a gluten-free diet.

Does Tamari contain MSG?

No, tamari does not contain MSG. On the other hand, some soy sauces might contain MSG.

Do you need to refrigerate the tamari after opening it?

Yes, you must refrigerate the tamari after opening it. When placed properly, the sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 months. 


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