9 Best Substitute For White Soy Sauce

White Soy Sauce Substitute

Soy sauce, the cornerstone of East Asian cuisines, offers an incredible blend of umami, sweetness, and saltiness, enhancing the flavors of various dishes. Among its numerous varieties, white soy sauce, or ‘Shiro Soy Sauce,’ stands out for its lighter color, milder taste, and subtler flavor profile. It’s the perfect choice when you want to season your food without darkening its appearance. The unique process of brewing predominantly wheat and a small portion of soybeans gives it a sweet, delicate taste, which is less intense yet beautifully balanced.

However, there are instances where you may need to replace white soy sauce, either due to dietary restrictions, availability issues, or simply to experiment with flavors. But finding a worthy substitute isn’t always straightforward due to its unique characteristics. Thankfully, several ingredients, ranging from other soy sauce types to completely distinct sauces, can deliver surprisingly similar flavors to white soy sauce. This guide highlights some of the best substitutes for white soy sauce, providing you with viable alternatives and detailing their culinary applications, flavor profiles, and nutritional aspects.

What is White Soy Sauce?

White soy sauce, originating from Japan, is lighter both in color and taste compared to other types of soy sauces. It’s created using a higher proportion of wheat to soybeans, which results in a pale, almost transparent color and a sweeter, less salty flavor. It’s often used in dishes where a dark soy sauce would overpower the other ingredients or ruin the color of the dish. Despite its delicate flavor, finding an exact match for white soy sauce can be a challenge because of its unique attributes.

Substitutes For White Soy Sauce: A Culinary Compass

  • Light Soy Sauce
  • Tamari
  • Fish Sauce
  • Worcestershire Sauce
  • Coconut Aminos
  • Ponzu Sauce
  • Dashi Combined With Salt
  • Teriyaki Sauce
  • Reduced Salt Soy Sauce

Best Substitutes For White Soy Sauce

In the following sections, we’ll explore each of these substitutes in detail. This way, you’ll not only find an alternative but also learn how to use it effectively in your dishes.

Light Soy Sauce

When seeking an alternative for white soy sauce, light soy sauce often comes to the rescue. Contrary to what its name might suggest, light soy sauce is not low in sodium, but lighter in color compared to its darker counterpart. Its origin traces back to China, where it is used to enhance the flavor of dishes without drastically changing their color.

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Light soy sauce has a thinner consistency and a sharper, saltier taste than white soy sauce. Yet, it can serve as a great substitute because its flavor, though slightly stronger, doesn’t overwhelm dishes. When using light soy sauce instead of white, consider reducing the quantity to balance the saltiness.

Furthermore, it’s worth noting that light soy sauce is readily available in most supermarkets, making it a convenient option. Whether you’re preparing stir-fry, marinades, or soups, light soy sauce can save the day when white soy sauce is not within your reach.


As you navigate the sea of soy sauce substitutes, you’ll likely come across Tamari. Tamari is a Japanese soy sauce variant made mostly from soybeans, with little to no wheat content. This makes it a perfect option for those with gluten intolerance.

Tamari has a richer, smoother flavor compared to white soy sauce. Its taste is less harsh and more balanced, which can enhance your dishes without overpowering other flavors. It’s also darker and thicker than white soy sauce, which may slightly affect the appearance of your dishes.

Even though Tamari isn’t as sweet as white soy sauce, it’s a worthy substitute. Its umami punch can add depth to a range of dishes including marinades, dips, and stir-fry dishes. Keep in mind, as Tamari is richer and less salty than white soy sauce, you might want to adjust the quantity to get the desired flavor.

Fish Sauce

While fish sauce might not be the first option that comes to mind when you think of soy sauce substitutes, it holds its own in this regard. Fish sauce is a staple in Southeast Asian cuisines, particularly Thai and Vietnamese. It’s made from fermented fish and salt, leading to a potent, salty, and fishy flavor.

Fish sauce is more pungent and salty compared to white soy sauce, and it lacks the latter’s sweet undertones. Therefore, when using it as a substitute, start with a smaller amount and adjust according to taste. Additionally, you can mix it with a bit of sugar to mimic the sweetness of white soy sauce.

Fish sauce works well in a range of dishes, from stir-fries and marinades to soups and stews. It’s an ingredient that packs a powerful punch, so handle with care!

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Worcestershire Sauce

Worcestershire sauce, a well-known condiment in Western cooking, can be used as a white soy sauce alternative. It has a complex flavor profile, combining sweet, sour, and umami notes, courtesy of its diverse ingredients, including vinegar, molasses, sugar, anchovies, tamarind, onions, and garlic.

Worcestershire sauce has a darker color and a stronger, more tangy flavor than white soy sauce. But the umami flavor from the anchovies gives it a certain affinity with soy sauces. When using it as a substitute, remember to adjust the quantity to prevent the tanginess from overpowering your dish.

Its versatility makes it suitable for a broad range of dishes, especially meats. So, if you’re whipping up a marinade or grilling some steaks, Worcestershire sauce can bring a delightful twist to your dish.

Coconut Aminos

For those looking for a soy-free and gluten-free substitute, coconut aminos is an excellent choice. Made from the sap of coconut trees, it is fermented and blended with sea salt to create a sauce that’s similar in color and consistency to light soy sauce.

Coconut aminos is sweeter and less salty than white soy sauce, and it has a slight hint of coconut flavor, though it’s not overly noticeable. It’s a great substitute if you’re looking to reduce sodium in your diet, or if you’re cooking for someone with dietary restrictions.

It pairs well with a variety of dishes, including stir-fries, marinades, and sushi. Its mild flavor doesn’t overwhelm the dish, making it a versatile addition to your kitchen pantry.

Ponzu Sauce

Ponzu sauce is another Japanese condiment that can stand in for white soy sauce. It’s a citrus-based sauce made from ingredients like soy sauce, citrus juice (yuzu, sudachi, daidai), vinegar, mirin, and katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes).

Although ponzu sauce has a tangy citrus note that white soy sauce doesn’t, its savory umami and mild sweetness align well with white soy sauce’s flavor profile. The citrusy flavor can also bring a refreshing twist to your dishes.

Ponzu sauce works well in a variety of dishes, particularly seafood and salads. It can also serve as a fantastic dipping sauce, elevating the taste of dumplings, sushi, and tempura.

Dashi Combined With Salt

In the absence of white soy sauce, you can get creative and make your own substitute. Combining dashi — a Japanese soup stock — with a pinch of salt can create a substitute that mimics the umami and slightly sweet flavor of white soy sauce.

Dashi brings a smoky, savory flavor, while the salt boosts the overall taste. This combination lacks the distinctive fermented taste of white soy sauce, but it can work well in soups, stews, and sauces where the soy sauce flavor isn’t the star.

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Teriyaki Sauce

Teriyaki sauce can work as a substitute for white soy sauce, with some caveats. It’s a Japanese sauce made from soy sauce, sake or mirin, and sugar or honey. Its sweet, tangy, and umami flavor profile resembles that of white soy sauce, though it is considerably thicker and sweeter.

If you’re using teriyaki sauce as a substitute, you might want to dilute it with water and adjust the quantity to prevent it from overpowering your dish. It works great in glazes, marinades, and stir-fry dishes, offering a sweet and glossy touch.

Reduced Salt Soy Sauce

Lastly, reduced salt soy sauce can serve as a handy substitute for white soy sauce. It has a similar flavor profile but contains less salt, making it a healthier alternative. Like light soy sauce, it’s also lighter in color, preventing it from altering the appearance of your dishes significantly.

While using reduced salt soy sauce, keep in mind that it can be slightly more potent in flavor due to the reduced salt acting as a flavor mask. Therefore, adjust the quantity to suit your taste.

It’s a versatile substitute that works well in almost any dish where white soy sauce is required, from dips and dressings to marinades and stir-fries.

Substitutes for White Soy Sauce: Nutritional Profile

SubstituteGluten (g)CaloriesFat (g)Carbs (g)Fiber (g)Protein (g)
Light Soy Sauce015010.12
Fish Sauce080101
Worcestershire Sauce3.4130300
Coconut Aminos0200500
Ponzu Sauce2100201
Dashi With Salt0100202
Teriyaki Sauce2.65001201
Reduced Salt Soy Sauce0150102

*All values are approximations for ¼ cup serving.

Final Thoughts

Finding a substitute for white soy sauce can seem challenging due to its unique characteristics. However, as we’ve explored in this guide, there are various alternatives that you can turn to, each with its unique qualities. While some come close to mimicking the taste of white soy sauce, others offer a refreshing twist to your dishes.

Keep in mind that substitutions may not perfectly replicate the original ingredient’s flavor, and adjusting the quantity and experimenting is a part of the process. Hopefully, this guide has not only given you viable options but also provided insights into how you can adjust and adapt these substitutes to your cooking needs.

Remember, the art of cooking is about innovation and personalization. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different flavors and ingredients. Who knows, you might discover a new favorite in the process. Happy cooking!

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