Tamari sauce is a perfect balance of umami flavors and is used in many recipes. If you are a fan of Japanese food, I am sure you must have eaten tamari sauce before. You run out of this sauce before you even realize! So, for that, I have brought you the best tamari substitutes.
Though tamari is Japanese in origin, it can be used in a lot of different recipes from around the world. But, if you use it in your recipes too often and are out of it , you can use a substitute for the same. This article has the best tamari substitutes that work equally well.
Now, coming to the point, what can you actually use in place of tamari? The best tamari substitutes are soy sauce, hoisin sauce, fish sauce, oyster sauce, Worcestershire sauce, miso paste, coconut aminos, liquid aminos, and balsamic vinegar.
I know a lot of you may be very familiar with tamari sauce. But, to be fair to the people who are new to it, let me tell you a bit about this incredible condiment. Once you know what it tastes like, it will be much easier to pick your favorite substitute option.
Quick Peek: Tamari
In this section, you will find a lot of information about tamari. This section will help you understand what exactly the ingredient is, where it comes from, what it tastes like, and its uses. You will also get to know about its nutritional values.
What Is Tamari?
Tamari, also known by the name tamari shoyu, is a sauce made from fermented soybeans hailing from Japan. It is one of the various types of soy-based sauces made in Asia. However, when compared with other soy sauces, tamari has a distinct flavor and texture.
This is because tamari is made in a different way compared to other types of soy sauces. Tamari is made from the liquid that remains after making Miso paste. Also, unlike other soy sauces, it contains little to no added wheat during the fermentation process.
Describing Tamari: Flavor And Texture
The color of tamari is quite similar but a little darker than that of Chinese soy sauce, which is why they are often confused with each other. However, the consistency and texture of tamari is a little thicker as compared to that of soy sauce.
When we talk about the flavor of tamari, it has a perfect balance between sweet and umami flavors. It does not contain as much salt as traditional soy sauce does. So, when added to various recipes, it does not leave them tasting extremely salty.
Uses Of Tamari
Tamari is a preferred dipping sauce with many foods, such as sushi and sashimi. The reason tamari sauce makes a better dipping sauce than other soy counterparts is because it is not extremely salty and will not overpower the taste.
Other than that, despite its Japanese origin, tamari is used in various dishes ranging all across East Asia. Tamari can be used to add a more balanced flavor to noodles and stir-fried dishes. As it has an umami flavor, it gives a sort of meaty flavor to vegan and vegetarian dishes.
You can also use tamari in marinades, salads, soups, and stews to have an added and balanced flavor. It also works particularly well with tofu. Tamari mixed with a little sugar is also a common topping for various types of nuts, especially almonds.
Tamari On The Health Radar | Looking Through The Wellness Telescope
Tamari sauce, being a condiment, is generally used in small quantities in different recipes. So, it does not impart any major nutritional or health benefits. But, let me still tell you about the exact nutritional value of tamari.
As tamari is used in small quantities, let’s take a tablespoon or somewhere around 15 grams as the base measure. This amount contains 11 calories with almost a negligible amount of fat and cholesterol. It contains very minute amounts of proteins, carbohydrates, and fiber.
Other than that, tamari generally mostly contains a very high amount of sodium. However, this is still very less when you compare it with other varieties of soy sauces. It is a good source of vitamin B3 and is completely gluten-free.
Why Use A Substitute For Tamari?
Tamari is a great option to use for people that want a milder flavor than that soy sauce. So, it definitely has a lot of good qualities. But then, why use a substitute for it? Well, tamari is a great condiment, but I can give you a few valid reasons why you can use a substitute.
Firstly, Soy Allergies! While tamari is gluten-free and healthier than other variations of soy sauce, it still has a major allergen in it, well, soy! So, in case you desire the same flavor as tamari in your food but are allergic to soy, you can consider using a soy-free substitute.
Moreover, in case you are trying to live on a budget, tamari might not be the first choice of a condiment. Not too expensive, but tamari is more expensive than soy sauce and various other options given in this article.
So again, in a situation like this, you can opt for a substitute that is cheaper but will give you the same flavor. Lastly, in case you are just all out of tamari, instead of running to the store, just use a substitute! A lot of the options may already be stocked in your pantry!
I do believe that I may have given you too much information about tamari. So, before your brain starts saturated with information about the same, let me take you to the best substitutes you can use in place of tamari.
12 Best Tamari Substitutes
This section has the best substitutes you can use in place of tamari. You will get to know what property each ingredient has that makes it a suitable substitute for tamari. Moreover, you will also get to know the exact ratio of substitution.
1. Soy Sauce
Soy sauce is also made from soybeans, similar to tamari. It has a balance of umami flavor that is a little stronger than that of tamari. However, it works well as a substitute in most recipes.
Soy sauce is easily available almost everywhere and is a very cheap option. It does have a stronger taste than tamari, but it still has the same umami flavor that you may be seeking from tamari.
Soy sauce comes in light and dark forms. Dark soy sauce has a flavor and color that matches more with tamari. You can use it as a dipping sauce in stir-fried recipes, noodles, rice, and anything in between!
However, it is important to remember that, unlike tamari, soy sauce is not gluten-free. So, it might not be a suitable option for everyone. As it has a stronger flavor, use half the quantity of soy sauce as compared to tamari while substituting.
2. Fish Sauce
Fish sauce is made with fermented fish. It is gluten and soy-free and has a rich earthy and umami flavor. Though a little more pungent than tamari, fish sauce can work as a substitute for the same in various recipes.
Fish sauce has a very strong flavor of fish, as that is the main ingredient in this condiment. So, in case you are not fond of that flavor, the fish sauce may not be an appropriate substitute for you.
However, in case that is not a bother, fish sauce works well as a dipping sauce in stir-frying, noodles, soups, sauces, and rice. But, while substituting, to avoid a strong flavor, use a very small quantity as compared to tamari in a recipe.
3. Coconut Aminos
Coconut aminos is a dark sauce made from the sap of the coconut tree. It is free of allergens and has a milder flavor as compared to soy sauces, just like tamari. So, you can positively use it as a substitute in various recipes.
Coconut aminos are another great option if you are looking for a soy-free and gluten-free substitute. Though it is made from coconut sap, it does not really have any flavor of coconut in it. It is, in fact, a balance of umami and sweet flavor.
Coconut aminos, however, may not be as easily available. But, if you do get your hands on it, you can use it as a dipping sauce and in cooked recipes. As it has a milder flavor, coconut aminos can be used as a substitute following a 1:1 ratio.
4. Hoisin Sauce
Hoisin sauce is a sauce that has the same main ingredient as tamari – fermented soybeans. Though it is a little more pungent in flavor and thicker in texture, hoisin sauce can work well as a substitute for tamari in certain recipes.
Hoisin sauce has a sharper umami flavor as compared to tamari. Some people may find it a bit too salty. But, hoisin sauce is a great sauce to use in marinades, meat rubs, or even salad dressings, where the flavor can be masked with the addition of other ingredients.
Other than that, hoisin sauce has a much thicker consistency than tamari sauce. So, it sadly is not an ideal option to use as a dipping sauce. To use it as a substitute for tamari, start with half the quantity. You can always add more if the flavor isn’t up to the mark!
5. Liquid Aminos
Liquid aminos is also made from coconut sap but is usually mixed with fermented soybeans. Liquid amino has a mild and sweet flavor with a great balance of umami and works well as a substitute in most recipes.
The consistency and texture of liquid aminos is quite similar to that of tamari. So, it can work really well as a dipping sauce for your sushi or any other dish. Moreover, due to its mild flavor, it won’t overpower your food with a salty taste.
Liquid aminos can also be used in cooked recipes along with using it in marinades, meat rubs, and salad dressings to add to their flavor. As the flavor is not too overpowering, a 1:1 ratio of substitution works perfectly fine with liquid aminos.
6. Oyster Sauce
Oyster sauce is made from oyster juices, salt, and sugar. However, it does not taste like oysters at all! It has an earthy flavor with a balance of saltiness and sweetness and works well in most recipes as a substitute for tamari.
Oyster sauce has a rich, syrup-like consistency. So, that makes it thicker than tamari. It can be used as a dipping sauce, however, just that you might have to thin it down with a little vinegar which will make the sauce more acidic in flavor.
Oyster sauce is best used in marinades, meat rubs, glazes, and to be drizzled over salads. You can also use it in cooked recipes, however, the ones mentioned above are its best applications. Use it as a tamari substitute in a 1:1 ratio.
7. Miso Paste
Miso paste is a product that is made from fermented soybeans. Being a paste rather than a condiment, it has a very thick consistency as compared to tamari. But, in certain recipes, it can work as a substitute for the same.
As per its thick consistency, miso paste will most likely not work if you are looking for a substitute to use as a dipping sauce. However, as tamari is a byproduct of miso paste, the flavors of the two-match almost perfectly.
Miso paste is best used in recipes where you would like more depth in your food. It will work well in most cooked recipes and can also be added to meat glazes, salad dressings, and marinades. However, make sure you thin it down a little bit to get a less concentrated flavor.
8. Worcestershire Sauce
Worcestershire sauce is not Asian in origin, unlike many of the substitute options given in this article. But, Worcestershire sauce has the same umami flavor as tamari, making it a good substitute for the same.
Worcestershire sauce has a balance of sweet and umami flavor. It is much thinner in consistency as compared to tamari, but that makes it a perfect dipping sauce. Moreover, it is very easily available almost everywhere.
Moreover, you can add it to cooked recipes like stir-fries and noodles, along with salad dressings and marinades. Worcestershire sauce, however, does contain anchovies, so do be mindful of that. A 1:1 ratio of substitution will work perfectly well.
9. Balsamic Vinegar
Balsamic vinegar has a pungent flavor which usually mellows down once it is cooked. Though it is thicker in consistency than tamari, it can work as a substitute for the same in various recipes.
Balsamic vinegar is soy and gluten-free option that can be used as a substitute. Although, balsamic vinegar might not be the best choice for uncooked recipes as it will impart a flavor very pungent as compared to tamari.
In case that is not a problem, you can use balsamic vinegar in cooked recipes for sure, but also add it to marinades and sauces and drizzle it on top of salads or other recipes. However, use only half the quantity as compared to tamari given in a recipe.
Anchovies are a type of small fish with a very tangy and salty flavor. Yes, they are a type of fish and not a sauce! But, if used appropriately, the flavor of anchovies can work as a substitute for tamari.
Anchovies will definitely not work as a substitute in raw recipes or if you are looking for a dipping sauce substitute. But, in cooked recipes, anchovies can be cut or pureed and then used in place of tamari.
In cooked recipes, anchovies will provide the umami kick that you are looking for out of tamari sauce. The key is to use a very small amount of anchovies first and then decide if you would like a stronger flavor.
11. Umeboshi Vinegar
Umeboshi vinegar is made with pickled or salted plums. It has umami and sweet flavor but is stronger than tamari sauce. Yet, it can be used as a substitute in various recipes.
Umeboshi vinegar is not an ingredient too well known. It is from Japan and is mostly used over there. So, there are chances that you may have trouble finding this ingredient in your supermarket.
However, if you do get your hands on it, umeboshi vinegar can be used in a variety of recipes, both cooked and uncooked. It, moreover, works really well with fish recipes. You can use it as a substitute for tamari in a 1:1 ratio.
12. Teriyaki Sauce
Teriyaki sauce actually has tamari as one of the base ingredients. It has a slightly sweet flavor which works extremely well with poultry. So, in certain recipes, you can use teriyaki sauce in place of tamari.
Teriyaki sauce has a brown color and a balanced sweet and umami flavor. The base can be tamari or even soy sauce. As tamari is not too high on the salt content, teriyaki sauce works in meat glazes, rubs, and marinades, in place of tamari.
But, the consistency of teriyaki sauce is very thick compared to tamari. Moreover, it is also lighter in color. So, teriyaki sauce is best used as a substitute in recipes where other flavors can complement it well.
Short Recap For Best Tamari Substitutes
After going through all the substitute options given in the article, I am sure that most of you may have picked your favorite substitute by now. But, for those of you who have not, let me make it easier for you by breaking it down into different categories.
Best Tamari Substitutes In Terms Of Texture And Flavor:
- Soy Sauce
- Coconut Aminos
- Liquid Aminos
- Worcestershire Sauce
Best Tamari Substitutes That Are Not Soybean Based:
- Coconut Aminos
- Worcestershire Sauce
- Oyster Sauce
Tamari Substitutes That You Should Consider Using Last:
- Teriyaki Sauce
- Fish Sauce
How To Substitute Tamari
Tamari is a less pungent and salty Japanese version of a soy sauce liked by many because of its subtle flavor. However, if you are allergic to soy or are simply all out of tamari, there are various substitutes you can use in its place.
- Soy Sauce
- Fish Sauce
- Coconut Aminos
- Hoisin Sauce
- Liquid Aminos
- Oyster Sauce
- Miso Paste
- Worcestershire Sauce
- Balsamic Vinegar
- Umeboshi Vinegar
- Teriyaki Sauce
Go through the substitutes and see which one seems fit for the recipe.
Collect your ingredients and use your preferred substitute.
Use the substitute in the required amount and proceed to make the dish according to the recipe.
I hope this article has helped you learn a lot about tamari now that we have reached the end. Not only about tamari, but I hope you also were able to pick your favorite substitute for the same. Tamari is a very versatile condiment with its own unique flavor.
A lot of people, of course, those who do not mind soybeans, have been using tamari over soy sauce, off lately. This is because tamari does not have that overpowering salty flavor that you usually do find in soy sauce.
However, if by any chance you do have an issue with soybeans, there are many alternatives for tamari too. You can pick your favorite substitute based on the kind of flavor and application you are looking for, and you are guaranteed to make a wonderful meal!
Frequently Asked Questions
Is tamari healthier than soy sauce?
They are both equally healthy, however, tamari has more protein and less sodium as compared to soy sauce.
Does tamari have MSG in it?
Most brands that make tamari do not add MSG to it.
Should tamari be kept in the fridge?
Tamari can be stored in the fridge or just in a cool and dark place.
How long does tamari last once opened?
Tamari lasts for around three months once the bottle is opened.