It doesn’t matter if you simply don’t have enough oyster sauce for what your recipe calls for or if you are just trying to find an alternative to use in its place, we are going to cover various different things you can use as a substitute for oyster sauce in your homemade recipes.
Oyster sauce is a key ingredient in many Asian dishes, but if you have an allergy or just ran out of it, don’t worry! Substituting oyster sauce for other ingredients can be done with ease for just about any Asian cuisine or other recipe that you want to make. In this blog post we will go over the common substitutes and how to use them.
What is oyster sauce?
Oyster sauce is a dark brown, salty liquid made from oysters that can be used to season many different dishes. It serves a couple of purposes. While it has a unique flavor, it does also thicken the dish when it is added. Substituting for it in recipes can either involve substituting the taste or texture of the dish with another ingredient or by using an alternative thickener.
What can I substitute for oyster sauce?
There are numerous ways you can substitute for oyster sauce, and the good news is you may already have these items on hand.
Here are some of the best substitutes to replace oyster sauce in a recipe:
- Soy Sauce
- Tamari Sauce
- Fish Sauce
- Worcestershire Sauce
- Tomato Paste
- Black Bean Paste
- Mushroom Sauce
- Extra thickeners such as cornstarch or arrowroot powder can also be added to increase the viscosity of your dish
What substitute you choose will, of course, depend on the recipe you are making, your personal tastes, and what you have on hand.
Let’s take a closer look at some of these replacement options.
Soy sauce for oyster sauce alternative
Soy sauce is a common substitute for oyster sauce, as they both have similar salty flavors. Substituting it will not change the flavor of the dish too much and soy sauce can also be used to thicken up dishes that are made with water or broth instead.
Additionally, soy sauce is a common ingredient found in many pantries making it an easy and accessible replacement option.
You can also make a sweet soy sauce by combining some soy sauce with a tad bit of sugar.
If you are looking for a gluten free substitute for oyster sauce, then gluten free soy sauce makes a great choice!
Tamari as one of the best oyster sauce substitutes
If you need a gluten free option to replace your oyster sauce with, you may think soy sauce. But did you know that traditional soy sauce has gluten in it? So, instead you can use tamari as your substitute.
Tamari is a type of soy sauce that is made without wheat, making it gluten free. It has a richer and less salty flavor than regular soy sauce, and it tastes slightly sweet with a hint of umami.
It is often used in Japanese cooking to add depth of flavor to soups, stir-fries, sauces and marinades. Tamari also pairs well with meats such as beef or chicken as well as fish like salmon or whitefish.
Fish sauce alternative to oyster sauce
Fish sauce has a strong, pungent smell and a salty flavor that is often described as an “umami” taste. It can range in color from light amber to reddish-brown and its flavor can be sweet or salty depending on the variety of fish used. Fish sauce is commonly used in Thai, Vietnamese, and other Southeast Asian cuisines as an ingredient for sauces, marinades, salads and soups.
Fish sauce is very similar to oyster sauce in that it’s used as a seasoning. Substituting them will not change the flavor of the dish too much, but fish sauces do differ from oyster sauces by being saltier and less sweet. This can easily be fixed by adding less fish sauce or adding a little bit of sugar to the dish.
Worcestershire Sauce as Oyster Sauce Substitute
Worcestershire sauce has a savory, tangy flavor with hints of sweetness and spice. It’s popularly used in steaks, stews, marinades and other dishes to add a rich, umami-like flavor.
It is also used as an ingredient in Bloody Marys and Caesar salad dressings. Worcestershire sauce typically contains ingredients such as anchovies, garlic, onion powder, tamarind extract and chili peppers.
These ingredients work together to create its unique taste that can enhance the flavors of any dish or beverage it touches!
If you’re looking for a substitute that is still salty, Worcestershire sauce is good substitute. Substituting them will not change the flavor of the dish too much, but Worcestershire sauces do differ from oyster sauces by being saltier and less sweet. This can easily be fixed by adding less Worcestershire.
Can I replace oyster sauce with hoisin?
You can use hoisin sauce in place of oyster sauce. Substitute a tablespoon for every tablespoon of oyster sauce called for in the recipe and add an extra teaspoon of sugar, if desired to mimic the flavor.
Hoisin sauce has a rich, distinctly sweet, and salty flavor with notes of garlic, soybean, vinegar and spices. It is a popular accompaniment for dishes like Peking duck and char siu pork.
It also makes an excellent dipping sauce for dumplings or spring rolls. The combination of sweetness, saltiness, and umami flavors make it great to use as both a marinade or glaze in Chinese cuisine.
Tomato paste as a substitute for oyster sauce
Tomato paste is also an alternative to using oyster sauces. You can use tomato paste to give the dish that salty flavor it needs without changing the consistency too much from what you are used to.
It has a nice thick consistency and while the flavor profile is a bit different, it will still work with many recipes.
Can I use black bean paste instead of oyster sauce in recipes?
Yes, you can use black bean paste instead of oyster sauce in recipes. It’s a great alternative because it offers a similar umami flavor profile with an added touch of sweetness and saltiness. However, if your recipe calls for the unique salty-sweetness of oyster sauce, then you might need to add some additional seasonings to achieve the desired taste. Additionally, black bean paste may have a thicker consistency than that of oyster sauce so be sure to adjust liquids accordingly when using it as a substitute in recipes.
Can I use Barbecue sauce as a replacement for oyster sauce?
The vote is still out on whether or not you can use barbecue sauce instead of oyster sauce. While both sauces provide sweet flavors and hints of umami taste, they differ significantly in terms of their ingredients and depth of flavor.
Oyster sauce is made with oyster extract, sugar, water and salt while barbecue sauces usually include tomato paste or puree, liquid smoke, sugar and various seasonings. Since each type of sauce provides a unique flavor profile, you may need to adjust the other ingredients in your recipe if you choose to use barbecue sauce instead of oyster sauce.
Additionally, be aware that barbecue sauce is generally much thicker than oyster sauce so you may need to add additional liquids when using it as a substitute. This should only be used as an absolute last resort.
Can I use mushroom sauce in place of oyster sauce in a recipe?
Yes, you can use mushroom sauce as an oyster sauce replacement for oyster sauce. It will provide a similar umami flavor profile but with more of an earthy taste due to the mushrooms and less sweetness than oyster sauce. You may have to adjust other seasonings or liquids in your recipe as mushroom sauce tends to have a thicker consistency than oyster sauce.
Can I use coconut aminos in place of oyster sauce in a recipe?
Yes, you can use coconut aminos as an oyster sauce replacement for oyster sauce.
It will provide a similar umami flavor profile but with more of a sweet taste due to the coconut and less saltiness than oyster sauce. You may have to adjust other seasonings or liquids in your recipe as coconut aminos tend to be thinner than traditional oyster sauce.
Additionally, keep in mind that coconut aminos is gluten-free, soy free, and vegan, which may be important for certain recipes or dietary restrictions.
What are some vegan oyster sauce replacements?
Some vegan oyster sauce replacements include vegetable stock, tamari, hoisin sauce, coconut aminos, black bean paste and mushroom sauce or mushroom broth. Using any of these substitutes you may need to add additional seasonings to achieve the desired taste that you would typically get from using oyster sauce in your recipe.
Additionally, some sauces such as black bean paste are a suitable substitute but they may have a thicker consistency than that of oyster sauce. So be sure to adjust liquids accordingly when using it as a vegan option in recipes.
Substituting for texture of oyster sauce
If any of these oyster sauce alternatives leave you needing to make your sauce even thicker, you have a couple of easy options.
Corn starch is one of the most popular options around, and you can also use something like leftover mashed potatoes or even instant potato flakes.
Additionally, you can use arrowroot powder as a thickener for your oyster sauce substitute.
Arrowroot powder does not have a flavor.
How to make your own oyster sauce?
Making homemade oyster sauce is easy. First, take a cup of oysters and simmer them in a saucepan with 1/4 cup of soy sauce for about 10 minutes. Once the mixture has reduced, add 1 teaspoon of sugar, 2 teaspoons of sesame oil, 1/2 teaspoon chili powder and mix well.
Simmer the mixture for an additional 5 minutes to let the flavors blend together. Finally, strain out any solids from the mixture and serve your homemade oyster sauce!
Sometimes you just need to make your own oyster sauce instead of trying to use one of the substitutes we discussed or making a quick trip to the store or Asian markets to buy some more.
If you have the ingredients needed to make your own oyster sauce, oftentimes that is a healthier idea and most definitely an excellent substitute for store bought sauce.
No matter what option you try to use as your replacement, always start in small amounts and increase as necessary to get a similar consistency and appropriate flavor profile.
Looking for other cooking substitutions?
- Top 5 Substitutes for Sesame Oil
- Substitute for Peanut Oil
- Substitute for Onions, the Complete Guide
- 7 Simple Ideas for Marsala Wine Replacement
With so many different options, including a few gluten free substitutes, a few vegan options and more, to choose from to use as a substitute for oyster sauce in your recipe, we hope you have at least one of these options in your kitchen cabinets to use so you can still enjoy your recipe you have picked out.
Keep these things in mind when deciding which oyster sauce replacement you want to use.
Your perfect substitute for oyster sauce of course depends on what dish you are cooking, and your own personal tastes. We hope this guide helped you to get on your way!