Oyster sauce is an essential condiment in Asian cooking. Take a peek inside most Asian kitchens, and you’ll see this tasty sauce waiting to be used in various dishes.
So, what happens when you run out? Below, you’ll find some of the top oyster sauce substitute options that you can use in a pinch.
Its thick consistency makes it stand out from many other sauces found in Asian cooking. This particular sauce is found in primarily Chinese recipes and some Thai dishes.
What makes this sauce so delicious is the inclusion of oyster juices or oyster pieces; they’re the secret ingredients that help keep this sauce so flavorful and set it apart from other sauces like fish sauce and hoisin sauce.
Depending on the brand you choose, you’ll find traditional sauce made from oyster pieces that are simmered with water to create the delicious tangy, umami sauce found on grocery store shelves. Newer brands create their oyster sauce with salt and sugar or even oyster extract for a similar flavor.
This delightful sauce is useable by itself or combined with other seasonings and sauces. Add some chili powder or chili oil to create a spicy sauce. The options are endless!
So, what exactly is oyster sauce? Let’s dive into some details and substitutes for this delicious condiment.
What Does Oyster Sauce Taste Like?
I bet you’re wondering what this delicious sauce tastes like. Oyster sauce has an umami flavor that is also sweet and savory. It adds a richness to dishes that not many sauces add to recipes.
It does provide a slightly fishy taste, which some may not enjoy.
Whether you don’t want a fishy flavor, you’ve run out of oyster sauce, or perhaps you don’t eat seafood for dietary reasons, there are plenty of oyster sauce replacement options.
What Is a Good Oyster Sauce Substitute?
What can replace this tasty, tangy, meaty sauce in Asian-inspired options? Here are six of the best replacements to choose from.
Wondering if the fish sauce is the same as oyster sauce? It’s not, but they’re both made from a seafood base.
Fish sauce is a yummy swap for oyster sauce. It’s created from fish that has been fermented, which makes a similar umami flavor as you’ll find in oyster sauce. This condiment is also earthy and salty.
There is a difference inconsistency as the fish sauce has a much more liquid texture than oyster sauce. It also lacks sweetness and has a much stronger fish taste. While it’s not an ideal option for all dishes, it does provide a similar flavor in specific recipes.
Use fish sauce when recipes have seafood or other intense flavors that fish sauce won’t overpower.
Teriyaki sauce is another excellent swap; it provides a sweeter flavor than oyster sauce. However, the umami flavor is still present. This condiment is excellent as a marinade for meat and in stir-fries.
It’s also a great replacement because it has such a similar consistency. If you prefer a less fishy taste than oyster sauce, you can use teriyaki sauce as a replacement. Try it on top of noodles for a sweet complement to your dish.
Soy sauce is another top substitute for oyster sauce. It’s easily accessible as most people have this condiment already in their refrigerators.
This sauce provides that sought-after meaty taste offered by oyster sauce in recipes. This versatile sauce is great for everything from stir-fries to rice and noodle dishes.
It does provide a much thinner consistency than oyster sauce. However, this kitchen staple is a good vegan/vegetarian option as it’s made from soybeans, wheat, salt, and lactic acid bacteria, which helps the fermentation process in soy sauce.
This sauce is much saltier and more savory than oyster sauce. To recreate the sweetness in oyster sauce, consider adding granulated sugar or even honey as a way to better mimic oyster sauce.
This replacement is even an excellent substitute for Worcestershire sauce.
Hoisin sauce is a great alternative to oyster sauce. Like teriyaki, it has a thicker consistency. Hoisin sauce also offers recipes a rich, sweet, and salty taste. You can use hoisin sauce in any recipe that calls for oyster sauce.
This option is another great vegan and vegetarian choice that provides an umami flavor. Hoisin sauce is generally made from soybeans that have been fermented, garlic, sugar, and chili peppers. However, some recipes include additional ingredients that will slightly alter the flavor.
Use this delightful sauce as a marinade, dipping sauce, or stir-fries as a swap for the oyster sauce in a 1:1 ratio.
Worcestershire Sauce with Soy Sauce:
Worcestershire sauce on its own provides a tasty umami flavor. It’s made from anchovies instead of oysters so that the flavor will be slightly different.
Add soy sauce and a small amount of sweeteners like white sugar or coconut sugar for a better flavor mimic. These additional ingredients will help mellow out the strong flavor that Worcestershire presents.
This combination works for stir-fries to marinades and provides a delicious salty, sweet, meaty taste.
To create the best mixture, use soy sauce as the main ingredient with a small amount of sugar and Worcestershire sauce. Adjust the ingredients to your personal preference.
Vegan Mushroom Sauce:
Mushroom sauce is a great alternative that is easy to make at home and a delicious replacement for vegans and vegetarians alike.
This sauce uses your mushrooms of choice plus oil, seasonings, sesame seeds, soy sauce, sugar, and chili powder.
This combination provides all the flavors that make oyster sauce great. Plus, it has a great chunky texture for those who love mushrooms. You can use this for any dish that typically uses oyster sauce.
Vegetarian Substitute For Oyster Sauce
Looking for options that avoid using seafood? Here are a few additional options to choose from. They’ll each provide a tasty swap.
Sweet Soy Sauce
Sweet soy sauce is a great way to include a sweet, thick, umami sauce in dishes. This Indonesian sauce is also known as kecap manis. It’s made from soy sauce, palm sugar, and delicious simmered spices until a syrup-like condiment is created.
The flavor is not an exact match because of the spices included. However, this tasty condiment provides a flavor and consistency that mimics oyster sauce well and is vegan friendly.
Vegetarian Oyster Sauce
Yes, there’s even a vegetarian version of oyster sauce! It still provides a delicious sweet, salty, umami flavor. Instead of oyster juice, it uses a surprising ingredient – mushrooms.
This sauce is perfect to use in any recipe that usually requires standard oyster sauce.
It’s a similar texture and consistency, so most won’t notice a difference when using this replacement.
Tamari is a great vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free option. It’s similar to soy sauce, though there is no wheat added to the sauce. The other ingredients included are soybeans that have been fermented, salt, water, and fermenting agents.
You’ll find a salty, umami, savory, slightly sweet taste in recipes when using tamari.
You can use this condiment as a dipping sauce for dumplings, spring rolls, and seasoning meat or vegetables. Use it in stir-fries with sugar for a closer oyster sauce flavor.
Have more questions about the oyster sauce and replacement options? Below, you’ll find all the information you could want on this popular condiment.
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How To Make Oyster Sauce?
Looking for an easy way to make the oyster sauce at home? Sometimes you run out of oyster sauce and need a quick fix! Keep in mind the flavor won’t be the same as a store-bought oyster sauce.
However, homemade oyster sauce is still a great option in a pinch! You can also use this as a hoisin sauce substitute if needed.
You’ll need soy sauce, the juice from canned oysters, and white sugar. Combine the ingredients and whisk until the sugar is dissolved. That’s it; you now have a homemade oyster sauce that’s ready to use immediately.
Any sauce you don’t use can be put into a jar and stored in the fridge for a week.
What Can I Substitute for Oyster Sauce?
There are a few good substitutes for oyster sauce. While the flavor cannot be completely replicated, some tasty sauces are available that will provide a similarly sweet, salty, umami flavor.
Hoisin sauce is a top choice to replace as it has the closest taste and consistency.
Otherwise, teriyaki sauce is the next best choice. Teriyaki is thick and syrupy, plus it has a deliciously sweet, umami flavor and works well as a topping or marinade for meat and vegetables.
Can I Replace Oyster Sauce with Hoisin?
Yes, you can use hoisin as a replacement for oyster sauce.
This delicious condiment is thick and provides a tangy, slightly spicy umami flavor. It works as a dipping sauce or as a marinade for meat. This replacement works in a 1:1 ratio, making it an easy substitution.
Hoisin sauce is the best swap for oyster sauce because of its similar texture and flavor. It’s usually vegan as well!
Is Oyster Sauce and Worcestershire Sauce the Same?
No, oyster sauce and Worcestershire sauce are not the same. Worcestershire sauce was initially a product created in England, while Oyster sauce originated in the southern part of China.
While both are made from seafood items, they each have different ingredients.
Oyster sauce, as noted, begins with oyster juice. In comparison, Worcestershire uses anchovies as a base. Both condiments provide a delicious meaty taste in recipes.
Can You Substitute Fish Sauce for Oyster Sauce?
Yes, you can use fish sauce as an oyster sauce substitution. You can also use oyster sauce as a fish sauce substitute; the swap works both ways. Both will provide a lightly fishy flavor, though oyster sauce will have a milder taste in comparison.
While these sauces have a different appearance, this difference won’t be very noticeable in dishes.
Fish sauce presents a clear, reddish hue that is thinner than oyster sauce. Oyster sauce is syrupy, thick, and a dark brown color. Fish sauce is also saltier, so you’ll want to decrease the quantity of this sauce to mimic the flavor of the oyster sauce better.
Use the fish sauce in stir-fries and dipping sauce for spring rolls.
Now that you have a list of oyster sauce alternatives (including vegan/vegetarian options), you can easily continue your Asian-inspired recipes. Whether you’re making a stir-fry or looking for a marinade, there are plenty of swaps for your dishes.
Start with hoisin sauce as the best replacement. If you can’t find any in your cupboard, try soy sauce or its gluten-free cousin tamari.