Tamari Substitute – What Can You Use?

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Tamari is a type of Japanese soy sauce made from fermented soybeans using a special fungus and brine. Tamari sauce is thicker and darker than other soy sauces and contains little or no wheat, which makes it a suitable condiment for people trying to avoid gluten. 

In terms of flavor, tamari sauce has a richer and more savory taste than soy sauce and is used to season and add rich brown color to stir-fries, soups, noodles, meat dishes, and sauces. At this point you might wonder, what if I don’t have tamari on hand? Is there something I can use instead? 

So, what’s the best tamari substitute? Soy sauce is the best substitute for tamari sauce. Although soy sauce isn’t gluten-free, it has a similar umami flavor to tamari sauce. If you can’t find soy sauce, use liquid aminos, miso paste, coconut aminos, fish sauce, balsamic vinegar, or hoisin sauce to substitute tamari sauce in recipes. 

Several condiments have similar consistency, flavor, and coloring properties as tamari sauce. Keep reading to discover the best substitutes for tamari soy sauce.  

What Is Tamari?

Tamari is a type of Japanese soy sauce, known as shoyu. It’s one of the three popular types of Japanese-style soy sauce made from fermented soybeans, using a special fungus (koji) and brine (moromi). 

Tamari is usually made as a by-product of miso paste, made from soybeans, water, salt, koji, and moromi. Like traditional soy sauce, tamari goes through fermentation, but as opposed to soy sauce, little or no wheat is added to tamari sauce. 

Tamari sauce is darker and has a stronger umami flavor than most other soy sauces. It also contains little or no wheat. Most tamari sauces are wheat-free, which makes them suitable for people following a gluten-free diet.

Are Tamari and Soy Sauce the Same?

Tamari is a Japanese version of the more popular Chinese soy sauce. Both tamari and soy sauce are used to season and add color to stir-fries, soups, noodles, and meat-based dishes.

These two sauces are made from fermented soybeans and have a strong, salty umami flavor. Chinese soy sauce is saltier and has a thinner consistency, while tamari has a mellower flavor and a thick consistency. 

6 Best Tamari Substitutes

There are several ingredients you can use instead of tamari sauce to achieve a similar flavor in recipes. The best tamari substitutes are:

1. Soy Sauce

The best substitute for tamari sauce is soy sauce. Soy sauce is a Chinese-style sauce made from fermented soybeans, wheat, and salt. 

Like tamari, soy sauce adds umami flavor to dishes and has a similar consistency and color. The only downside of soy sauce is that it contains wheat, which makes it unsuitable for people on a gluten-free diet. 

Substitute soy sauce for tamari at a 1:1 ratio when cooking stir-fries, soups, sauces, or noodles. 

2. Liquid Aminos

Liquid aminos is a cooking seasoning that has a similar taste and flavor to soy sauce. It can be made from coconut sap or soybeans and is naturally gluten-free and vegan. 

Liquid aminos taste similar to tamari sauce and have a mild, less salty, and slightly sweet flavor. Replace ½ teaspoon of liquid aminos with every one teaspoon of tamari sauce called for in the recipe. 

3. Coconut Aminos

Coconut aminos is made from the sap or nectar of the coconut tree palm. This dark and thin sauce is used as a condiment in cooking and is suitable for people with gluten allergies or sensitivities.

Coconut aminos taste similar to soy sauce and have a salty umami flavor with a hint of sweetness. Use coconut aminos as a 1:1 substitute for tamari sauce to add flavor to stews and stir-fried dishes.

4. Miso Paste

Miso paste is made by fermenting soybeans with salt and koji and sometimes rice or barley. This traditional Japanese seasoning is used to add a salty, nutty, and slightly sweet flavor to soups, stews, sauces, and dressings.

Miso paste has a thicker consistency than tamari sauce, so use it as a substitute in soups, stews, and sauces. 

5. Fish Sauce

Fish sauce is made from fermented fish or krill. The flavor of this popular condiment varies depending on the type of fish used. 

Fish sauce has a salty and rich flavor, and a thin, watery consistency. Unlike tamari sauce, fish sauce has a distinctive fish smell that pairs well with seafood and fish dishes. 

6. Worcestershire Sauce

Invented in England, Worcestershire sauce is a commonly used liquid condiment made from vinegar, molasses, anchovies, tamarind extract, chili pepper extract, sugar, salt, garlic, and other ingredients. Worcestershire sauce has a rich brown color and a strong umami flavor with a hint of spice and sweetness. 

Substitute Worcestershire sauce for tamari at a 1:1 ratio in stir-fries, dipping sauces, marinades, noodles, and rice dishes. 

Can I Replace Tamari with Soy Sauce?

Yes, you can substitute tamari with soy sauce in a 1:1 ratio. Tamari and soy sauce have a similar consistency and color and add umami flavor to noodles, stir-fries, and meat dishes. 

The biggest difference between these two sauces is that tamari is gluten-free and safe for people with celiac disease, while soy sauce is made with wheat and contains gluten. 


Tamari sauce is a popular liquid condiment used to add an umami flavor and rich brown color to dishes. Unlike Chinese soy sauce, tamari is made without wheat and is suitable for people following a gluten-free diet.

Tamari sauce is readily available in most supermarkets, but if you can’t find it in the local store there are several liquid condiments you can use instead. Soy sauce is the best substitute for tamari sauce as it has a similar salty and umami flavor.  

However, you can also use liquid aminos, coconut aminos, fish sauce, miso paste, Worcestershire sauce, hoisin sauce, or balsamic vinegar when you’re in a pinch. 

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