Does soy sauce contain alcohol?

In this article, we will answer the question “Does soy sauce contain alcohol?”, how is soy sauce made, what does soy sauce taste like, what is alcohol-free soy sauce, and what are the other types of soy sauce.

Does soy sauce contain alcohol?

Yes, soy sauce contains alcohol. There are different types of alcohol depending upon the ingredients used for fermentation. Only the soy sauce varieties that are based on wheat contain alcohol. Greater the wheat content, the higher the alcohol percentage. 

The alcohol percentage of soy sauce lies somewhere between 1.5 to 2%. Artificial alcohol does not contain any alcohol. 

How is soy sauce made? 

The origin of the soy sauce traces back to the 13th century when a Buddhist monk discovered soy sauce by accident, as a result of the fermentation of miso paste. There are 5 main ingredients of soy sauce i.e water, soybeans, wheat, sea salt, and yeast. 

Alcohol is produced when the soy sauce is allowed to ferment for years. There are different recipes for soy sauce. But the basic steps remain the same. Industry can tweak the original recipe as required.

We start by steaming the soybeans followed by roasting and grinding the wheat kernels. Then the ground wheat is mixed with soybeans and starter culture and left to ferment.

During the fermentation, the yeast in the starter culture metabolizes the complex sugars in wheat into simpler ones, producing alcohol as a product. This fermenting mixture is combined with brine which is prepared by dissolving sea salt in spring water.

The mixing with the brine occurs in the bourbon barrels derived from the local distilleries. The vessel is sealed and the mixture is left undisturbed for months. Initially, the mixture is stirred once a day. Then the frequency reduces to once a week.

The stirring or mixing step introduces oxygen to the barrel and ensures that all the mixture gets fermented. After fermenting the mixture for 18 months to 3 years, it is strained using a muslin cloth.

The cloth is wrapped around the mixture. The mixture is then weighed down by placing wooden planks over it. The hydraulic press puts pressure on the planks to release the soy sauce from the mixture. The drained alcohol is filtered, purified, cooled, and packaged. 

What does soy sauce taste like? 

The flavor of the soy sauce is described as umami. Umami flavor is common in meat and vegetable dishes, sauces, and marinades.

Synthetic soy sauce is made by fermenting corn syrup and tastes different from the traditionally made soy sauce. The latter has a richer flavor. The alcoholic notes are prominent if the soy sauce contains as much as 2% alcohol. 

If you do not have the budget to purchase the origins of wheat-based soy sauce, the tamari-based or synthetic soy sauce makes for a great alternative.

Whether natural or synthetic, soy sauce works best in soups, gravies, Chinese cuisine, noodle dishes, broths, and for roasting and seasoning veggies.

What is alcohol-free soy sauce? 

Traditional alcohol is based on wheat and contains gluten. This is why it is unfit for people with a gluten allergy. Artificial or Tamari-based soy sauce is suitable for people with a gluten allergy.

Artificial soy sauce 

The key ingredients in the artificial soy sauce are corn syrup, hydrolyzed soy, salt, and colorings. Synthetic alcohol is gluten-free and alcohol-free. 

You need to be a soy sauce connoisseur to identify the flavor nuances that differentiate the commercial soy sauce from the traditional soy sauce.

If you are strictly required to cut sodium from your diet, none of the aforementioned types of soy sauces will work for you but BetterBody’s Organic Coconut Soy Sauce. This sauce is made from coconut blossom nectar.

Tamari-based soy sauce 

Tamari-based soy sauce is based on soybeans. It is alcohol-free and gluten-free with a similar taste to the Chinese soy sauce. This soy sauce has a thicker consistency and a saltier taste than the traditional and artificial soy sauce.

What are the other types of soy sauce?

Dark soy sauce 

This type of soy sauce is popular in Japan where it goes by the name of Koikuchi Shoyu. It features a reddish-brown color and is predominantly used in flavoring and coloring noodles. Dark soy sauce has a richer and stronger flavor profile than regular soy sauce.

Light soy sauce 

Light soy sauce is made from soybeans and a little portion of wheat. Light soy sauce or Usukuchi has a milder flavor and a lighter color as compared to dark soy sauce.


The key manufacturing ingredient of Shiro is wheat which is why this soy sauce has a higher alcohol percentage. It is a lighter alternative to regular soy sauce.

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In this article, we answered the question “Does soy sauce contain alcohol?”, how is soy sauce made, what does soy sauce taste like, what is alcohol-free soy sauce, and what are the other types of soy sauce.