How to Substitute Fish Sauce in Recipes 

This guide will address the query, “How to substitute fish sauce in recipes?’’ We will also discuss further each alternative, some of their benefits, and why some people use fish sauce alternatives. 

How to substitute fish sauce in recipes? 

The following are substitutes for fish sauce in food recipes.

  • Soy Sauce 
  • Tamari
  • Coconut Aminos 
  • Oyster Sauce
  • Seaweed
  • Hoisin Sauce
  • Worcestershire Sauce 

Fish sauce, which is famous in Chinese cuisine, is made from fish that has been fermented for approximately 2 years. It is known for its umami sensation “the fifth taste”. It is mostly used in pasta sauces where you’d use anchovies, braised meats, stir-fries, and soups. We will now discuss each of the substitutes mentioned above. 

Soy Sauce 

Because it is a liquid condiment created with fermented components, soy sauce is a good substitute for fish sauce. It has a similar salty flavor and can be heavy in sodium, giving it a nutritional profile comparable to fish sauce. Instead of using one tablespoon of fish sauce, use one tablespoon of soy sauce and add a few minced anchovies to spice it up a little.  


If you have an intolerance to gluten and can’t use soy sauce, there’s always another option. Tamari is a gluten-free fish sauce alternative that is typical to soy sauce but differs in the brewing method. Tamari is brewed without wheat, unlike soy sauce. This leads to higher protein content. Tamari is visually darker and thicker than soy sauce but smoother in taste. 

Coconut Aminos 

Another great vegan option for gluten and soy-free fish sauce substitute is the coconut aminos. It is made from the sap of coconut, but don’t worry it tastes nothing like coconut! It has a very dense umami flavor but a milder version of soy sauce. 

Oyster Sauce 

Oyster sauce would save you when you want a fish sauce but can’t find one! It is the closest in flavor profile to fish sauce, and guess what! It’s an excellent option for someone who’s on a diet but wants to add some flavor to their meal because it is low in calories! However, you should note that it is not as rich in vitamins, proteins, and minerals compared with other options. 


Both fresh and dried seaweed are good alternatives for fish sauce. They are mostly used in salads, broth, and sauces. Most importantly they are rich in umami flavor. Nonetheless, if you are looking to dim the umami flavor, opt for wakame seaweed, which has lower glutamate levels. 

Hoisin Sauce 

Hoisin sauce is alternatively used because it offers the umami flavor of fish sauce. It has a bit of a sweet flavor, it is mostly compared with the American famous barbeque sauce, so it is used as a meat glaze or as a dip. To better use it as a fish sauce, try mixing it with soy sauce at a 1:1 ratio to give you the sweet and salty flavor. 

Worcestershire Sauce 

Is another great substitute and used for its savory flavor. It is made of a mixture of seasonings such as molasses, vinegar, cloves, onion, and others. Here you can find a recipe for it if you would like to try it at home!  

Benefits of Some of The  Fish Sauce Substitutions 

Fish Sauce Substitution Benefits 
Soy Sauce Reduces sodium intake 
Supports healthy digestion 
Rich in antioxidant 
Oyster Sauce No trans or saturated fats 
Boosts immune system 
Increases energy 
Regulates blood sugar levels 
Coconut Aminos Contains significantly less salt than soy sauce, great for people with hypertension 
Tamari Sauce Good source of vitamin B3, protein, manganese, and tryptophan
Seaweed Contains many antioxidants 
Contains B12 
Contains a decent amount of iodine 

Why Use an alternative for Fish Sauce? 

Fish sauce has been widely used in different food recipes for its savory, meaty “umami” flavor. It is known for its high caloric and fatty acids content. It is considered a beneficial additive to your meal. However, there are many reasons why someone would use an alternative for fish sauce. 

Those who follow a vegan or meat-free diet might want to feel and taste the umami sensation. This is why many of the previously mentioned substitutes are vegan options. Another reason is fish and shellfish allergy, which is among the most common food allergies. People with this kind of allergy might want to explore the substitutes mentioned above. 

Additional reasons are lack of access or simply not finding or having fish sauce. Finding fish sauce in your grocery store might be tricky. Try to search for it in the Asian section. And if not found, now you know what you can do to substitute! You can find here a homemade vegan fish sauce. Try it out! 

Other FAQs about Sauces that you may be interested in.

How to use Worcestershire sauce?

Is alfredo sauce the same as white pizza sauce

Is Bachans BBQ sauce gluten- free?

Is bang bang sauce the same as yum yum sauce


This guide addressed the query, “How to substitute fish sauce in recipes?’’ We also discussed each alternative, some of their benefits, and why some people use fish sauce alternatives. 

Hope you found this blog helpful, if you have any questions, please let us know.