9 Best Tamari Substitutes

Tamari is a type of soy sauce that originates from Japan. It has a sweet, salty flavor with hints of umami.

However, it can be hard to find in many locations and you might not have enough time to order online and get it delivered. Solution? Find good tamari substitutes.

There are many different types of sauces and other ingredients that can be used in place of traditional tamari sauce.

For instance, you might use fish sauce, coconut aminos or miso paste if you want a different flavor to your dish. Other options would be anchovies, salt, and oyster sauce for a more Asian flair to your dish.

The options are endless when it comes to tamari substitutes but let’s take a look at the top 9 best tamari substitutes for now!

What is Tamari?

Tamari is a type of soy sauce that originates from Japan. It has a sweet, salty flavor with hints of umami. Tamari can be used in cooking to add flavor or as a dipping sauce at the table for sushi or other foods.

If you’re out of Tamari or can’t find it in your area, look for these handy alternatives instead.

9 Best Tamari Substitutes

1. Soy Sauce

Soy Sauce

Soy sauce makes a great alternative to traditional soy sauce or tamari. It is low in calories and sodium-rich with a tad of sweetness.

There are many varieties of soy sauce, but if you are avoiding gluten or wheat, choose a version that has been made with soybeans and water (rather than wheat). Look for organic to ensure the quality is top-notch.

2. Fish Sauce

Fish Sauce Substitutes

Fish sauce is very common in Asian cuisines such as Thai and Vietnamese food. While it might not be the most popular substitute for tamari, it offers a saltier and less sweet flavor profile.

3. Coconut Aminos

Coconut Aminos Substitutes

Coconut aminos are a gluten-free, non-GMO alternative to soy sauce or tamari for those who have coconut allergies (there is no fish in this product).

This is a tasty substitute made from coconut tree sap and sea salt. It has an umami flavor similar to soy sauce but without wheat or gluten.

4. Miso Paste

Miso paste is soybean-based, low in calories, and rich in sodium and umami flavor. It has a salty, yet deep flavor profile that makes it very popular as an ingredient for many Asian recipes.

5. Anchovies

Anchovies are very common ingredients in many types of cuisines such as Italian and Mediterranean. They can also be used as a tasty substitute for soy sauce or tamari in many dishes.

This is a salty and fishy flavoring that is very popular in Asian dishes. Anchovies are especially tasty when added to pasta or pizza sauces for a little extra saltiness.

6. Salt

Salt makes for the simplest substitution when it comes to tamari, but sometimes you might want more added flavor from the salt itself than from what is in traditional Japanese sauces.

7. Oyster Sauce

If you’re looking for something similar in flavor to tamari or soy sauce, oyster sauce is a great choice.  This sauce has a rich, slightly sweet taste thanks to the oyster extract. It has an umami taste with a salty and creamy profile.

This is great for marinades or dipping sauces as well as other dishes that might require the flavor of tamari sauce.

8. Balsamic Vinegar

Balsamic Vinegar

Balsamic vinegar makes for a great substitute if you want the same slightly sweet and sour profile of tamari or soy sauce.  You can add it to recipes for marinades, salad dressings, or sauces.

It is even tasty when used in sweet dishes such as desserts and ice cream.

Just make sure the balsamic you use is pure and not an imitation version made from wine vinegar, sugar, and caramel color.

9. Liquid Aminos

Liquid aminos offer a soy-based alternative to traditional sauces like tamari or soy sauce, but they are typically gluten-free with no added msg.

They taste very similar to tamari but are slightly less salty.

What Does Tamari Taste Like?

Tamari has a sweet taste with hints of umami that is slightly more mellow than soy sauce. It is also less salty and comes in a slightly thicker texture than soy sauce. It can be used to add flavor in cooking, marinade, or dipping sauce for sushi.

What is the Difference Between Tamari and Soy Sauce?

The difference between tamari and soy sauce is that they are made differently. Tamari is made from wheat, soybeans, water, salt, rice wine (or sake), and sometimes roasted grain.

Soy sauce can be made from wheat (if it’s not gluten-free), brine (saltwater), soybean extract, food starch (potato or corn), caramel color (made from sugar), and sodium benzoate as a preservative.

Tamari is more flavorful and less salty than soy sauce. Although they are both similar in flavor, tamari has a more complex taste with hints of umami.

Tamari vs Shoyu: Are They Same?

No, they are different types of soy sauce. The difference between tamari and Shoyu is the list of ingredients.

Shoyu is a type of Japanese-style soy sauce made from fermented soybeans, salt, yeast, water, dried bonito fish flakes (katsuobushi), and occasionally other ingredients like barley.

Tamari vs Coconut Aminos

Tamari and coconut aminos are similar in that they are both soy-based sauces with a hint of sweetness and umami, but the flavor profiles are different.

Coconut aminos are slightly sweeter with a touch of saltiness, while tamari has a deeper, richer taste without the added sweetness.

However, coconut aminos are not soy-free, and therefore are not a great or recommended choice for those with a coconut allergy.

Does Tamari Have Msg?

Tamari does not have msg, but some types of soy sauce do contain it. It is important to read the label carefully to find which types might contain msg and which don’t. 

Some also use hydrolyzed vegetable protein as a replacement for msg, so be sure you understand what ingredients are in your favorite type of soy sauce before enjoying it as a dip or cooking ingredient. 

Should Tamari Need to Be Refrigerated After Opening?

Since it is made from wheat, tamari should be kept in the refrigerator after opening. Soy sauce can be stored at room temperature for up to one year past the purchased date (when opened).

How Long Does Tamari Last?

Tamari lasts about six months when kept in a cool, dry place away from light or humidity. It will last longer if kept in the fridge.

Final Words

I hope this article has given you some ideas on what to do if your favorite dish is missing that signature tamari sauce.

You can still enjoy it with all of the flavor and nutrition that comes from using a different type of flavorful sauce in place of the traditional soy-sauce based version.

So, what are some of your favorite tamari substitutes? Let us know in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you!

I’m a passionate food blogger on a journey to become a go-to person who can help others prepare delicious foods. I share recipes, food substitutes, and other cooking tips. Read more about my journey...

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