These oyster sauce substitutes are ideal when you need that distinct flavor in a pinch.
From hoisin to teriyaki, these easy swaps will save your dinner.
Keep in mind that nothing is going to be precisely the same.
But if you’ve run out or just feel like a change, these oyster sauce alternatives should do the trick.
That said, depending on the recipe, some of these swaps may not work.
For example, soy sauce doesn’t have the same thick consistency. So, you might need to experiment to get just the right results.
I’ve got not just one but eight oyster sauce substitutes. But first…
What Is Oyster Sauce?
You’re about to learn all about it.
Oyster sauce is a thick and flavorful condiment that’s as common in Asia as ketchup and hot sauce are in the US.
Caramelized oysters are the primary ingredient, which gives the sauce its distinct, robust flavor.
It’s salty, sweet, and a staple in lo mein, Sichuan dishes, and kung pao recipes.
Now that you know all about it, let’s see what you can use to replace it.
Need a Substitute For Oyster Sauce? Here’s 8 Tasty Swaps
I’ve gathered up a few substitutes below that I’ve used in recipes and found to work well.
And as mentioned, they’re not all suited to every single recipe.
You don’t want to use fish sauce as a dipper. And you wouldn’t want mushroom broth in a light fish stew.
Also, you’ll never get the exact flavor with a substitute. So I recommend only using these in small amounts.
Should your recipe call for a lot of oyster sauce, you’re better off making a trip to the grocery store!
1. Hoisin Sauce + Soy Sauce
Hoisin sauce is an excellent substitute for oyster sauce. In terms of consistency, it’s a better match, too.
You’ll find the flavors are complex, with a nice balance of sweet and salty. Though it is sweeter than oyster sauce.
That’s why you’ll add soy sauce to the mix.
The soy sauce brings an extra oomph to make the hoisin sauce better mimic oyster sauce.
Of course, that will thin it down, but in stir-fries or as a marinade, that’s not a problem.
How to Substitute: Swap 1/2 cup of oyster sauce with 1/4 cup of hoisin sauce + 1/4 cup of soy sauce.
2. Worcestershire Sauce + Soy Sauce
Worcestershire sauce probably wasn’t the first (or last!) thing to come to mind when you started at the top.
But when you think about it, it makes total sense!
Worcestershire sauce is super complex and is made from fermented anchovies – which is a common practice in Asian cuisine.
Of course, the additional ingredients and seasonings steer it more towards Western food.
That’s why you’ll add the soy sauce! It will bring that signature umami flavor it’s known for.
Use this in dressings, stir-fries, and marinades.
How to Substitute: Swap 1/2 cup of oyster sauce with 1/8 cup of Worcestershire sauce + 1/8 cup of soy sauce.
3. Fish Sauce + Sugar
I know it’s kind of potent, but fish sauce is a terrific substitute for oyster sauce.
Like Worcestershire sauce, it’s made from fermented fish. But it’s quite concentrated, so you won’t need as much.
It doesn’t taste exactly the same, but it’s close. And if you add sugar, you’ll get closer to that rounded flavor found in oyster sauce.
You’ll have better luck using this option in seafood-based dishes. But it’ll work well in small amounts in stir-fries and soups.
How to Substitute: Swap 1/2 cup of oyster sauce with 1/8 cup of fish sauce + 1 tablespoon of sugar.
4. Kecap Manis – Sweet Soy Sauce
Kecap manis is a sweeter version of soy sauce that’s a little harder to find.
But it’s a fantastic oyster sauce substitute if you can get your hands on it.
It’s made from soybeans, so it’s vegan-friendly. Plus, it looks terrific; it has a deep black color and a glossy shine.
That makes it a favorite for those who value presentation as much as taste.
It’s a bit sweeter and saltier than oyster sauce, but it’s a much better swap than regular soy sauce.
How to Substitute: Swap 1/2 cup of oyster sauce with 1/4 cup sweet soy sauce.
5. Teriyaki Sauce
Teriyaki isn’t always an ideal oyster sauce substitute, but it’ll work if you’re in a bind.
It’s typically sweeter than oyster sauce (which is earthy and savory), but it has a similar consistency.
So you can use this as a glaze for salmon, in stir-fries, or even as a dipper.
You can try adding a dash of salt to even out the sweet-n-salty ratio. Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, a bit of fish sauce.
Start with a small amount and taste it before use.
But if you want the closest to oyster sauce, try to find plain teriyaki – without added sugar or honey.
How to Substitute: Swap 1/2 cup of oyster sauce with 1/2 cup teriyaki.
6. Black Bean Paste
To keep things earthy and savory, why not try black bean paste?
It’s not commonly available in most US grocery stores, so check online or in Asian markets. It’s worth the effort if you enjoy Asian cuisine!
It’s a rich, zingy, vegetarian-friendly option with a ton of umami flavor. (That comes from the fermented black beans.)
You can use it in a one-to-one ratio for oyster sauce. However, black bean paste has a distinct, hard-to-explain flavor.
Not everyone appreciates it.
In other words, don’t add it haphazardly. Be sure to give it a thorough taste test first.
Then, if you like it, add it in small increments so that it doesn’t overpower the other ingredients.
How to Substitute: Swap 1/2 cup of oyster sauce with 1/8 cup black bean paste. Add more as needed.
Tamari is soy sauce’s less famous cousin. It, too, comes from soybeans; however, it tastes noticeably different from soy sauce.
The soybean taste is more robust, and there’s far less salt.
There isn’t a ton of sweetness to it, either. And in truth, it’s a better substitute for soy sauce than oyster sauce.
However, you can also use it for oyster sauce in a pinch. It just needs a bit of tweaking.
I recommend adding salt and sugar to this one. It’s the only way to get that sweet-n-salty oyster sauce taste.
Still, if you appreciate rich, earthy flavors, you’ll probably enjoy tamari. It’s a complex sauce full of depth and warmth.
How to Substitute: Swap 1/2 cup of oyster sauce with 1/4 cup of tamari + 1 tablespoon of sugar + 1 teaspoon of salt. Add more as needed.
8. Mushroom Broth
Here’s a vegan-friendly oyster sauce alternative.
Mushroom broth is a savory, earthy substitute with a wonderful, umami-packed taste.
You can purchase it pre-made or make your own. (There are hundreds of recipes online if you’re unsure how to do that.)
The first time you try it, you’ll be surprised at how much it tastes like oyster sauce. The consistency is nothing like it, though.
So this is best for braising or in soups and stews.
That said, you can thicken it slightly with cornstarch. Just mix 1 tablespoon of starch with 2 tablespoons of water until smooth, then add it to the pot.
How to Substitute: Swap 1/2 cup of oyster sauce with 1/4 cup of thickened mushroom broth. Add more as needed.
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