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3 Substitutes for Dark Soy Sauce: Deep-Dive Flavour Expedition

There’s a mysterious allure to that rich, velvety elixir we call dark soy sauce.

For passionate home chefs and global cuisine enthusiasts, its profound complexity is a treasure in culinary creations. But what if your kitchen lacks this umami essence?

Fret not, as we embark on a flavorful journey to unveil three top alternatives that could rescue your recipe and tantalize your taste buds.

Join us in this deep-dive flavor escapade as we uncover substitutes that mirror dark soy sauce’s unique essence, offering health-conscious options along the way.

Key Takeaways:

  • Dark soy sauce should be used in moderation due to its high sodium content, but it also contains phytonutrients that provide health benefits.
  • Double Black Soy Sauce is a potent and complex substitute for dark soy sauce, best suited for hearty dishes like marinades and braises.
  • Kecap Manis is a sweeter alternative to dark soy sauce, adding a unique sweet-savory note to dishes.
  • Light soy sauce brings a lighter, saltier flavor and can be used as a substitute in recipes that don’t require the dark color of soy sauce.
  • Experimenting with these substitutes can lead to new and exciting flavor combinations in your cooking.
  • Remember to taste as you go and adjust the other flavor elements in your dish for the best balance.

🙋‍♀️ Overviewing Dark Soy Sauce

Dark soy sauce shrouds your meals in a rich, deep color and a robust flavor that is derived from a longer fermentation period and the addition of caramel.

It is a common fixture in the kitchens of those who treasure the salient notes of classical Chinese, Southeast Asian, and other global fare. However, it might not always be at arm’s reach, and that’s alright.

Dark soy sauce, while delicious and versatile, should be used in moderation due to its high sodium content. A little goes a long way in flavoring your dishes, so it’s important to use it sparingly.

Additionally, dark soy sauce contains phytonutrients such as antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds that can provide health benefits when consumed as part of a balanced diet. These phytonutrients can help boost your immune system and protect against chronic diseases.

However, consuming dark soy sauce in excess may also have negative effects on health, such as increasing blood pressure and aggravating certain pre-existing conditions.

Therefore, it’s important to use this soy sauce in moderation and to balance it with other healthy ingredients in your meals.

👨‍🍳 3 Best Substitutes for Dark Soy Sauce

Enter the world of substitutes, where other sauces and tinctures promise to step up to the plate when dark soy sauce is a no-show.

Our mission today is to lead you through three prime contenders and equip you with the knowledge to wield them with finesse.

1 – Double Black Soy Sauce

Heralded as the ‘aged wine’ of soy sauces, Double Black Soy Sauce undergoes a more prolonged fermentation, resulting in a fuller and more pungent flavor than its standard soy brethren. It’s thicker too, which means a little more body in your dish. It is excellent for marinades, braises, and stir-fries, where its intensity can meld into the heartiness of the dish.

This sauce is all about intensity and complexity. You’ll pick up deeper, earthy flavors with hints of molasses. It’s not just about the taste either; the glossy sheen it provides to your meals is a feast for the eyes.

Recommended Ratio

When using Double Black Soy Sauce in place of dark soy, apply a small quantity at first, as the potency is higher. To replace one tablespoon of dark soy, use about half a tablespoon of Double Black Soy Sauce.

The pro here is undoubtedly the depth of flavor, but it might be too overwhelming for lighter dishes. Use it with a light touch in salads or other recipes where the flavor is not cooked and mellowed.

2 – Kecap Manis

Famed in Indonesian and Malaysian cuisine, Kecap Manis is like the sexy, sweet cousin of the saltier soy sauces. Its primary charm comes from a generous dose of palm sugar or molasses, giving it a viscosity and sweetness that is unique. In your culinary Odyssey, this alternative can bring a slightly different sweet-savory note, particularly accentuating the caramel sweetness in your dishes.

Kecap Manis offers a rich, velvety taste with a touch of sweetness. This makes it perfect for dishes where you’d like a combination of complex and comforting flavors.

Recommended Ratio

Incorporate Kecap Manis as a 1-to-1 substitute for dark soy sauce. Due to its sweet note, consider reducing the sugar content in your recipe to balance the overall sweetness.

The pro is undoubtedly its sweetness, but for those who prefer a more umami-centric flavor, this may not be the best fit. It’s also thicker, so consider how that might alter your recipe’s final texture.

3 – Light Soy Sauce

Stepping out of the shadows, Light soy sauce is often considered a supporting character, but it’s got potential as the lead. With a flavor that is saltier and lighter, it serves as an excellent substitute for those concerned with the robust nature of dark soy sauce.

Unlike its darker sibling, Light soy sauce brings a cleaner, salty flavor with a delicate umami undertone. It’s less complex but more tangy.

Recommended Ratio

Using Light soy sauce can be a straightforward swap in recipes that don’t heavily rely on the dark color of soy. To compensate for the lack of richness, you may need to amp up other umami sources such as mushrooms or nutritional yeast.

On the positive side, Light soy sauce allows the natural flavors of other ingredients to shine through. However, those used to the richness of dark soy sauce might find light soy sauce lacking that depth they love.

🍳Comparison of Substitutes

Each of these substitutes brings a set of unique characteristics to the table.

Double Black Soy Sauce dominates with depth, Kecap Manis seduces with sweetness, and Light Soy Sauce refreshes with its lightness. The choice of which to use will depend on the specific nature of your recipe and your personal taste preferences.

If you’re experimenting with these substitutes, taste as you go. Adjust the quantity and other flavor elements to ensure the overall balance of your dish remains on point.

Remember, cooking is all about flavors complementing each other, and that requires a touch of the artist.


Substituting dark soy sauce can not only save your day but can also open doors to new flavor combinations.

Understanding your alternatives is not about compromise; it’s about elevating your culinary aptitude and being flexible in your approach.

Through creativity and the judicious use of these flavorful stand-ins, you might just craft a dish that’s even better than the original.


Homemade Dark Soy Sauce

Homemade Dark Soy Sauce is a versatile and flavorful substitute for commercial dark soy sauce. With just two ingredients, this recipe allows you to customize the sweetness and intensity of your soy sauce according to your preferences.
5 from 5 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Course Condiment
Cuisine Asian
Servings 1 cup
Calories 766 kcal


  • 1 cup of regular soy sauce
  • 0.75 cup of brown sugar


  • In a small saucepan, combine the soy sauce and brown sugar.
  • Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly until the sugar has dissolved completely.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat to low. Let it simmer for 10-15 minutes until the sauce has thickened and reduced by about a quarter.
  • Allow the mixture to cool and then transfer it to a sterilized jar or bottle for storage.
  • Store in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.


  • For a sweeter soy sauce, increase the amount of brown sugar used.
  • For a thicker soy sauce, continue simmering until desired consistency is reached.
  • You can also add additional flavorings such as garlic, ginger, or spices to customize the taste of your homemade dark soy sauce. Keep in mind that this may alter the intensity and flavor profile of the final product.


Serving: 1cupCalories: 766kcalCarbohydrates: 175gProtein: 25gFat: 0.2gSaturated Fat: 0.03gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.1gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.04gSodium: 13006mgPotassium: 711mgFiber: 2gSugar: 164gCalcium: 183mgIron: 7mg
Keyword homemade dark soy sauce
Did you make this recipe?Mention @CooksCrafter or tag #CooksCrafter!
5 from 5 votes (4 ratings without comment)
Recipe Rating


Monday 18th of March 2024

I never realized there were so many substitutes for dark soy sauce! Which one do you think gives the closest flavor match?

Andrew Gray

Monday 18th of March 2024

Among the substitutes for dark soy sauce, Double Black Soy Sauce often provides the closest flavor match. It's known for its rich, intense flavor and dark color, similar to traditional dark soy sauce. Give it a try and see how it compares to your favorite dishes! Or you can try our homemade dark soy sauce recipe.