Tamari Alternatives: Exploring the Best Substitutes for Your Soy Sauce Needs

Tamari is a Japanese sauce also known as tamari shoyu. It is made from fermented soybeans, making it gluten-free. It is often used for sashimi and other traditional Japanese dishes. If you require a tamari substitute, we’ll show you the best options for any situation.

What Is Tamari?

Tamari comes from Japan and is considered the Japanese soy sauce equivalent. Primarily produced in the Chūbu region of Japan, it only accounts for around 1.5% of all soy sauces produced in the country.

Considered to be the “original” Japanese soy sauce, it’s the most similar to the original soy sauce recipe brought to Japan from China. It’s dark in appearance, with a rich, nuanced, and umami flavor.

Tamari is traditionally gluten-free and vegan as it is made from fermented soybeans. It is made from pressing miso paste as the soybeans ferment, and it is the drained liquid that creates tamari.

You can use tamari for stir-fries, sashimi, soups, dumplings, noodles, and much more. It works well in almost all cases where you would use regular soy sauce or other soy sauce variations.

Substitutes For Tamari

Whether you need something for a particular dish, another gluten-free or vegan option, or something else – there are plenty of good substitution options available for tamari.

SubstituteTasteGood For
Soy SauceSalty, Sharp, UmamiNoodles, Soups, Sushi, Stir-fries, Chicken, Pork
Liquid AminosSalty, Sweet, UmamiStir-fries, Soups, Veggies, Chicken, Noodles
Coconut AminosSalty, Sweet, UmamiStir-fries, Soups, Veggies, Chicken, Noodles

1. Soy Sauce

If you’ve not got a gluten problem, soy sauce should be your go-to tamari substitute. They work well for one another in almost any recipe, and you can use soy sauce as a 1:1 replacement ratio for tamari.

Soy sauce can be used and is often used in shoyu ramen and many other noodle dishes, which makes it an ideal alternative to tamari in these situations. It also works excellently with vegetables, rice dishes, and more.

Soy sauce isn’t as viscous as tamari, typically having a thinner consistency. It’s also got a more salty taste overall, but both bring the savory umami flavor that’s so important.

Soy sauce contains more sodium than tamari, which is another thing to consider besides the fact that soy sauce isn’t gluten-free. When you’re on a low-sodium diet, you can use 1/2 to 3/4 of the amount of soy sauce per teaspoon of tamari.

Finally, it’s important to note that soy sauce does contain MSG (monosodium glutamate), while organic tamari brands do not typically contain MSG.

2. Liquid Aminos

Liquid aminos have the same umami flavor that you’ll get with tamari. However, they’re a little sweeter overall. This makes them an interesting alternative to soy sauce, but they do still contain a similar overall salty taste to that option.

They work well with certain vegetables, such as cabbage, beansprouts, and similarly unsweet vegetables in stir-fries. Liquid aminos also work well with meats like chicken and pork.

Another reason you might want to choose liquid aminos is that, like organic tamari, they’re also MSG-free. They are also gluten-free and vegan-friendly.

3. Coconut Aminos

Coconut aminos can be substituted for tamari and vice versa. If you need a replacement for tamari because you have a soy allergy or a preference to avoid soy, then coconut aminos are your best option.

Coconut aminos share a similar flavor profile and consistency to liquid aminos but are not as salty. Fortunately, tamari doesn’t have the saltiness of liquid aminos or soy sauce either, so this really is a good option.

You can use coconut aminos in stir-fries, soups, noodle dishes, rice dishes, and anything else you want to add a distinctive savory taste to a dish. It should also be noted that coconut aminos do not taste like coconut.


Tamari is a delicious and robust sauce that originated in Japan. It can be used for numerous dishes, is much loved for being gluten-free and vegan, and is growing in popularity for these reasons. Still, sometimes you might need a tamari substitute. One of the options above should work as an alternative in any situation.

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