Tamari is a Japanese soy sauce made with fermented soybeans, salt, and roasted grain. It is a thicker, slightly sweeter version of soy sauce used as a condiment or ingredient in cooking.
The best tamari substitutes include soy sauce, coconut aminos, fish sauce, and gluten-free liquid aminos. They make the best substitutes because they are flavorful and have a similar consistency to tamari.
Best Substitute for Tamari: Soy Sauce
The best substitute for tamari is soy sauce. Soy sauce has a slightly saltier taste than tamari and is an excellent source of iron, vitamin B1, and riboflavin.
Soy sauce is readily available in most grocery stores. Several brands are available and despite their similarity in appearance, they have different flavors, saltiness levels, and consistency. The main ingredient in soy sauce is soybeans, which is also the main ingredient in tamari.
Substitute tamari with an equal amount (ratio of 1:1) of soy sauce in most recipes. For example, if the recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of tamari, use 1 tablespoon of soy sauce.
Other Tamari Substitutes, Alternatives, and Replacements
This section lists other possible foods that are commonly used as replacements for tamari.
Fish sauce is a Thai sauce made from fermented fish. It has a bright, salty, tangy, and slightly sweet taste. Fish sauce is an excellent substitute for tamari because it is similar in flavor but not as dark in color as tamari.
Chefs use fish sauce in many Thai and Vietnamese dishes. It’s available in most grocery stores and works well as a condiment or ingredient in many recipes.
Making fish sauce is a straightforward process that can be done at home.
- 1 1/2 pounds small whole fish
- 3 spoons of black peppercorns
- 6 bay leaves
- 6 garlic cloves
- 2 cups of fresh water (non-chlorinated)
- 2 tbsp of sea salt
- 1 lemon for zest
To make the fish sauce, clean the fish and cut it into ½-inch pieces. Place the garlic, sea salt, and lemon zest in a medium-sized bowl and mash together with the back of a spoon. Add the fish pieces and ensure they coat well in the salt and garlic mixture.
Pour in the water and cover the bowl with a lid or plastic wrap and place it under room temperature, preferably in a cupboard. Allow the mixture to ferment for approximately three days then refrigerate for about 4-6 weeks. After 4-6 weeks of refrigeration, use a cheesecloth to strain the sauce and discard the solids.
Substitute tamari with fish sauce at a ratio of 1:1.
Coconut aminos is soy- and gluten-free liquid seasoning sauce made from the sap of coconut trees. It has a sweet and salty and slightly umami taste. Coconut aminos is a good substitute for tamari because it has a similar consistency and flavor.
Chefs use coconut aminos to season foods in place of tamari. It’s low in sodium and a great source of minerals such as potassium, magnesium, and zinc. A bottle of coconut aminos is readily available in most grocery stores.
Substitute tamari with an equal amount (ratio of 1:1) of coconut aminos in most recipes.
Gluten-Free Liquid Aminos
Liquid aminos is a gluten-free seasoning sauce made by treating soybeans in hydrochloric acid. It has a slightly salty and tangy taste with very little sweetness. Liquid aminos is an excellent substitute for tamari because it has a similar consistency and flavor.
The culinary uses of liquid aminos are similar to those of tamari. Chefs use it as a condiment or a cooking ingredient in many Asian dishes. Liquid aminos are available in most grocery stores.
Substitute tamari with liquid aminos at a ratio of 1:1.
Miso is a savory paste made from fermented soybeans and grains. It has salty, rich umami, and slightly sweet taste. Miso is an excellent substitute for tamari because it has a similar texture and nutritional makeup.
Chefs use miso paste to flavor much of Japanese cuisine. It’s common as a condiment or an ingredient in many dishes such as soups and sauces. A jar of miso paste is available in most grocery stores.
Miso paste is best homemade.
- 2.2 pounds of soybeans
- 1.5 pounds of rice koji
- 4 tbsp of sea salt
- 1 liter of water
- 1 1/2 pounds of miso starter
To make the miso paste, soak soybeans in water overnight and drain them once soft. Transfer the drained beans to a large pot and cook over medium heat for about 2-3 hours, until they crush easily between the fingers.
Soak the rice koji in warm water for about 30 minutes. Drain the water from the beans and save about 1¼ cup for later use. Add salt and blend the soybeans with another 1 cup of steaming-hot water until a smooth paste results. This is the miso starter.
Clean a medium-sized bowl with alcohol and dry using a clean towel. Transfer the miso starter to the bowl and spread it around the bowl to form a thin layer.
Drain the rice koji and pour it into a separate large bowl and mix well with the remaining salt. Add the soybean paste, or starter, and mix everything until blended.
Add the remaining 1¼ cups of salty water to the mashed mixture two tablespoons at a time. Mix until the mixture becomes smooth. Transfer the mixture into a sealed container and ferment for six months at room temperature.
The ideal ratio of tamari to miso paste is 2:1. Miso paste is thicker than tamari, so reduce the amount by half by replacing one cup of tamari with ½ cup of miso paste. Add water to reach the consistency required by the recipe.
Balsamic vinegar is a dark, richly-flavored vinegar made from white Trebbiano grapes. It has a slightly sour taste with a fruity aroma that tones down when cooked. Balsamic vinegar is an excellent substitute for tamari because of its similar sharp, salty flavor and syrupy consistency.
Chefs use balsamic vinegar to add flavor to sweet and savory dishes. Balsamic vinegar is readily available by the bottle in most grocery stores.
Substitute tamari with an equal amount (ratio of 1:1) of balsamic vinegar in most recipes.
Umeboshi vinegar is a Japanese condiment made from pickled ume fruit. It tastes salty, sour, slightly sweet, and intensely umami. Umeboshi vinegar is an excellent substitute for tamari for those who are allergic to soybeans.
Umeboshi vinegar is saltier and sourer than tamari. Chefs use it to flavor various dishes such as salad dressings, marinades, and dipping sauces. Umeboshi vinegar is readily available in most grocery stores.
Substitute tamari with umeboshi vinegar at a ratio of 2:1 in most recipes. Since umeboshi vinegar is saltier than tamari, replace tamari with half the amount of umeboshi vinegar. For example, if the recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of tamari, substitute ½ tablespoon of umeboshi vinegar.
Tamari is a gluten-free seasoning sauce made from soybeans and salt. It enhances the flavor of many dishes including salads, soups, and stir-fries. The best substitutes for tamari are soy sauce, liquid aminos, miso paste, balsamic vinegar, and umeboshi vinegar.
Each of these substitutes has a different flavor profile which enhances the taste of many types of dishes. With a bit of experimentation, it is easy to find the perfect tamari substitute for every recipe. Taste as you go to ensure you achieve the flavor profile you like.