Tamari is a soy sauce that originated in Japan, and is made from fermented soybeans that brings umami flavor to several dishes.
However, if you don’t have tamari or can’t find it in your local Asian supermarket, you might be interested to discover some of the best substitutes for tamari.
In this article, I will cover 8 of the best substitutes for tamari. So, next time a recipe calls for it and you don’t have any, you have plenty of options.
Let’s get into it.
There are a variety of different soy sauces from all over Asia, each with their individual flavors and consistencies.
The most notable difference between tamari and other soy sauces is that tamari is most often made without wheat, while soy sauce typically contains wheat.
Due to tamari’s thicker consistency and balanced flavor, it is an ideal dipping sauce.
Is Tamari Healthier Than Soy Sauce?
This depends on what you deem as healthy! However, of the two, tamari contains less sodium than soy sauce.
Is Tamari Gluten-Free?
Yes, the majority of tamari is a gluten-free alternative to soy sauce. This comes down to the fact that tamari contains no added wheat and is made with a higher volume of soybeans.
Although the majority of brands of tamari are gluten free, it’s better to be safe than sorry. If you’re celiac or struggle to digest gluten, you will want to make sure that you check the ingredients label at the store to double check.
Substitutes For Tamari
If you don’t have any tamari, then soy sauce is the next best thing for a substitute. Soy sauce provides the same umami flavor, although it’s somewhat thinner in consistency.
Soy sauce is a highly versatile ingredient, and is great for stir fries, stews, and as a dipping sauce for your sushi. You can substitute tamari for soy sauce in a 1:1 ratio.
You can also use it as a marinade for a variety of different meats. If you combine soy sauce with garlic, sugar, and ketchup, then you have a barbecue mix ready to use!
Miso paste is another wonderful substitute for tamari. Commonly used in Japanese cuisine, it will provide your dish with the same umami flavor that tamari offers.
However, you will need to bear in mind that miso paste has a thicker texture than tamari, so you will need to make sure that you combine it with a splash of water to loosen the texture slightly.
Miso is great to add to numerous dishes for a boost of flavor, from soups to broths, and dressings!
At the heart of a variety of different Thai recipes, fish sauce provides a unique flavor that is similar to tamari.
Fish sauce can take some getting used to, as the fish flavor and aroma it adds to your dish can initially be quite strong and overpowering if you add too much. Bearing this in mind, you will need to use ½ teaspoon of fish sauce for 1 tablespoon of tamari.
Fish sauce can be added to a wide variety of dishes, from soups, to stews, and stir-fries. Not to mention one of Thailand’s national dishes, Pad Thai!
However, when you get the ratio right, it deepens the dish beautifully and provides a delicious, rounded flavor that will make your dish all the more impressive to your guests.
Balsamic vinegar is another suitable substitute for tamari. It has a sour and salty taste, and is a super versatile ingredient to have in your pantry.
While it is more sour than tamari, you can easily mellow balsamic vinegar out by adding a dash of sugar or honey. You will need to use ½ teaspoon of balsamic vinegar for 1 tablespoon of tamari.
Balsamic is great for making salad dressings, such as Caprese salad, and can even be used as a dipping sauce. It doesn’t get much better than dipping a fresh loaf of bread into olive oil and balsamic vinegar!
Believe it or not, adding finely chopped anchovies is a great way to achieve a similar flavor profile that tamari provides. Although anchovies tend to be a love it or hate it kind of food, there’s no denying how versatile they are as an ingredient.
Anchovies are great for deepening the flavor of a dish as they provide an ideal balance of umami, fish, and salty flavors that pack a punch and take your dish to the next level. From pasta sauces to caesar salad, anchovies are a handy ingredient for several dishes.
However, you will need to make sure that you don’t add too many, as the dish can become overly salty quickly if you go overboard with anchovies. They can also have quite a dominant flavor, which you won’t necessarily want if you’re not huge on the fishy flavor they provide.
If you’d rather, you can also use anchovies as a topping instead of mixing them through the dish for a more subtle flavor.
Oyster sauce is very similar to soy sauce and tamari, however it is thicker in texture and sweeter in taste.
Made by cooking oysters, oyster sauce has a rich, syrup-like consistency. It is commonly used in Asian cuisine, especially Chinese cuisine, to give it a distinct savory flavor. It is great in numerous foods, such as vegetable stir fries and rice dishes.
Oyster sauce is a fantastic addition to add that sweet, salty, and umami flavor to your dish that is quintessential of Chinese cuisine.
Coconut aminos have a very similar flavor to tamari, and contain no soy if you’re trying to avoid soy or have a soy allergy.
In addition to this, coconut aminos contain 73 percent less sodium than soy sauce, making it a more favorable choice for those trying to cut down on their salt intake.
When using coconut aminos as a substitute for tamari, you will want to do this in a 1:1 ratio.
That being said, you will need to keep in mind that coconut aminos are less salty than tamari, so you may need to add a little more to appreciate the flavor fully.
Liquid aminos are another excellent substitute for tamari. Liquid aminos are very similar to soy sauce, but tend to be less salty, milder, and slightly sweeter in terms of flavor.
Unlike coconut aminos, liquid aminos are derived from soybeans. If you don’t have a soy allergy, this is a great gluten-free product to have in your pantry.
It is the most comparable to soy sauce when you consider the salty flavor, so you may need to use a little less than the recipe recommends depending on your tastes.
Frequently Asked Questions
What does tamari taste like?
Tamari has a rich, deep umami flavor that is on the more mellow side than soy sauce.
Made with a high concentration of soybeans, tamari has a thick, syrupy texture. Typically speaking, it is considered to have a more nuanced flavor due to its salinity when compared to other soy sauces.
Does tamari contain MSG?
The majority of organic tamari brands do not contain preservatives or MSG, making it an additive-free condiment. However, you will need to ensure that you opt for organic, which can be more expensive.
If you’re trying to avoid foods that contain MSG, you should always read the ingredients label to gauge whether the tamari contains MSG or not.
Do you need to refrigerate tamari after opening It?
Yes, like many other sauces you will need to refrigerate tamari after you have opened it. You can store it in the refrigerator for as long as 3 months when it is stored properly.
You will need to make sure that you place the lid on tightly after using it to extend its shelf life.
Tamari is a highly versatile ingredient to add to a variety of dishes to provide them with an umami flavor.
However, next time you’re using a recipe that calls for tamari and you don’t have any, you have a few options to choose from.