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What Is The Difference Between Hoisin Sauce And Oyster Sauce?

Hoisin sauce and oyster sauce are both very similar looking and it can be very easy to get them mixed up, however there are actually factors that separate them from one another that you may not be aware of.

In this guide, you will learn about these two sauces and what fits best for what occasion. 

What Is The Difference Between Hoisin Sauce And Oyster Sauce?

What Is Hoisin Sauce?

A savory, thick, red-brown sauce known as hoisin is frequently used in Chinese cooking as a condiment, a meat coating, or an ingredient in stir-fries. It has a black appearance and tastes salty and sweet.

The places in which hoisin sauce is produced may affect how it tastes. When preparing hoisin sauce, numerous other local ingredients are added, giving it a unique flavor profile.

The name Hoisin was shortened from the Chinese terminology for “Seafood Sauce,” despite the fact that the sauce does not contain any fish ingredients and is not typically eaten with seafood.

What Is Oyster Sauce?

Rich, syrup-like oyster sauce is also utilized in Chinese cooking. Despite the name, it doesn’t taste at all like fish, even though it is made from oyster extract. It tastes a little bit sweet, and salty.

Along with sugar, salt, and caramelized oyster fluids, some varities also contain soy sauce that contains cornstarch to thicken it.

Oyster sauce has a thick consistency and a dark brown tint that is almost black. It is primarily used in Thai, Cantonese, and Vietnamese cuisines for both meat and vegetable dishes.

Both hoisin sauce and oyster sauce are similar in price although this depends on the brand.


The two sauces differ greatly from one another and share many more ingredients besides the usual ones like salt, starches, and water.

Hoisin Sauce

Fermented soybean paste is the main component of hoisin sauce.

Starches including sweet potatoes, wheat, and rice, as well as water, sesame seeds, soybeans, sugar, white distilled vinegar, garlic, salt, red chili peppers, and occasionally preservatives or coloring agents, are among the ingredients in hoisin sauce.

Traditionally, toasted, mashed soybeans are used to make hoisin sauce.

Oyster Sauce

Typically, oysters, water, sugar, salt, modified corn starch, MSG, wheat flour, and caramel color are used to make oyster sauce.

The same components are typically used in the vegetarian variants, however instead of oysters, brown sugar, and mushroom flavor are used.

Oyster sauce contains oysters. However, the majority of mass-produced products substitute oyster extract for the conventional, ostensibly expensive method of caramelizing oyster broth by mixing it with the majority of sugar and cornstarch.


The nutritional content of either hoisin sauce and oyster sauce will vary depending on the brand but here is a general outline.

Hoisin Sauce

Hoisin sauce from the Dynasty brand has 50 calories per serving, which is equal to 2 tbsp. The size of your serving should also be taken into consideration.

In order to stay within your daily calorie restrictions, you must adjust your calorie intake for the remainder of the day if you intend to use more than 2 tbsp.

Sodium is a common ingredient in Chinese food. Hoisin sauce from the Dynasty brand has 410 mg of salt per serving. Hoisin sauce strongly adds to the high salt content of Chinese food as both a recipe ingredient and a condiment.

Hoisin sauce from the Dynasty brand has 9 g of carbohydrates, 9 g of sugar, 1 g of fat, and 1 g of protein per serving. Despite being almost entirely fat-free, hoisin sauce has a lot of sugar in it.

Water is the first ingredient on the food label for the Dynasty brand, followed by sugar.

Oyster Sauce

Try oyster sauce if you’re looking for a creative approach to flavor foods without adding a lot of calories. Oyster sauce has just 9 calories per tablespoon.

Oyster sauce won’t interfere with your efforts to keep a healthy weight because it has no cholesterol and tiny amounts of fat and saturated fat. Only 0.1 g of fiber makes up the small amount of fiber.

In any meaningful amount, salt is the only mineral included in oyster sauce.

One tablespoon of this sauce contains 492 mg of sodium, making it nearly impossible to adhere to the American Heart Association’s advice to keep your daily sodium intake under 1,500 mg.

Try to offset the use of oyster sauce in your cuisine by consuming less meals high in salt.


Oyster sauce and hoisin sauce both have delicious flavors. Despite having ingredients with varying salt contents, they are both added to give meals a salty flavor.

Hoisin Sauce

It tastes really salty and just a little bit sweet. Although saltier, richer, less sweet, and with a distinct flavor of its own, hoisin sauce does have a flavor that is somewhat similar to American-style barbecue sauce.

The umami flavor, acquired by other sauices by using fish or pork, is added by the fermented soybeans.

Oyster Sauce

In addition to having a sweet, salty flavor, oyster sauce also contains an umami flavor and a faint oyster aftertaste. The texture of this sauce is exceptionally smooth and rich.

Additionally saltier than hoisin sauce is oyster sauce. Although it doesn’t taste fishy, it does have a faint oceanic flavor.

Hoisin sauce can frequently be used in place of oyster sauce, particularly in stir-fried foods, because of this. 

Color And Consistency

Color And Consistency

The reason why both of these sauces get mixed up easily is that they look very similar, sharing a dark brown/black color. However, when you take a closer look, you may be able to see some differences.

Hoisin Sauce

Hoisin sauce is primarly dark brown, but there is a reddish shade that you can also see. In terms of consistency, hoisin sauce is a bit thicker compared to oyster sauce. 

Oyster Sauce

Oyster sauce is a very dark brown color that can be mistaken for black. It has no reddish shade that can be seen in Hoisin sauce and is also a bit thinner in consistency. 

Oyster sauce is dark brown, almost black in color, and has a 


Here is how hoisin sauce oyster sauce can be used in dishes. 

Hoisin Sauce

It is advised that you use only a little at a time to guage the flavor because the distinctive taste can be overpowering, especially if you are new to Asian cuisine.

Or, before using hoisin sauce in a recipe, you can dilute the strength of the flavor by adding water or oil.

A stir-fry or any noodle dish can benefit greatly from the true Asian taste, thickening, and color that hoisin sauce provides. You can also use hoisin sauce as a dipping sauce for appetizers like egg rolls and spring rolls.

Oyster Sauce

Oyster sauce has a potent flavor that, if used in excess, can ruin a dish.

Oyster sauce is mixed with additional ingredients such as rice wine, rice vinegar, soy sauce, and brown sugar and briefly heated with the veggies and meat when used in stir-fries.

The oyster sauce is simply poured straight from the bottle when used as a garnish.


How long can you keep these sauces in your pantry before they start to spoil? Read here to understand their lifespan and storage requirements.

Hoisin Sauce

Hoisin sauce can be kept unopened for a few years on the shelf if kept in a cool, dark location. Look for the “best by” date on the bottle, which will tell you when it will start to go bad.

Make sure the sauce doesn’t have any mold or an unpleasant odor if you’ve kept it for a while.

A bottle should be refrigerated as soon as it is opened. However, you don’t need to use it right away because the high salt content, which deters bacteria and mold, should allow it to remain for up to a year in the refrigerator.

Mold, odor, or discoloration are indications that it should be thrown away.

Oyster Sauce

Oyster sauce can be kept unopened in the pantry for a year, but once opened, it needs to be kept in the refrigerator, where it can be kept for six months. Oyster sauce in a can should be transferred to a covered jar and stored in the fridge.


Hoisin sauce and oyster sauce may not be to everyone’s taste, so here are some substitutes. 

Hoisin Sauce

Your best option if you can’t locate hoisin sauce at the grocery is to prepare a raw vegan alternative using peanut butter, miso, or black bean paste according to a recipe.

If you have chee hou sauce or Chinese brown bean sauce on hand—both of which are created from soybeans but can be hotter than hoisin sauce—you might swap them out.

Sriracha and Chinese five spice powder can be added to standard American sweet barbecue sauce as a quick alternative.

Make sure to verify any replacements to see whether they contain any of the foods you are avoiding, including gluten or animal products.

Oyster Sauce 

Unsurprisingly, soy sauce doesn’t have oyster sauce’s syrupy viscosity or sweetness. For a true substitute for oyster sauce, try using a little less soy sauce and adding a small pinch of brown sugar.

By applying the same reasoning as before, this Indonesian take on traditional soy sauce makes a good substitute for the oyster stuff.

There is a ton of sweet flavor, actually a little more than you would get from oyster sauce, so you can definitely omit the brown sugar in this recipe. The mollusc is the only item that is absent if you use it sparingly.


Both hoisin and oyster sauce have distinct tastes and purposes, yet they both have a significant role in your kitchen.

After reading this article, you should have a better understanding of the two classic Chinese sauces and be able to tell which one is ideal for your next meal, whether it is Asian cuisine or not.

Jess Smith