Oyster sauce is a popular ingredient used in Asian cuisines to add rich umami flavor to dishes like fried rice, stir fries, noodles, and more. However, oyster sauce contains oysters which means it is not suitable for vegans or those avoiding shellfish. Thankfully, there are several good oyster sauce substitutes that can replicate its savory taste. Here are 10 oyster sauce substitutes to choose from along with recommendations on which are best for different types of dishes.

1. Mushroom Sauce

Mushroom sauce is one of the best substitutes for oyster sauce that still provides a meaty umami flavor without any fish or shellfish. It’s made from dried mushrooms like shiitake or porcini that are reconstituted in water or vegetable broth. The mushroom sauce complements stir fries and fried rice very well due to its rich savoriness. Mushroom sauce is also vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free friendly. It works great as a general substitute when you want an oyster sauce flavor boost without the seafood element.

2. Vegetable Broth

Homemade or store-bought vegetable broth makes a simple yet tasty substitute for oyster sauce. The savory broth adds moisture and depth of flavor to dishes. For fried rice or stir fries, I’d recommend starting with 1/4 cup of vegetable broth and adjusting to taste. Vegetable broth is low in calories and works well for lighter meals or keto/low-carb cooking. When a bolder umami kick is desired, mushroom broth or miso paste mixed into the vegetable broth amps up the savoriness. Vegetable broth is always a safe bet for those avoiding meat, seafood, gluten or soy.

3. Miso Paste

Miso paste has a pronounced savory-sweetness similar to oyster sauce. It comes in various intensities from light white/shiro miso to darker red/aka miso, so choose based on preferred taste. Miso has a soybean base but is naturally fermented which makes it easier to digest than regular soy sauce for some. I usually mix 1-2 tablespoons of miso paste into vegetable broth as a sauce for stir fries or noodle dishes. The miso lends an irresistible richness. Be sure to cook the miso at low heat though to preserve its probiotic qualities. Miso paste is vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free.

4. Soy Sauce

Regular soy sauce can take oyster sauce’s place in many recipes especially when used in combination with other ingredients. By itself, soy sauce has a stronger flavor that may overpower delicate vegetable or noodle dishes. I like thinning soy sauce with an equal part water or vegetable broth. You can also mix soy sauce with rice vinegar, ginger, garlic and spices. Soy sauce lends that classic savory-umami taste we expect in Asian cuisines. It works well for fried rice recipes but may not be suitable for those avoiding soy or following a keto/low-carb diet due to its higher carbohydrate content. Check labels and choose a gluten-free variety if needed.

5. Fish Sauce

Fish sauce has a similar full, savory-salty essence as oyster sauce and is made from fermented fish. It’s commonly used throughout Southeast Asian cooking. As an oyster sauce substitute, start with just 1-2 teaspoons of fish sauce per full batch of stir fry or fried rice. Too much can make dishes overwhelmingly fishy tasting. Fish sauce works great for Thai, Vietnamese and other regional Asian recipes. It adds a wonderfully complex umami flavor but isn’t suitable for strict vegetarians or vegans. Check the ingredients, as some fish sauces may contain gluten. Fish sauce is higher in sodium than oyster sauce, so keep that in mind if watching your salt intake.

6. Coconut Aminos

Coconut aminos is a soy-free alternative to soy and fish sauces that is also gluten-free. It has notes of coconut and is slightly sweet which balances well in stir fries, noodle soups and fried rice. Like soy sauce, I’d mix coconut aminos at a 1:1 ratio with water or vegetable broth and start with just a few teaspoons to taste. Overuse can lead to a cloyingly-sweet result. Coconut aminos is suitable for paleo, keto, whole30, and those with soy or gluten sensitivities. It adds savory depth without the potential negative side effects of soy or high sodium content of fish sauce.

7. Worcestershire Sauce

Worcestershire sauce creates a similar complexity to oyster sauce when combined with other complementary ingredients. Mix it with ingredients like soy sauce, vinegar, garlic and ginger. Use just 1⁄2 to 1 teaspoon per serving as Worcestershire sauce is quite potent. It provides a nicely rounded umami punch that works well with beef and chicken stir fries or fried rice. Worcestershire sauce isn’t vegan as it contains anchovies but is otherwise gluten-free. It enhances savory flavors without imparting a seafood taste like oyster sauce can.

8. Tomato Paste

Tomato paste carries a richer, sweeter edge of umami compared to other oyster sauce substitutes. Use 1-2 teaspoons tomato paste per batch of fried rice or stir fry and sauté it first in oil or butter until fragrant. You can also mix tomato paste with soy sauce or broth. It works well in Chinese braised dishes, noodles, soups and curries for its depth of flavor. Tomato paste is vegan and gluten-free. Just be aware it adds a tomatoey essence rather than mirroring oyster sauce’s seafood notes. Too much can skew a dish more like marinara.

9. Vegan “Oyster” Sauce

Some companies now make vegan oyster sauce alternatives using ingredients like mushrooms, seaweed, or nutritional yeast. They aim to capture the essence of traditional oyster sauce without exploitation of animals. Look for options from sources like The Vegan Hearth, Buddha’s Vegan Kitchen or Vegetarian Express. Check ingredients as some contain sugars or hydrolyzed plant protein. Use vegan oyster sauces as a direct replacement in any recipe originally calling for real oyster sauce. They tend to be a more accurate substitute flavor-wise than other options listed here for those seeking that umami savory-sea taste.

10. Veggie/Vegan Bouillon Cubes

For a budget-friendly substitute in place of sauce, dissolve veggie or vegan bouillon cubes in hot water. The richly flavored broth acts as a sauce and adds savory body to fried rice, noodles, stir fries and braised dishes. Cubes contain concentrates like vegetables, seaweed and herbs to intensify umami taste at a low cost. Start with 1 cube per cup of hot water and adjust to liking. Broths from cubes are always vegetarian and often vegan along with being gluten-free. They make cooking easier without sacrificing on flavor.

In summary:

Best for fried rice – Mushroom sauce, vegetable broth or tomato paste. Their clean, savory flavors won’t overpower rice.

Best for vegetarian dishes – Mushroom sauce, miso paste, vegetable broth or vegan “oyster” sauce. These recreate umami deeply without animal products.

Gluten-free – All listed substitutes except regular soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce. Check ingredients.

Best for stir fries – Mushroom sauce, fish sauce or vegan “oyster” sauce. Their boldness stands up to strong stir fried flavors.

Best for keto/low-carb – Vegetable broth, coconut aminos or fish sauce. These have few or no carbs.

With some experimenting to find your favorite combinations, these 10 oyster sauce substitutes can help make your Asian home cooking as tasty and authentic tasting as the real thing without the shellfish. Please your whole family or clientele no matter their dietary restrictions.

Emily Harris

Emily Harris is a seasoned chef and a food aficionado with a boundless love for all cuisines. With years of experience experimenting in the kitchen and crafting delightful dishes, Emily has honed her culinary expertise to share with the world

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