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We’re all familiar with soy sauce from the little packets that arrive with carry-out, and the bottles that are always on the tables of Chinese restaurants. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg of the soy sauce story. Just like hot sauces or mustards, there are a wide variety of soy sauces with different flavors and different uses. They can be paired with specific dishes, or you can just pick your favorite one—or two or three—to keep on hand for cooking, for dipping, and for drizzling over foods. From mass-market brands to artisanal, there’s a soy sauce for everyone. Here, the best soy sauces on the market.
Best Overall: Yamaroku 4 Years Aged Kiku Bisiho Soy Sauce
This soy sauce is fermented and aged in 100-year-old barrels to produce a rich, complex flavor that's smooth and mellow, without sharp notes that would overpower a dish. It's aged for four years, and while it’s more expensive than your favorite grocery store version, it’s not prohibitively expensive if you want to upgrade for a special occasion recipe.
Because it’s an 18-ounce bottle, you’ll have plenty to work with, even if you’re cooking for a large crowd or family.
Best Dark Soy: Lee Kum Kee Dark Soy Sauce
Dark soy sauce is intense in both color and flavor—think of the difference between white and brown sugar—so you won’t need as much of this soy sauce to get the flavor you’re looking for. It's also slightly thicker than your typical soy sauce, so it clings to food a little better, making it perfect as a drizzle over vegetables or as an ingredient in a dipping sauce. This one comes in a 16.9-ounce bottle, so you’ll have plenty to use for all your favorite recipes.
Best Low-Sodium: Kikkoman Less Sodium Soy Sauce
Soy sauce is so delicious, but it’s easy to get carried away using it. Unfortunately, it's also incredibly salty. If you need to watch how much sodium you’re consuming, regular soy sauce might be off the table. The good news is that this lower-sodium version is available from a popular grocery store brand. The sauce has the umami flavor that you love, just with less sodium. You can get it in a 10-ounce bottle to see if it suits your needs without committing to a huge bottle.
Best Tamari: San-J Tamari Gluten-Free Soy Sauce
Tamari is a type of Japanese soy sauce that's made with little to no wheat. This pick falls under the "no wheat" category, which means it's safe to eat for people on a gluten-free diet.
Some reviewers mentioned that this tamari has less of the salty flavor that they expect from soy sauce, and in general tamari is a little milder than Chinese-style soy sauces. It also tends to be a little thicker, making it perfect as a dipping sauce. This San-J pick comes in a 10-ounce bottle for you to try in stirfry, coleslaw, or even as part of a marinade for meat.
Best Mushroom-Flavored: Lee Kum Kee Mushroom-Flavored Soy Sauce
While mushroom flavored soy sauce might seem like a specialty product, it's actually super versatile. You probably won't be able to pick out a specific mushroom flavor when you taste it, but you will get a healthy dose of umami—that rich, savoriness that's considered the fifth flavor that we taste.
This dark soy sauce has more body than your usual grocery store sauce—and it packs a lot of flavor, so you won't need to use as much. It comes in a 16.9-ounce bottle that provides plenty of opportunities to try it in any recipe you would use an unflavored soy sauce.
Best Shoyu: Gold Mine Natural Food Co Ohsawa Organic Nama Shoyu
Shoyu is another Japanese-style soy sauce that's similar to Chinese-style ones you're probably familiar with. This one is aged for two summers in cedar kegs, which adds to the complex flavor. It's also unpasteurized, so it retains the enzymes from fermentation, and it is naturally lower in sodium since the process used to make it involves less salt. This soy sauce is also organic, kosher, and has no added preservatives.
Best Soy Alternative: COCONUT SECRET Soy-Free Sauce
Soy is a common allergen, which means a lot of people can’t use soy sauce in recipes. Made from coconut tree sap, coconut aminos add the same savory, salty, rich flavor that you’d get from soy sauce. This one is totally organic, gluten-free, non-GMO, kosher, vegan, and free of MSG. It’s also much lower in sodium than typical soy sauce, so it's a good option if you're watching your sodium intake.
Most users find that coconut aminos are very similar to soy sauce, although some noted that this sauce tastes slightly sweeter, but not so much that it was off-putting. This pick comes in an 8-ounce bottle, so it’s enough to try, but not a huge commitment if you aren’t sure you’ll love it.
Best Ponzu: Kikkoman Ponzu Sauce
Ponzu is a citrus-flavored soy sauce that's used in dressings, as a dipping sauce, and as a marinade. It adds a tangy, acidic element to soy sauce and can really brighten up a dish. Ponzu works especially well with delicate flavors like seafood, tofu, and chicken where all of the different flavor notes can really shine, but you can absolutely use it with pork or beef dishes, as well.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Donna Currie is a writer and product tester for The Spruce Eats, specializing in product reviews and recipes. She is constantly experimenting in the kitchen and knows what to look for in a sauce.