Low-Sodium Soy Sauce Substitute

Low sodium soy sauce substitute

The Spruce

Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 60 mins
Total: 65 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
23 Calories
1g Fat
3g Carbs
0g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 23
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 1g 1%
Saturated Fat 0g 1%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 25mg 1%
Total Carbohydrate 3g 1%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Protein 0g
Calcium 10mg 1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This soy sauce substitute doesn't taste exactly like the real thing, but it makes a flavorful alternative if you are trying to reduce the amount of salt in your diet. Chinese cooking can be a very healthy way of eating, but the amount of sodium in a lot of dishes is on the high side. Fortunately, this can be modified in most Chinese dishes. An easy place to start is with soy sauce, which is used in many different recipes as well as often served on the table.

Reduced-sodium beef broth (25 percent less salt) gives this soy sauce substitute recipe 12 to 13 milligrams of sodium per tablespoon, about 25 mg per tablespoon if you boil down the sauce and reduce it by half. To lower the sodium count even further, use a sodium-free beef broth. Most people should limit their salt intake to 1,500 milligrams per day.

If you wish to avoid soy, this substitute is soy-free. You will get the effect of soy sauce without soy and with much less salt. There are also vegetarian and gluten-free modifications you can make.


  • 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium beef broth
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons molasses
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Black pepper (to taste)
  • 1/4 cup water (boiling)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for low sodium soy sauce
    The Spruce
  2. Combine all the ingredients.

    Combine ingredients
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  3. At this point, you can either use the sauce as is, leaving for an hour to give the flavors a chance to blend or boil the liquid until it is reduced by half, to about 3 tablespoons.

    Use sauce as is
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  4. Store the soy sauce in a sealed container in the refrigerator. The sauce will keep for about a month in the refrigerator. Discard it if you see any mold, off-colors, or odors.

    Store sauce
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  5. Serve with your own homemade sushi or other rice-based dishes and enjoy!

The recipe yields enough to prepare approximately two meals. You can scale the recipe up if you'd rather make a larger batch and anticipate using it within a couple of weeks. Just remember that while the salt is reduced, it still has some salt, so plan your use accordingly.

Feel free to tinker with the ingredients to get the best flavor. The sodium is mostly in the beef broth, with a small amount in the molasses (2 milligrams per teaspoon) and the balsamic vinegar (1 milligram per teaspoon). You can alter the other ingredients without changing the sodium content.

Vegetarian Options

To make this recipe vegetarian, substitute vegetable broth for the beef broth. Just be aware this will alter the flavor somewhat, so experiment a little until it tastes the way you prefer.

Gluten-Free Diets

As a bonus, this soy sauce is gluten-free as long as it's made with:

  • Gluten-free beef broth (broths and stocks sometimes contain gluten as an additive)

  • Only the vinegar called for in the recipe (malt vinegar contains gluten)

  • Garlic powder that is gluten-free (seasoning powders sometimes contain gluten as a flow agent)