Low-Sodium Soy Sauce Substitute

Low sodium soy sauce substitute

The Spruce

Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 20 mins
Rest Time: 60 mins
Total: 85 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
24 Calories
1g Fat
3g Carbs
0g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 24
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 1g 1%
Saturated Fat 0g 1%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 18mg 1%
Total Carbohydrate 3g 1%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Total Sugars 3g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 11mg 1%
Iron 0mg 1%
Potassium 65mg 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 sodium in your diet or want to avoid soy or gluten (as most bottled soy sauces are not gluten free). Chinese cooking can be healthy, especially if you cook it yourself, which is great because sodium can be high in many restaurant dishes. Fortunately, this can be modified in most Chinese recipes, and an easy place to start is with soy sauce.

The recipe creates that umami taste by combining beef broth, vinegar, molasses, and sesame oil. You can enjoy it as is (after sitting for an hour so the flavors can meld), or reduce the mixture by half for a thicker, more concentrated sauce. It yields enough to prepare approximately two meals, but you can scale the recipe up if you'd rather make a larger batch; just be sure to use it within a couple of weeks. This soy sauce substitute can be used in recipes as well as a dipping sauce. Remember that while the sodium is reduced, it still has some sodium, so plan your use accordingly.


  • 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

  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  • 1/4 cup boiling water

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for low-sodium soy sauce gathered

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  2. Combine all ingredients in a bowl.

    Combine ingredients

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  3. At this point, you can either let sauce sit for an hour to give flavors a chance to blend, or boil liquid until it is reduced by half (about 3 tablespoons).

    Use sauce as is

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  4. Store soy sauce in a sealed container in the refrigerator where it will keep for about a month. Shake well before using.

    Store sauce

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  5. Use in your favorite Chinese recipe or serve with homemade sushi or other rice-based dishes and enjoy.

Make It Vegetarian

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


  • 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.
  • This recipe is gluten free as long as the ingredients are all gluten free; make sure to check the labels of the beef broth and garlic powder, and only use the vinegars called for.