I have a recipe that calls for oyster sauce, but I am out of the sauce. What can I use as a substitute?
That is a good question. You will be happy to know that there are other alternatives you can use in place of oyster sauce.
Good substitute ideas are hoisin sauce, soy sauce, fish sauce, Worcestershire sauce, black bean sauce, teriyaki sauce, sweet soy sauce, and your own homemade oyster sauce.
What Is Oyster Sauce?
Oyster sauce is a thick dark brown syrupy sauce. It is most commonly used in Chinese dishes. Oyster sauce is made from oyster extract.
Tender and sweet, yet a flavorful balance of sweet and salty, the oyster sauce has a very thick consistency that makes it a perfect base for a glaze or stir-fry sauce. It’s an excellent ingredient to have on hand for those recipes that call for a sauce with bold flavor.
The taste of the sauce is salty, savory, and slightly sweet.
It is most often used in stir-fries, dipping sauces, and marinades.
Oyster Sauce Substitutes
1. Hoisin Sauce
Hoisin sauce is a great substitute to use in place of oyster sauce. The sauce is dark, thick, and fragrant. It is flavorful and most commonly used in stir-fries, glazes for meats, and dipping sauces.
The taste is sweet, tangy, and salty. It adds an intense flavor to the dishes it is added to. The sauce is similar to oyster sauce. Keep in mind that hoisin sauce tends to have a greater potent flavor than oyster sauce. If I am out of oyster sauce, I like to use hoisin sauce for my marinades and stir-fires.
Substitute 1 teaspoon of Oyster Sauce for 1 teaspoon of Hoisin Sauce.
2. Soy Sauce
Soy sauce is a liquid condiment that is salty and brown in color. The sauce is made from fermenting soybeans. Soy sauce has a sweet, salty, slightly bitter, and savory flavor.
Because it is thinner and saltier than oyster sauce, you will want to use less of it in your recipes when substituting. I like to add sugar to the soy sauce when using as a substitute to decrease some of the saltiness.
3. Fish Sauce
Fish sauce is made from a combination of salt and fish that has been fermented. The most common fish used to make the sauce is anchovies. Some are made from krill, mackerel, or shrimp. It has a fishy and salty taste.
I would only add a small amount of fish sauce as a substitute as the taste is very strong. Add a couple of drops, and then adjust the amount in your recipe after tasting.
4. Worcestershire Sauce
Another substitute you can use is Worcestershire sauce. Worcestershire sauce is a flavored condiment made from vinegar that is fermented. It is flavored with molasses, garlic, and other seasonings. The sauce has a sweet, savory, salty, and tangy taste.
If you are going to substitute oyster sauce for Worcestershire sauce, I would mix it with soy sauce and some sugar to create a similar taste.
5. Black Bean Sauce
Black bean is a sauce made from a combination of black beans, garlic, and spices. It has a salty and bitter taste. Substitute 1 teaspoon of oyster sauce for 1 teaspoon of black bean sauce.
6. Teriyaki Sauce
Teriyaki sauce is a thick, rich sauce that is loaded with umami flavors. The thing to keep in mind if you are using teriyaki sauce as an alternative is that it is sweeter than oyster sauce but has a similar consistency. I like to use it in stir-fries and marinades.
7. Sweet Soy Sauce
Sweet soy sauce, known as Kecap Manis, is an Indonesian soy sauce. The sauce is thick, dark, and filled with spices. It is slightly salty and sweet. You can use it as a substitute for oyster sauce. Add a small amount first and then adjust as needed.
8. Make Your Own Oyster Sauce
You can make your own oyster sauce at home. You will need the following ingredients:
4 Tablespoons of Canned Oyster Juice
1 Tablespoon of Water
1 Tablespoon of Dark Soy Sauce
3 Tablespoons of Light Soy Sauce
- In a pot, add oyster juice and water.
- Bring to a boil and stir often.
- Turn down the heat and simmer for 5-7 minutes.
- Add soy sauces. Taste and add salt and sugar if needed.
- Simmer for 7-10 minutes or until the sauce gets thick.
Don’t worry if you run out of oyster sauce. There are several substitutes that you can use in place of oyster sauce which includes hoisin sauce, soy sauce, fish sauce, Worcestershire sauce, black bean sauce, teriyaki sauce, sweet soy sauce, and your own homemade oyster sauce.
They will give you a similar taste, color, and texture that is close to what you would get with oyster sauce.