What Is a Good Substitute for Fish Sauce? Flavorful Alternatives

chef pour sauce cooking

Are you a fan of Asian cuisine but find yourself in need of a substitute for fish sauce? Whether you’re following a vegetarian or vegan diet, have dietary restrictions, or simply don’t have fish sauce on hand, worry not! 

There are plenty of flavorful alternatives that can step up to the plate and add that coveted umami kick to your dishes. In this article, we’ll dive into the world of fish sauce substitutes and explore a range of options that will tantalize your taste buds. 

From soy sauce to tamari, miso paste to mushroom sauce, we’ll find flavorful alternatives to enhance your favorite recipes. 

Get ready for a culinary adventure as we explore good fish sauce substitutes and find the perfect flavor-packed alternative for your next Asian-inspired dish. Get your taste buds ready for a flavor explosion!

10 Good Substitute for Fish Sauce

When it comes to culinary exploration, one often encounters the need for suitable substitutes that can capture the essence of a specific ingredient. In the realm of cooking, fish sauce holds a special place, with its distinctive umami flavor and depth. 

There are wonderful alternatives to fish sauce for those with dietary restrictions, allergies, or a desire to try new flavors. Let’s dive into the world of flavorful substitutes and discover the exciting possibilities that await.

1. Soy Sauce

soy sauce bottle

Soy sauce is a staple in many Asian cuisines and is easy to get. Soy sauce can be an excellent substitute for fish sauce. It offers a similar salty and savory flavor profile, although it lacks the distinct fishy taste of fish sauce. Soy sauce works well in marinades, stir-fries, and dipping sauces. 

Keep in mind that soy sauce tends to be saltier than fish sauce, so you may need to adjust the amount you use in your recipe accordingly.

Soy Sauce Characteristics:

  • Similar umami flavor profile to fish sauce
  • Dark, salty, and savory taste

2. Tamari

If you’re looking for a gluten-free alternative to fish sauce, tamari is a great option. Tamari is a type of soy sauce made without wheat, making it suitable for those with gluten sensitivities or allergies.

It has a rich, slightly sweeter flavor compared to traditional soy sauce, but it still provides the umami kick that fish sauce offers. Tamari can be used in a 1:1 ratio as a substitute for fish sauce in recipes.

Tamari Characteristics:

  • Gluten-free alternative
  • Milder and less salty taste compared to fish sauce

3. Miso Paste

Miso paste is a versatile ingredient commonly used in Japanese cuisine. It is made from fermented soybeans and can add depth and complexity to your dishes. While miso paste doesn’t taste exactly like fish sauce, it can provide a similar umami flavor. 

Use it sparingly, as miso paste can be quite potent. Dilute it with water or other liquids to achieve the desired consistency in your recipes.

Miso Paste Characteristics:

  • Fermented soybean paste with a deep umami flavor
  • Different varieties for varied tastes

4. Mushroom Sauce

For a vegan-friendly alternative to fish sauce, mushroom sauce is worth considering. Made from mushrooms, this sauce offers a rich and earthy flavor that can be a suitable replacement for the umami taste of fish sauce. 

You can buy mushroom sauce in stores or make it at home by sautéing mushrooms with other seasonings and reducing them into a flavorful sauce. Experiment with different mushroom varieties to find the one that best compliments your dish.

Mushroom Sauce Characteristics:

  • Earthy and savory taste
  • Vegan-friendly alternative

5. Worcestershire Sauce

worcestershire sauce

Worcestershire sauce is a popular condiment with a complex flavor profile. Although it contains anchovies, Worcestershire sauce can still serve as a substitute for fish sauce in some recipes. Its tangy, savory taste can enhance the umami notes in your dishes. However, keep in mind that Worcestershire sauce has a stronger flavor, so you may want to use it sparingly or dilute it with water or other liquids.

Worcestershire Sauce Characteristics: 

  • It is complex list of ingredients that can be challenging to identify simply by the taste
  • The sauce is frequently used to augment recipes such as Welsh rarebit, Caesar salad, Oysters Kirkpatrick, and deviled eggs
  • It is also used as an ingredient in marinades or is brushed onto meat, fish, or poultry during cooking

6. Coconut Aminos

coconut aminos

If you’re looking for a soy-free and gluten-free alternative to fish sauce, coconut aminos are an excellent choice. Coconut aminos are made from the sap of coconut blossoms and have a slightly sweet and savory flavor. They can be used as a 1:1 replacement for fish sauce in most recipes. Coconut aminos are also lower in sodium than soy sauce, so they can be a healthier alternative.

Coconut Aminos Characteristics:

  • Soy-free and gluten-free option
  • Lighter and sweeter flavor compared to fish sauce

7. Vegetable Stock

By simmering raw or roasted vegetables, one can create vegetable stock, a flavorful liquid preparation. It is mixed with herbs and spices to develop a foundation that is light in flavor and body. In some recipes, especially soups and stews, vegetable stock can be used as a substitute for fish sauce. While it may not provide the exact umami flavor of fish sauce, vegetable stock can add depth and richness to your dishes. Make sure to use a high-quality vegetable stock or make your own at home for the best results.

Vegetable Stock Characteristics:

  • All vegetable stocks should have a rich, full-bodied, and well-balanced flavor and aroma.
  • The four common indicators of quality for all stocks, including vegetable stock, are body, color, clarity, and flavor.
  • Vegetable stocks are prepared with an assortment of produce, or intensely flavored with a single ingredient, such as mushrooms, tomatoes, or leeks.

8. Vegemite as a Substitute

Vegemite sauce

Vegemite, an Australian spread made from active yeast extract, may not be an obvious choice. Its intense flavor can work as a substitute for fish sauce. However, use it sparingly, as Vegemite is incredibly potent. Its distinct taste adds a unique twist to dishes. Consider using Vegemite in small quantities for soups, stews, or even as a flavor enhancer in sauces.

Vegemite Characteristics:

  • Unique flavor profile
  • Use in small quantities due to intensity

9. Homemade Fish Sauce Alternatives

If you prefer a DIY approach, you can create your own fish sauce alternatives at home. These homemade versions are customizable and allow you to adjust flavors to your liking. Homemade fish sauce substitutes use seaweed, soy sauce, mushrooms, and other umami-rich ingredients. Experiment with different combinations to find the perfect substitute for your recipes.

Homemade Fish Sauce Alternatives Characteristics:

  • Creating vegetarian or vegan fish sauce substitutes
  • Using ingredients like seaweed, soy sauce, and mushrooms

10. Anchovy Paste

Anchovy paste is made from ground anchovies and can provide a similar umami punch as fish sauce. Due to its intense flavor, use it sparingly as a substitute. Anchovy paste works well in dishes like Caesar dressing, pasta sauces, and braised meats, where a depth of flavor is desired.

Anchovy Paste Characteristics:

  • Rich umami flavor similar to fish sauce
  • Use in moderation due to intensity


Fish sauce is a popular ingredient in Asian cooking, but there are many tasty alternatives. Soy sauce, tamari, miso paste, mushroom sauce, Worcestershire sauce, coconut aminos, and vegetable stock can add umami to your dishes. 

When substituting fish sauce with any of these alternatives, it’s important to consider the flavor profile and intensity of the substitute. Adjusting the quantities and experimenting with combinations can help you achieve the desired taste in your recipes.

Remember, while these alternatives can provide similar flavors, they may not replicate the exact taste of fish sauce. However, they can still contribute to a delicious and satisfying dish.

To summarize, here’s a quick-reference table outlining the alternatives to fish sauce:

SubstituteFlavor ProfileUsage
Soy SauceSalty, savoryMarinades, stir-fries,
dipping sauces
TamariRich, slightly sweetAll-purpose substitute
Miso PasteComplex, fermentedDiluted in recipes
Mushroom SauceRich, earthyAll-purpose substitute
Worcestershire SauceTangy, savoryDiluted or sparingly used
Coconut AminosSweet, savoryAll-purpose substitute,
soy and gluten-free
Vegetable StockDepth, richnessSoups, stews, and more

Try these substitutes for fish sauce if you’re out or looking for a vegetarian or vegan option. Get creative, experiment with flavors, and find the perfect substitute that suits your taste preferences and dietary needs.

Happy cooking, and enjoy your flavorful culinary adventures!


Now that you’re familiar with a variety of flavorful alternatives to fish sauce, you can confidently explore new culinary horizons without compromising on taste. Whether you opt for soy sauce, tamari sauce, or homemade substitutes, these alternatives will add depth and umami to your dishes. 

Get creative in the kitchen and experiment with different combinations to find your favorite substitute for fish sauce. Happy cooking!


Can I substitute oyster sauce for fish sauce?

While both oyster sauce and fish sauce are commonly used in Asian cuisine, they have distinct flavors and are not direct substitutes for each other. Oyster sauce has a rich, savory flavor with a hint of sweetness, while fish sauce has a pungent, salty, and umami taste. 
However, if you don’t have fish sauce available, you can use a combination of soy sauce and a small amount of Worcestershire sauce as a substitute. This mixture can provide a similar depth of flavor, although it won’t be an exact match.

What can I use instead of fish sauce in Thai cuisine?

If you need to replace fish sauce in Thai cuisine, you can use soy sauce as a substitute. Soy sauce is more commonly used in Thai cuisine as a substitute for fish sauce, especially in vegetarian or vegan dishes. 
It provides a salty and savory flavor, although it may not offer the exact same taste profile as fish sauce. You can also combine soy sauce with a small amount of tamarind paste or lime juice to mimic the tanginess of fish sauce.

How can I replace fish sauce in a recipe without altering the taste too much?

To replace fish sauce in a recipe without altering the taste too much, you can create a homemade substitute by combining soy sauce, miso paste, and a small amount of vinegar or lime juice. 

This combination can provide a similar umami flavor with a touch of acidity. Adjust the proportions according to your taste preferences and the specific recipe requirements.

How can I store homemade fish sauce substitutes?

Homemade fish sauce substitutes can be stored in the refrigerator for a few weeks. It’s best to transfer them to an airtight container, such as a glass jar or a plastic container with a tight-fitting lid. 
Make sure to label the container with the contents and date of preparation for reference. Always check for any signs of spoilage, such as an off-odor or unusual appearance, before using the stored substitute.

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