Is Soy Sauce Gluten-Free? (Types Of Soy Sauce + Alternatives)

If you have allergies or sensitivities to gluten, you need to double-check the ingredients in your food and even in your condiments. It’s a necessary hassle.

Perhaps you’d like to enjoy a dish cooked in soy sauce but there is one problem. You don’t know whether soy sauce is gluten-free or not. I did the research for you and here is what I found out!

Is Soy Sauce Gluten-Free?

Most traditional soy sauces are not gluten-free because they contain crushed wheat which is a type of gluten. However, there are some soy sauces that contain little or no gluten. Moreover, there are gluten-free alternatives to soy sauce such as tamari soy sauce or coconut aminos that you can find in most stores.

Are you wondering about the gluten content of soy sauce and what alternatives there are? Keep on reading to learn more!

Why Is Soy Sauce Not Gluten-Free?

Traditionally, most soy sauces are made out of soy and wheat, so calling it “soy sauce” can be misleading for people who need to avoid gluten.

Soy sauce contains crushed wheat (which is not gluten-free) and soy that ferments for a few days or longer.

Soy sauce can have a lot of wheat in it which can irritate those sensitive to gluten. Typically, the soy and wheat ratio in soy sauce is 1:1.

As a result, many brands will have gluten in them because soy sauce usually has wheat in it. It would be best to check the ingredients list before you buy soy sauce.

However, not all soy sauces will have gluten because there are some gluten-free brands that contain very little to no wheat. You may also check out gluten-free alternatives to soy sauce.

Is Dark Soy Sauce Gluten-Free?

Traditional dark soy sauce is not gluten-free because the main ingredient is crushed wheat. Consuming it can result in allergic reactions in gluten-intolerant individuals.

Is Light Soy Sauce Gluten-Free?

Light soy sauce is not gluten-free. Just like dark soy sauce, it also contains wheat. The difference between the two is in their salt content.

Is Tamari Soy Sauce Gluten-Free?

Tamari soy sauce, also known as shoyu, is gluten-free because it contains little to no wheat. Instead, its main ingredients are soy, organic alcohol, salt, and water.

The main process of creating tamari soy sauce is to ferment soybeans and occasionally very little wheat.

There are different fermentation processes for tamari that create different kinds of tamari which include sai-shikomi, usukuchi, shiro, and koikuchi.

Each kind of tamari soy sauce will vary in wheat content, flavor, and thickness. Luckily, most will be wheat and gluten-free.

Is Low Sodium Soy Sauce Gluten-Free?

Low sodium soy sauce may or may not be gluten-free. Refer to the ingredients list since most brands will state whether their products have gluten or wheat.

Is Kikkoman Gluten-Free?

Regular Kikkoman is not gluten-free because they contain small amounts of wheat. However, the Kikkoman brand does have a gluten-free line that you can check out.

Is La Choy Soy Sauce Gluten-Free?

La Choy soy sauce is gluten-free because it contains no wheat. Its main ingredients are water, corn syrup, salt, hydrolyzed soy protein, caramel color, and preservatives.

How Can I Tell If My Soy Sauce Contains Gluten?

The best way to know if your soy sauce has gluten is to check the ingredients list. If you see that your soy sauce contains wheat and gluten, you should not consume it.

Most companies will state whether their products contain wheat. But you can often tell by the color of the soy sauce. For instance, tamari soy sauces are typically darker whereas wheat in traditional soy sauces makes them look lighter.

Additionally, you can tell based on the taste of the soy sauce. Tamari soy sauces have a deep umami flavor while regular soy sauce has a sweeter flavor.

Are There Gluten-Free Soy Sauce Alternatives?

Are There Gluten-Free Soy Sauce Alternatives?

If you can’t find tamari in your nearby stores, there is no need to worry. There are many other gluten-free alternatives. Here are some that you can try!

1. Coconut Aminos

Coconut aminos are heavily salted and fermented coconut palm sap commonly used to replace soy sauce. They have strong umami and salty flavors with a touch of sweetness.

Moreover, coconut aminos are also excellent for people who are sensitive to soy because they do not contain soy either.

2. Liquid Aminos

Liquid aminos are liquid protein concentrates made out of soybeans, but they are not fermented like typical soy sauce. They contain no wheat, making them a safe gluten-free option.

Liquid aminos taste very similar to soy sauce, but they will have a milder and sweeter flavor compared to regular soy sauce.

3. Worcestershire Sauce

Worcestershire sauce is a fermented sauce that contains vinegar, anchovies, tamarind extract, garlic, sugar, salt, chili pepper extract, and molasses. It is wheat-free and has a flavor profile similar to soy sauce because of its umami flavors.

4. Dried Mushrooms

Dried mushrooms are low sodium, gluten-free, and soy-free alternatives to soy sauce. Typically, dried shiitake mushrooms are the ideal mushrooms to choose from.

Here is a quick guide on how to use dried mushrooms as a soy sauce substitute:

  • Clean your mushrooms under some cool running water.
  • Cut up your mushrooms and place them into a jar with a tight-fitting lid.
  • Soak your mushrooms in water to rehydrate them.
  • Let your mushrooms soak in the water for three days at room temperature, occasionally shaking the jar to mix everything well.
  • Remove the mushrooms from the liquid using a fine-mesh strainer or a cheesecloth.
  • Throw the mushrooms away.
  • Boil the liquid for several minutes, using a spoon to remove and discard any foam that appears.
  • Once cool, move the liquid into a clean jar with a tight-fitting lid and store in the fridge for a few days.

Dried mushroom sauce’s initial flavor and smell will be a bit sweet, but more umami flavors will develop after a few days. It can keep for a few months if stored in an airtight container in the fridge.

5. Miso Paste

Miso paste is very similar to soy sauce because they are both fermented, have savory and salty flavors, and contain salt and soybeans.

To use miso paste as a soy sauce substitute, blend your miso paste with some water and add to your dish as needed.

Miso paste will have a lighter flavor compared to soy sauce, but it will work in a pinch for some recipes. However, you need to check if your miso paste contains grains before you use it because some miso pastes will contain barley, which contains gluten.

6. Fish Sauce

Fish sauce is a flavorful sauce that is made out of krill or fish that is fermented for a few years. It has umami and savory flavors like soy sauce, adding the depth you need to a dish.

However, you cannot use fish sauce in equal amounts to soy sauce because fish sauce is very pungent and salty. You would want to use a lot less fish sauce in a recipe that calls for soy sauce.

7. Anchovies

Anchovies have the salty and savory flavors that you need from soy sauce. They will not work as a substitute for every recipe but they can be great for others.

For instance, chopping a few anchovies finely and mixing them into a curry and cooked sauces will be fine. Sauce-heavy dishes allow the anchovies to melt into the sauce so it will not be fishy.

8. Salt

Soy sauce is often used to season food so using plain-old salt can work in a pinch for some recipes. However, you will not get the umami flavor that soy sauce offers. Moreover, it will only work in recipes that call for a few dashes of soy sauce for flavor.

9. Maggi Seasoning

Maggi sauce or Maggi seasoning is a condiment made out of fermented wheat proteins, which is why it has a lot of umami and savory flavors. Maggi seasoning is similar to Vegemite but in liquid form.

However, you will want to add Maggi seasoning in small amounts to your dish because it is highly concentrated. That way, you will avoid over-seasoning your dish.

If you want to learn more about soy sauce, you can see our related posts on whether soy sauce is keto, if soy sauce is fermented, and if soy sauce is vinegar.


Traditional soy sauce is not gluten-free because most soy sauces contain a lot of wheat which is a kind of gluten. However, tamari soy sauce is a gluten-free option that you can enjoy.

Moreover, there are other gluten-free soy sauce alternatives that you can try such as liquid aminos, coconut aminos, and more!

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