Light Vs Dark Soy Sauce (Differences, Uses, Which Is Better + More)

Tons of recipes call for soy sauce because soy sauce adds lots of flavor, color, and texture to dishes, and these recipes may require different types of soy sauce.

However, you may be wondering if there is a difference between light and dark soy sauce. Well, I did the research, and here’s what I discovered!

Light Vs Dark Soy Sauce

Light soy sauce is a soy sauce that is lighter in color and taste, but light soy sauce is noticeably saltier in flavor. Dark soy sauce is darker in color with a sweet and salty taste. Light soy sauce is typically used as a seasoning while cooking or marinating food while dark soy sauce can be used to add color.

Are you still curious about the differences between light and dark soy sauce? Keep on reading to find out!

What Is Light Soy Sauce?

Light soy sauce is a type of soy sauce that has a thinner consistency than other soy sauces with a golden brown color.

Normally, light soy sauce is a lot saltier than other soy sauces yet the other flavors like umami are much milder, which is why light soy sauce is usually used as a seasoning.

Moreover, light soy sauce is more commonly used in Chinese cooking, particularly Cantonese cooking.

Generally, Chinese recipes that only say “soy sauce” often refer to light soy sauce.

What Is Dark Soy Sauce?

Dark soy sauce is a soy sauce with a slightly thicker consistency featuring a very dark brown or nearly black color, but the exact color will depend on the manufacturer.

For instance, Kikkoman’s dark soy sauce will appear reddish-brown and nearly black, whereas other dark soy sauces will be a deep brown.

Additionally, dark soy sauce has the traditional taste of soy sauce because dark soy sauce is salty and savor.

However, dark soy sauce also has noticeable notes of sweetness because manufacturers often add molasses or caramel to dark soy sauce.

Since dark soy sauce is a lot darker than its light soy sauce counterpart, dark soy sauce is excellent to add color to foods like fried rice.

What’s The Difference Between Light And Dark Soy Sauce?

What’s The Difference Between Light And Dark Soy Sauce?

Light soy sauce is created from the first pressing of the fermented soybeans, creating a “lighter” and milder soy sauce, hence the term light soy sauce.

Dark soy sauce is usually aged for a longer time, and many people mix dark soy sauce with caramel or molasses and cornstarch to create a darker and thicker soy sauce.

Other than having different colors, light soy sauce and dark soy sauce have different flavor profiles as well.

Dark soy sauce has a deeper and slightly sweeter flavor whereas light soy sauce is milder with a saltier taste.

What Do Light And Dark Soy Sauce Have In Common?

Light and dark soy sauce can both be used to add flavor to dishes because they both have their unique flavor profiles.

While light soy sauce is typically only used as a seasoning, both soy sauces can be used as a seasoning for cooking hot dishes.

What Do You Use Light Soy Sauce For?

Typically, light soy sauce is used as a seasoning for foods that need a salty yet not overwhelming flavor.

People often used light soy sauce during the seasoning and marinating stages of cooking, just as you would use salt.

Light soy sauce is ideal if you want to uplift the taste of rice, noodle, and meat dishes since light soy sauce works best while preparing hot foods.

However, light soy sauce will not work well in cold dishes or as a dip because of light soy sauce’s salty and mellow flavor.

What Do You Use Dark Soy Sauce For?

Since dark soy sauce has a dark color, dark soy sauce is often used to add color to foods like fried rice and stir-fries.

Normally, dark soy sauce works well in hot dishes like barbecue, stews, and pork recipes, and dark soy sauce can also function as an ingredient for a dipping sauce.

Which Is Better, Light Soy Sauce Or Dark Soy Sauce?

When looking at both soy sauces alone, neither light soy sauce nor dark soy sauce is better than the other.

Each of these soy sauces has its uses in the kitchen, meaning that neither one is particularly better to have than the other.

However, there is a better soy sauce to pick based on the recipe that you are making.

For instance, light soy sauce can shine best in soups that need a bit of saltiness whereas dark soy sauce can add color to a thick stew.

Therefore, it is best to have both light soy sauce and dark soy sauce in your kitchen to fit a variety of recipes.

Can You Substitute Light Soy Sauce For Dark Soy Sauce?

You can substitute light soy sauce for dark soy sauce by adding a pinch of sugar to your light soy sauce.

However, you will not get the deep color and caramelization from light soy sauce, but you can make up for some of the flavors that you would get from dark soy sauce.

Can You Substitute Dark Soy Sauce For Light Soy Sauce?

You can add a little water to dilute the dark soy sauce and a pinch of salt to mimic the color and flavor of light soy sauce.

However, you will not get the exact same color and taste as light soy sauce with this substitution.

Can I Use Light And Dark Soy Sauce Together?

Many people use light soy sauce and dark soy sauce in the same recipe since each soy sauce has its strengths.

For instance, people can use light soy sauce to add flavor to their stir-fry in the first steps of the cooking process then they can add dark soy sauce towards the end of the cooking to add more color.

Read our related articles to find out the best soy sauces for sushi, the most loved soy sauce brands, and what shoyu soy sauce is.


Light soy sauce and dark soy sauce are both soy sauces, but they have different flavor profiles, colors, and consistencies.

Moreover, light soy sauce and dark soy sauce have different uses in the kitchen, but people can use both soy sauces in certain recipes to add color and flavor.

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