Liquid Aminos vs. Soy Sauce

February 24th, 2020

Soy sauce has become a common ingredient in most households, but did you know some artisans age bottles for up to 50 years? Most of us aren’t willing to wait that long (and are just as happy with an average bottle from the shelf). And nowadays there are a range of different types, including plenty of options for those looking to avoid soy sauce altogether, such as tamari, liquid aminos, and coconut aminos sauce. Today we’re looking more closely at the differences between liquid aminos and soy sauce, the benefits of each, and how to use them in daily cooking.

What Are Liquid Aminos?

Coconut aminos vs. soy sauce

Liquid aminos are made by submerging soybeans in an acidic chemical solution that helps the soy protein break down into amino acids. Next, the acid is neutralized with sodium bicarbonate (aka baking soda). The end result? A dark, salty sauce that has similar characteristics to soy sauce. Unlike coconut aminos, liquid aminos do contain soy, so it’s not a good pick if you’re trying to avoid this ingredient.

Liquid Aminos Benefits

Before you decide whether or not to add a bottle to your pantry, here are some liquid aminos nutrition facts. This product contains both essential and non-essential amino acids—the building blocks of protein—such as alanine, glycine, tyrosine, and valine. Each half-teaspoon serving has about 160mg of sodium, so this isn’t a good pick if you’re watching your sodium intake.

Bragg Liquid Aminos

When it comes to liquid aminos, Bragg makes one of the most popular options on the market. This sauce is made from two simple ingredients: non-GMO soybeans and purified water. Because this product is vegan, kosher, low in fat, and gluten-free, it’s a great option for many diets.

“I love adding this to stir-fry and fried rice instead of soy sauce—the flavor is amazing.”
—Marissa, Miss.

“I found this when starting keto and I’m never going back to regular soy sauce! It’s so much more flavorful, and adds a great depth of flavor to Asian cooking.”
—Elisabeth, Colo.

Liquid Aminos Recipes

You can use liquid aminos in most recipes that call for soy sauce—just make a quick substitution and you’ll be all set.

Yogi Lentil Bowl

Lentils are easy to cook and very nutritious, making them a great pick for fast lunches or dinners. This wholesome bowl features curry powder, honey, lemon, chili powder, and liquid aminos to give each bite lots of complex flavor.

Yogi lentil bowl

Coconut Bacon

Vegan bacon is definitely a thing, and we highly recommend making it. This recipe uses only four ingredients (like liquid aminos and coconut flakes) to deliver loads of sweet and salty flavor—perfect for crumbling over salads or soups.

Sheet-Pan Shrimp With Sesame Broccoli

Here’s a one-pan dinner that cooks in the oven—perfect for busy weeknights. Just toss shrimp and broccoli in liquid aminos, sesame oil, salt, and red pepper flakes.

What Is Soy Sauce?

In ancient China, soy sauce was used as a method to both preserve food and enhance its flavor. This longstanding Asian condiment is made from boiled, fermented soybean paste that’s mixed with water, salt, and sometimes a toasted grain such as wheat. For this reason, most soy sauces are not gluten-free—reach for tamari if you need a GF option.


Light vs. Dark Soy Sauce

There isn’t just one type of soy sauce—get to know the wide range of colors and flavors.

  • Light soy sauce. Light soy sauce tends to contain higher levels of roasted grains (like wheat) and tends to be the least expensive and mildest tasting option on the market.
  • Low sodium soy sauce. For anyone looking to limit sodium, choose a low sodium soy sauce. This option is typically made with vegetable protein extracts, and the soy sauce doesn’t go through the same fermentation process as traditional types.
  • Dark soy sauce. As the name suggests, dark soy sauce is richer in color due to its longer fermentation time. Check the labels, too—dark soy sauce often has caramel or molasses added.
  • Tamari. There is one kind of soy sauce that is good for gluten-free diets. Tamari is made predominantly with soybeans and no wheat. This gives it a slightly different flavor, although one that many consumers consider to be smoother and less salty. It also has high vitamin B3 content and slightly lower sodium than soy sauce (about 700 mg per serving), but it does contain naturally-occurring MSG like most soy sauces.

Soy Sauce Benefits

Because of the fermentation process, soy sauce is known for offering antioxidants, some protein, and isoflavones, which are a class of phytochemicals. That being said, traditional soy sauce also contains high levels of sodium, so use soy sauce sparingly (or eliminate it entirely) depending on your health needs.

Soy Sauce Recipes

A great alternative to soy sauce is tamari, which is a gluten-free substitute that tastes remarkably similar to soy sauce. Here are a few recipes highlighting this ingredient.

Gluten-Free Ramen

This gluten-free dish brings together steaming hot (and GF) noodles with rich bone broth, fresh ginger, and tamari.

Low Sugar Chicken Satay

The dipping sauce for this low sugar chicken satay is pretty addicting. It comes together with sunflower seed butter, curry paste, tamari, and honey—perfect for chicken, fish, pork, and more.

Nutty Sesame Carrot Noodles

Skip the noodles and enjoy a big bowl of carrots instead. This paleo-friendly dish is seasoned with nut butter, coconut aminos (or you can use tamari or soy sauce), coconut sugar, and ground ginger.

Nutty Sesame Carrot Noodles Recipe

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Nicole GulottaNicole Gulotta is a writer, author, and tea enthusiast.

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