Despite the boom of gluten-free products, it is still slim pickings if you're trying to find a gluten-free dark soy sauce.
The good news is that, while there used to be no options at all for gluten-free dark soy sauce, there are now a few on the market, plus a great way to make your own. We purchased three gluten-free dark soy sauces from leading brands and tried them. Take a look at the results below to help you decide which choice is right for you!
After Reading This Article, You Will…
- Understand what dark soy sauce is and whether it's necessary or not
- Learn where to find gluten-free dark soy sauce locally (or your best chance)
- Discover online stores that offer gluten-free dark soy sauce
- Get to know the 3 most popular gluten-free dark soy sauces, their tasting notes, prices, and where to find them (personally tested)
- Have access to a comprehensive FAQ section that covers any additional questions you have about gluten-free dark soy sauce
Dark Soy Sauce: Luxury or Necessity?
What we’re really asking is…
“Can you substitute regular soy sauce for dark?”
In a pinch, yes.
Regular soy sauce can mimic the salty component of dark soy sauce. However, what makes dark soy sauce indispensable is its unique, full-bodied flavor and deep color. It provides a sweet-salty balance and adds a rich hue that regular soy sauce simply can't replicate.
It's this combination of color and complexity that often makes dark soy sauce a key ingredient in dishes. So, while you can swap in regular soy sauce if you must, the depth of flavor and visual appeal dark soy sauce brings to a dish make it a practical necessity in a well-rounded kitchen.
Where to Buy Gluten-Free Dark Soy Sauce
Tracking down gluten-free dark soy sauce in a physical store can prove to be challenging. While Walmart's online store occasionally stocks gluten-free options from Lee Kum Kee and Rani, these specialized items can be elusive in brick-and-mortar locations.
In fact, even regular dark soy sauce can often be hard to find outside of Asian grocery stores.
Therefore, your most reliable bet is to shop online. For convenience, we've included links to gluten-free dark soy sauces that we've tested in the section below.
3 Gluten-Free Dark Soy Sauces — Taste Tested
General Info: This soy sauce is available on Amazon and Webstaurant. Unfortunately, it appears to be exclusively marketed towards the restaurant industry, as no smaller portion sizes are currently offered for individual consumers.
Price: Currently $13.99 (for 64 fl oz or ~ 2 L) through Webstaurant, but you’ll have to pay shipping without a membership. Which might make it cheaper through Amazon ($21.95) if you have free shipping via Prime.
Taste: This was my favorite of the three sauces. It is almost identical in taste to the standard dark soy sauce by the same brand that I keep on hand. Definitely worth the investment if you don’t mind having a lot on hand. (As a fermented condiment, opened soy sauce can safely last for months—or even a couple of years in your refrigerator. Peak flavor will start to diminish around the 1-year mark.)
General Info: I was only able to find this Megachef Kecap Manis through Milk Street Store, but it was easily purchased and arrived in a timely fashion with no issues. It’s also worth noting that it costs more than Lee Kum Kee for ¼ of the amount.
Price: $24.95 (for 16.9 fl oz or 500 ml)
Taste: Since this sauce is a “sweet dark soy sauce,” we can’t expect it to be the same as traditional dark soy sauce; I found this sauce had a very strong molasses flavor, and the consistency was almost like jelly. While it will work as a substitute, it is not my first choice for gluten-free dark soy sauces.
General Info: Easily accessible via Walmart.com, it shipped promptly and arrived without delays. Half the price of MegaChef’s kecap manis, and also half the amount.
Price: $10.99 (for 7 oz or 200 ml)
Taste: This sauce had a distinct tangy flavor to it that I liked and was very mildly sweet. Its texture was very similar to my bottle of Lee Kum dark soy sauce, and while the flavor was not exactly the same, I really enjoyed it and would recommend it as a good gluten-free dark soy sauce.
Making Your Own Gluten-Free Dark Soy Sauce
We wrote an article on how to make your own dark soy sauce. To make it gluten-free, simply pick up any gluten-free soy sauce at your local grocery store and use that in the recipe.
(Recipe coming very soon...)
Are There Any Drawbacks to Using Gluten-Free Dark Soy Sauce?
It can be tough to hunt down a bottle of gluten-free dark soy sauce in a store near you, which is why we’ve included tips for buying and making it at home above (honestly, it can even be tough to figure out where to buy regular dark soy sauce).
But once you locate a bottle, the only other downside is that you might notice a slight difference in the flavor or texture from the regular stuff. If you're after the gluten-free option with the closest resemblance to regular dark soy sauce, go with Lee Kum Kee’s version.
Why Are There So Few Gluten-Free Dark Soy Sauces Available?
Dark soy sauce is traditionally made with glutinous ingredients. And in the US, it's not as popular as in other countries, so there's still not a huge US market for gluten-free options. That's likely why companies haven't really started making gluten-free dark soy sauces yet.
While there still aren’t a ton of good gluten-free dark soy sauces on the market…
- Lee Kum Kee makes a fantastic sauce if you’re willing to buy in bulk.
- Rani is a great second choice if you want a smaller bottle without straying far off in terms of taste.
- MegaChef Kecap Manis is going to be your best bet if you want a sweet gluten-free dark soy sauce.
- Making your own gluten-free dark soy sauce is fun, easy, and will give you an extra measure of control in terms of flavor.