Liquid aminos is a gluten-free all purpose seasoning that is made from water and soybeans. It was created as an alternative to many of the Asian-style sauces – offered as a low-salt alternative without the use of wheat or animal products. A splash of liquid aminos adds salty, savory flavor to dishes. Casseroles, curries, soups, stir-fries, or any slow-cooked meal all get a delicious boost of flavor from it.
If you’re unable to get your hands on this product, or you can’t eat it for dietary reasons, then you’re going to need a liquid aminos substitute. We’ve done the research to bring you five excellent alternatives that will allow you to finish that recipe without it. Be sure to check out the summary table further down the page for a quick comparison of all the backup options.
5 liquid aminos substitutes
Tamari is a dark flavorsome sauce that is made from fermented soybeans. It is an excellent substitute for liquid aminos, sharing a similar flavor profile. Of all the options on this list, tamari is the best replacement. You will find that it isn’t a perfect match though; its flavor is richer and it has a darker color. For most recipes though, you’re fine to use the two ingredients interchangeably.
2. Soy sauce
Soy sauce is a dark brown (almost black) liquid that adds a lot of savory umami flavor to food. It is saltier and less tangy than liquid aminos, but once it has been cooked with other ingredients, the difference will be barely noticeable.
There are many variations of soy sauce and, in this case, we are talking about light soy sauce which is most common in the United States. If you’re coeliac then soy sauce may not be suitable for your diet. There are some gluten-free products available but be sure to read the ingredients label carefully.
3. Coconut aminos
Coconut aminos is a liquid seasoning that is made in a similar way to liquid aminos; the salt, coconut blossom nectar and sap are fermented to create a salty and slightly sweet flavor combination. This flavor enhancer can be used in any recipe that calls for liquid aminos.
Coconut aminos offers two significant advantages over liquid aminos. First, it is paleo-friendly so if you’re on this diet then this it's a good choice. Second, it is lower in salt than the other options on this list. If you’re trying to reduce your sodium intake then this, once again, this is the product for you.
4. Fish sauce
Fish sauce is an excellent flavor enhancer, adding delicious earthy, umami goodness to food. Baked tomatoes, roasted mushrooms, stir-fries, and casseroles all benefit from the addition of fish sauce. If you need a replacement for liquid aminos then fish sauce will do an excellent job of filling the gap.
Fish sauce is a potent ingredient that adds a pungent fishy, salty flavor to meals if too much is used. In most recipes, a splash or two is enough.
It is worth noting that fish sauce is higher in salt content than liquid aminos. If you’re trying to reduce your sodium intake then try to use this sauce in moderation, or look at other options on this list, such as coconut aminos.
It’s good practice to keep a can of anchovies in the cupboard, even if you despise intensely salty fish. Adding one or two of these tiny fish will provide a delicious layer of savory, salty flavor without overpowering the dish. Slow-cooked in a pasta sauce or stew, the taste of the fish pacifies.
Which flavorant is suitable for your diet?
If you have special dietary requirements then check out the table below. It will show you if the ingredient is gluten-free, plant-based, and paleo.
|Soy sauce||Check label||No||No|
|Fish sauce||Check label||No||Yes|
A nutritional comparison
Here is a nutritional breakdown of each product, based on a one teaspoon serving. You'll notice that calories and sugar are low for all the options on this page. However, the sodium content should be looked at if you're trying to reduce your salt intake.
Source: Calorie King
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Fast facts about liquid aminos
- To make liquid aminos the protein in soybeans is broken down using hydrochloric acid. The acid is then neutralized with the help of sodium bicarbonate. The result is a salty-tasting liquid that contains amino acids.
- The ingredient is a useful source of protein and amino acids.
- Use liquid aminos in dips, dressings, sauces, stews, marinades, and anywhere that savory flavor is needed.
- Although the manufacturer Bragg is the market leader in producing liquid aminos, there are other options on the market, but we found them hard to find!
Liquid aminos is a handy ingredient to have in the kitchen, allowing the home cook to easily boost the flavor of food. However, its flavor won’t be to everyone’s liking and some can’t eat it for dietary reasons. If you enjoy cooking with Asian sauces then tamari, soy sauce, or fish sauce are all good options.
Coconut aminos ticks all the boxes if you want a gluten-free, plant-based, or paleo ingredient. The added benefit of using coconut aminos is that it’s your best low-salt option, with just 90mg of sodium per teaspoon.
For a more rustic approach to your cooking, toss in an anchovy fillet for added saltiness and umami flavor. The Italians have been using this technique for centuries and it works a treat.
If you’re looking for an alternative to liquid aminos, what is your reason for needing it? Is it the flavor or some other reason? Please let us know in the comments below to help us further improve this article.