How do these three sauces compare and which one is best for you?
They’re all condiments used in Asian style dishes, marinades and dressings. But soy sauce, tamari sauce and coconut aminos have subtle differences in taste and nutritional quality which are good to know, especially if you’re allergic to soy, wheat or you can’t eat foods containing gluten.
Soy sauce is probably the sauce we’re all most familiar with. It’s the condiment used to add flavour when cooking Asian style dishes like fried rice and stir-fries. It’s a fermented sauce that’s made from soybeans, wheat, water and salt. The wheat contained in soy sauce means that this sauce contains gluten so it is unsuitable for anyone needing to follow a strict gluten-free diet particularly in the case of coeliac disease.
In terms of its nutritional quality, regular soy sauce is high in sodium. It has about 850 mg per tablespoon. So so in context to our daily salt needs this is high. However, reduced sodium varieties probably have about half this amount making this a better alternative.
Soy sauce comes in light, regular and dark varieties depending on your preference. It has a strong smell with a smokey undertone, and a slightly sweet but salty taste making it great to add depth to Asian style cuisines.
Tamari is very similar to soy sauce but the main difference is that it doesn’t contain wheat. So this can make a great gluten-free alternative! Like soy sauce, tamari is also high in sodium but you can also purchase reduced sodium varieties too. Tamari looks, smells, tastes, and has a consistency almost identical to soy sauce. It maybe a little saltier but I was using a regular variety compared to a reduced sodium soy sauce when comparing these. So i’d say it’s comparable product with the added benefit of being gluten-free for anyone needing this alternative*
Coconut aminos is another alternative to soy sauce or tamari. It’s made from the sap of coconut blossoms, plus water and salt which makes this sauce soy-free and gluten-free! Therefore, it’s a good alternative for anyone who can’t eat soy or gluten. It’s called coconut aminos because this product contains a number of amino acids (these are the building blocks of protein which are needed by our bodies to build and repair tissues).
As far as I can see, coconut aminos are quite new. It’s not readily available in Australian supermarkets yet. Something that’s interesting with this sauce is that it has less sodium compared to soy and tamari sauces. Coconut aminos has more sugars in contrast to soy and tamari and you can taste the sweetness compared to the others. It also smells different, it’s lighter in colour but apart from that it’s quite comparable, I can see this being a great sauce for use in dressings and marinades.
Soy sauce, tamari and coconut aminos are all acceptable and comparable sauces to use to add flavour to Asian style dishes, marinades and dressings. They each have slightly different qualities especially coconut aminos in relation to its taste. If trying to choose between these three, I think that it will most likely come down to your dietary needs and preferences. If you’re unable to eat gluten or wheat, then tamari or coconut aminos are your go to! If you have a soy allergy, try the coconut aminos. Something I’d recommend is where possible is to try to purchase the reduced sodium varieties of soy sauce and tamari sauce to minimise your salt intake down or otherwise use sparingly.
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If you haven’t seen coconut aminos at your local store, here is a link to it on Amazon (aff).
The nutritional information found in this post is of a general nature only. If you need more specific information based on your unique situation please see a dietitian in your local area.
Always check labels to make sure that there are no trace allergens introduced during processing if following a strict gluten-free, wheat-free or soy-free diet.
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