• 10 Best Soy Sauces in 2022 (Chef-Reviewed) 1
  • 10 Best Soy Sauces in 2022 (Chef-Reviewed) 2
  • 10 Best Soy Sauces in 2022 (Chef-Reviewed) 3
  • 10 Best Soy Sauces in 2022 (Chef-Reviewed) 4
  • 10 Best Soy Sauces in 2022 (Chef-Reviewed) 5

10 Best Soy Sauces in 2022 (Chef-Reviewed)

Soy sauce is a versatile and common condiment used across the world to add a distinctly salty yet savory taste to many dishes, from traditional cultural dishes such as chicken adobo to more casual dishes such as fried rice. However, soy sauce can vary drastically in taste and texture across types, brands, and country of origin. Some sauces are sweeter and more viscous, while others are more salty and thin.


Due to the plethora of soy sauce types and brands, finding the ideal sauce has become difficult. To help, we combed through reviews to compile a list of the 10 best soy sauces. Heading off our list is the classic Kikkoman Less Sodium Soy Sauce for its well-rounded flavor and low sodium health benefits. To see why we selected this and the other soy sauces, check out our buying guide. It contains some tips and suggestions on how to pick the best soy sauce for your culinary needs.

Featured in this article

Jim Quast
mybest US Editors
  • Last updated: 08-29-2022
Table of Contents

How to Choose a Soy Sauce - Buying Guide

There are various categories for you to consider before choosing a soy sauce, including types of soy sauce, the production process, and the style. Depending on the region and type that you choose, you can hone in on the perfect flavor for your dishes!

Choose a Style of Soy Sauce

While all soy sauces may look the same in their bottles, there are many distinctions between light and dark soy sauces, which stems from their length of aging. Reaching for the wrong style of soy sauce can make an otherwise delicious dish taste off-putting.

Light Options for a Straightforward Salty Flavor

Light Options for a Straightforward Salty Flavor

Light soy sauce is aged for little to no time, making its color light, texture thin, and flavor fresh and salty. The straightforward flavor makes this soy sauce great for use in quickly cooked dishes where the added salt won't affect the overall flavor profile, such as soups and stir fries.


Plus, since it won't affect the color of your dish much, light soy sauce is also used for dishes where having a light color matters, such as with delicate white fish and clear broths.

Dark Options for Rich, Bold Flavor

Dark Options for Rich, Bold Flavor

Dark soy sauce, depending on the product, can be aged for just a year or for several decades. That aging process makes the soy sauce dark and viscous. Plus, the flavor becomes more full-bodied and robust. Some cultures add sugar or molasses to make the flavor even more complex.


Because it has such a strong flavor, dark soy sauce works well in braised dishes and marinades, especially if you want your dish to look darker. For example, it is used in Northern Chinese stir fries and Shanghai 'red-cooked' meat dishes to make them look more caramelized.

Consider the Country of Origin

Just as every culture's cuisine offers a distinct flavor profile, so does each country's soy sauce. While there is no hard rule preventing you from using a Japanese soy sauce in a Korean dish, using a soy sauce that matches the dish you are making will ensure a consistent flavor.

Japanese Soy Sauces Offer Variety

Japanese Soy Sauces Offer Variety
Most Japanese soy sauces are brewed with wheat. This creates a sweeter note in the sauce compared to other countries. Since Japanese cuisine heavily utilizes soy sauce as a base flavor, there are many kinds of Japanese soy sauce to select from.


The most commonly used is dark soy sauce, or koikuchi, as it offers a balance between saltiness and savoriness. If you are familiar with Kikkoman's regular soy sauce, then you know what koikuchi tastes like. On the other hand, light soy sauce, or usukuchi, is mainly paired with lighter foods, such as dashi stock or lean meats.

Japanese Soy Sauces Offer Variety

For more specialized meals, you can use specialized soy sauces as well. For example, shiro soy sauce, or white soy sauce, is made with a low proportion of soybeans to a high amount of wheat. This makes for a very light colored sauce. It's frequently used to make tamagoyaki, a rolled egg omelet, and chawanmushi, an egg custard.


There is also tamari, which is technically not a soy sauce, as it is a byproduct of miso production. However, since it is usually created without wheat, it makes for a gluten-free alternative to soy sauce. Just be warned that some modern tamari brands do use wheat in their products, so double check labels when purchasing.

Chinese Soy Sauces for Bold Flavor

Chinese Soy Sauces for Bold Flavor

Chinese soy sauces are brewed with little to no wheat, creating a more solidly savory flavor. One thing to note is that  Americanized brands categorize Chinese soy sauces in two categories: light and dark. However, soy sauces imported from China won't be labeled similarly, unless they're from Southern China. If you're looking for a particular sauce, read carefully!


Light soy sauces, also called thin or superior soy sauces, are considered all-purpose soy sauce in Cantonese cuisine. As the flavor is salty and straightforward, it's used in everything from light dishes to stir fries to dipping sauces.


Dark soy sauce, also called black soy sauce, has a sweet flavor and thick consistency. It's used more in slow and long cooking, such as braises and red-cooked dishes. For example, when making a dish that celebrates soy sauce, such as red braised pork belly, dark soy sauce provides a rich, caramel color and sweet undertone.

Korean Soy Sauce for Korean Cooking

Korean Soy Sauce for Korean Cooking
The first kind of Korean soy sauce is soup soy sauce, or guk ganjang. Also known as Joseon soy sauce, or joseon ganjang, this is the original, traditional soy sauce of Korea. It's has a light color and salt-forward taste. It's most commonly used in soups and stews, but also marinades, vegetable side dishes, and salads.

The other kind of Korean soy sauce is all-purpose soy sauce, or ganjang. Ganjang is analogous to dark soy sauce due to its dark color and complex flavor. As it's all-purpose, it can be used in nearly every kind of cooking, from stir-frying and braising to marinating and grilling, as well as for dipping sauces.


Depending on how it's made, ganjang has specific names. Naturally brewed ganjang is called yangjo ganjang. A mix of chemically and naturally brewed ganjang is called jin ganjang. There are recipes that call for jin ganjang, even though it has a processed flavor, due to it being nostalgic. However, if you want to avoid chemicals, you can easily sub in yangjo ganjang.

Thai, Indonesian, or Taiwanese Soy Sauce for a Sweet Note

Thai, Indonesian, or Taiwanese Soy Sauce for a Sweet Note

Thai light soy sauce is milder than East Asian ones, making it versatile. Thai dark soy sauce has a unique flavor profile characterized by higher sweetness and thicker consistency. There are flavored options, such as mushroom, and there's a specific variety called Thai sweet dark soy sauce. This is the sweetest on offer, often used as a dipping sauce.

Indonesia is known for its signature soy sauce, called kecap manis. It is thick and sweet, perfect for iconic Indonesian dishes like nasi goreng, or fried rice, and ayam kecap, or roasted chicken. For a medium sweet soy sauce, there's kecap manis sedang. Finally, there's the kecap asin, which is similar to Chinese light soy sauce.

Taiwanese soy sauce also has a notable variant, soy paste. It is soy sauce cooked with rice starch, giving it a more viscous texture. Plus, the rice starch adds a note of sweetness. The final product has the texture of oyster sauce, and a balance of soy and sweet flavors.

Consider the Production Process

Regarding the production process, there are two styles: traditional and chemical. Each type has its pros and cons that should be considered before purchasing.

Traditional Methods for a Rich Taste

Traditional Methods for a Rich Taste

For this method, soybeans are soaked in water and fermented with wheat and salt. The process can take up to five to eight months, sometimes even longer for specialty brands, since this method uses natural fermentation agents. 


Compared to soy sauce made from chemical processes, the price is a bit more expensive. Yet, the taste is richer and more complex. For some types of soy sauce such as thick and dark soy sauce, sugar, amino acids, or starches are added to create umami flavor during the fermentation process.

Chemical Production Offers a Lighter Flavor

Chemical Production Offers a Lighter Flavor

Chemical processes involve the use of hydrolysis to shorten the fermentation time from months to only a few days. The price is more affordable than a traditional brewed method.


However, its color and taste aren't as rich as those made from a natural brewed method, so coloring, salt, and extra flavor tend to be added afterward.

Pay Attention to the Type of Soy

Pay Attention to the Type of Soy

When choosing ingredients to make soy sauce, factories have two options for soybeans: natural soybeans or defatted soybeans. For soy sauce with natural soybeans, the oil content left in the beans helps form glycerol, adding a subtle fatty and rich flavor to the sauce. 


Meanwhile, soybeans that have been defatted bring to the soy sauce a light, pleasant taste. Each type of soybean gives the soy sauce its own uniqueness. Based on your preferences, you can choose the flavor profile best suited to you.

Consider Reduced Sodium or Flavored Options

Consider Reduced Sodium or Flavored Options

If you have dietary restrictions but crave soy sauce's taste, don't fret. Many brands offer reduced sodium versions, especially for their light soy sauces. Companies can remove around 20 to 50 percent of the salt from their soy sauces after brewing. This is great if you need to reduce your intake or want to control how salty your dishes get.


Getting a flavored soy sauce is a great way to add an extra punch to your dishes. There is soy sauce made with dashi, a Japanese broth of kelp and dried fish, which can be used for soup, stir-fried vegetables, and stews. Other choices are mushroom or vegetable soy sauce. There's even MSG seasoned soy sauce for boosted flavor.

10 Best Soy Sauces

To find the best of the best, we combed through reviews on Amazon for soy sauces recommended by users. Factoring in our criteria, here are the top 10 soy sauces to help you cook the most delicious meals possible.


*Please note that these products were chosen after extensive research by mybest writers. The choices are not necessarily affiliated with or recommended by Jim Quast. For more on our selection process, check out our content policy.

Image
Kikkoman Less Sodium Soy Sauce 1

Kikkoman

Lee Kum Kee Premium Dark Soy Sauce 1

Lee Kum Kee

Chung Jung One Naturally Brewed Soy Sauce 1

Chung Jung One

ABC Sweet Soy Sauce Kecap Manis 1

ABC

Pearl River Bridge Golden Label Superior Light Soy Sauce 1

Pearl River Bridge

San-J Tamari Gluten-Free Soy Sauce 1

San-J

Healthy Boy Brand Mushroom Soy Sauce 1

Healthy Boy Brand

Sempio Jin-S Soy Sauce 1

Sempio

Bourbon Barrel Foods Bluegrass Soy Sauce 1

Bourbon Barrel Foods

Kimlan Soy Paste 1

Kimlan

Name

Less Sodium Soy Sauce

Premium Dark Soy Sauce

Naturally Brewed Soy Sauce

Sweet Soy Sauce Kecap Manis

Golden Label Superior Light Soy Sauce

Tamari Gluten-Free Soy Sauce

Mushroom Soy Sauce

Jin-S Soy Sauce

Bluegrass Soy Sauce

Soy Paste

Features

Best All-Purpose Soy Sauce With Less Salt

Best Dark Soy Sauce to Bring Out Flavors in Stir Fry

Best Soy Sauce for Soups and Soupy Dishes

Best for a Sweet, Then Salty Taste

Best Light Soy Sauce for Fresh, Salty Flavor

Best Gluten-Free Tamari

Best Flavor Bomb Soy Sauce With Mushroom Extract

Best All-Purpose Korean Soy Sauce

Best American Soy Sauce With a Hint of Oak and Bourbon

Best Soy Sauce for Dipping or Drizzling

Price$2.94$3.99$6.99$8.30$3.99$12.99$5.75$5.99$10.32$3.89
StyleKoikuchi (dark) soy sauceDark soy sauceSoup (dark) soy sauceDark soy sauceLight soy sauceTamariDark soy sauceLight soy sauceDark soy sauce Soy paste
OriginJapanChina (Hong Kong)South KoreaIndonesiaChinaJapanThailandSouth KoreaUSATaiwan
Production methodNatural brewNatural brewNatural brewNatural brewNatural open-air brewNatural brewNatural brewMix of natural and chemical brewMicro brewNatural brew
SoybeansNot specifiedNon-GMO soybeans Whole defatted soybeansWhole soybeansWhole soybeansNon GMO soybeansDefatted soybeansNon-GMO defatted soybeansWhole non-GMO soybeansWhole soybeans
Flavor profileLightly saltySweet, slightly thick, saltySalty, brinySweet, saltySalty, with a hint of sweetnessSavoryMushroom flavored, salty, sweetRobust and saltyAroma of oak and bourbon Salty, slight sweet, thick
Amount15 oz.16.9 oz. 16.9 oz.20.2 oz.16.9 oz. 10 oz. 23.5 oz.29.8 oz.3.3 oz. 20 oz.
Link

KikkomanLess Sodium Soy Sauce

$2.94

StyleKoikuchi (dark) soy sauce
OriginJapan
Production methodNatural brew
SoybeansNot specified
Flavor profileLightly salty
Amount15 oz.
StyleDark soy sauce
OriginChina (Hong Kong)
Production methodNatural brew
SoybeansNon-GMO soybeans
Flavor profileSweet, slightly thick, salty
Amount16.9 oz.
StyleSoup (dark) soy sauce
OriginSouth Korea
Production methodNatural brew
SoybeansWhole defatted soybeans
Flavor profileSalty, briny
Amount16.9 oz.
StyleDark soy sauce
OriginIndonesia
Production methodNatural brew
SoybeansWhole soybeans
Flavor profileSweet, salty
Amount20.2 oz.

Pearl River BridgeGolden Label Superior Light Soy Sauce

$3.99

StyleLight soy sauce
OriginChina
Production methodNatural open-air brew
SoybeansWhole soybeans
Flavor profileSalty, with a hint of sweetness
Amount16.9 oz.

San-JTamari Gluten-Free Soy Sauce

$12.99

StyleTamari
OriginJapan
Production methodNatural brew
SoybeansNon GMO soybeans
Flavor profileSavory
Amount10 oz.
StyleDark soy sauce
OriginThailand
Production methodNatural brew
SoybeansDefatted soybeans
Flavor profileMushroom flavored, salty, sweet
Amount23.5 oz.
StyleLight soy sauce
OriginSouth Korea
Production methodMix of natural and chemical brew
SoybeansNon-GMO defatted soybeans
Flavor profileRobust and salty
Amount29.8 oz.
StyleDark soy sauce
OriginUSA
Production methodMicro brew
SoybeansWhole non-GMO soybeans
Flavor profileAroma of oak and bourbon
Amount3.3 oz.
StyleSoy paste
OriginTaiwan
Production methodNatural brew
SoybeansWhole soybeans
Flavor profileSalty, slight sweet, thick
Amount20 oz.

What Is Soy Sauce?

What Is Soy Sauce?

Soy sauce is a condiment traditionally used in Southeast and East Asian cuisine. The main ingredients in soy sauce include soybeans, wheat, salt, and fermenting agents such as yeast or mold. The first step to produce soy sauce is to put mold into a mixture of soy and wheat and let it ferment. Afterward, the mix is poured into saltwater.


To give soy sauce a deep, rich taste, the quality of the ingredients and production method are of utmost importance. Each brand has its own fermentation process and source of ingredients. That's why there are differences between different brands' soy sauces.


Soy sauce is low in calories, approximately eight per tablespoon. It is a good source of vitamin B3, amino acids, and minerals such as iron, phosphorous, and manganese. It is also vegan-friendly.

Want to Try Other Kinds of Sauces?

We've reviewed other soy-based sauces that are great for all kinds of cuisines. Check out the links below to find out more.

Amazon's Best Selling Soy Sauces

Want to see what other reviewers are saying? Check out Amazon's list of best selling soy sauces!

Buying Guide Reviewed by Executive R&D Chef Jim Quast

Jim Quast
Executive R&D Chef
Jim Quast

This expert reviewed the contents of the buying guide for accuracy and provided factual corrections when necessary. They did not participate in the product selection process, nor are they affiliated with any of our choices unless explicitly stated so.

Author: Thuy Nguyen

Updated by: S. Baik, 3/29/2022

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