9 Great Hoisin Sauce Substitutes
Hoisin sauce is a thick, fragrant, sweet, and salty condiment. Hoisin originated in China and has since become very popular the world over.
In Cantonese, hoisin means seafood, which is interesting because hoisin contains no seafood! It is made primarily with fermented soybeans and is completely vegetarian.
It also contains a variety of different seasonings and flavorings which vary depending on the brand, including fennel, chili peppers, garlic, five spice, garlic, vinegar, sweet potato starch, cornstarch, and sometimes wheat or rice.
Hoisin is primarily used as a stir fry sauce, glaze for meat (especially Peking duck!), as a marinade or dipping sauce. It is very dark in color and celebrated for its tangy flavor and versatility.
It should be relatively easy to find hoisin sauce at your local grocer, but if you can’t find it, try an Asian supermarket… they’ll be sure to carry it. If you cannot find it or need to replace hoisin, here are some excellent alternatives. Get ready to have your mouth water.
Teriyaki is an ancient Japanese sauce that is traditionally made with soy sauce, saki, and sugar, although modern versions include other flavorings.
Teriyaki is thinner than hoisin but thicker than soy sauce so it does make a good substitute! It shares the same salty, sweet flavor profile and the same rich, dark brown color and works great as a marinade, sauce, or dip!
2. Black Bean Sauce
Black bean sauce is very similar to hoisin because both are made from fermented beans. Hoisin is made from soybeans and is always smooth, whereas black bean sauce is often much thicker and almost paste-like and is sometimes chunky or gritty.
Both work great in sauces, stews, soups, or as dip. Black bean sauce may require some sugar to be added, but it will make an excellent alternative to hoisin as they are practically related!
3. Barbeque Sauce
Similar to teriyaki sauce and hoisin, barbeque sauce makes such a great condiment because it is both salty and sweet, tangy and robust.
Some barbeque sauces can be quite smoky, so it is wise to pick one that is primarily sweet and tangy as a replacement for hoisin. Barbeque sauces may also be very thick, so if you’re using it as a dip or marinade, you may need to thin it down slightly.
Barbeque sauce as a glaze for meat works perfectly as a substitute for hoisin! Let us know if you try it!
4. Soy Sauce
Also made from fermented soy, soy sauce is a rich, brown, salty sauce. Now, soy sauce is basically pure salt and umami, so if using it as a hoisin substitute, you will want to add some sweetener and possibly thicken it as soy sauce is much thinner than hoisin.
Soy sauce is typically very salty, though some less salty soy sauce variations are also available, so you’ll have to use less if used in a recipe for hoisin! Try using half the amount and then adding more if you need it, or adding soy sauce to any one of these ingredients and making a combination.
5. Fish Sauce
Fish sauce does not contain soy, but is made from fermented anchovies and is very strong in flavor! Fish sauce is a very popular dip in Thailand and Vietnam and is maybe even more popular than hoisin!
If you want to try using fish sauce as a replacement for hoisin, we recommend tasting it first to make sure you love the flavor because it is quite strong. You can mix it with some sugar and soy sauce to get the same flavor profile as hoisin sauce and use it as a delicious dip or to marinate seafood! Yum!
6. Worcestershire Sauce
Worcestershire, like soy sauce, is all salt and umami! This deep, brown English sauce is very popular for adding flavor to meat marinades and in soups, stock, sauces, etc.
It will not make a perfect substitute for hoisin, but it does have things in common, and you likely have a bottle of this in your cupboard! Worcestershire is more readily available, depending on where you live, so if it’s all you’ve got, it is a good option!
Consider adding some chilies, garlic, and some of the spices you might find in Cantonese cooking!
7. Oyster Sauce
Oyster sauce is one of the best hoisin substitutes because it is the same color and thickness and has similar flavors.
The main difference is that oyster sauce is not vegetarian and contains seafood, and tends to be more pungent than hoisin, so you may want to start by using half the amount of hoisin and then increase as you go.
It also doesn’t contain much sugar and may be slightly bitter, but by stirring in a spoon of brown sugar to your oyster sauce, you have a great hoisin replacement! You can use this as a tasty stir fry sauce or marinade, or a dip for egg rolls, spring rolls, or on noodles and rice.
8. Miso Paste
If your recipe requires hoisin as an ingredient that you are heating, mixing, or blending, miso paste is a good option… just make sure you also add a bit of sugar, as miso paste does not typically contain sugar.
Miso paste is a full-bodied, complex condiment and flavoring agent that adds a lot of depth to recipes that need a flavor punch and some added salt.
Miso might be made with soybeans, but it also may be made with chickpeas, lentils, or black beans. Miso paste is also quite thick, so you’ll want to thin it out with some soy or fish sauce.
9. Kecap Manis
Kecap Manis is also known as sweet soy sauce, which is probably the closest you can get to hoisin! Kecup Manis is both sweet, salty, and tangy, and often contain similar ingredients to hoisin. However, it is sometimes a little too sweet and may benefit from a splash of vinegar or lime juice.
You may also want to add some five spice or other spices to this condiment, to make it taste more like hoisin. We recommend this condiment as a perfect alternative for hoisin and think you’ll find many other uses for Kecap Manis as soon as you try it!
Hoisin sauce is a delicious condiment that you may already have and be used to, but if you’ve never tried it, what are you waiting for? Hoisin sauce is an integral part of Chinese cuisine and it’s easy to see why. It offers sweetness, sourness, tanginess, richness, and complexity to any dish, including soups, stews, noodles, and rice, and is sometimes even good enough to eat on its own.
Some households make it from scratch and thicken it on their own stoves, but there is no need for you to do this… hoisin sauce is available at any store! If you cannot find hoisin, however, any one of these alternatives will make fine substitutions, and who knows, maybe you’ll find another combination to love!