Best Substitutes For Fish Sauce

best substitutes for fish sauce

Fish sauce is a popular condiment in many Asian cuisines, known for its unique umami flavor. It is made from fermented fish and salt, giving dishes a savory and slightly fishy taste. However, fish sauce may not be readily available or suitable for everyone, particularly those following a vegetarian or vegan diet or with fish allergies. In such cases, finding a suitable substitute becomes essential to achieve the desired flavors in your dishes.

Key Takeaways

  • Fish sauce is a popular condiment known for its umami flavor.
  • Some people may need to find substitutes due to dietary restrictions or allergies.
  • There are several options to replace fish sauce, including soy sauce, miso paste, and seaweed.
  • Choosing the right substitute depends on the dish and personal preference.

Why You Need A Substitute For Fish Sauce

There are several reasons why you may need a substitute for fish sauce.

Vegetarian Or Vegan Diet

Fish sauce is made from fish, and therefore, it is not suitable for those following a vegetarian or vegan diet. If you are looking for a plant-based alternative, you can find suitable substitutes that offer similar umami flavors.

Fish Allergies

Some individuals have allergies to fish and therefore cannot consume fish sauce. In such cases, finding a substitute is crucial to avoid any allergic reactions while still enjoying the flavors in your dishes.


Fish sauce may not be available in some regions or may be difficult to find in local stores. In such cases, it is helpful to know about alternative options that can be easily found and used to replace fish sauce in recipes.

Types Of Substitutes For Fish Sauce

A bowl of fish sauce

When it comes to finding a substitute for fish sauce, there are several options to choose from. The best substitute depends on the specific dish you are preparing, personal taste preferences, and dietary restrictions. Here are some common types of fish sauce substitutes:

  1. Soy Sauce
  2. Miso Paste
  3. Worcestershire Sauce
  4. Seaweed
  5. Mushroom Sauce

Best Substitutes For Fish Sauce

A bowl of fish sauce

Now let’s explore some of the best substitutes for fish sauce and their unique qualities:

1. Soy Sauce

Soy sauce is a versatile condiment that offers a similar umami flavor as fish sauce. Made from fermented soybeans, salt, and other ingredients, soy sauce is readily available and can be found in most grocery stores. It adds depth and saltiness to dishes and works well as a substitute for fish sauce in many recipes.

Pro Tip:

When using soy sauce as a substitute for fish sauce, reduce the amount initially and adjust to taste, as soy sauce tends to be saltier.

2. Miso Paste

Miso paste is a traditional Japanese ingredient made from fermented soybeans and grains, such as rice or barley. It has a rich umami flavor and adds depth to dishes, making it a suitable substitute for fish sauce. Miso paste can be found in different varieties, such as white, yellow, and red, each with a distinct flavor profile. Experimenting with different types can help you find the perfect match for your dish.

3. Worcestershire Sauce

Worcestershire sauce is a British condiment that can be used as a substitute for fish sauce due to its tangy and savory taste. While it does not provide the exact fishy flavor of fish sauce, Worcestershire sauce offers a complex blend of flavors that can enhance the taste of your dishes. It contains ingredients like vinegar, molasses, tamarind, and various spices, creating a unique and robust flavor.

4. Seaweed

Seaweed is a natural and nutritious substitute for fish sauce, providing a hint of the oceanic taste without the use of fish. Dried seaweed, such as kombu or kelp, can be used to infuse broths and sauces with umami flavors. Simply simmer the seaweed in water or broth and use the infused liquid as a replacement for fish sauce. This method works exceptionally well in Asian dishes like soups, stir-fries, and marinades.

5. Mushroom Sauce

Mushroom sauce, made from mushrooms, herbs, and seasonings, can be a flavorful substitute for fish sauce. It offers a rich and earthy taste that can enhance the umami profile of your dishes. Mushroom sauce can be easily made at home or purchased from stores. It is particularly suitable for vegetarian and vegan diets, providing a meaty flavor without the use of animal products.

Choosing The Right Substitute For Fish Sauce

A bowl of fish sauce umami

When choosing a substitute for fish sauce, consider the following factors:

  1. Flavor Profile: Consider the flavor profile of each substitute and how well it complements the other ingredients in your dish. Some substitutes may offer a closer match to fish sauce, while others may have a unique taste that can enhance the overall flavor.

  2. Saltiness: Fish sauce is salty, so it’s important to choose a substitute that provides a similar level of saltiness. Adjust the quantity based on the saltiness of the substitute you choose, and taste as you go to ensure the dish is properly seasoned.

  3. Dietary Restrictions: Consider any dietary restrictions, such as vegetarian, vegan, or gluten-free. Choose a substitute that aligns with your dietary needs and preferences.

  4. Availability: Assess the availability of the substitute in your region. Opt for substitutes that are easily accessible to ensure convenience in your cooking.

Cooking With Substitutes For Fish Sauce

A bowl of fish sauce umami

When cooking with substitutes for fish sauce, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Start with a smaller amount of the substitute and adjust to taste gradually. This will prevent overpowering the dish with the substitute’s flavor.
  • If the substitute is not as salty as fish sauce, you may need to add some additional salt to your recipe.
  • Follow the cooking instructions for each substitute to ensure it is used correctly. Some substitutes may require different cooking methods or temperatures.

Recipes Using Substitutes For Fish Sauce

fish sauce

Here are some delicious recipes that use substitutes for fish sauce:

  1. Vegan Pad Thai
  • 8 ounces rice noodles
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce (substitute for fish sauce)
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon peanut oil
  • 1 cup diced tofu
  • 1 cup bean sprouts
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced carrots
  • 1/4 cup chopped peanuts
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • Lime wedges for serving


  1. Cook the rice noodles according to package instructions and set aside.

  2. In a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce (substitute for fish sauce), lime juice, and maple syrup. Set aside.

  3. Heat peanut oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add tofu and cook until golden and crispy, about 5 minutes. Remove tofu from the skillet and set aside.

  4. In the same skillet, add bean sprouts and carrots. Cook for 2-3 minutes until slightly tender.

  5. Add the cooked rice noodles to the skillet, along with the soy sauce mixture. Toss to coat the noodles and vegetables evenly.

  6. Remove from heat and top with chopped peanuts and green onions.

  7. Serve with lime wedges on the side.

  8. Vegetarian Caesar Salad Dressing

  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (substitute for fish sauce)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Croutons for serving
  • Romaine lettuce for serving


  1. In a small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce (substitute for fish sauce), minced garlic, and grated Parmesan cheese.
  2. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Toss the dressing with freshly chopped romaine lettuce.
  4. Top with croutons and additional grated Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Storage And Shelf Life Of Substitutes

fish sauce

The storage and shelf life of substitutes for fish sauce vary depending on the specific substitute. Here are some general guidelines:

  • Soy Sauce: Store soy sauce in a cool, dry place and keep it tightly sealed. It can last for up to three years but may lose some flavor over time after opening.
  • Miso Paste: Refrigerate miso paste after opening to maintain its freshness. It can last for several months when stored properly.
  • Worcestershire Sauce: Worcestershire sauce can be stored at room temperature and has a long shelf life. Just make sure to keep it tightly sealed.
  • Seaweed: Store dried seaweed in a cool, dry place. It can last for several months to a year when stored properly.
  • Mushroom Sauce: Store homemade mushroom sauce in the refrigerator and use within a week. Store-bought mushroom sauce may have a longer shelf life, so check the label for storage instructions.


While fish sauce is widely used in many Asian recipes, finding a suitable substitute is essential for those with dietary restrictions or allergies. Soy sauce, miso paste, Worcestershire sauce, seaweed, and mushroom sauce are all excellent alternatives that provide similar umami flavors. Experiment with different substitutes to find the perfect match for your taste preferences and the dish you are preparing. Remember to adjust the quantity and seasoning to ensure the desired flavors are achieved. With these substitutes, you can enjoy delicious dishes without compromising on taste.


What Are Some Of The Best Substitutes For Fish Sauce In Cooking?

Some of the best substitutes for fish sauce in cooking include soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, miso paste, oyster sauce, and vegan fish sauce alternatives. These substitutes can be used in various dishes to provide an umami-rich flavor that fish sauce typically brings to a dish.

Are There Any Vegan Options For Fish Sauce Substitutes?

Yes, there are many vegan options for fish sauce substitutes. Some common vegan fish sauce alternatives include mushroom sauce, seaweed, and soy sauce mixed with mushroom seasoning or seaweed powder. These options provide a similar umami flavor to fish sauce without the use of animal products.

Can Worcestershire Sauce Be Used As A Direct Substitute For Fish Sauce?

Yes, Worcestershire sauce can be used as a direct substitute for fish sauce, as it has a similar umami-rich flavor. However, it is slightly sweeter than fish sauce, so it is important to keep this in mind when using it in recipes.

Is Miso Paste A Good Substitute For Fish Sauce?

Yes, miso paste is a good substitute for fish sauce, as it provides a similar umami flavor to dishes. However, miso paste is slightly thicker than fish sauce, so it may need to be thinned out with a small amount of water before using it in recipes.

What Are The Advantages Of Using Vegan Fish Sauce Substitutes Over Traditional Fish Sauce?

There are many advantages to using vegan fish sauce substitutes over traditional fish sauce. Vegan substitutes are more environmentally friendly, as they do not require the capture and processing of fish. They are also more inclusive for those who follow vegetarian or vegan diets, or those who have fish allergies. Additionally, vegan alternatives are often cheaper and more widely available than traditional fish sauce.

  • 7 Best Fish Sauce Substitutes – Parade
  • What is the best fish sauce substitute? – Medical News Today
  • The 10 Absolute Best Fish Sauce Substitutes – Tasting Table
  • About the Author Jenny

    I'm Jenny, a housewife with an unwavering passion for food. My culinary journey began with my grandmother's kitchen, and it's now a full-fledged food blog. I've turned my love for cooking into a creative outlet, sharing recipes and stories with a global community of fellow food enthusiasts. It's proof that being a housewife can also mean pursuing your passions and savoring life's delectable moments.