Is soy sauce gluten-free? Find out in this article where I share what your options for soy sauce are on a gluten-free diet.
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What is soy sauce?
Soy sauce is a fermented soy product that’s popular in many Asian cuisines, especially Chinese and Japanese cuisines, though it’s used in many others as well.
Soy sauce is used as a condiment for adding flavor to many stir-fried rice and noodle dishes, plus added to other sauces to lend a unique rich umami flavor to whatever dish it’s being added to.
When most people think of soy sauce in the United States, we think of Chinese soy sauce. This is what’s used in most restaurants and called for in most home recipes as well.
What is soy sauce made from?
Traditional Chinese soy sauce is made of soybeans, wheat, salt, and water.
We can see this in the popular Kikkoman brand of soy sauce: “water, soybeans, wheat, salt.”
What is gluten?
Gluten is a protein found in most wheat products, and acts as the “glue” that helps to hold wheat, barley, kamut, spelt, farro, durum, bulgur, rye, and semolina together to maintain their shape.
You can find gluten in whole grains, but also in many processed foods as well. If you purchase wheat bread, there will be gluten in it, because wheat by nature has gluten.
Many processed foods have hidden gluten in them in the form of gluten or wheat derivatives. These are also in the form of flavorings, binders to keep ingredients together, or other additives.
Is soy sauce gluten-free?
Soy sauce is a quintessential ingredient in many Chinese and other Asian-style dishes. I love to cook with soy sauce, but unfortunately, traditional soy sauce contains gluten in the form of wheat.
What is tamari?
Luckily, Japanese soy sauce, called tamari, has an almost identical taste with no gluten at all! If you’re eating a gluten-free diet, tamari soy sauce is going to become your best friend!
Gluten-free soy sauce is most often called “tamari soy sauce” is a must-have on a gluten-free diet. It tastes the exact same as normal soy sauce, but without the addition of gluten in the sauce.
While traditional soy sauce is Chinese in origin, tamari is Japanese. It comes in both normal and low-sodium varieties, and frankly, I can’t really tell the difference in taste between the two. I almost always opt for low sodium, just because I think what’s in there is plenty in there as is.
You can swap out tamari soy sauce to replace normal soy sauce in any recipe – which is awesome if you’re trying to convert a tried-and-true recipe you love to a gluten-free one.
Read on: Is tamari gluten-free?
Read on: Is soy gluten-free?
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Where can I buy gluten-free soy sauce?
You can find gluten-free tamari soy sauce at most local grocery stores on the health food aisle or international foods aisle. My local grocery store sells it near the health foods. You can also find it on Amazon if you can’t find it locally, and I’ve even found it on Thrive Market, if you use that service.
The brand I buy is San-J, but you can find a few other options as well. Check out this article on 5 different brands of gluten-free tamari soy sauce that you can try out, so you can find one that you love the flavor of.
Read on: Top 5 gluten-free soy sauce brands
If you are looking for a soy sauce flavor without gluten OR soy, you may want to try out coconut aminos. This product tastes just the same as soy sauce, but is made using coconut instead of soy. It still lends the savory umami salty bite that you’re after when you usually use soy sauce in your cooking.
Coconut aminos are a great soy sauce alternative for folks on a soy-free diet. This is especially true for folks managing a thyroid condition, which often encourages a gluten, dairy, and soy-free diet.
On a gluten-free diet, it IS possible to enjoy soy sauce without the gluten! Tamari or coconut aminos will help you get the same flavor and salty umami bite that you’re after without any of the gluten that your body can’t tolerate. Try one of these and let me know in the comments what you think!
Want to know what other condiments I stock my kitchen with? Check out my 17 gluten-free dairy-free condiments post here or by clicking the image below.
Interested to find out what other delicious foods I stock my gluten and dairy-free pantry with? Check out my Stocking a Gluten-free Dairy-free Pantry Post here or by clicking the image below.
What are your favorite ways to use tamari soy sauce? Share in the comments below!
Ready to learn where other hidden gluten may be hiding? Grab the free resource below!