Sushi Maki and Niguiri with soy sauce and wasabi with California Roll

There’s No Salt in This Soy-Free Gluten-Free Soy Sauce

This is a salt-free, soy-free, gluten-free substitution for soy sauce.

Jessica Goldman Foung, a.k.a. “Sodium Girl,” must live salt-free due to risk of kidney failure prompted by lupus. She’s a queen of substitutions – an inspiration for those on special diets. This enthusiastic foodie spices up her diet with tasty sweet and savory alternatives to salt. Here’s the back-story (and the recipe) behind her ingenious GF, no-salt soy sauce.

“I remember the day that my low-sodium diet truly turned around. I had just purchased The No-Salt, Lowest-Sodium Cookbook, by Donald A. Gazzaniga, and as I flipped through the recipes, I landed on “Soy Sauce Replacement.” I had never considered the idea of replacements before. Or that I could mimic something as salty as soy sauce, which contains more than 1,000mg of sodium per tablespoon.

I made Mr. Gazzaniga’s Soy Sauce Replacement, and while it didn’t taste exactly like the original—there is just no way you can replicate the taste of all that salt—it did have a similar Asian essence. And when mixed with other components for marinades or BBQ sauces, it provided the right amount of savory sweetness.

I created my own version that I use whenever a recipe calls for soy or teriyaki or fish sauce. And I call it umami sauce, as I want your palate to seek out the savory quality, not the salt.”

3.78 from 81 votes
Sushi Maki and Niguiri with soy sauce and wasabi with California Roll
Print Recipe

Umami Sauce

Prep Time5 mins
Total Time5 mins
Course: Condiment/Sauce
Cuisine: Asian
Servings: 1 cup
Calories: 35kcal


  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon molasses
  • ½ teaspoon dark brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder


  • Mix all ingredients together. Refrigerate until ready to use.


The sauce will keep in the refrigerator for 1 month. Nutrition facts on this recipe is calculated for the entire batch. Divide it by the amount you use for your serving.


Nutrition Facts
Umami Sauce
Amount Per Serving
Calories 35
% Daily Value*
Sodium 16mg1%
Potassium 102mg3%
Carbohydrates 8g3%
Sugar 7g8%
Calcium 14mg1%
Iron 0.3mg2%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Recipe excerpted from Sodium Girl by Jessica Goldman Foung, with permission from publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Originally posted January 2013.

Post originally published in Gluten Free & More, written by Alicia Woodward.

Disclaimer: All nutrition facts on Gluten Free & More are meant only as a guide and may differ depending on product brands used or ingredient substitutions. Some errors may occur, so you are encouraged to confirm the recipe’s ingredient and nutrition suitability for your own diet.
Have you tried this recipe? Give it a star rating and let us know your thoughts in the Ratings & Reviews section below.
Tags: Asian Soy Sauce
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  1. VK
    August 3, 2019

    So grateful! Will try it!

  2. Daniel Atson
    January 31, 2020

    I tried this recipe and loved it.

    1. Gaylene M Blackburn
      May 2, 2020

      I just made this. It has a good flavor. Not soy sauce but Asian just the same. I added a little red pepper flakes and 2 drops of salt free liquid smoke. Hubby loves it! We will be using it as a dip for our shrimp and vegetables. Yum yum!

  3. Richard Gates
    February 9, 2020

    umm soy sauce is fermented and doesn’t have sugar in it. idk what this is a recipe for…?

    1. Gluten Free & More
      February 10, 2020

      Hi Richard,
      This is for a soy-free soy sauce substitute. It’s for people cutting back sodium or people who can’t have soy but want to replicate the taste of it, so this recipe does use sugar in order to achieve that.

      1. Arkadiusz
        September 19, 2020

        Hi Carol, cutting back on sodium with rice vinegar (which contains salt) might be a challenge.

        1. Gluten Free & More
          September 21, 2020


          Most unseasoned rice vinegars are free from sodium. Here’s a brand without sodium:

  4. Kelly
    February 10, 2020

    Hi, I’m keen to make this. What is ‘cooked’ unseasoned rice vinegar?

    1. Gluten Free & More
      February 10, 2020

      Hi Kelly,
      Good question! That must have been an error. Sorry for the confusion – I’ve corrected it.

  5. Lena
    March 10, 2020

    thank you for this! I’m trying not to have any sugar as well. Any sub for the sugar? Maybe Splenda will work in its place? Thanks!

    1. Gluten Free & More
      March 11, 2020

      Hi Lena,
      You could try Swerve (the brown one, since this uses brown sugar) – it’s a cup-for-cup replacement for sugar and doesn’t have any weird aftertaste.

      1. Gaylene M Blackburn
        May 2, 2020

        I used swerve brown sugar substitute. Its great!

  6. Dain
    April 3, 2020

    I’m looking forward to trying this recipe out.
    I doubt you’d like my tofu marinade to make tofu taste like actual beef. I call it my pseudo-beef sauce. It does involve low sodium soy sauce, worcestershire sauce and rice vinegar.

  7. Hunter
    May 3, 2020

    Thank you for this!

    1. Barbara Ann Aniag ODell
      June 24, 2020

      I was recently diagnosed with PH. That means NO SALT for me anymore. Heartbreaking as I am a Filipina and practically every recipe I make involves soya. Def worth a try. Will let you know how it works out. Thanks in advance for at least giving me some hope.

  8. Diana Johnson
    January 8, 2021

    I’m trying to cut out sodium it is in everything

  9. Pam
    June 17, 2022

    Looking forward to trying this recipe. Can you confirm the serving size the nutritional information is based on? I may just be missing it – has 1 cup above recipe, but that sounds like too much for a serving. Thanks!

    1. Gluten Free & More
      June 21, 2022

      The “serving” part on this recipe just shows how much this recipe makes (1 cup total). The nutrition facts are calculated for the entire cup. How much you consume as a serving for this recipe will vary based on the recipe you use it in or if you use it as a dipping sauce, etc.

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