Gluten Free Soy Sauces

What Is Gluten-Free Soy Sauce? What is Tamari? Your sushi questions answered!

You’re sitting down for sushi and you ask for the gluten-free soy sauce. Do you know what they’re giving you? What about searching for gluten-free soy sauce in the grocery store? Is that the same as tamari? What should I use to stay safe?

What is gluten-free soy sauce?

When you’re cooking a dish that calls for gluten-free soy sauce, it’s typically going to be either a traditionally-brewed soy sauce made with a substitute for the wheat, or tamari sauce. While there are subtle differences in how tamari and gluten-free soy sauce are made and taste, the thing that matters is staying safe, and so many people use them interchangeably as condiment or in recipes.

When a gluten-free soy sauce is set in front of you at a restaurant, always ask what brand it is and for an ingredient list. While there are safe brands of gluten-free soy sauce available, unfortunately some restaurants don’t quite understand the need for celiac-safe soy sauce. Follow along as Gluten Free Watchdog calls out restaurants that claim their wheat-based soy sauce is gluten-free (hint: it’s not!).

Soy sauce is a fermented sauce that’s made from soy, a carbohydrate (like wheat), water, and salt. You can learn more about traditional fermention of soy sauce from Kikkoman, a well-known soy sauce brand. However, you can still create soy sauce that’s free from gluten if you use a substitute like corn or soy.

What are the gluten-free soy sauce brands?

Kikkoman Gluten-Free Soy Sauce (uses rice) Ingredients: water, soybeans, salt, rice, sugar

Lee Kum Kee Gluten Free Soy Sauce (uses corn starch)

Gluten-Free Soy Sauce Alternatives

Tamari has always been a go-to alternative for gluten-free soy sauce. I’d ask “do you have gluten-free soy sauce?” and the server would bring out tamari – it’s just known as an alternative. I have to admit that I never knew what tamari was before I went gluten-free!

It’s 100% soy-based sauce. It’s actually the liquid that acculates during fermenting soy and turning it into miso. According to San-J, a large tamari manufactuer, it’s supposed to be richer in taste than traditional soy sauce. Traditional soy sauce is meant to be “sharper,” with a stronger alcoholic taste. Tamari is typically made with just water, soybeans, salt, and sugar.

Looking for gluten-free tamari? Look for these brands:

San-J Tamari 

San-J Reduced Sodium Tamari

San-J Tamari Lite 50% Less Sodium

San-J Organic Tamari

San-J Organic Tamari Reduced Sodium

San-J Organic Tamari Travel Packs

Eden Foods Tamari Soy Sauce Organic 

Kikkoman Tamari Soy Sauce 

Coconut Aminos are considered a non-soy alternative to soy sauce, whether gluten-free or gluten-full. However, it doesn’t taste like soy sauce on its own. It’s much sweeter, lighter, and less thick than traditional soy sauce. However, mixed with other asian sauces in a dish, it can work for an alternative to common soy sauce.

Looking for gluten-free coconut aminos? Look for these brands:

Big Tree Farms

Bragg Liquid Aminos (contains soy)

Coconut Secret

Regardless of what you’re putting in your stir-fry or having with sushi, just make sure it’s gluten-free!

Written by Erica Dermer, originally published in Gluten Free & More.

Tags: Asian Soy Sauce Sushi
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  1. Steve
    April 13, 2020

    I discovered Kikkoman Gluten-free Sweet Soy Sauce on the clearance table at my local supermarket. I love soy sauce, so I put a bottle in my basket. It’s fantastic on brown or white rice and has become my favorite soy sauce for rice.

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