With a name that means ‘delicious’, hoisin sauce may be tasty. But it’s packed with sugar so I prefer to use these healthier hoisin sauce substitutes instead.
What is Hoisin Sauce?
It’s a Chinese commercial sauce with a very sweet, salty savoury flavour. Commonly it’s used as a dipping sauce for roast pork in Cantonese cooking but can also be used as a marinade.
It’s often used to flavour the meat in Sang Choi Bau.
Similar in consistency to ketchup it’s a thick reddish brown sauce.
The ingredients on my bottle include an appetizing (or not) list of: sugar, water, fermented soybeans, thickener (1422), salted lemon, red yeast rice, sesame seed, garlic, food acid (260), chilli, salt.
Oh and from a nutritional perspective it’s 35.3% sugar. Yikes!
A good reason to look for alternatives.
The Best Hoisin Sauce Substitutes
1. Soy sauce
Naturally fermented soy sauce is much thinner and saltier than hoisin sauce. And significantly less sweet! It’s my go-to substitute because it adds those lovely savoury / umami flavours.
I generally substitute half soy sauce to hoisin.
For example in a recipe using 3-4 tablespoons of hoisin sauce, I’d substitute 1-2 tablespoons soy sauce. Add more if needed after tasting.
If you want some sweetness you could add some extra white or brown sugar or honey but I generally don’t bother.
2. Miso Paste
Miso is a Japanese fermented soybean paste that again adds lovely complex savoury flavours.
Without the sugar high.
Miso is stronger, saltier and thicker than hoisin so start by substituting about 1/4 of the amount in the recipe and add more as needed.
If you want to match the sweetness of hoisin, you’ll need to add some sugar or honey. Brown sugar or palm sugar will add extra caramelly flavours.
3. Sweet soy sauce (kecap manis)
This Indonesian sauce is even sweeter than hoisin sauce. But will work well as a substitute if you don’t mind the sugar. Try a 1:1 substitution to start with.
4. Fish sauce
Fish sauce is often used in conjunction with oyster sauce to flavour stir fries. It’s not sweet and quite salty and sharp in flavour. I have used it instead of oyster sauce with good results. As per soy sauce, start with less and add more as needed.
Is Hoisin Sauce vegetarian?
Delicious Hoisin Sauce Flavour Pairings
- Roast or BBQ Pork & Hoisin Sauce
- Chicken & Hoisin Sauce
- Ginger & Hoisin Sauce
- Green Onion & Hoisin Sauce
- Fish & Hoisin Sauce
- Cashews & Hoisin Sauce
- Broccoli & Hoisin Sauce
- Chinese Broccoli & Hoisin Sauce
- Bok Choy & Hoisin Sauce
- Peanuts & Hoisin Sauce
More Ingredient Substitutes
- The Ultimate Guide to Vegetable Substitutes
- Collard Greens
- Miso Paste
- Oyster Sauce
Also see see the Simple Ingredients Substitutes Index.
Have fun in the kitchen!