Food for Soul

What’s the Best Soy Sauce? Our Test Kitchen Pros Found Out.

Lisa Kaminski

Lisa KaminskiUpdated: Sep. 03, 2021


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Looking for the best soy sauce for your go-to recipes? Our Test Kitchen tested nine popular brands to find the options suited for sushi, yakitori, potstickers and more.

Many of us have refrigerator doors packed with condiments and sauces. Sure, we might fill these slots with bottles of trendy new condiments, but there are very few that we keep stocked there consistently. Ketchupmayonnaise and hot sauce are all refrigerator fixtures—as is soy sauce.

This Asian condiment is made by fermenting or hydrolyzing soybeans (that’s just breaking down the beans with acid). The result is the salty, umami sauce that we reach for when enjoying sushi or making homemade pho.

How We Found the Best Soy Sauce

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Like so many other condiments, soy sauce comes in many, many varieties, each with its own signature flavor. Now, do you know which soy sauce brand you want to add to your dishes for your own trademark flavor? Our Test Kitchen sampled nine popular brands to find the best soy sauce.

Each brand was sampled blindly by our Test Kitchen team—both solo and with white rice. Our team was looking for the right balance of salt and umami. These aren’t the only tastes present in soy sauce, though, so our culinary gang kept careful notes on any other flavors they detected. Soy can sometimes taste citrusy, coffee-like or even funky—it is fermented after all!

Our Test Kitchen-Preferred Soy Sauce Brands

Best Soy Sauce for Everyday: Kikkoman Soy Sauce

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If you only keep one brand of soy sauce in your fridge door, let it be Kikkoman. This sauce is available at nearly every supermarket and big box store, so you’re never far from one of the best soy sauce options.

Our Test Kitchen praised Kikkoman for how well it blended sweetness, saltiness and a bit of acidic vinegar flavor—”exactly how soy sauce should taste” according to one set of notes. Overall, this sauce was nicely balanced and one that our testers could see themselves reaching for to make Easy Pad Thai or Grilled Huli Huli Chicken.

As a soy sauce, though, the primary flavor was salt, and that’s just fine. This is precisely the flavor you need when making great dishes to bring out tastes in all the other ingredients. Just remember: When using generous amounts of soy sauce in your recipes, you can omit the salt.

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Best Soy Sauce for Dipping: Yamaroku

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While soy sauce is used plenty in recipes like Slow-Cooker Beef and Broccoli, you can’t forget how important soy sauce is as a condiment on its own. After all, it’s served up alongside our favorite sushi rolls and potstickers for dipping and dunking.

So what bottle is our Test Kitchen reaching for after making a batch of homemade potstickers? That’d be Yamaroku. This sauce was just a bit thicker than its competitors so it really clung to every tasty morsel we dipped into it.

But this sauce is more than just the perfect consistency for dunking. Yamaroku soy sauce was strong with the right balance of cider vinegar-like acidity, sweetness and salt. This well-balanced sauce is a must for leveling up your regular takeout dishes and at-home creations.

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Best Soy Sauce for Stir-Frys: Lee Kum Kee Premium Soy Sauce

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Sometimes our Test Kitchen pros taste an ingredient and the perfect application for it comes right to mind (like how some San Marzano tomatoes just scream tomato soup). As soon as our testers sampled Lee Kum Kee Premium Soy Sauce, they thought: stir-fry.

This soy sauce wasn’t overly salty and had notes of sweet citrus and coffee-like acidity. Combined with the right level of sodium and plenty of umami flavor, our testers were going back for second samples of this sauce with images of homemade stir-frys dancing in their heads, including this top-rated Stir-Fry Chicken Lo Mein.

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Most Unique Soy Sauce: Bluegrass Soy Sauce

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We rely on soy sauce to add savory flavor to dishes, but Bluegrass Soy Sauceadds much more than just that.

Fermented in bourbon barrels, Bluegrass soy sauce had a flavor unlike any other brand we tested. In addition to the salty, savory notes you’d expect from soy sauce, this brand also had some molasses and fruity flavors coming through making for complex and satisfying flavors.

It might not be a typical soy sauce that you’d spot on the table at your favorite sushi spot, but this brand was tasty and satisfying.

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What to Make with Soy Sauce

With one of our Test Kitchen-Preferred soy sauces in hand, you’re ready to get cooking. There are so many delicious recipes with soy sauce that it can be hard to know where to start. If you ask our Test Kitchen, they’d suggest these sticky and tasty Ginger Orange Chicken Wings or this five-star Hawaiian Fried Rice.

Those recipes are just the start, though! Reach for the best soy sauce any time you want to add a touch of umami flavor and salt to your go-to dishes, sauces, marinades and dressings.

Pressure Cooker Shredded Beef Lettuce Cups

Pressure Cooker Shredded Beef Lettuce Cups

I love this light yet lively dinner for busy days that are filled with swim lessons and outdoor activities. If you can’t find Bibb or Boston, green leaf lettuce is less sturdy but works in a pinch. —Elisabeth Larsen, Pleasant Grove, UtahGo to Recipe

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Kung Pao Sloppy Joes

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Slow-Cooker Sticky Chicken Wings

My neighbor once shared these slow-cooker sticky chicken wings with me at a potluck, and they have been a family favorite ever since. —Jo Vanderwolf, Lillooet, British ColumbiaGo to Recipe

Hawaiian Fried Rice

Hawaiian Fried Rice

Growing up in the South Pacific, rice was the mainstay of our diet. When my husband and I moved stateside, we created this Hawaiian fried rice recipe. We bring this dish to every potluck, and it’s always the hit of the party. —Janice Edwards, Plainville, IllinoisGo to Recipe

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Sake-Steamed Sole with Spicy Slaw

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Vegetable Barley Saute

This wonderful side dish can easily be turned into a hearty entree by adding cooked chicken. —Taste of Home Test KitchenGo to Recipe

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Air-Fryer Spicy Ginger Beef Skewers

My family loves the flavors of these zippy kabobs. I usually grill them outside, but if it’s cold or rainy, I love cooking them in my air fryer. —Jasey McBurnett, Rock Springs, WyomingGo to Recipe

Tofu Salad

Tofu Salad

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Stir-Fry Chicken Lo Mein

This simple, yet scrumptious chicken lo mein recipe is the perfect stir-fry meal. Follow our handy step-by-step video below for a spur-of-the-minute supper special enough to serve guests! —Taste of Home Test KitchenGo to Recipe

Grilled Chicken Ramen Salad

Grilled Chicken Ramen Salad

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Chinese-Style Ribs

Chinese-Style Ribs

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Pork Cabbage Stir-Fry

Pork Cabbage Stir-Fry

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Ginger-Orange Wings

Ginger-Orange Wings

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Slow-Cooked Thai Drunken Noodles

Slow-Cooked Thai Drunken Noodles

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Firecracker Grilled Salmon

Let this sensational salmon perk up dinner tonight. With a super flavorful glaze that kicks you right in the taste buds, this weeknight dish is anything but boring. —Melissa Rogers, Tuscaloosa, ALGo to Recipe

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Veggie-Cashew Stir-Fry

Getting my meat-loving husband and two sons, ages 5 and 7, to eat more veggies had always been a struggle until I whipped up this stir-fry. I was shocked when they cleaned their plates and asked for seconds. —Abbey Hoffman, Ashland, OhioGo to Recipe

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Instant Pot Sesame Chicken

Your family will love the flavorful sauce in this Instant Pot sesame chicken. And you’ll love how quick and easy it is for a weeknight dinner! If you serve gluten-free meals, use tamari instead of soy sauce. — Karen Kelly, Germantown, MarylandGo to Recipe

Char Siu Pork Lettuce Cups

Char Siu Pork Lettuce Cups

The Asian influence here in the Hawaiian islands inspired my char siu recipe. It’s tasty as is, in a bun, on a lettuce cup or over rice. We make it often so we have leftovers to add to fried rice, ramen and salads. —Karen Naihe, Kamuela, HawaiiGo to Recipe

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Chicken Yakitori

Originally Published: September 06, 2021

Lisa Kaminski

Lisa KaminskiLisa is an editor at Taste of Home where she gets to embrace her passion for baking. She pours this love of all things sweet (and sometimes savory) into Bakeable, Taste of Home’s baking club. At home, you’ll find her working on embroidery and other crafts.

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