Lisa KaminskiUpdated: Sep. 03, 2021
TASTE OF HOME
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. Ketchup, mayonnaise 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
What happens when you combine two favorites into one easy dish? Clean plates, that’s what! My family loves Chinese food, but takeout can be expensive and not always the healthiest. This colorful stovetop sloppy joe recipe will please everyone at dinnertime, including the kids. My husband prefers to skip the bun and eat it over brown rice or rolled in lettuce wrap. —Julie Peterson, Crofton, MarylandGo to Recipe
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
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
This healthy fish and zippy slaw can be prepared easily on a weeknight or for a special occasion. I like to serve the dish with steamed jasmine rice. —Donna Noel, Gray, MaineGo to Recipe
This wonderful side dish can easily be turned into a hearty entree by adding cooked chicken. —Taste of Home Test KitchenGo to Recipe
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
To make the tofu extra crispy in this tofu salad recipe, we recommend draining some of the liquid and cooking it in a generous amount of oil at high heat. It takes a little extra time, but it’s worth it! —Taste of Home Test KitchenGo to Recipe
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
I love this chicken ramen salad because it’s a complete meal in one bowl. Everyone loves when it’s on the table—that’s a reaction that doesn’t happen every night, so I appreciate the kudos when I get them! —Karen Carlson, Alameda, CaliforniaGo to Recipe
When I was working two jobs, slow cooking was my way of life. Sometimes I had more than one slow cooker going at a time to help me feed my family delicious home-cooked meals. It’s nice to walk in after a hard day’s work and have dinner ready. I hope you agree these ribs are quick, easy and delicious. Enjoy! —Paula Marchesi, Lenhartsville, PennsylvaniaGo to Recipe
The ginger comes through nicely in this colorful napa cabbage stir-fry that is lower in fat and sodium than many. It’s great served over steamed rice or cooked noodles. —Marcie Nor of Macungie, PennsylvaniaGo to Recipe
The sweet-and-sour sauce in this recipe was originally for pork spareribs, but my family has always enjoyed it this way. The longer the wings sit in the ketchup, ginger and orange marmalade sauce, the better they taste. They can be served warm or cold. -Lora Fletcher, Lyons, OregonGo to Recipe
I really love pad kee mao and was inspired to try my recipe in the slow cooker on a really busy day. It came out tasting great! I was so happy to have it ready to go when we got home. You can easily substitute chicken, turkey or beef for pork. —Lori McLain, Denton, TexasGo to Recipe
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
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
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
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
Originally Published: September 06, 2021
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.