Soy sauce is a staple condiment at home because it adds flavor to any meal. It is also the perfect seasoning for almost all Asian dishes and for savory sauces.
But for those on a strict diet, one always asks, is soy sauce gluten-free? The quick answer to that is no because it is a by-product of wheat and soya which are known as glutinous.
But there are ways to make it gluten-free and there are brands that are already gluten-free so if you are curious about these, this post is for you.
What is soy sauce?
Soy sauce and the use of it is traced back to 3,000 years ago in China. It is made from fermenting wheat and soybeans with mold or yeast. While it originated in China, the name soy is derived from the Japanese word ‘shoyu’. With the wonders it does to food, it gained culinary traction easily.
It first spread to Asian countries such as Japan, Indonesia, Korea, and the rest of Southeast Asia. In the 1600s, soy sauce was brought to Europe through the infamous Dutch-Japanese trade. Today, you can find subtle regional differences in the taste and texture of soy sauce as it has been incorporated in various cultures.
What is soy sauce made out of?
There are four basic ingredients used in making soy sauce: wheat, soybeans, salt, and fermenting agent (mold or yeast). This is done by first soaking the soybeans in water and then roasting the wheat. After that, the soybeans and the wheat are mixed in a culturing mold and are left there to be cultured for up to a week.
After this, salt and water are added to the mixture and then placed in a fermentation tank. The new mixture is left there for eight months or more than a year. When it is done, the mixture is squeezed using a cloth and then the liquid is bottled.
Depending on the brand and variety, you would see variations in your soy sauce. Japan is producing more varieties of soy sauce than anywhere in the world. The soy sauce they produce includes dark soy sauce, light soy sauce, tamari, shiro, and saishikomi.
What is soy sauce used for?
Soy sauce is mainly used for its culinary wonder. If you are looking for some specific soy sauce uses as condiment or for other things, here are some of the main things soy sauce is used for.
- Used to recreate popular saucy Chinese meals as well as an added seasoning in making BBQ sauce.
- Used in making savory dips like fried chicken and in lighter foods such as dumplings, gyoza, spring rolls, sashimi, and sushi.
- Used as seasoning for stir fry meals, fried rice, pilaf, and noodles.
- Used as condiment for stews and soups.
Soy sauce calories
When it comes to calories, soy sauce contains 53 for every 100 grams. This is relatively high especially for those who are watching out of their calorie intake. This also makes soy sauce a prohibited condiment for those on a keto diet.
Can soy sauce make you fat?
Not necessarily. Soy sauce contains a lot of sodium which makes you feel bloated because your body would have the capacity to retain more water. So, while it does not make you gain weight, using soy sauce as condiment or dipping everyday would make you feel heavy and fat.
Gluten-free soy sauce brands
Fortunately, there are soy sauce brands that do not have gluten content. If you are curious as to what brands these could be, here is a list of gluten-free soy sauce brands that you can switch to anytime.
- San-J soy sauce: composed of 100% brewed soybeans and does not have wheat; certified non-GMO, kosher, low sodium, and vegan.
- Kikkoman soy sauce: only contains water, salt and soybeans; most popular gluten-free soy sauce.
- Eden organic soy sauce: certified non-GMO; compliant with the 20 parts per million requirement.
- Kari-out low sodium soy sauce: comes in single packets, low sodium and certified gluten-free; owners of the company have celiac disease so it is a major validation of its gluten-free label.
- Wan Ja Shan soy sauce: this one only contains water, salt, organic soybeans, and organic vinegar.
- Little Soya soy sauce: non-GMO certified; contains only 10 parts per million of gluten compared to the 20 parts per million requirement.
Is Kroger soy sauce gluten-free?
Yes. The Kroger Kikkoman sauce is not just gluten-free, it is also seafood free, peanut free, and certified non-GMO. It also does not contain wheat and is completely lactose free. This is one of those Kikkoman brands that you can really count on for gluten-free soy sauce.
How to make sure your soy sauce is gluten-free
Like other condiments that claim to be gluten-free there is no exact way to make sure that the soy sauce you are using is gluten-free. So, for this, you just must rely on gluten-free labeling and trust in the integrity statement of the brand you are using. For this, you must check the brand site first and sift through their FAQs.
Gluten-free substitutes for soy sauce?
If you want more reliable gluten-free substitutes for soy sauce, here are some products that you can check out:
This one is low-sodium and is made of 100% brewed soybeans (no wheat). You can use this in a similar ratio like that of regular soy sauce.
It has the same umami taste as that of soy sauce, but it is completely made of fermented coconut sap. It has a sweeter taste though, but is completely low in sodium.
This one is completely gluten-free as it is made of distilled vinegar, anchovies, spices, salt, tamarind extract and molasses. It is also less salty compared to soy sauce.
Related: Is Worcestershire Sauce Gluten-free?
This one is made of soybeans but from its liquid concentrate and not from its fermented by-product. It tastes sweeter than soy sauce, with a milder flavor albeit their same sodium content.
It is made of fermented soybeans, salt, and koji. It is usually used in soups and can be used like soy sauce when diluted in water.
This one is made from fermented fish (specifically krill). It is saltier than soy sauce and more pungent in smell, so you must use this in moderation. It is also a more affordable option compared to soy sauce.
If you want to go old-fashioned and at the cheapest price for that matter, you can go for salt. It does not have the umami flavor of soy sauce but it sure gives the flavor that you need.
In some instances, and if you have time, you can also make homemade soy sauce substitutes like the following recipes:
- Well Fed recipe: made of cider vinegar, blackstrap molasses, beef broth, fish sauce.
- Wellness Mama recipe: balsamic vinegar, molasses, fish sauce, red wine vinegar.
- Steamy Kitchen recipe: bone broth, green onions, ginger, garlic, dried black mushrooms.
- Vegan Lovlie recipe: vegetable broth, fenugreek seeds, and blackstrap molasses.
How much gluten is in soy sauce?
Soy sauce that underwent natural fermentation contains 5 parts per million of gluten. Those that are chemically processed contain more than this so those are really the types of soy sauce that you should look for gluten-free certification.
Homemade Soy Sauce Chicken Wings Recipe
One of the best chicken recipes with soy sauce would be soy chicken wings. If you want to have your own take with this recipe using homemade soy, check this recipe out.
- 2lb chicken wings (tips removed)
- 1tbsp avocado oil
For the sauce
- ½ cup honey
- 1/3 cup of homemade soy sauce
- Balsamic vinegar
- Organic molasses
- Date sugars
- Bone broth
- 4 cloves of minced garlic
- 1tbsp diced ginger
- ¼ cup water
- First, prepare the oven by preheating it to 425F.
- Now, start with the chicken by first pat-drying it with a paper towel.
- Next, coat the chicken in a bowl with salt, pepper, and avocado oil mixture.
- Line the baking sheet with a wire rack on top. Arrange the coated chicken in the baking sheet on a single layer. Bake the chicken for 45mins.
- While the chicken is in the oven, prepare the sauce. Mix in the honey, the homemade soy sauce mixture, ginger, garlic, and water.
- Transfer the mixture to a saucepan. Bring it to a boil and then simmer for 10mins.
- Now, remove the baking sheet from the oven and let it cool for at least 10mins.
- Toss the cooked chicken in the sauce and bake it again for an additional 10mins.
Nutrition InformationServing Size 4
Amount Per Serving Calories 492Saturated Fat 6gCholesterol 94mgSodium 1173mgCarbohydrates 49gFiber 1gSugar 47gProtein 25g
Is tamari sauce better than soy sauce?
Honestly, these two sauces are interchangeable. But as we now know, tamari is gluten-free because it does not contain wheat. As such, in terms of flavor, tamari is also less salty, lighter, and with a richer umami flavor.