Hoisin sauce is a popular ingredient in Asian dishes, sometimes regarded as the ideal glaze for meat dishes. It is also commonly added to marinades and soups.
Some people love the sweetness and use it in other cuisines. But if you can’t find any hoisin, your dish doesn’t have to suffer if you know what substitutes can result in a similar flavor.
What Is Hoisin Sauce?
Before we get into the alternatives, let’s dig into what is hoisin sauce?
This thick, aromatic sauce is of Cantonese origin, but is now produced for many other Asian cuisines and contains different ingredients. Traditionally, hoisin sauce contains vinegar, soybeans, garlic, fennel, and red chilies. The flavor is sweet and sour, and it has a dark brown color.
Some people use hoisin sauce as a dipping sauce for meats, but it is often used as an ingredient in stews, stir-fry, and soup. It adds thickness and color, so it is an excellent addition to meals that need to taste and look tasty.
What Can I Replace Hoisin Sauce With?
These are the best hoisin sauce substitutes to use when you don’t have any:
#1. Soy Sauce
This typical Asian sauce packs a ton of flavor and umami. It is unique and very salty, but it can be used in place of hoisin sauce if there is no need for thickening.
Soy sauce is used in many dishes, including stir-fry, fried rice, and noodles, but you can use it instead of hoisin as long as you adjust for salt.
We suggest you only use half of the amount the recipe calls for because soy sauce is much saltier. You may also need to adjust for sweetness and thickness. Soy sauce can be bought in any grocery store and sometimes even convenience stores.
#2. Garlic Teriyaki
Because hoisin brings in a lot of flavors, you can try to imitate them by using teriyaki sauce as well as garlic.
Teriyaki sauce is another staple of Asian cuisine, often used with meat dishes, such as glazed ribs, salmon, and sometimes in noodles. This sauce is sweet, but it lacks that pungent kick that hoisin has, so you can mix it instead with some rice or red wine vinegar and garlic.
For better results, use two garlic cloves, two tablespoons vinegar, and three tablespoons teriyaki sauce, then mix or blend it all before using. Once this new sauce is ready, you can use it for the same amount you would need hoisin. Teriyaki sauce can be found in any grocery store, usually next to the soy sauce.
#3. Miso Paste
This fermented soybean paste is a classic ingredient in Japanese cuisine, but it is not as sweet as hoisin sauce, and it is much saltier. To match the flavor more closely, you can try to add sugar or honey during the cooking process. Miso paste is used in ramen noodles, in sauces, and even just as a broth.
To start with, you can add about ¼ of the recipe amount and continue to taste as you cook, always adding more if needed. Miso paste is now more common, so that means you can often find it in grocery stores and in some organic stores.
#4. Barbecue and Molasses
This is one of the most accessible choices in this list, as many people always have barbecue sauce at home. For a more similar flavor to hoisin, try mixing barbecue sauce with molasses and soy sauce. If you don’t have any molasses, you can also use brown sugar.
Barbecue is a common sauce in many meat dishes, but sometimes it can even be used in Korean dishes and fusion cuisines. You can use ¾ cup of barbecue with one tablespoon of soy sauce and two tablespoons of molasses, mix it all, and use it in place of hoisin for the same amount the recipe tells you.
#5. Soy Sauce and Peanut Butter
You may have heard of the trick of using peanut butter and soy sauce in your pad thai or drunken noodles, but you can also use this mixture in place of hoisin in some dishes.
To balance the sweetness of the peanut butter, you can add soy sauce, sesame oil, rice or white vinegar, and garlic. You should mix these ingredients before adding them to the dish, letting all the flavors set first.
Since most households have peanut butter, this is an easier choice. You can also buy it at any grocery or convenience store if you don’t have any.
We recommend you start with about half of what the recipe calls for, and taste as you go, considering that your dish may need an adjustment for salt, sweet, or spice.
If you don’t have any of these choices at home, and you need something quick, you can always mix ingredients that you do have.
Some of the flavors that work best in replacing hoisin are garlic, sriracha sauce, ginger, plum, and vinegar. These are also flavors that work in addition to the five choices above, so consider using them on top of these too.
In some cases, Worcestershire sauce can work in place for hoisin, particularly if you are trying to add umami and salt. However, this sauce is not as thick or sweet, so it won’t work in every dish. You can try mixing it with some of the previous ingredients for a closer flavor.
Yes, using fish sauce does work for specific recipes, especially fried rice, fish, or noodles. Some people like to mix the fish sauce with oyster sauce for a closer flavor, but the taste is still different, and so is the aroma and color.
As mentioned previously, hoisin sauce is dark and thick. It has a sweet, salty, and somewhat of sour flavor. Some compare it to barbecue sauce, but it is more pungent and less sweet.
By now, you must know that hoisin sauce is a crucial ingredient in many cuisines, but if you don’t have any, you can try using one of these five options. It is always a good idea to taste first and add second. You can mix and match, as some of these work better together.
*Photo by AndreySt/depositphotos