Sweet soy sauce or kecapmanis is an Indonesian sweet soy sauce that is dark in color and thick in texture.
Kecapmanis is made from fermented soybeans, palm sugar, salt, water, garlic and spices such as cinnamon, ginger, black pepper, star anise, cloves of cloves and coriander.
You can find it in many Indonesian dishes. It offers a sweet, slightly salty, caramel-like flavor with a smoky undertone. Sweet soy sauce is used as an ingredient in marinades, soups, glazes, casseroles, barbecue sauces, salad dressings, stir-fries, seafood, meat, noodle and rice dishes, and as a dip.
However, if you want to make a recipe that calls for sweet soy sauce and you don’t have it at home, you can use other ingredients instead.
Sweet soy sauce substitutes include soy sauce and brown or palm sugar, soy sauce and honey, coconut aminos, oyster sauce, or some of the following.
Let’s learn more about these substitutes below!
Substitutes for sweet soy sauce
Sweet soy sauce is a common ingredient in various dishes to add a sweet, mild, and slightly salty caramel flavor and beautiful color.
However, there are other ingredients you can use to achieve a similar soy sauce flavor in your dishes. Here are a few.
1. Soy sauce and brown or palm sugar
Soy sauce is one of the best soy sauce substitutes made from fermented soybeans and tastes similar to soy sauce.
However, for better taste and texture in your dish, add a little brown sugar to soy sauce and use it in place of sweet soy sauce in your recipes. You will need 1 cup of soy sauce, 1 cup of water and 1 cup of brown sugar or palm sugar.
Put the water and brown sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, add the soy sauce and simmer until it thickens.
You can use this sweet soy sauce in a 1:1 ratio as a substitute for sweet soy sauce.
2. Soy sauce and honey
Soy sauce and honey are also good alternatives to sweet soy sauce.
Simply mix together ¾ cup of honey, a cup of water, a cup of soy sauce and bring to a boil. Let simmer until thickened. The soy sauce gives a salty taste to the sauce while the honey is the one that adds the sweet taste and thickens the sauce.
You can use it in a 1:1 ratio as a substitute for soy sauce in recipes that call for sweet soy sauce. Do not use honey with strong floral flavors as it will alter the flavor of the sauce.
3. Coconut Amines
Coconut aminos have a sweet-salty umami flavor and a texture and color similar to light soy sauce. They are made from the fermented juice of the coconut tree. The best part? They are soy and gluten free.
Coconut aminos are therefore suitable for people with allergies to soy and gluten. Coconut amino acids are used in salads, stews, soups, sauces, marinades, stir-fries, dressings and as a dip.
They can be used as a substitute for sweet soy sauce in a 1:1 ratio.
4. Oyster sauce
Oyster sauce is made from oyster extract and has a salty, earthy, and slightly sweet flavor with a hint of caramel. It has a dark brown color and a thick consistency and is typically used in stir fries, marinades, barbecue sauces, vegetable and meat dishes.
Since oyster sauce is less sweet than soy sauce, you can add brown sugar or palm sugar to achieve a taste similar to soy sauce.
Replace a tablespoon of sweet soy sauce with a tablespoon of oyster sauce in your recipes.
5. Hoisin Sauce
Hoisin sauce is a thick, dark-colored sauce with a salty, slightly sweet taste.
It is made with fermented soybeans, sesame oil, garlic, vinegar, sweetener, five spice powder and chili peppers. However, there are also other variations made with other ingredients.
Hoisin sauce works well in various stir-fries, duck and pork dishes, noodles, vegetables, grilled dishes, marinades, and as a dip.
It is less sweet than sweet soy sauce. However, you can use hoisin sauce in a 1:1 ratio as a substitute for sweet soy sauce and optionally add palm sugar.
6. Tamari sauce
Tamari sauce is a Japanese soy sauce. However, it tastes different from other soy sauces because it is made differently.
It is made from the liquid drained during the fermentation process of soybeans. Tamari sauce therefore has a thicker consistency and a richer but less salty taste than regular soy sauce.
This sauce is a common ingredient in marinades, stir-fries, stews, soups, salad dressings, as a dip, or as a condiment for dumplings, noodles, tofu, and fish.
Use tamari sauce in a 1:1 ratio as a substitute for sweet soy sauce.
7. Tianmian Sauce
Tianmian sauce or sweet bean sauce has a dark brown color and a slightly sweet salty taste. Made from wheat flour, salt, sugar and fermented soybeans, this sauce adds a lovely umami flavor to dishes.
Tianmian sauce is a common ingredient in stir fries, sauces, noodle and pork dishes, fried rice, curries, soups, etc. You can use it as a substitute for sweet soy sauce in a 1:1 ratio.
8. Shoyu sauce
Shoyu sauce is a Japanese soy sauce typically made from fermented soybeans, wheat, water, and salt. There are also other types of shoyu sauce made with different ingredients and production methods.
Shoyu sauce has a sweet-salty umami flavor and is used in many different dishes as a cooking and table sauce. It adds umami flavor to marinades, stir-fries, sauces, dressings and dips.
Replace sweet soy sauce with shoyu sauce in a 1:1 ratio in your recipes.
9. Liquid amino acids
Liquid amino acids come from soybeans and taste similar to soy sauce. However, they are less salty than regular soy sauce and have a slightly sweet umami taste.
They contain no preservatives, chemicals or artificial colors and are a good source of amino acids. You can use them to add rich umami flavor to marinades, stir-fries, sauces, dips, soups, dressings, and stews.
Use liquid amino acids in a 1:1 ratio as a substitute for sweet soy sauce.
10. Homemade sweet soy sauce
Sweet soy sauce is easy to make. All you need are the following ingredients.
- 1 cup soy sauce
- 1 cup palm sugar or brown sugar
- ½ cup of water
You can also add 1 clove of garlic, 1 clove of anise and a piece of ginger root (2.5 cm long). If you are using these ingredients, prepare them first. Finely chop the garlic clove and slice the ginger root.
Put the water and sugar in a saucepan, mix and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Let the mixture boil for 5 to 10 minutes.
When it takes on a dark amber color, remove the pan from the heat. Allow the mixture to cool slightly and add the soy sauce, garlic, ginger and anise pod.
Place the pan on the stove over medium heat. Simmer the mixture for about 10-15 minutes. Stir occasionally. Take the pan off the heat and voila!
Allow your sauce to cool and thicken before using it in your favorite dishes.
Is hoisin sauce the same as sweet soy sauce?
Hoisin sauce is not the same as sweet soy sauce.
Hoisin sauce is made with fermented soybeans, sesame oil, garlic, vinegar, sweetener, five spice powder and chili peppers. It has a slightly sweet salty taste, a dark color and a thick consistency.
Is sweet soy sauce the same as kecapmani?
Sweet soy sauce is the same as kecapmani.
What is sweet soy sauce?
Sweet soy sauce is also called kecapmanis. In Indonesian language, kecap means soy sauce while manis means sweet.
Ketjap is a delicious and super versatile sauce that you can add to many different dishes. However, if you don’t feel like it, you can try some of the sauces listed above as an alternative to sweet soy sauce.
They don’t taste exactly the same as sweet soy sauce, but they will enhance the flavor of your dish. Try them out and let us know which one works best for you in the comments section below!