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Hoisin Sauce Substitute: The 9 Best Alternatives

In need of a hoisin sauce substitute for dinner tonight? We’ve got you covered with these 10 hoisin alternatives, ranging from products with similar flavor profiles to readily available ingredients.

Whether you’re preparing a quick stir-fry, creating your favorite glaze, or making a big pot of pho, one of these hoisin sauce substitutes is sure to work for you!

What is Hoisin sauce?

Before we talk hoisin sauce substitutes, let’s back up a bit. What exactly is hoisin sauce? Hoisin sauce originated in Cantonese cuisine and is made with fermented soybean paste and seasoned with other ingredients, including sesame, garlic and chiles. The sauce is popular in many Chinese and Vietnamese dishes.

Hoisin sauce has a sweet, salty, and umami-rich flavor profile. The sauce adds depth and complexity to dishes and is often used as an ingredient in glazes, dipping sauces, and stir-fries.

Fun fact: Although hoisin (hǎixiān) literally translates to seafood, there isn’t actually any seafood in the sauce. And despite several theories, the origin of its names remains a bit of a mystery!

For more information about hoisin sauce, check out this article.

alternatives for hoisin sauce

The Best Hoisin Sauce Substitutes

Hoisin sauce is a versatile condiment with a complex flavor profile that can enhance a variety of dishes. It’s becoming more readily available at supermarkets in the US and can easily be found online. But if your recipe calls for just a tablespoon or you don’t have time to run to the store before dinner tonight, we have nine hoisin sauce alternatives that might be just the thing!

1. Soy Sauce

The first hoisin sauce substitute is another fermented soybean product you may already have in your pantry: soy sauce! 

Soy sauce will add depth, saltiness and an umami flavor to your dish. Because hoisin sauce is sweeter and thicker, we recommend mixing soy sauce with one or more of these ingredients to get the perfect substitute:

  • Sugar or honey: This helps replicate the sweetness of hoisin.
  • Toasted sesame oil: Sesame is a common ingredient in hoisin sauces and will boost the flavor and complexity of your dish.
  • Peanut butter: A lot of homemade hoisin recipes actually call for peanut butter! It provides a creamy texture and nutty flavor that can get you closer to the complexity of hoisin. This is a great option for dipping sauces!
  • Chile sauce or sriracha: While not all hoisin sauces have chiles, if you prefer a bit of a kick, try adding a little sriracha or chile sauce along with soy sauce.

1 tablespoon hoisin sauce = 1 tablespoon soy sauce. If using additional ingredients, start with 1 teaspoon of the additional ingredient per tablespoon of soy sauce and add more to taste.

2. Fermented Bean Paste

Fermented bean paste or doubanjiang is another Chinese ingredient made from fermented soybeans. There are a few different varieties of fermented bean paste, ranging from sweet to spicy. While the sweeter version is the best substitute for hoisin sauce, the spicy version is much easier to find where we live and we almost always have it on hand.

La doubanjiang is the spicy version (the only difference in name is the “la” in front of doubanjiang). It’s made from broad beans and may be translated as spicy broad bean paste. Another popular variation is called pixian doubanjiang, named after the town of Pixian in Sichuan. These options can add excellent flavor to stir-fries and noodles, but may also add too much heat depending on what you’re looking for.

1 tablespoon hoisin sauce = 1 tablespoon fermented bean paste.

3. Sweet Bean Sauce

Sweet bean sauce or tianmian sauce is another chinese condiment that works well as a hoisin sauce substitute. It has a sweet and savory flavor profile and a thick consistency.

The primary ingredient in sweet bean sauce is actually fermented wheat so you may also find it labeled as sweet wheat paste or sweet flour paste.

1 tablespoon hoisin sauce = 1 tablespoon sweet bean sauce.

4. Oyster Sauce

Oyster sauce is a savory condiment commonly used in Chinese cooking. It’s made with oyster extract and has a similar consistency to hoisin sauce. Despite the name, oyster sauce doesn’t taste strongly of oysters or the ocean, but it does add a deep umami element to dishes.

Keep in mind that hoisin sauce is sweeter than oyster sauce so you may want to add a bit of sweetness to your dish as well. Oyster sauce is a great hoisin sauce substitute in stir-fries.

1 tablespoon hoisin sauce = 1 tablespoon oyster sauce.

5. Miso Paste

Miso is a fermented soybean paste commonly used in Japanese cuisine. As a hoisin sauce substitute, we recommend using white miso (shiro miso) as it has sweeter undertones and a less intense flavor.

To get a flavor profile more similar to hoisin, dilute the miso with a bit of soy sauce and add a teaspoon of honey or brown sugar to sweeten.

1 tablespoon hoisin sauce = 1/2 tablespoon miso paste.

6. Teriyaki Sauce

Teriyaki sauce is a bit sweeter than hoisin and has a less complex flavor profile. But it strikes a good balance between sweet and salty, which makes it a viable hoisin substitute in many dishes.

Teriyaki sauce is a particularly great option for glazes and marinades. I especially like Trader Joe’s Soyaki as a glaze when I’m out of hoisin!

1 tablespoon hoisin sauce = 1 tablespoon teriyaki sauce.

7. Plum Sauce

Plum sauce is a sweet and slightly sour condiment popular in Chinese cuisine. It has a different flavor profile than hoisin sauce, but can work well as a hoisin sauce substitute in dips.

We especially love plum sauce as a substitute for hoisin sauce in dips for deep-fried dishes, such as spring rolls, dumplings and fried wontons. The acidity cuts through the richness of fried foods to create a perfectly balanced bite!

1 tablespoon hoisin sauce = 1 tablespoon plum sauce.

8. Barbecue Sauce

Barbecue sauce will take the flavor of your meal in a different direction, but it can be a great hoisin substitute in marinades and glazes. Keep in mind that barbecue sauce often has a smokier and tangier flavor profile that might not work well with traditional flavors of many Asian cuisines.

For a sweet and salty glaze, try mixing barbecue sauce with a bit of peach or apricot jam!

1 tablespoon hoisin sauce = 1 tablespoon barbecue sauce.

9. Homemade Hoisin Sauce

And, finally, making your own hoisin sauce is always an option! Homemade hoisin sauces often include a combination of the ingredients we’ve already listed above. This is a great option if you just need a tablespoon or two and don’t want to invest in a whole bottle.

Here’s our favorite recipe for homemade hoisin sauce.

1 tablespoon hoisin sauce = 1 tablespoon homemade hoisin sauce.

Hoisin Sauce Substitutes: FAQs

What does hoisin sauce taste like?

Hoisin sauce is both savory and sweet with deep umami notes from fermented soybeans.

What is the difference between hoisin sauce and oyster sauce?

Both hoisin sauce and oyster sauce are used in Chinese cuisine. Hoisin sauce is a thick, sweet and savory sauce made from fermented soybeans and various spices. Oyster sauce has more of an umami flavor. It’s a rich and dark sauce made from oyster extracts and other ingredients.

What’s the best hoisin sauce replacement in a dipping sauce?

Plum sauce and teriyaki sauce are our favorite ready-made options for dipping sauces.

What’s the best hoisin substitute for a marinade or glaze?

Soy sauce and oyster sauce work well as alternatives to hoisin sauce in marinades and glazes.

And if you found the perfect hoisin sauce substitute here, make sure to check out more of our substitution guides.

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