You may have seen liquid aminos in the condiments aisle of your supermarket, next to the soy sauce and fish sauce.
So, what is it, exactly?
It’s next to those sauces for a reason. Liquid aminos is a salty, savory sauce that’s a gluten-free stand-in for soy sauce. It’s also considered a vegan substitute for traditional fish sauce, an amber-colored liquid made from fermented fish. Both liquid aminos and fish sauce are rich in glutamates, which are the taste bud stimulators that give food the meaty flavor known as umami.
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What is liquid aminos?
Liquid aminos is a gluten-free product made from 16 amino acids derived from soybeans (amino acids are the structural units that make up proteins), advertised as an alternative to soy sauce. It makes a great vegan stand-in for fish sauce and is often used as a paleo replacement for soy sauce.
Coconut aminos is a different product entirely, made by aging coconut tree sap. The dark, almost-black liquid looks similar to soy sauce but is much milder in flavor. Look for coconut aminos in the international aisle of well-stocked supermarkets, specialty stores, or online.
What does liquid aminos taste like?
Liquid aminos sauces vary drastically in consistency (some are thick, some thin), ingredients (some are fruit-flavored, others are mushroom-based), and flavor (some are simply funky, some almost cheese-flavored). For a diverse flavor profile, use liquid and coconut aminos in conjunction with other umami-rich ingredients such as mushrooms and tomato paste to suit your tastes.
Vegan for EverybodyWith creative and delicious vegan options for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and in-between, these recipes will appeal to you whether you are looking to freshen up your cooking, are a committed vegan, or cook for someone who is.
Coconut aminos has a sweeter, less intense flavor than soy sauce. No, it does not taste like coconut.
By contrast, liquid aminos offers a great saltiness and a bit of fermented flavor.
Can you substitute liquid aminos 1:1 for soy sauce?
To replace soy sauce, we use two ingredients to create a similarly salty, savory flavor profile: coconut aminos, which looks like soy sauce but has a slightly sweeter, less intense flavor, and fish sauce, which helps deepen savory flavor but doesn’t taste fishy when used in small quantities.
Substitute with half quantities of each to total the amount of soy sauce called for in the recipe. This, of course, isn’t vegan, but will be useful for those seeking a gluten-free soy sauce option. (An easier option might be to use tamari.)
As far as fish sauce goes, liquid aminos can be substituted on a 1:1 basis.
What are some popular brands of liquid aminos?
In search of a vegetarian alternative, we found a variety of brands that offered a “vegetarian fish sauce.”
- For coconut aminos: We recommend Coconut Secret
- For liquid aminos: We recommend Bragg’s Liquid Aminos, an umami-packed, gluten-free liquid seasoning made from non-GMO verified soybeans.
Can you make a substitute at home?
This isn’t exactly liquid aminos. But in a pinch if you need to make a vegan fish sauce substitute, we have a solution. Here’s how to do it:
Makes about 1¼ cups
Use this for any recipe that calls for vegan fish sauce substitute or anywhere you would traditionally use fish sauce. It’s a homemade alternative to liquid aminos.
- 3 cups water
- 3 tablespoons salt
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- ¼ ounce dried sliced shiitake mushrooms
Simmer all ingredients in a large saucepan over medium heat until mixture is reduced by half, 20 to 30 minutes. Strain liquid through a fine-mesh strainer and let cool completely. (Fish sauce substitute can be refrigerated for up to 2 months.)