What can I use instead of black bean sauce? We found eight of the best replacements for black bean sauce: miso paste, doubanjiang sauce, hoisin sauce, Tianmian sauce, teriyaki sauce, tamari sauce, oyster sauce, and kecap manis.
Black bean sauce is a Chinese condiment used to flavor many dishes. Prepared using different ingredients such as garlic or chili to fermented soybeans and various seasonings. Its unique tastes have strong, intense flavors combining umami notes with hints of sweetness and rich earthy tones. However, these are some of the best substitutes if you’re in a pinch.
The Best Black Bean Sauce Substitutes
Miso is a close substitute for black bean sauce.
Miso, a Japanese condiment, can be made from barley or grains. Mame miso and hatcho miso is made exclusively from fermented soybeans and has a reddish-brown color and a thick pasty consistency.
Tastes can vary depending on how long the miso has been aged. The darker it is, the more intense the flavors, with lighter miso producing a sweeter and milder flavor. It generally provides a savory umami with toasty, salted, and sweet nuances.
Miso paste can be used as a broth or smeared on meat as a glaze. Often found in soups to season the mix, it’s also great used in conjunction with aubergine and mushrooms.
You can replace black bean sauce with equal amounts of miso. However, you may need to add more salt if you use a light miso.
Doubanjiang sauce can be another close alternative to black bean sauce.
Made using broad beans, soybeans, salt, rice, and spices, it can also have a spicy version made with chili peppers.
Doubanjiang can be fermented from anything between three months and three years. It’s a popular condiment and sauce in Sichuan cuisine with a chunky consistency.
The taste is very salty, with solid earthy undertones packed with complex umami flavors. The chili version is spicy and adds a spicy kick to meals.
Traditionally used for stir-fries, it’s also an excellent base for marinades and soup. Adds delicious flavors to tofu and can be a salty condiment as a dipping sauce.
The non-chili doubanjiang can be used as an equal substitute for black bean sauce. But if you want to spice things up with the chili version, start with half the required amount and add as needed.
A popular substitute for black bean sauce is hoisin sauce.
Hoisin sauce is a thick reddish-brown sauce typically made from soybean paste, garlic, vinegar, chili pepper, and Chinese-five spice.
Variations in the sauce are common depending on the location and origin of the sauce.
The sauce is a well-balanced mixture of salty, sweet, and spicy with fruity and tangy undertones.
A key ingredient in the Peking duck recipe, hoisin sauce is also great for grilling or glazing fatty meats like pork and duck. It’s also popularly used as a dipping sauce for egg and spring rolls.
Substitute hoisin sauce in equal measure when the recipe asks for black bean sauce. Keep in mind that it has a slightly spicy note.
In a pinch, tianmian sauce can substitute for black bean sauce. It is also known as sweet bean sauce.
However, it is mainly produced using wheat flour, with some recipes adding fermented soybean. It is a thick, smooth dark brown to black sauce found primarily in Northern Chinese cuisine.
Tianmian sauce tastes relatively similar to black bean, with a mild savory to sweet flavor, depending on the recipe.
Often found as a condiment, tianmian sauce can also be used for braising meats and goes well with shredded pork stir-fries.
Substitute black bean sauce with equal amounts of Tianmian sauce.
Here is another sauce that can substitute black bean sauce.
Teriyaki sauce is more of a Japanese cooking technique using traditional ingredients.
A conventional mixture of soy sauce, brown sugar, and mirin, a sweet rice wine, is used in glazing meats, vegetables, and tofu. Westernized adaptations include garlic, ginger, sesame oil, and sesame seeds.
It is a thick sticky sauce with a tangy, sweet, yet savory sauce with bold flavors.
Used as a marinade or glaze for cooking meat, chicken, or fish and can also be added as a dipping sauce for dumplings or shrimp.
You can use an equal amount of teriyaki to replace black bean sauce. However, the flavors are sweeter, so keep that in mind.
Tamari sauce is another great substitute for black bean sauce.
This thick Japanese sauce is made from the drained liquids of miso paste made from fermented soybeans. It contains no wheat, making it wheat-free, gluten-free, and vegan friendly.
A mellow balance of flavors with less saltiness than Chinese soy sauce, it still packs a rich, savory taste.
Tamari is better suited for sushi, as it doesn’t overwhelm the taste with saltiness.
It’s ideal for adding to a variety of dishes for seasoning. It’s also delicious, served as a seasoning with added sugar for roasted nuts.
Substitute black bean sauce with tamari sauce on an equal basis. Although not as sweet as black bean sauce, you can always add some brown sugar to sweeten the sauce.
Oyster sauce can be used in a pinch to substitute black bean sauce.
Traditionally made from boiling oysters and reducing their juices until it caramelizes.
This is an expensive method, and more modernized methods are used to reduce costs by using oyster essences or extracts caramelized with sugar and salt. In addition, caramel is sometimes used to darken the sauce.
Oyster sauce is a thick and glossy sauce that is sweet with plenty of salty umami flavors that resemble shellfish flavors more than oysters. Vegetarians can enjoy an oyster sauce made from mushrooms.
Again, another ideal sauce for stir-fries as it helps tone down the bitterness of greens. Mixed with vinegar and ginger, it’s a delicious Asian-style salad dressing.
It also provides plenty of flavors for marinades and soups.
Start with half the quantity you typically use with black bean sauce, as the oyster sauce has more fishy flavors.
Kecap Manis is a close substitute for black bean sauce.
An Indonesian condiment, also known as sweet soy sauce, is made from fermented soybeans and palm sugar.
Variations exist with added spices such as star anise, black pepper, cinnamon, coriander, and cloves.
A dark syrupy sauce with a sweet molasses flavor packed with salty umami flavors.
It’s one of those sauces you can use in just about anything, from seasoning dishes to a glaze for all types of meat, fish, and poultry. It’s also a key ingredient in Satay and can be used as a sweet dipping sauce.
When the recipe calls for black bean sauce, you can substitute using equal amounts of kecap manis.