The 9 Best Substitutes For Browning Sauce

What can I use instead of browning sauce? The best substitutes for browning sauce add color and flavor: DIY browning sauce, seasoning liquid, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, gravy powder, teriyaki sauce, and barbeque sauce. Molasses and coffee granules are helpful for coloring baked goods.

Browning sauce is a Caribbean coloring agent made primarily from caramelized sugar and water. This condiment adds a slightly smokey flavor but is not intended as a seasoning. Use browning sauce to glaze meat or enrich the color of gravy, soup, stew, gumbo, and Jamaican black cake.

Here are the nine best substitutes for browning sauce:

The Best Browning Sauce Substitutes

DIY Browning Sauce

The best substitute for store-bought browning sauce is homemade browning sauce.

Many Jamaican and island cooks make their own browning sauce using cane sugar and hot water.

Place a cast iron skillet on medium heat, and heat the sugar. Continue stirring slowly until the sugar melts into syrup and caramelizes.

Once the sugar has turned dark brown, remove the pan from the stove and add boiling water one teaspoon at a time.

This process is dangerous as the water will steam and spatter, so take care. Continue stirring until all the water is used.

Add salt and allow the sauce to cool. Store your browning sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to six months.

Use DIY browning sauce precisely as you would use store-bought sauce.

Seasoning Liquid

An excellent alternative to browning sauce is seasoning liquid.

Maggi’s seasoning is a ubiquitous brand of flavor-enhancing sauces dating back to nineteenth-century Switzerland.

The seasoning is made of hydrolyzed vegetable protein and other secret ingredients. It is naturally high in glutamic acid, a similar active substance to MSG.

You can find Maggi in the form of seasoning liquid, powder, and cubes – the sauce is the best substitute for browning sauce.

With its distinctive umami flavor, this dark brown liquid adds a savory boost to eggs, soups, sauces, casseroles, stir-fries, and marinades.

Like browning sauce, a little seasoning sauce goes a long way. Seasoning sauce will brown your food like browning sauce and add depth of flavor.

Use half the amount of seasoning liquid as browning sauce, as it is very high in salt.

Soy Sauce

Soy sauce is another handy alternative to browning sauce.

This thick, salty Asian sauce is made from fermented soya beans. During fermentation, MSG is released, which is a natural flavor enhancer.

Soy sauce has become a common pantry ingredient that adds a savory umami undertone to soups, sauces, stews, noodles, and marinades. Several varieties include low-sodium, dark, light, and sweet soy sauce.

With its rich brown color, dark soy sauce can play the role of a coloring agent, as well as a table condiment and dipping sauce.

Use soy sauce sparingly as a browning sauce substitute, as its flavors can easily overwhelm other ingredients. For every teaspoon of browning sauce, use ½ teaspoon of soy sauce.

Worcestershire Sauce

Worcestershire sauce is a quintessential British sauce and a delicious substitute for browning sauce.

Worcestershire sauce is a versatile, multi-purpose condiment that originated in India with its unpronounceable name. It contains fermented molasses, vinegar, anchovies, and spices and has a salty, tangy flavor.

Add Worcestershire sauce to marinades, BBQ sauce, gravy, and hearty stews, or use it to upgrade your scrambled eggs, fries, and stir-fries.

Worcestershire sauce will turn food brown, so use it in equal quantities to browning sauce, with the proviso that it will add zest and color.

Gravy Powder

Gravy powder is a suitable replacement for browning sauce.

Available as a stock-like powder and as instant gravy, this seasoning browns, thickens, and flavors sauces.

The dark brown powder is an English pantry favorite, used not only to make gravy and sauces but also to add flavor to meat pies, stews, casseroles, and soups.

Replace browning sauce with half as much gravy powder mixed to a paste with water. Add more gravy powder for additional color, but be aware that it will thicken as well as brown your dish.

Steak Sauce

Steak sauce is a flavorsome substitute for browning sauce.

In the UK, where steak sauce is known as a brown sauce or HP sauce, this thick, sweetish condiment is poured over fried eggs, sausages, bacon sandwiches, and fries. The same sauce, often the brand A1, is served primarily with steak in the US.

Although the names are similar, brown sauce differs from browning sauce as it contains sugar, tomato paste, vinegar, and spices and has a much tangier flavor.

Use brown sauce instead of browning sauce for glazing and marinades rather than as a gravy or sauce ingredient.

Replace browning sauce with the same amount of brown sauce.

Teriyaki Sauce

Teriyaki sauce is another delicious substitute for browning sauce.

A stalwart of Japanese cuisine, teriyaki sauce combines soy sauce, rice vinegar, honey, and garlic. The sweet, slightly acidic flavor works well in marinades as a glaze, stir-fries, or dipping sauce.

Teriyaki sauce will brown your dish as effectively as browning sauce, with the added advantage of zesty flavor.

Use teriyaki sauce instead of browning sauce in a 1:1 ratio when sautéeing meat and vegetables.

Barbeque Sauce

A common pantry ingredient, barbeque sauce, makes a helpful browning sauce alternative.

Barbeque sauce is a characteristically American sauce that comes in several variations. Generally, vinegar, tomatoes, molasses, and spices are the essential ingredients, giving it an acidic yet sweet flavor.

Barbeque sauce is handy for marinating, mopping, or seasoning grilled meat. It also makes a tasty condiment and dipping sauce.

Barbeque sauce has a similar color and sweetish flavor to browning sauce.

Substitute barbeque sauce for browning sauce in equal ratios to glaze meat and brown gravy, and enhance the flavor of dips.


Molasses is an excellent substitute for browning sauce in sweet dishes.

This thick, dark syrup developed as a byproduct of the sugar refinery process and is available as light, dark, and blackstrap molasses.

The darker syrups are highly nutritious and contain several vitamins and minerals despite being a sugar product.

Molasses has a more robust, less sweet flavor than sugar, and dense consistency, with dark molasses the best match for browning sauce.

Use molasses instead of browning sauce to color and flavor dark bakes, like black cake, gingerbread, and fruit cake.

However, adding molasses to a bake will affect the consistency.

Replace up to half the sugar required with molasses, reducing the liquid by ⅓ cup and adding ½ teaspoon baking powder to avoid acidity.

Coffee Granules

Try using coffee granules instead of browning sauce.

Instant coffee powder or granules are on most of our shelves and are an easy way to add depth and color to dishes. Professional chefs often use coffee granules for this purpose.

Ensure that you are using pure coffee, not a chicory-based beverage, as this will alter the effect.

Coffee granules are a helpful browning agent, especially for strongly flavored meat dishes, like pot roast, beef stew, chili, and gravy.

Instant coffee dissolves quickly, and the coffee flavor will disappear, leaving a warm richness and caramel color.

The coffee powder works well for coloring bakes and creating a more complex flavor profile. It’s especially good in dark fruit cakes.

Use as much coffee as browning sauce to get a similar effect. However, large amounts of coffee granules will influence flavor, which is not always desirable in savory dishes.