Soy sauce is one of the best ways to add umami — a complex, salty, and savory flavor — to dishes. Widely used in Asian cuisine, it’s also highly versatile and can be used in many different types of food.
Yet, if you have to avoid gluten, you may wonder whether soy sauce fits your dietary needs.
This article reviews whether soy sauce is gluten-free, which brands to choose, and a gluten-free soy sauce alternative.
Most soy sauces contain gluten
Soy sauce is traditionally made with wheat and soy, making the name “soy sauce” slightly misleading.
The sauce is typically made by combining soy and crushed wheat and allowing the two to ferment for several days in a salty brine containing mold cultures.
Therefore, most soy sauces contain gluten from wheat.
However, one variety called tamari is often naturally gluten-free. While traditional Japanese tamari contains a small amount of wheat, most tamari produced today is made using only fermented soy.
Additionally, some soy sauces are made with rice instead of wheat to accommodate people with gluten sensitivities.
Summary: Most soy sauce varieties contain gluten, but tamari soy sauce is generally gluten-free. Gluten-free soy sauce made with rice is also an option.
How to choose a gluten-free soy sauce
Most standard soy sauces contain gluten, while most tamari soy sauces are gluten-free.
However, you should always look for gluten-free labeling on the packaging.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) mandates that a food labeled gluten-free contains fewer than 20 parts per million (ppm) of gluten, a microscopic amount that is unlikely to affect even the most severely gluten-intolerant people.
Another way to identify gluten-free soy sauce is to check the ingredient list. The product is not gluten-free if it contains wheat, rye, barley, or any ingredients made from these grains.
Summary: To ensure your soy sauce does not contain gluten, choose a soy sauce that’s labeled gluten-free. There are several options available.
Gluten-free soy sauce alternative
Additionally, coconut aminos are a popular, naturally gluten-free alternative to soy sauce that can provide a punch of savory flavor.
Coconut aminos are made by aging coconut blossom sap with salt.
The result is a sauce that tastes remarkably similar to soy sauce but is naturally gluten-free. It gets its name because it contains several amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein.
Like tamari, coconut aminos are a solid gluten-free soy sauce replacement available in specialty stores or online.
Summary: Coconut aminos are a popular, gluten-free soy sauce alternative made from coconut sap.
Most soy sauce varieties are not gluten-free.
However, tamari soy sauce is generally made without wheat and, therefore, gluten-free. The same goes for soy sauces made with rice.
Additionally, coconut aminos are a gluten-free soy sauce alternative with a similar taste.
With these gluten-free options, you don’t have to miss out on the unique umami flavor of soy sauce.