Oyster sauce in clear bowl with Oyster shells and lime

What Is Oyster Sauce & Best Oyster Sauce Substitutes  

Oyster sauce is one of the key Chinese condiments, used to garnish noodles, veggies, meats, and variety of dishes. It can often be used interchangeably with soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, and other Chinese condiments.

What Is Oyster Sauce?

This is a dark sauce with a syruplike consistency that’s very flavorful. You can cook with it or use it as a garnish.

What is oyster sauce made of? It’s usually a combination of soy sauce, oyster juices and then cornstarch added for thickening. This makes it perfect for seafood dishes as well as a variety of Chinese entrees.

What does oyster sauce taste like? It has a slightly salty and slightly sweet taste, and the oyster juices give it an earthy flavor as well.

How to Make Oyster Sauce

Let me show you how to make homemade oyster sauce from scratch. What is in oyster sauce? That’s up to you, but there are some key ingredients that are traditionally a part of this sauce, and I will share with you a simple recipe you can make for yourself.

Oyster Sauce

Oyster sauce in white bowl


  • 8 ounces of oysters (shucked, with liquid retained)
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • Soy sauce, as necessary


    1. Drain the oysters and set the liquid to the side.
    2. Put the oysters into a food processor and process until they have been chopped up into very small pieces.
    3. Put the oysters into a small pan and add in the oyster liquid.
    4. Heat until the liquid starts to boil.
    5. Lower the heat and allow to simmer covered for 8 to 12 minutes.
    6. Take the pan off the heat and add in the salt, allowing the oysters to cool down all the way.
    7. Using a fine sieve, drain the mixture and discard the chunks.
    8. For each half cup of liquid you produced, add about 2 tablespoons of soy sauce.
    9. Then, pour your sauce into a pan and heat until it reaches a boil.
    10. Add in an additional tablespoon of soy sauce and reduce heat, allowing the mixture to simmer for 10 minutes.

Now you have homemade oyster sauce.

How Long Is Oyster Sauce Good for?

If you’ve made the homemade oyster sauce according to the recipe I gave you above, it can store in the fridge for about a month before starts to go bad. You need to keep it sealed in an airtight container and cover it when it’s not in use.

What Is an Oyster Sauce Substitute?

What if you don’t have any oyster sauce available and you need something to use in place of it? What to substitute for oyster sauce?

They’re so great options you can use as an oyster sauce substitute that won’t be exactly the same but that can give you a similar flavor and after a little variety to your dishes.

Soy Sauce

This is probably the most obvious oyster sauce substitute, since oyster sauce usually contains soy sauce anyways. It will give you a similar salty taste profile, so it can be used in place of oyster sauce in most dishes. However, the salty flavor will be stronger, and it won’t be as sweet as oyster sauce.

Teriyaki Sauce

What can be used instead of oyster sauce that’s sweeter than soy sauce? Try teriyaki sauce for its sweeter profile and similar look. You can choose between thick and thin teriyaki sauces, to give your dish the right kind of texture. It’s easy to thicken this sauce with some cornstarch or thin it out with a little water or soy sauce.

Fish Sauce

What is a good substitute for oyster sauce that works well on seafood? Fish sauce works well in a pinch and taste a lot like oyster sauce but not quite the same. It’s going to be thinner and saltier, but you can sweeten it up with a little added sugar.

If you are wondering what to substitute for oyster sauce in fish, muscles, calamari, and other seafood dishes, fish sauce is the obvious solution.

Hoisin Sauce

What is a substitute for oyster sauce can be used at a one-to-one ratio without any changes? Hoisin sauce has the same consistency, so you don’t need to add anything to it to get the same texture and viscosity.

If you want to know what can be used instead of oyster sauce for stir fry, hoisin sauce is a great option because of the way it cooks.

Can You Substitute Oyster Sauce with Hoisin Sauce?

In case you’re looking for justice answer, I do want to once again recommend hoisin sauce as a substitute for oyster sauce because of how it cooks in stir fries and other dishes. It doesn’t have the same fishy flavor to it, so might not be as good a match for seafood.

It’s a great vegan option, however, if you’re looking for something that might be more readily available and that works on a wider variety of dishes without giving them a distinctive fish flavor.

Is Oyster Sauce the Same as Worcestershire?

The main difference between these two sauces is that Worcestershire sauce is made from anchovies, whereas oyster sauce is obviously made from oysters. So, you don’t get a fishy flavor with Worcestershire sauce.

They have a similar viscosity and texture, and they have the same dark look to them as well. The flavors where you can definitely tell the difference, though.

What Is Oyster Sauce Used for?

Oyster sauce is primarily used for Chinese dishes, like stir fries, soups, stews, and vegetable dishes. It’s a great addition to a variety of seafood dishes because of its fish flavor.

It can be used to cook with your dishes to give them an imbued flavor, or it can be used to garnish the dishes for stronger taste that doesn’t lose any of its saltiness.

Keep in mind that not all oyster sauces are made from the same ingredients, and some may have a stronger salty or sweet flavor to them.

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