Ever since we had a friend with a wheat allergy come over for dinner, I’ve been thinking about how to prepare Asian foods without soy sauce or finding a nut-safe, wheat and gluten free soy sauce alternative. One of the first questions that popped up shortly after I published my first few recipes revolved around soy sauce: How to make Soy-Free Soy Sauce? This is a huge topic and I believe the humble soy sauce deserves its own post!
Updated: 8/30/2022 – minor updates to improve formatting and readability
Disclaimer: Please check that all ingredients are suitable for your allergies and be sure to ask your medical care team regarding any allergy related questions (I do not share medical advice). As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
Shopping for Soy Sauce
Assuming that one does not have any wheat or soy allergies and could choose any brand of soy sauce, I suggest Kikkoman. It’s the brand that you can find at almost any supermarket, tastes good, and has a product allergen chart available online. Lee Kum Kee is another common supermarket brand with some allergen information available online.
If you live in an area with Asian supermarkets, I recommend Koon Chun’s soy sauce and other products. In addition to making soy based sauces, people with a shellfish allergy need to be aware that they also make oyster sauce. I love the taste and the fact that they do not use preservatives or food coloring in their products. They’re one of Hong Kong’s oldest brands even though they are now required to have a “made in China” label on their products.
Nut-Free, Soy-Free “Soy Sauce” Alternative Recipes
I have not tried these recipes yet but I’m compiling them here for future reference.
- Cybele Pascal has shared a recipe online on how to make a top 8 allergen free soy sauce recipe using beef stock, seaweed, cider vinegar, garlic, ginger, and pepper. That sounds really good with a lot of umami flavor.
- Nut Free Wok reader, Karen, shared another recipe that doesn’t use seaweed and seems equally simple.
I created two alternative soy-free recipes.
- This soy-free soy sauce recipe is quick and easy to make and and it tastes amazing!
- I also developed an Instant Pot soy sauce recipe that is a by-product of cooking beef tongue, which is more delicious than it sounds. I understand how some people might not want to make beef tongue, you can also use beef shank or any other inexpensive or tough cut of beef as a substitute.
Nut-Free, Soy-Free Alternatives
I am looking forward to try these as the opportunity arises. Thanks to the fantastic response from readers and friends, I would narrow down the options to the following short list:
Bragg’s Liquid Aminos Their webpage states that their equipment is free of peanut, tree nut, and wheat. However, I have an email response (Feb. 2013) disclosing that walnuts are the only nut present, processed, and/or stored in the facility with their liquid amino product. (After all these years, I still haven’t tried Bragg’s Liquid Aminos because of the potential walnut cross-contact!)
Coconut Secrets Coconut Aminos is soy-free, gluten free, dairy free, and vegan which is an option for someone who is certain they are not allergic to coconut. Quite a few trusted nut allergy mommy friends use this product. The manufacturer’s website does disclose an allergen advisory as well as that they adhere to a strict allergen protocol. I find coconut aminos (affiliate link) a little bit on the sweet side which makes sense since it’s made from the nectar of coconut flowers, I recommend reducing any sugar or sweetners in recipes where you wish to use coconut aminos.
Red Boat Fish Sauce (see Sarah’s comments below, thank you!!!) is made from anchovies and sea salt and according to their FAQ, it is free of peanuts, shellfish, gluten, and soy (contains fish). This opens up some yummy options for some Vietnamese dishes, including pho! I usually buy Red Boat Fish Sauce at Trader Joe’s when I see it (opportunity buy alert!) otherwise a small bottle from Whole Foods or Amazon (affiliate) is perfect for my needs.
Nut-Free, Gluten-Free Soy Sauce Alternatives (Contains Soy)
Kikkoman makes a gluten free soy sauce for those who avoid gluten but aren’t allergic to soy. According to their allergen chart, no peanuts are in the facility thus unlikely to have any cross contact with peanuts. Kikkoman does make a few products containing tree nuts. However the “all-purpose Kikkoman Soy Sauce and the Kikkoman Less Sodium Soy Sauce are brewed at the Kikkoman Foods, Inc. plant in Walworth, WI where there are no peanuts or tree nuts ingredients. Please check the back of your label to see where the product was made.” I recommend checking the label and calling them if you have further concerns.
San-J makes gluten free Tamari Soy Sauce as well as a variety of gluten-free Asian sauces, one of which contains peanuts. I emailed the company regarding their allergen policy and received the following response (pretty awesome, also note that I haven’t reached out to them since this post was orginally published):
What are your favorite soy sauce or soy sauce alternatives?
If any readers know of other nut-free, wheat and gluten free soy sauce alternative that I can purchase, please share in the comments. As always, I recommend reading the ingredient labels and calling the manufacturers personally as manufacturers can change their policies, ingredients, or labels at any time without warning.
If you like this post, you’ll probably like to see what is in my cupboard as well.
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Great post! I like using Red Boat Fish Sauce. Of course, not great for fish allergies, but it is peanut, tree nut and gluten free. I just emailed to ask about soy and shellfish cross contamination. http://redboatfishsauce.com/faq.html
Wow! Red Boat already emailed me back! They say there is no cross contamination with soy or shellfish. They only use anchovies and salt.
Awesome, Sarah!!! Thank you for sharing, what a terrific find.
I’m confused about lactic acid. I’ve always purchased the regular Kikkoman soy sauce bc it doesn’t list lactic acid. I was understanding that lactic acid came from dairy. The low sodium soy sauce lists lactic acid in the ingredients but their website says it doesn’t contain dairy.
So, do you know any thing about lactic acid? And is the low sodium soy sauce safe then for dairy allergies? Do you trust Kikkomans labeling? Thanks!!
Hi Ellie, That is such a great question that I’ve never thought about since we don’t have a dairy allergy. Out of curiosity, I found a discussion about this topic and it seems that lactic acid in soy sauce is a by product of the fermentation process. http://food52.com/hotline/16410-is-lactic-acid-used-in-soy-sauce-from-cows
Perhaps other readers with a dairy allergy can chime in about soy sauce, but if you still have concerns, it’s probably best to ask your doctor or refer to Kikkoman’s allergen chart http://www.kikkomanusa.com/homecooks/faq/allergenchart.php and call if you have further questions.
Thanks for sharing Sharon! Daughters are allergic to peanut, tree nut, soy, sesame, gluten, dairy, egg and legumes. Asian food is hard for us. Up until 2 years ago we were ok with soy and sesame and would have miso soup and tofu often, but now it’s definitely a challenge to cook any korean food without soy or sesame.We use Coconut secrets, but want to try Cybele’s recipe soon. Ive been using chicken stock to flavor my stir fry veggies.
I successfully made a nut, gluten, dairy, egg, sesame free California roll last night and was a success. Even her classmates asked if i can make them some. I started making homemade radish kimchee, but still working on the right taste.
Keep it coming. Thanks for starting this.
Hi Candice! Food allergies are soooooo hard! Yes, not being able to use soy really makes cooking Asian dishes a challenge. I am not familiar with cooking many Korean dishes but I can see how sesame and soy are key ingredients for achieving the Korean flavors. Good job on making an allergy friendly California roll as there are so many possibilities with sushi! Let’s keep in touch and maybe we can brainstorm to come up with a recipe together.
My DH has started making shoji koji, which is a fermented rice product. We like it much better than coconut aminos and avoid some of the others mentioned for other allergies. He orders the starter from amazon. The other ingredients are normal ones.
Hi there! LOVE your blog and I’m very thankful for your work! Do you happen to know of a peanut and tree nut safe Poke sauce or recipe? I’d love to make it for my family. Thanks!!
Thank you so much, I’m glad you love the blog! I love poke and haven’t ventured into making it myself yet. If you find a good recipe, you can cross reference the ingredients with what’s in my cupboard. I’ll let you know when I come up with a poke recipe. What are your favorite poke ingredients? I love salmon everytime but try other types of fish too. https://nutfreewok.com/whats-in-nut-free-woks-pantry/