Tamari vs. Soy Sauce: Everything You Need to Know About These Traditional Asian Sauces

What's the difference between these two salty sauces?

If you've dabbled in cooking with Asian flavors or ever eaten sushi or Chinese takeout, you've probably come across the delicious, savory, salty condiments known as soy sauce and tamari. People often use their names interchangeably, but did you know they are actually two distinct sauces? If you've ever wondered about the difference or when to use each, here's what you need to know.

What’s the difference between tamari and soy sauce?

Both tamari and soy sauce are derived from fermented soybeans to create a salty liquid used in cooking to create a rich, umami flavor. Tamari is the Japanese version and soy sauce is the more commonly known Chinese variety. Tamari is a little thicker and less salty, while soy sauce has a thinner consistency and leaves a burst of salt on the tongue.

Which is healthier?

Both tamari and soy sauce have similar nutritional profiles, and both are quite high in sodium—so be mindful of your consumption, no matter which one you choose.

One major difference between the two sauces is that during the cooking process of making soy sauce, wheat is added. Tamari production does not include the addition of any grains. So, if you have a gluten sensitivity or celiac disease, stick to tamari. Always remember to double-check labels to ensure that the product is truly gluten-free!.

Tamari is also slightly higher in protein than soy sauce, but this minimal difference wont' really affect your daily nutritional goals since both tamari and soy sauce are typically consumed in small amounts.

One final difference is that tamari is usually less likely to include additives, which is why it is usually found in health food stores and restaurants. So if you're trying to live an all-natural lifestyle, tamari is the sauce for you.

When should you use tamari vs. soy sauce?

You can use tamari and soy sauce interchangeably, but there are certain circumstances better suited for one over the other:

Tamari: cold dishes, dressings, dipping (like for these incredible dumplings), Japanese cooking

Soy sauce: hot dishes, stir fries, Chinese cooking

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles