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All About Tamari Sauce

Tamari sauce is often compared with soy sauce, as the two are quite similar. Both are made from fermented soybeans and are used in various ways in Asian cuisine. You’re about to learn the key differences below.

bottle of tamari sauce
Tamari sauce can be found in the ethnic aisle of most major grocery stores.

WHAT IS TAMARI SAUCE? 

Tamari sauce is a type of soy sauce from Japan that is formed from miso, which is another word for fermented soybean paste. As miso ferments, a liquid forms around it, which is actually Tamari sauce. If you’re familiar with miso, you know that it boasts a rich umami flavor, which is why tamari sauce is often considered more robust than traditionally made soy sauces. 

Tamari sauce is gluten-free

Because tamari sauce is made without wheat, consisting only of water, soybeans, and salt, those with a gluten allergy or sensitivity can enjoy it.

Do read the labels closely to ensure the brand you purchase is certified “gluten free” and has not been exposed to other products that may contain wheat.

pouring tamari sauce into a white bowl
Tamari sauce has great depth of flavor, without any wheat products.

TAMARI SAUCE: the flavors

Similar to regular soy sauce, tamari sauce boasts a rich umami flavor. It’s earthy, savory, and full of depth. Tamari sauce typically contains significantly less sodium than other types of soy sauces. If you’d like to further cut down on salt, try reduced sodium tamari.

Tamari sauce has a very similar texture to traditional soy sauce, making it ideal for both stir fry recipes and using as a dip for appetizers like egg rolls and dumplings/potstickers.

TAMARI Sauce VS. SOY SAUCE

Because both tamari sauce and soy sauce are made with fermented soybeans and boast a similar flavor, they’re comparable, with a few unique differences. The biggest differences are the salt level, consistency, and ingredients.

Tamari sauce is just slightly thicker than soy sauce. It is also made with less salt, making it a better choice for those who are trying to reduce sodium in their diet. 

If you are substituting tamari in a recipe that calls for soy sauce, consider adding a pinch of salt to make up for this difference. On the other hand, you’ll want to omit any additional salt if you’ll be using soy sauce in place of tamari.

Tamari is made with just soybeans, water, and salt. There is typically no wheat in tamari sauce. Soy sauce is made with soybeans, wheat, salt, and a fermenting agent. The omission of wheat is the reason many with gluten allergies choose to substitute tamari sauce for soy sauce.

TAMARI SAUCE SUBSTITUTE IDEAS

The most obvious choice for a tamari sauce substitute is, of course, soy sauce. But, if you want to try something new (or if you have a soybean allergy) here are some tamari sauce substitute ideas to inspire you:

TAMARI SAUCE RECIPE IDEAS

All of this talk of sauces may have you wondering about tamari sauce recipe ideas! It’s a fairly common ingredient in Asian-inspired cooking, and it can add a really unique flavor to other dishes. Below are some tamari recipes to try:

THE BEST TAMARI SAUCES

There are several brands that make tamari sauce. Each person will have their own preferences, but we’ve come up with this list to help you find the perfect brand for you:

tamari sauce in a bowl with sushi
Tamari sauce is perfect as a condiment for sushi, egg rolls, and potstickers.

TAMARI SAUCE COMMONLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Is Tamari the same as Soy Sauce?

Tamari sauce is made from soybeans, but it is not the same as traditional soy sauce. Essentially, tamari sauce differs from traditional soy sauce in several ways. Traditional soy sauce is made with wheat, so it is not safe to consume for people with a gluten allergy. Tamari, on the other hand, is naturally gluten-free. It is also a bit richer in texture and contains less sodium.

What Does Tamari Sauce Taste Like? 

Tamari sauce has a rich, earthy, umami taste. It’s not as salty as soy sauce, meaning it’s a bit less intense in flavor. Because it isn’t overloaded with salt, you can really taste the complex flavor profile of the fermented soybeans. It’s a unique way to add a bit of earthy flavor to many different types of dishes.

What Do You Use Tamari Sauce For? 

Tamari is a commonly used ingredient in a variety of recipes. It’s most often seen in stir-fries, sauces, soups, and marinades. It’s not just for Asian-inspired dishes. Use it in a variety of sauces no matter the cuisine, or include it with a mixture of various dipping sauces.

Is Tamari Better Than Soy Sauce?

There is a time and place for both tamari sauce and soy sauce, depending on the recipe. It should be noted that tamari is higher in protein, is gluten-free, contains natural antioxidants, is less salty, and is rich in flavor. We regularly use both sauces in our recipes and recommend you try both, to discover your favorite flavor profile.


Try this recipe using tamari sauce:

beef and broccoli in a pan

Tender Beef and Broccoli in 30 Minutes

5 from 11 ratings
s Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry is tender, flavorful, and healthy. This family favorite is perfect for busy weeknights.
Prep Time: 20 mins
Cook Time: 10 mins
Servings: 6

Ingredients  

For the Sauce:

  • ½ cup regular strength beef broth
  • 3 TB Tamari soy sauce
  • 3 TB Japanese rice wine, mirin
  • 3 TB Asian seasoned rice vinegar
  • 3 TB oyster sauce
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 tsp ground ginger

For the Stir Fry:

  • 5 TB olive oil, divided
  • 6 cloves fresh garlic, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3 cups fresh broccoli florets
  • 1 - 1.5 lb sirloin steak, sliced across the grain into very thin, bite-sized pieces
  • Optional: 1/4-1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

Instructions

  • Make the Sauce: In a bowl, combine all Sauce ingredients. Use hand whisk to be sure cornstarch is fully dissolved into the sauce mixture (any bit of undissolved cornstarch will cause gummy lumps in dish.) Set sauce aside.
  • Aromatics: In a large, deep pan, add 3 TB olive oil over medium-high heat until oil is hot. Add garlic and onion, stirring 2 minutes until fragrant and translucent.
  • Cook: Add broccoli florets, cooking about 2 minutes or just until just tender. (Note: If you prefer a bit of char, let florets brown and flip only occasionally, without stirring too much.) Transfer vegetable mixture into a dish and set aside.
  • Beef: Add 2 TB olive oil into the now-empty pan, over medium high heat. Meanwhile, pat-dry all pieces of sliced sirloin steak to remove any excess moisture. Once oil is hot, add beef in a single layer in to the pan. Let beef brown, uninterrupted, for 3 minutes for bottom to brown. Once bottom of beef slices are browned, give it a good stir.
  • Combine: Add back the cooked broccoli/garlic mixture and the sauce you prepared. Stir to incorporate well and continue to cook for another minute. Taste and add red pepper flakes, if desired. Remove from heat and serve with fluffy rice or noodles. 

Notes

If you enjoyed this recipe, please come back and give it a rating ♡

Nutrition

Calories: 364kcal | Carbohydrates: 8.2g | Protein: 19.7g | Fat: 28.4g | Saturated Fat: 4.8g | Cholesterol: 52.4mg | Sodium: 925mg | Fiber: 1.8g | Sugar: 2.2g
Course: Dinner, Main Dish
Cuisine: Asian American
Diet: Gluten Free
Method: Stovetop

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Recipe Rating




12 comments

    • Katie Crenshaw
    • 5 stars

    Loved the beef and broccolini recipe. It was an easy dinner to make for dinner. Great info on the tamari sauce! I will be using it over soy sauce from now on.

    • Amy Casey
    • 5 stars

    I made this delicious stir fry for one of my personal chef client families. It was a hit! One of the family members follows a gluten free diet so this was the perfect recipe.

    • LaKita
    • 5 stars

    I enjoy using tamari sauce instead of soy sauce for certain recipes and the beef and broccoli recipe is so simple and delicious!

    • Pete
    • 5 stars

    I never knew the difference between Tamari and Soy Sauce! I went and bought Tamari just to make this recipe, I think I will switch from Soy! So good!

    • Lori | The Kitchen Whisperer
    • 5 stars

    Such an incredible and informative article! I truly appreciate the education on this! Definitely adding more tamari sauce to my recipes!

    • Chenée
    • 5 stars

    I love how easy it was to make this beef and broccoli! And the Tamari cut down a bit on the sodium. Thanks!

    • Kathryn
    • 5 stars

    I just purchased tamari sauce for the first time last week and I was wondering what the different was! Thanks for the info!!

    • Mikayla
    • 5 stars

    Thank you for the in-depth information on the differences between Soy and Tamari sauces. I had to head out and find a bottle of Tamari, which means we made stir fry for dinner! I really love the thicker less salty flavor it added!

    • Colleen
    • 5 stars

    I buy and use tamari because I am gluten free. I always thought it was exactly the same as soy sauce, so thank you for this great post!

    • Jessica
    • 5 stars

    Yeah! Another person who uses the word “umami”!! I’ve always wondered the difference between Tamari and Soy sauce. Thanks for the informational post 😉 and loving the recipe as well, the thickness of the sauce is amazing with veggies.

    • Dennis Littley
    • 5 stars

    Thank you for such an informative post and the beef and broccolini was ah-mazingly delicious! I will definitely be making that again.

    • Mate Mate US

    What are the popular dishes we can use this tamari sauce?

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