9 Black Bean Sauce Substitutes to Make Your Dish Appetizing

One of the most popular sauces in Chinese cuisine is black bean sauce. It is made of salted fermented black soybeans, douchi, sugar, soy sauce, garlic, and other flavors. It has a sharp, salty, bitter and kind of umami-savory taste. 

Black bean sauce is served with seafood, stir-fries and steamed dishes. You can find it in jars from Asian grocery stores but if it’s not available in your region, you can try making it at home or refer to substitutes. 

The best black bean sauce substitutes are tianmian sauce, hoisin sauce, chile bean sauce, oyster sauce, brown bean sauce, teriyaki sauce, miso paste, light or sweet soy sauce and homemade black bean sauce

1. Tianmian Sauce

If you are familiar with black bean sauce, then perhaps you have also tried tianmian sauce. It’s another Chinese sauce made of fermented soybeans and wheat flour. This sauce has a mild, sweet-to-salty flavor. 

It’s a thick and dark sauce used in stir-fries, noodle dishes, steamed buns and with meat, especially with pork. 

Compared to black bean sauce, tianmian is rather on the sweeter side than spicy but it’s often used just like ketchup. You can use it as a condiment for many dishes calling for black bean sauce. 

2. Hoisin Sauce

Hoisin sauce is an easy-to-find alternative. It contains fermented soybean paste, vinegar, garlic, chilies, sesame oil, and sweetener. It tastes like American-style barbecue sauce and carries saltiness and sweetness. 

Hoisin sauce is used with stir fries, soups, noodles and meat. Since it has a thick consistency, you can use it as a dipping sauce for dumplings, meat, and fried dishes. 

3. Chile Bean Sauce

Unlike black bean sauce, chile bean sauce is made of fava beans, chilies and wheat four. It comes from Chinese cuisine and has a hot, salty and strong taste. 

It is used with stir-fries, stews, hot pots, tofu dishes and as a dipping for finger dishes or a side sauce to add more spiciness to meals. 

4. Oyster Sauce

Oyster sauce is made of oyster extract, salt and sugar. It’s a dark brown condiment with a savory, tangy and umami flavor. 

You can use it instead of black bean sauce with many Asian, Thai and Chinese dishes including stir-fries, meat marinades and as a dipping sauce. 

Although oyster and black bean sauces are very similar in flavor, you may still notice a little difference if you often use black bean sauce. Oyster sauce brings out the oyster taste, some sweetness and briney hint.  

5. Brown Bean Sauce

The main difference between black and brown bean sauces is in the color. While black bean sauce is made of fermented black soybeans, brown bean sauce is made of fermented yellow soybeans. They come with a similar taste and flavor. 

It is as salty as black bean sauce and is as thick as brown bean sauce. So, you can safely use it in your dishes instead of black bean sauce. 

6. Teriyaki Sauce

Teriyaki sauce has many fans from Asian food lovers as it contains a well-balanced combination of ingredients that make it taste sweet, salty, umami and tangy. It is made of soy sauce, mirin, sake and sugar. 

It makes food look more appealing and appetizing, that’s why many people prefer it over some other sauces. So, if you want to replace black bean sauce with something else, consider using teriyaki sauce. 

7. Miso Paste

Miso paste is thicker than the rest of substitutes. It is made of soybeans, rice, barley, and rye combined with a mold called koji. There are 3 types of miso pastes that differ in color and taste. The longer it is fermented the darker it is in color and stronger in taste. 

From light, red and dark-colored miso pastes, you can choose light and red miso pastes to substitute black bean sauce. They come with a salty, sweet and umami flavor. You can use this paste in soups, stir-fries, sauces, marinades and sauteed dishes. 

8. Soy Sauce (Light or Sweet)

If you have light or sweet soy sauce you can use one of them instead of black bean sauce too. Sweet soy sauce will taste even better with plums. 

While soy sauce adds a salty taste, plums darken the color and change the texture of the sauce making it similar to black bean sauce. 

Other condiments such as garlic, vinegar, sesame oil and 5-spice powder make the flavor stronger and richer. Note that you need to boil the plums with brown sugar before adding to the rest of the ingredients. The final taste is going to be salty yet sweet at the same time.

9. Homemade Black Bean Sauce

If you want to make black bean sauce at home then follow the instructions.


1 cup of fermented black soybeans

4 cups of sugar

Half white onion

8 crushed garlic cloves

1 piece of ginger

1/3 of a cup of vegetable oil

1/4 cup of Shaoxing wine

1/4 cup of light soy sauce

How to Make:

First, make sure beans are rinsed beforehand. Then mince the onion and crush the garlic. Make a paste with a food processor with those ingredients. 

Second, heat the oil, add the paste and let it boil until the mixture absorbs the oil. Add soy sauce, wine and sugar and let it simmer for about 10 minutes. 

Add grated ginger and cook until the oil starts to float on the surface of the sauce. Let it cool and store in an airtight jar. Keep it in the fridge and use it for a month. 

FAQs on Black Bean Sauce 

Is black bean sauce healthy?

Black bean sauce doesn’t contain saturated fats and cholesterol which means it’s good for the health of the hearth. It adds 65 calories and 6 g of healthy fat to your organizm. 

Is black bean sauce spicy?

Black bean sauce comes with medium spiciness. It is not too hot and you can safely use it with meats, vegetables and noodles. 

Is Chinese black bean sauce vegan?

Yes, the chinese black bean sauce is fully plant-based and is naturally vegan. 

Sum Up

Although these black bean sauce substitutes come with many similarities, each of them has a unique taste and combination of flavors. In order to make sure you have gone for the right option, you’d better read the ingredients list before using. 

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