What’s the Difference Between Tamari and Soy Sauce?

Difference Between Tamari and Soy Sauce
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There are many types of soy sauce on the market, each with different tastes and textures. Some soy sauces are made from fermented grains, while others are made from soybeans.

Soy sauce can also vary in its level of saltiness. However, tamari and regular soy sauce are the two most common forms.

Knowing how these two ingredients differ is essential so you can choose the one that works best for your particular needs and recipe.

So what is the Difference Between Tamari and Soy Sauce?

What is Sauce?

A sauce is a liquid or semi-solid food served on or used in preparing other foods. Sauces are not commonly consumed by themselves; they add flavor, moisture, and visual appeal to another dish. 

What is Tamari?

Tamari sauce is made from fermented soybeans. Tamari is fermented without wheat, making it gluten-free. Tamari also has a richer flavor and darker color than soy sauce.

What is Soy Sauce?

There are many different sauces, each with its unique flavor and purpose. One such type of sauce is soy sauce. Soy sauce can be divided into two main categories: light and dark soy sauces. 

Light soy sauces are usually made from fermented boiled soybeans that have been ground into a paste and then mixed with water and salt.

Dark soy sauces are also made from fermented boiled soybeans, but the beans are first roasted until they turn brownish black before being ground into a paste, mixed with water, salt, and sometimes caramel coloring agents. 

Light soy sauces will tend to be thinner than dark soy sauces. This is because they contain less sugar and thus less complex carbohydrates.

They also tend to be saltier because they are typically lower in carbohydrates. This allows them to dissolve easier when mixed with water. 

Light soy sauce is more golden than dark soy sauce due to the lack of sugar added while making it. It tends to have an earthy flavor and soft aroma, whereas dark soy sauce has an intense smell and a more pungent taste due to adding sugar during production.

Here is the difference between tamari and soy sauce.

Difference Between Tamari and Soy Sauce

  • Though tamari and soy sauce are made from fermented soybeans, the two sauces couldn’t be more different. 
  • For starters, tamari is a byproduct of making miso, while soy sauce is made from whole soybeans. This difference in production results in a few key flavor differences. 
  • Tamari is more prosperous and less salty than soy sauce, with a more complex flavor. It’s also darker in color and thicker in consistency. And because it’s a condiment that can stand on its own (rather than being used as an ingredient), it’s sometimes aged for up to three years to bring out the full flavors. Meanwhile, soy sauce is lighter in color and saltier due to its use as an ingredient rather than a condiment, which can vary greatly depending on what you’re cooking with it. Some types have higher levels of sodium or wheat, so if you’re looking for gluten-free or low-sodium options, look for those specific labels. 
  • In general, tamari has a sweeter and lighter color, while soy sauce has a more pungent taste and deeper color. 
  • In terms of health benefits, tamari contains more amino acids than soy sauce because it is less processed. Tamari also contains no MSG, whereas soy sauce may contain MSG.

How to Know Which One to Buy?

Both are fine for most recipes. If your recipe explicitly calls soy sauce, go ahead and buy that one. But if not, consider using tamari instead. It’ll give your dish a more savory flavor without any overpowering saltiness. Or try mixing the two at a 1:1 ratio for delicious all-purpose seasoning. 

Can I Substitute One for the Other?

 Sure! Try adding soy sauce to your next batch of soup when you usually add tamari. Because of the difference between tamari and soy sauce, you may need to adjust the salt level accordingly since soy sauce tends to be more heavily salted than tamari. 

One thing you should never mix these two sauces up, though, is their appearance. Unlike tamari, soy sauce will turn anything it touches dark brown.

That said, don’t feel you need to stock both types of soy sauce in your pantry—choose whichever best suits your needs.


Now that we know the difference between tamari and soy sauce, choose tamari if you have gluten sensitivities or want something with higher nutritional value. Otherwise, enjoy either one as an occasional condiment for your meal!

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