This homemade vegan oyster sauce recipe looks, tastes, and smells like oyster sauce, but is completely free of shellfish. It's also gluten-free, has a soy-free option, and is made with a handful of simple ingredients.
Although I personally love oysters, I was looking for a store-bought oyster sauce with better ingredients until I realized that it simply doesn't exist. And whether you choose not to eat seafood or you have an allergy, no one should have to miss out on this condiment that adds a really unique flavor to your meals.
Luckily, making your own vegan oyster sauce is really easy.
When I first made this, I was in disbelief. Between the texture and the taste, I was shocked at how much it resembled store-bought oyster sauce in every way.
- Dried shiitake mushrooms - these have a really concentrated umami flavor that's far stronger than fresh mushrooms.
- Boiling water - rehydrates the dried mushrooms so they can become softer and easier to blend while also creating a broth of sorts.
- Brown sugar - this gives it that caramelized color and sweetness that is in traditional oyster sauce.
- Soy sauce or tamari (gluten-free soy sauce) - adds saltiness and umami flavor.
- Kosher salt - to balance out the sweetness from the sugar.
- Tapioca starch - helps to thicken the sauce and give it a thick texture.
Make It Your Way: Substitutions & Variations
Please remember that recipes are just a starting point.
How can you make this vegan oyster sauce using what you already have? Here are some ideas…
- No dried mushrooms? - if you absolutely can't find dried mushrooms, you can use mushroom powder (1-2 teaspoons).
- Soy-free? - use coconut aminos, but decrease the amount of sugar to ½ cup and increase the amount of salt since it's nowhere near as salty as soy sauce to 1 ½ to 2 teaspoons kosher salt.
- Gluten-free? - be sure to use tamari or coconut aminos (soy-free).
- No brown sugar? - sub another granulated sugar such as coconut sugar or cane sugar.
- No tapioca starch/flour? - use cornstarch or arrowroot powder instead.
Helpful Tips For Making The Best Vegan Oyster Sauce
Dried mushrooms can be found in the International aisle in grocery stores, at your local Asian supermarket, or online.
No, vegan oyster sauce is made with mushrooms instead of oysters. This gives the sauce a similar color and texture to regular oyster sauce.
Oyster sauce is a mix of sweet, salty, and umami, so you'll need to add some additional salt to balance out the sweetness of the sugar. I recommend using kosher salt so it doesn't taste overly salty, but if using another type, reduce the amount that the recipe calls for by half and season to taste. Check out my quick guide to cooking with salt to learn more.
Although I haven’t done this, if you're up for playing around with it, I'd suggest using about 1 cup of fresh shiitake mushrooms and sautéing them first to really build the flavor before blending them up.
Store in a glass jar in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. If freezing, add the vegan oyster sauce to a silicone ice cube tray. Once frozen, pop them out, and store them in a sealed container or bag in the freezer for 2-3 months. Defrost overnight in the fridge before using. Make it even easier by adding a specific amount (such as a tablespoon) to each cube, so you know exactly how much to thaw.
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Homemade Vegan Oyster Sauce
- 1 tablespoons tapioca starch/flour or substitute, see notes below
- 2 tablespoons cold water
- Soak the shiitake mushrooms in 1 cup of boiling water to soften them for about 10-15 minutes. Add both the mushrooms and the brothy water to a blender. Blend on high until smooth.
- In a saucepan over medium heat, mix together the blended mushroom liquid, brown sugar, soy sauce or tamari, and kosher salt. Make the slurry by adding the starch to a small bowl with the cold water. Whisk until the starch has completely dissolved.
- Stir in the slurry and continuously whisk until the sugar has dissolved, then reduce the heat to medium-low and keep stirring until the sauce has thickened and reached your desired consistency. It'll continue to thicken as it cools.
- Transfer to a clean glass jar and let cool completely before storing in the fridge for up to 2 weeks or the freezer for 2-3 months.