If you’re a fan of authentic Japanese cuisine and want to make it at home, one of the most essential seasonings is without a doubt shoyu or soy sauce. It is one of the most prominent flavors found in most Japanese dishes and is an extremely versatile sauce. Shoyu can be used in a variety of dishes from salad dressings and dipping sauces to soup bases and marinades.
Whether you’re new to the world of shoyu or are a seasoned shoyu expert, it can still be difficult to know which shoyu to choose. Especially with so many kinds and varieties available on the market. That’s why we here at Japanese Taste want to help! After conducting a taste test where we blindly tested multiple Japanese soy sauces, below you’ll find our crafted list of the top 15 Japanese Soy Sauces that you can buy online.
Best Overall Dark Soy Sauce
This Koikuchi Dark Soy Sauce from Daitoku won our hearts over because it has a high-quality taste and is made with only domestic, organic ingredients. This shoyu is made with non mass-produced, high-quality materials and is aged in kioke barrels following traditional methods. It has a genuinely unique flavor compared to that of other koikuchi shoyu and is also free of additives. Its flavor is quite full-bodied but is not too overpowering. It is also not too salty either. It's a great soy sauce to use as a condiment or in cooking.
Daitoku Tokiarubeshi Organic Koikuchi Shoyu Japanese Dark Soy Sauce 300ml
Best Saishikomi Twice-Brewed Soy Sauce
If you’re looking for a more premium soy sauce option that can be used for special occasions, then this Saishikomi Twice-Brewed Soy Sauce from Suehiro is for you! This is no ordinary shoyu. In fact, this shoyu has undergone a double brewing, three-step preparation process that gives it a more intense flavor and deep color compared to the normal dark soy sauce you may be used to. This is the perfect shoyu to use as a dipping sauce for sashimi or red meat, or in dishes that can use a good boost of umami flavor from soy sauce.
Suehiro Premium Saishikomi Shoyu Japanese Twice-Brewed Soy Sauce 100ml
Best Organic Dark Soy Sauce
We know that many people opt to shop organic when possible, so we’re pleased to recommend this Organic Koikuchi Dark Soy Sauce from Adachi Brewery. Adachi is a shoyu brewery based in Hyogo Prefecture that uses only organic and domestic materials in making all of their shoyu products. Containing only the simple ingredients of organic soybeans, organic wheat, and sea salt, the pure, umami-packed taste of true soy sauce really comes out in this product.
Another great point about this shoyu is that the ingredients are fermented together for a year in historic wooden barrels before being bottled and sold to consumers. Therefore, every step in making this shoyu is natural and no shortcuts are taken. It’s a great shoyu that can be used in cooking, as a dipping sauce, in salad dressings & marinades, or however you see fit.
Adachi Koikuchi Shoyu Organic Japanese Dark Soy Sauce 500ml
Best All Purpose Dark Soy Sauce
Soy sauce is a go-to seasoning for many, especially those who like to make stir-fried dishes at home. If you’re looking for a soy sauce that can be used as an all-purpose ingredient, then this Koikuchi Dark Soy Sauce from Teraoka is for you. Compared to other shoyu, this particular shoyu is more mellow in flavor, making it ideal for cooking. Its mellowness in flavor comes from its natural and tedious fermentation process.
These days, many mainstream soy sauce makers opt for taking shortcuts or speeding up the fermentation process of their products, which often involves the use of chemicals or preservatives. With this Teraoka Koikuchi Shoyu, you can enjoy the familiar taste of Japanese soy sauce that you’re used to, without having to worry about consuming fillers, additives, or preservatives. The best part about this soy sauce is undoubtedly its size. Its value 1000ml size means that you can enjoy the authentic flavor of Japanese shoyu whenever you please.
Teraoka Koikuchi Shoyu Japanese Dark Soy Sauce 1000ml
Best Light Soy Sauce
Usukuchi shoyu, or light soy sauce is the go-to soy sauce for residents in the Kansai area (think, Osaka and Kyoto.) It is slightly saltier and lighter in color than koikuchi dark soy sauce. Don’t let the fact that it is higher in sodium shy you away from it though – a little can really go a long way!
This particular light soy sauce is made by Suehiro, who is the founder of usukuchi shoyu. In fact, they’ve been brewing this kind of shoyu since 1887 and are extremely proud of their product. Containing only 100% domestic Japanese soybeans, wheat, sun-dried salt, and water from their beloved Ibo river (a river famous for its soft and pure-tasting water), this shoyu has been brewed to have a refreshing, yet full-bodied flavor. It’s a great soy sauce to use for soups, stir-fries, and general cooking, but start out with a little less than you would normally use and adjust from there. Suehiro is so proud of their usukuchi shoyu, that they’ve even created a more premium version of it that can be used as a dipping sauce. This way, you can enjoy authentic usukuchi shoyu in any way that you please!
Suehiro Usukuchi Shoyu Naturally Brewed Japanese Light Soy Sauce 500ml
Best White Soy Sauce
If you’re new to the world of Japanese shoyu, then chances are you’ve never heard of shiro shoyu, or white soy sauce before. If you haven’t, that’s okay! Many Japanese people are also unfamiliar with this type of soy sauce. However, white soy sauce is unique compared to dark soy sauce in that it provides salty and umami flavor to food without altering its color.
This premium white soy sauce from Hichifuku is a unique shiro shoyu that is light in color and rich in flavor – something difficult to achieve with white soy sauce. Since white soy sauce has a higher ratio of wheat to soybeans at 90:10, it is easy for the umami factor of soy sauce to be lost. However, once you taste this white soy sauce, you’ll realize how umami-packed it really is. This is the perfect kind of soy sauce to use where maintaining the original color of the dish is important, but the flavor of soy sauce is beneficial. It is also the ultimate ingredient to use when you want to add a surprise umami element to dishes like pasta sauces, salad dressings, or marinades.
Hichifuku Premium Organic Shiro Shoyu Aged White Soy Sauce 180ml
Most Premium Tamari Sauce
Soy sauce, while a common Japanese seasoning, may not be suitable for everyone, especially those with gluten intolerance. In those situations, it is recommended to use tamari, but finding a tamari that is flavorful and free of additives is no easy task. However, this Tamari Shoyu from Minamigura saves the day!
This premium tamari shoyu from Minamigura only contains soybeans and sea salt, but it still has a rich, umami-packed taste. Due to a time-intensive 3-year aging process, this tamari shoyu has a unique aroma and scent of kioke, is not overly salty, but is still packed with flavor. Even if you don’t have a gluten intolerance, we would still recommend giving this special tamari shoyu a try.
Minamigura Premium Tamari Shoyu Gin Warabeuta (3-Year Barrel Aged Gluten-Free Soy Sauce) 200ml
Best Low Sodium Dark Soy Sauce
For those looking for a low sodium soy sauce option, we cannot recommend this Teraoka Low Sodium Shoyu enough. This particular shoyu contains 48% less sodium than its regular shoyu counterparts. However, that does not mean that the flavor has been compromised. Many Japanese Taste employees felt that this soy sauce tasted exactly the same in flavor as the shoyu that they normally use. Because this is a soy sauce made by Teraoka, we’re also sure that you’ll appreciate that it does not contain any preservatives or chemicals. It is also of course made using natural and traditional brewing methods, similar to that of other Teraoka soy sauces.
Teraoka Low Sodium Shoyu (Less Salt Japanese Soy Sauce) 300ml
Best Japanese Sweet Soy Sauce
A family-owned company based in the north of Kyushu, Goto Shoyu uses soybeans sourced from Fukuoka prefecture to make its soy sauce along with the addition of rock sugar syrup to make a sweet-tasting product that is popular in the local region. Despite the slightly sweet taste, this sweet soy sauce is 100% natural, made without chemical seasonings, artificial colors, sweeteners, and flavors. It’s perfect for those who love sweet and salty flavors! It also works great as a dipping sauce for sashimi.
Goto Amakuchi Shoyu Japanese Sweet Soy Sauce Akane 500ml
Best Tamari For Sauces & Glazes
This tamari shoyu is not only ideal for those with gluten intolerance or allergies, but it is also the ideal shoyu to use when wanting to make shoyu-based glazes and sauces like teriyaki. The natural ingredients of domestic soybeans, salt, and koji, combined with the three-year aged-in-cedar-barrels process result in a tamari that has the perfect balance of sweetness and saltiness, and a uniquely thick texture. Its thick texture also makes it a great option for dipping sushi, sashimi, or meat into, because it sticks well to the food that you dip it into.
Ito Shoten Denemon Shoyu Japanese Tamari Soy Sauce 200ml
Best Halal Soy Sauce
It can be difficult to find Japanese food products that cater to specific dietary requirements, however, this gluten-free soy sauce produced by Kikkoman does the job and is suitable for individuals with wheat allergies in addition to being Halal compliant. The best part is that the flavor of regular shoyu is not compromised, so you can still enjoy the taste of soy sauce that you’re used to with this one. It’s a great soy sauce to use for seasoning and adding flavor to any dish.
Kikkoman Halal and Gluten-Free Japanese Soy Sauce 1L
Best Whole Bean Dark Soy Sauce
You may be thinking, what exactly is whole soybean soy sauce? Marudaizu shoyu, or whole soybean soy sauce is a type of soy sauce that is slightly mellower in flavor. While many shoyu are made with a combination of de-fatted and whole soybeans, shoyu made with only whole soybeans takes much more time to produce, as the soybeans take longer to break down. The result is a shoyu that is complex yet mellow in flavor at the same time. It is a great shoyu option to use in cooking where you want to season the dish without overpowering it with the taste of soy sauce. Daitoku even believes that this special shoyu sauce is fit enough to season Japanese, Chinese, and even Western dishes! (We’ll let you be the judge of that.)
Daitoku Koikuchi Shoyu Japanese Whole Soybean Dark Soy Sauce 500ml
Best Soy Sauce For Desserts
Have you ever thought of adding soy sauce to ice cream before? Before you immediately click out of this article, just hear us out. This soy sauce has been specifically created to be used on ice cream or sweets that could benefit from a slightly salty flavor. It is not as salty as conventional soy sauce and also has a much thicker texture like caramel sauce. If you love the combination of sweet and salty, then you may fall in love with this special soy sauce. Or, you might think we sound crazy, but hey! Don’t knock it until you try it.
Yamato Japanese Sweet Soy Sauce for Ice Cream 150ml
Best Soy And Gluten-Free Soy Sauce
Did you know that a soy sauce that is both soy and gluten-free actually exists? But how? It can’t really taste like soy sauce right? Let us introduce you to this soy sauce made from fava beans. This special fava bean shoyu is close in flavor to the common koikuchi dark soy sauce and is a great alternative to use in cooking. When we conducted a shoyu tasting in the office, many of our team members could not distinguish the difference between this shoyu and conventional shoyu. Even if you cannot consume soy or gluten, you can still feel the taste and flavor of soy sauce with this fava bean shoyu.
Takahashi Shoten Fava Bean Shoyu Sauce (Soy-Free Soy Sauce) 300ml
Best Smoked Soy Sauce
If you’re looking for a more specialty type of soy sauce, then this Smoked Shoyu from Suehiro may be right up your alley. This soy sauce has a unique smokey flavor that does not come from liquid smoke but instead comes from a traditional smoking process where burning wood is involved. It is a great finishing soy sauce when you want to enhance your dish with a smokey flavor. It also works great as a dipping sauce.
Suehiro Premium Smoked Shoyu Naturally Smoked Japanese Soy Sauce 100ml
How Did We Come Up With This List?
If you’ve made it this far into the article, you might be wondering how we actually came up with this list. While we could put a random list together of multiple soy sauces, that would in no way be authentic and would be completely against our mission. In fact, we only want to share the best of Japan with our readers.
In order to create this curated list, we first came up with a master list of soy sauces that we felt were authentic to Japanese culture, and that we want to share with the world. We then had all of our staff members gather together and sample the soy sauces that we chose. Everyone participated in a blind taste test where they did not know which soy sauce they were trying and answered written questions about each sauce while tasting.
Our list is backed up with actual feedback and opinions from both our Japanese and non-Japanese staff members so that we can bring you this well-rounded list. In the end, our goal was to bring you a list backed up with actual research, dedication, opinions, and of course feedback. We hope that by reading through this list, you would have found the Japanese soy sauce that fits your needs.
Let us know in the comments which soy sauce(s) you’ve tried, or want to try!