Hoisin Sauce vs. Oyster Sauce

Written by: San-J Posted on: July 19, 2023

Hoisin and oyster sauce are two savory ingredients that add the umami-rich flavor of Asian cooking to your meal. Each known for their rich taste and dark color, many people often confuse these sauces as alternatives for each other.

It’s possible to substitute one of these sauces for the other with some recipe tweaking. Still, their unique flavors serve certain dishes better than others. We’re going to tell you about the difference between hoisin sauce and oyster sauce so you can decide which you need for your next meal.

What Do You Use Hoisin Sauce For?

Hoisin sauce is usually made from soybeans, with a mixture of brown sugar, spices such as star anise and fennel, and garlic to give it its fragrant, sweet and savory bite. You can cook hoisin sauce into a wide range of stir fryvegetable and meat-glazed dishes. Fans of this condiment will also use it as a dipping sauce for spring rolls or dumplings. 

Because it combines sweet and savory flavors, hoisin sauce is different from the saltier oyster sauce. Hoisin sauce is sweeter than its counterpart, so oyster sauce would not give your cooking the same fragrant, sweet taste. If you want to get creative in the kitchen and add sugar and spices to your oyster sauce, the two are only interchangeable with a bit of adjustment.

What Do You Use Oyster Sauce For?

Oyster sauce is made from a different brewing process and ingredients than hoisin sauce. Most oyster sauces are made from oyster reduction, giving it a salty taste to add to your vegetable stir fry. Often used as a cooking ingredient, oyster sauce has a richer and more intense taste than hoisin but it does not have the sweetness.

If you want to cook with an oyster sauce substitute, hoisin sauce works fine if you like a sweet, tangy flavor. Many people love hoisin sauce for its versatility, so it can complement many dishes. If you wanted a taste similar to oyster sauce, you could add salt to hoisin sauce or balance it with Tamari Soy Sauce

One of the main differences between hoisin sauce and oyster sauce is that the latter contains oyster. Hoisin sauce is plant-based, so it can be an oyster sauce substitute for vegetarians if necessary. While the meal will have a different taste, you can have fun making the recipe into something delicious that works for your diet. 

Explore More Asian Cooking With San-J

San-J has many types of Asian cooking sauces that will taste great in your Asian-inspired recipe. We have gluten-free, non-GMO sauces that you can explore with your delicious cooking.

You can shop our sauces and discover new recipes on our website. Our product locator also shows you where to find our hoisin sauce and more in a grocery store near you. Explore today!