29 Soy Sauce Recipes That Promise An Umami Flavor Boost

Beef and broccoli on plate
Beef and broccoli on plate - Susan Olayinka/Mashed

Soy sauce is an incredible, must-have ingredient to have in your kitchen. It's salty, savory, and flavorful, with just a touch of sweetness, kokumi richness, and complexity. A good quality soy sauce is a moreish condiment to serve with some top-notch sushi along with some wasabi. Beyond dipping, it's incredible as a marinade, glaze, and sauce for cooking. It's also amazing poured over fried, crispy morsels, and as a dressing with rice and poke bowls. You can also make other sauces with it.

A must in Asian cuisine, it peps up fish fillets and heightens the taste of meat like chicken and beef while tenderizing them at the same time. Mixed with brown sugar, a dish is enhanced with a salty-sweet flavor that hits the taste buds in all the right places. Grab a bottle, and work through some curated, especially-for-you, soy sauce recipes that promise an umami flavor boost.

Read more: 12 Little-Known Facts About Salt

3-Ingredient Stir Fry Sauce

Noodle sitr fry with chopsticks
Noodle sitr fry with chopsticks - Lindsay D. Mattison/Mashed

One of the classic ways to use soy sauce has to be in a stir fry. It gives meat, vegetables, and noodles a flavorful savory taste without having to add in a ton more sauce ingredients. All you need for this recipe, aside from soy sauce, is honey and cornstarch. Sesame oil with ginger, garlic, and green onions elevates the Asian flavors, as does the sweet and salty sauce.

Make a batch of this and keep it in the fridge in a mason jar to transform weekday wok meals.

Recipe: 3-Ingredient Stir Fry Sauce

3-Ingredient Teriyaki Chicken

Teriyaki chicken with chopsticks
Teriyaki chicken with chopsticks - Susan Olayinka/Mashed

Heating soy sauce with light brown sugar in a pan makes what has to be one of the simplest yet moreish sauces. Make sure the mix is thickened up and starts to reduce before you add cooked chicken. Shake in red pepper flakes to give the teriyaki taste a little heat.

To give this dish an Asian flavor boost, garnish with sesame seeds, coriander, and chopped green onions. This teriyaki is terrific served with rice or noodles. You can also stir fry veggies with some sauce before adding the chicken.

Recipe: 3-Ingredient Teriyaki Chicken

4-Ingredient Dumpling Sauce

Dumplings with soy sauce dip and chopsticks
Dumplings with soy sauce dip and chopsticks - Ksenia Prints/Mashed

The ultimate doughy comfort food has to be dumplings. Asian-style gyozas and pot stickers can be steamed, fried, or both. Either way, they need a great dip, and a dumpling sauce is one of the best soy sauce recipes that promise an umami flavor boost.

Rice wine vinegar brings sourness, sesame oil adds nuttiness, and chili garlic sauce or chili flakes create heat. They are nothing without salty soy sauce. Why not go one step further and add chopped scallions for a fresh blast and sesame seeds to create texture? Recipe: 4-Ingredient Dumpling Sauce

Chicken Meatballs With Soy Glaze

Lettuce and glazed chicken meatballs
Lettuce and glazed chicken meatballs - Jennifer En/Mashed

Serve these flavorful bites with a toothpick or on a butter lettuce leaf. What lifts the flavor is seasoning ground chicken with low-sodium soy sauce, cilantro, and green onions. These Asian flavors are echoed in a soy-based glaze.

To get the right sticky consistency to cover the meatballs, create a syrup by keeping the low-sodium soy sauce water, light brown sugar, and water bubbling away on the stove. Pick up the salty-sweet taste with tangy mirin, warming ginger, and citrusy ground coriander. This is a perfect party food with a difference.

Recipe: Chicken Meatballs With Soy Glaze

Thai Peanut Sauce

Peanut sauce and veggies
Peanut sauce and veggies - Kristen Carli/Mashed

Transform grilled chicken with this Thai peanut sauce — a satay sauce that's often served in Thailand with small sticks of grilled pork. Peanut butter is the main ingredient and flavor, but what makes all the difference to the taste is whisking in nearly as much soy sauce.

The rice vinegar, Sriracha, garlic powder, and sesame oil create layers of flavor to enhance a sweet, nutty, and salty balance. It'll take time for the ingredients to blend together. Add more water to thin out the consistency or keep it thicker if you prefer.

Recipe: Thai Peanut Sauce

Honey Garlic And Ginger Cod

Salmon fillets with broccoli and new potatoes
Salmon fillets with broccoli and new potatoes - Catherine Brookes/Mashed

Soy sauce recipes that promise an umami flavor boost often include other flavorful ingredients. This fishy dish is no exception. The soy sauce marinade includes honey, apple cider, vinegar, ginger, and garlic. What makes it extra special, though, is that once you coat the cod and wrap it in foil, it's easily baked in the oven.

Imagine the sugars coming out of the soy sauce and caramelizing as they cook to create a sweet and savory crust. The succulent, subtle taste of the fillet soaks up the flavors magnificently.

Recipe: Honey Garlic And Ginger Cod

Easy Korean Fried Chicken

Korean fried chicken
Korean fried chicken - Ting Dalton/Mashed

There are plenty of chicken wing hacks that will change your life. And if you've never tasted Korean-style fried chicken, then this recipe is going to do the same. Cornstarch makes the fried meat crisp so that it's crunchy on the outside and juicy on the inside. But what's a game-changer is the soy syrup coating.

Soy sauce sets the umami flavor profile. Heating this on a stove with the same amount of sweet, salty, and subtly spicy gochujang, plus brown sugar and tomato ketchup makes it spectacularly sticky.

Recipe: Easy Korean Fried Chicken

Soy-Bourbon Steak

Sliced medium-rare steak
Sliced medium-rare steak - Christina Musgrave/Mashed

If you love sinking your teeth into a juicy steak, then try this soy-bourbon marinade to make it more tender and flavorful. The sweetness of the alcohol is mouthwateringly balanced by the soy's bitter notes, brown sugar, and minced garlic that elevate the taste, along with olive oil.

Marinate the beef in the fridge for at least an hour, but no longer than 8 hours. For a medium-rare result, sear the strip steaks for a few minutes on each side. You want the internal temperature to be 130 F. Rest before slicing and serving.

Recipe: Soy-Bourbon Steak

Crispy Kung Pao Tofu

Tofu stir fry on rice
Tofu stir fry on rice - Catherine Brookes/Mashed

Turn firm tofu into a crispy, umami-bursting dish with a sweet, sour, and spicy sauce. Stir fry veggies with garlic and ginger, add a homemade soy sauce concoction, and throw in pre-fried squares of the bean curd.

A great Asian flavor that pairs well with the saltiness of soy is hoisin sauce which offers savory-style sweetness. Rice vinegar creates sourness, and Sriracha brings the heat. Add a few red chili flakes if you want to increase the spiciness. Serve with rice or noodles and garnish with sesame seeds and slices of green onion.

Recipe: Crispy Kung Pao Tofu

Honey-Garlic Pan-Seared Salmon

Soy glaze spooned on salmon fillet
Soy glaze spooned on salmon fillet - Catherine Brookes/Mashed

You can't beat a sticky umami sauce that's easy to make. For this recipe, spoon it over pan-seared salmon fillets. The contrast between the powerful flavors and the subtle taste of the fish is terrific. To get the right balance combine soy sauce with honey, lemon juice, and garlic along with olive oil.

Get the consistency right by adding a cornstarch and water slurry to thicken up the mixture. When it's hot and coats the back of a spoon, it's ready to serve. Rice and green beans are the perfect sides for this dish.

Recipe: Honey-Garlic Pan-Seared Salmon

Homemade Hoisin Sauce

Hoisin sauce in cereamic bowl
Hoisin sauce in cereamic bowl - Miriam Hahn/Mashed

You might have tried hoisin sauce from a jar, but did you know it's pretty easy to make it fresh? In fact, there's no cooking required at all — you just whisk the ingredients together. While you can use it to cook with, it's also fabulous as a dip with some Asian bites like egg rolls.

It's not just soy sauce that creates an umami flavor boost, but also miso paste and gochujang sauce. Together you'll get a savory, salty, tangy taste, with peanut butter and honey enhancing this with sweet, nutty notes.

Recipe: Homemade Hoisin Sauce

Korean LA Galbi

Beef ribs on plate with rice and garnish
Beef ribs on plate with rice and garnish - Feta Topalu/Mashed

Beef with a soy sauce marinade is a culinary match that creates a flavorful, succulent piece of meat. What's wonderfully different about this Korean-inspired recipe is that you first make a purée with an Asian pear and the salty sauce along with other umami-boosting ingredients. Short ribs are an excellent choice, especially cooked on the grill. You can also roast them uncovered in the oven, flipping halfway through.

Leave to marinate in the fridge for at least a couple of hours, if not overnight. When done, serve with jasmine rice and kimchi.

Recipe: Korean LA Galbi

Slow Cooker Honey Garlic Chicken

Chicken in sauce with green onions
Chicken in sauce with green onions - Susan Olayinka/Mashed

One of the best soy sauce recipes that promise an umami flavor boost is chicken cooked in a slow cooker with honey and garlic. You'll also need butter and chicken stock. Be sure to follow the measurements accurately so that there's not too much liquid in the pot. Otherwise, you'll get less flavor, and the end result will be soggy rather than tasty.

You'll need to finish this dish on the stove to thicken it up. Rice and noodles are good starchy sides to serve with the salty-sweet meat.

Recipe: Slow Cooker Honey Garlic Chicken

Beef And Broccoli

Beef and broccoli in sauce
Beef and broccoli in sauce - Susan Olayinka/Mashed

Soy sauce has a starring role as an umami booster in this beef and broccoli stir fry. Use it as a marinade and let the flavor penetrate by cutting the meat into strips. Add more once the steak pieces are cooked, along with another flavor enhancer, mirin, then with honey and brown sugar for sweetness. The key is getting that flavorful contrast.

Just before taking the pan off the heat, add a few more drops of soy if you want to amplify the taste. A squeeze of citrus juice finishes it off nicely.

Recipe: Beef And Broccoli

20-Minute Sesame Chicken

Chicken in sauce with rice and sesame seeds
Chicken in sauce with rice and sesame seeds - Carina Finn/Mashed

Soy sauce takes the lead with this quick sesame chicken. You can use breast or thigh meat, as long as it's cooked through before you add the umami ingredients. Backing up the soy is fragrant garlic and the enhancing effect of MSG. The sourness comes from rice vinegar and orange juice. Brown sugar brings sweetness with chili oil promising heat and a great color.

Feel free to adjust the quantities to get the right balance that you like. Don't forget the sesame seeds at the end though. Enjoy this dish with fluffy rice.

Recipe: 20-Minute Sesame Chicken

Korean BBQ Sauce

Barbecue sauce in bowl with wooden spoon
Barbecue sauce in bowl with wooden spoon - Miriam Hahn/Mashed

Using brown sugar and caramelly, coconut sugar makes this version of barbecue sauce sweeter than the U.S. version. Soy sauce creates a wonderful balance with some much-needed salty, savory, umami flavors. Red chili flakes, ginger powder, and Sriracha back this up with a little heat.

Use as you would regular sauce or serve it as a dip with some Asian snacks like spring rolls. Add a spoonful of tasty filling onto a butter lettuce leaf and make a tasty bitesize wrap. Try and only have one, you won't be able to.

Recipe: Korean BBQ Sauce

3-Ingredient Steak Marinade

Rare sliced steak with vegetable
Rare sliced steak with vegetable - Lindsay D. Mattison/Mashed

To make an incredible marinade, you need a combination of salt, acid, and fat. The fat for this recipe comes from olive oil, the acid comes from balsamic vinegar, and the salt comes from umami-bursting soy sauce. Together, they are a terrific trio that will leave steak flavorful and succulent. The soy sauce brings out the meaty taste of the steak.

Use a tablespoon for each inch-thick steak, whether rib-eye or New York strip. You can add Worcestershire sauce, onion powder, or herbs, and Sriracha and garlic to elevate the soy sauce.

Recipe: 3-Ingredient Steak Marinade

Simple Mochiko Chicken

Crispy chicken pieces on rice with soy sauce
Crispy chicken pieces on rice with soy sauce - Melissa Johnson/Mashed

These oven-baked chicken pieces are flavor bombs, and this is set to become one of your favorite soy sauce recipes that promise an umami flavor boost. The meat is dredged in a floury, garlic salt coating before being cooked which ensures it comes out of the oven with a crispy edge while not being dried out.

What amplifies the taste is the marinade. Marinate the chicken in soy sauce and mirin which both elevate the depth of flavor, along with minced garlic and ginger. Serve with fluffy white rice for a neutral-tasting contrast.

Recipe: Simple Mochiko Chicken

Passionfruit-Marinated Tuna Poke

Tuna poke bowl with mango, soy sauce, and avocado
Tuna poke bowl with mango, soy sauce, and avocado - Ksenia Prints/Mashed

Sometimes you need dishes that wake up the senses. You need a salty, citrusy, fruity blast of fresh flavors that enliven your taste buds. Grab a bottle of soy sauce and pour some into a bowl with cubes of sushi-grade tuna, avocado, mango, and passionfruit. Bring the taste to the highest level with a blast of fresh lime juice. Is your mouth watering?

Leave the ingredients to marinate for 30 minutes in the fridge. You might want an extra splash of soy sauce on the final bowlful to lift the umami notes further. Recipe: Passionfruit-Marinated Tuna Poke

Sweet And Spicy Southern Sticky Chicken

Sticky chicken on mashed potatoes wih veg
Sticky chicken on mashed potatoes wih veg - Erin Johnson/Mashed

Cooking this sweet and spicy Southern sticky chicken in three different ways accentuates the soy sauce umami quality of this dish that pairs well atop mashed potatoes or with a potato salad. Make the marinade with soy sauce, ketchup, honey, and gochujang, plus Worcestershire sauce, smoked paprika, and garlic.

Leave to marinate for 8 hours. Sear the chicken in a skillet to seal in the flavor, bake in the oven so that the flavors penetrate, and then broil to caramelize the sugars in the soy sauce.

Recipe: Sweet And Spicy Southern Sticky Chicken

5-Ingredient Brown Sugar Glazed Salmon

Glazed salmon fillet with green beans and lemon
Glazed salmon fillet with green beans and lemon - Catherine Brookes/Mashed

By combining the right ingredients, you can come up with a restaurant-style dish pretty easily. You don't need to be a culinary wizard or source super-rare foods. This glazed salmon recipe is a classic example.

For every three parts of brown sugar, add half the amount of mustard, and one part soy sauce. The saltiness of the soy cuts through the sweetness and the heat. For a spicier taste, throw in a few red chili flakes, too. Season before spooning over fish fillets, and then bake them in the oven.

Recipe: 5-Ingredient Brown Sugar Glazed Salmon

Easy Bulgogi

Korean beef bulgogi stir fry
Korean beef bulgogi stir fry - Cecelia Ryu/Mashed

Tasty Korean bulgogi promises meaty sweet and savory flavors in every mouthful. Slithers of ribeye steak and veggies are transformed with a soy sauce marinade. Make sure you mix the ingredients well and stir to cover every slice you're going to fry later.

You'll need a food processor for part of this recipe to create a smooth blend of Asian pear, onion, and mirin. This sweetness marries perfectly with the extra umami boost from the soy sauce and the toasted notes of sesame oil. Garlic, ginger, and black pepper enhance the layers of flavor.

Recipe: Easy Bulgogi

Spicy Beef And Noodles Soup

Beef and noodles in broth in a bowl with chopsticks
Beef and noodles in broth in a bowl with chopsticks - Ting Dalton/Mashed

Not all soy sauces are the same, and this recipe uses a light version. While it's not as dark in color, it's not as light on sodium, meaning it has a pronounced umami complexity. It's often used in cooking rather than as a finishing soy.

To tenderize the steak, coat the strips of the meat in cornstarch and soy sauce. Add more soy to beef broth and boost the flavor with Chinese five spice, star anise, garlic, ginger, and green onions. The noodles cut through the powerful taste.

Recipe: Spicy Beef And Noodles Soup

Sticky Sesame Cauliflower

Sticky coated cauliflower on rice with chopsticks
Sticky coated cauliflower on rice with chopsticks - Miriam Hahn/Mashed

If you've not yet discovered how incredible cauliflower can be, then make this sticky sesame recipe, and you'll become a convert. When this veggie is cooked in the oven, it's nothing short of delicious. What's even more appealing with this version, is you cook it in a batter.

As you might with chicken wings, you now need to douse those crunchy bites with a sticky sauce. How does soy sauce, maple syrup, and Sriracha sound with rice vinegar? Sesame seeds and green onions add texture, but the saltiness of the soy is undeniable.

Recipe: Sticky Sesame Cauliflower

Homemade Sweet And Sour Chicken

Stir fry chicken on rice with chopsticks
Stir fry chicken on rice with chopsticks - Ksenia Prints/Mashed

Sweet and sour chicken is an all-time favorite U.S. version of Chinese food. The trick is to coat the meat pieces in flour twice with an egg wash between to get a good, crispy coating. And it wouldn't be the same without an extraordinary soy sauce marinade.

Instead of contrasting the saltiness of the soy only with brown sugar, as is often the case, pour in juice from a can of pineapples. The fruitiness, along with the sourness of rice vinegar and sweet and tangy ketchup, is beyond good.Recipe: Homemade Sweet And Sour Chicken

TikTok-Inspired Salmon Rice Bowl

Salmon rice bowl with seaweed and avocado
Salmon rice bowl with seaweed and avocado - Ksenia Prints/Mashed

Rice bowls have long been a trend on TikTok. While it's fun to experiment, there are certain combinations of ingredients that give you an instant umami blast of flavor that's a hit.

Flakes of cooked salmon with fluffy rice are served hot by microwaving to reheat. Add an ice cube to stop them drying out. Add a tasty lift with soy sauce with a spicy and sweet Sriracha mayo. Throw on chopped avocado, and wrap the ingredients in seaweed sheets with a touch of soy-loving wasabi with a spoonful of kimchi.

Recipe: TikTok-Inspired Salmon Rice Bowl

20-Minute Beef And Broccoli Lo Mein

Beef and broccoli noodles with chopsticks
Beef and broccoli noodles with chopsticks - Lindsay D. Mattison/Mashed

Slices of top sirloin steak, grated carrot, steamed broccoli florets, and noodles make up the main components of this lo mein dish. It's nothing without a salty-sweet sauce sizzling in the pan in the last few minutes, though. Cut the meat against the grain and use egg noodles if you can't find lo mein ones.

Mix soy sauce with brown sugar in equal amounts, and add fresh or powdered ginger and garlic, black pepper, and red chili flakes. Savor the taste as it coats the ingredients.

Recipe: 20-Minute Beef And Broccoli Lo Mein

Stovetop Coca-Cola Chicken

Chicken thighs in sauce in skillet with rice
Chicken thighs in sauce in skillet with rice - Catherine Brookes/Mashed

Stovetop chicken thighs are a fantastic one-pot meal, along with sides such as mashed potatoes or rice. Once the meat is browned and half-cooked, and you've added it back into the pan with fried onions and garlic, the umami magic happens.

Get the pan bubbling away with soy sauce mixed with a can of cola. The sweetness of the soda contrasts with the salty, savory soy. Other flavor boosters include Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, and mustard. Baste the chicken as it cooks to keep the meat nice and succulent, and let the sauce permeate.

Recipe: Stovetop Coca-Cola Chicken

Slow Cooker Sesame Chicken

Chicken in sauce on rice with broccoli
Chicken in sauce on rice with broccoli - Erin Johnson/Mashed

Bold Asian flavors and an easy, no-hassle slow cooker method make up one of the best soy sauce recipes that promise an umami flavor boost. Along with soy sauce, classic ingredients like brown sugar, honey, and sesame oil make up a sweet, nutty, sour, and salty concoction to pour over cornstarch-dredged chicken.

Use chicken breast pieces or boneless thigh meat, and if you love your sauce, then double the amount. Thicken it at the end by slowly adding a cornstarch slurry. This dish is definitely worth the 6-hour cooking time wait.

Recipe: Slow Cooker Sesame Chicken

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