Soy sauce is commonly used in Asian cuisine, delivering a salty and umami flavoring. It’s an adaptable condiment, with a distinct taste that can be mixed into sauces, or used as a dip.
Due to its popularity in Asian dishes, soy sauce has become a common sight on grocery store shelves across the world.
Made from a mixture of fermented soybeans, soy sauce does contain carbohydrates. However, many versions of soy sauce, including those common in North America, contain very low amounts of carbs.
In this guide, we’ll cover what soy sauce is made from, how it’s made, and how many carbohydrates different types of soy sauce contain.
What Is Soy Sauce Made From?
Soy sauce is traditionally made from four ingredients: soybeans, wheat, salt, and water.
The soybeans are the key ingredient, and the traditional method for making soy sauce involves fermenting soybeans and then allowing the sauce to age.
As the soybeans break down, they release the sugars and umami flavors that are so typical of soy sauce.
Different variations of soy sauce can be created using ingredients in different proportions.
This can result in a unique flavor and texture, as well as affecting the carbohydrate content. For example, some sweet soy sauces add sugar.
How Is Soy Sauce Made?
There are two methods for making soy sauce. The traditional method involves fermenting soybeans and wheat in water and salt, with mold, bacteria, and yeast activating the process.
This fermentation takes place over several months, and some variations of soy sauce can be aged for years.
While the traditional method takes several months, there is a faster way to produce soy sauce. Applying high heat and an acid solution can break the soybeans down in less than a day.
Is Soy Sauce Keto-Friendly?
Soy sauce is generally considered keto-friendly because it contains just a small amount of carbohydrates.
The keto diet restricts cabs to encourage burning fat, but it doesn’t require you to cut carbohydrates completely.
As soy sauce typically contains just a small amount of carbs, it is suitable to eat on a keto diet.
However, some soy sauces do contain a higher amount of carbohydrates, so it’s important to check the nutritional information before using.
Some varieties of soy sauce can contain up to 15 grams of carbohydrates per tablespoon.
Another factor to consider is portion size. On food labels, a portion of soy sauce is generally considered to be a tablespoon, or 15 mL.
A single packet of soy sauce generally contains a teaspoon, or 5 mL. Understanding portion size can help you better determine whether soy sauce is suitable for your diet.
What Are The Types Of Soy Sauce?
There are several varieties of soy sauce available, each with differing levels of carbs.
Light Soy Sauce
Light soy sauce is the most common soy sauce in the United States, and is often used as a stir-fry ingredient or in marinades.
It can also be used as a dipping sauce. Light soy sauce tends to have a thinner consistency and a salty flavor. Typically, light soy sauce will contain 1 gram or less of carbohydrate per 15 mL.
Dark Soy Sauce
Dark soy sauce is thicker, with a glossy and dark appearance. It’s typically sweeter than light soy sauce, and not quite as salty. As well as adding flavor to a dish, dark soy sauce adds color.
Dark soy sauce can have between 1 and 5 grams of carbohydrates per 15 mL, depending on how much it has been sweetened.
Sweet Soy Sauce
Sweet soy sauce (sometimes known as kecap manis) tastes very different to light soy sauce, with a thick and sticky consistency and a sugary taste.
It can be used as seasoning, and is often served as a dipping sauce for Chinese cuisine. Sugar is added to sweet soy sauce, increasing the carbohydrate content.
A 15 mL tablespoon of sweet soy sauce could contain up to 15 grams of carbohydrates.
Although it’s possible to eat all varieties of soy sauce on a keto-friendly diet, be careful when adding sweet or dark soy sauce to a dish.
The carb count for these types of soy sauce can be quite high.
What Are Soy Sauce Substitutes?
There are several soy sauce substitutes available, which may be preferred by those on a low-carb diet. Some typical soy sauce substitutes include:
Tamari is a popular soy sauce substitute for those on a low-gluten, or gluten-free diet. Tamari is made, like soy sauce, from fermented soybeans.
However, rather than fermenting soybeans and wheat, tamari is made from the liquid that drains from miso paste.
It has a thicker consistency than soy sauce, and contains no wheat or gluten.
However, the carb count is roughly the same: one 15 mL tablespoon of tamari contains around 1 gram of carbs.
Liquid aminos is a soy substitute made from soybeans and purified water.
It is a naturally vegan and gluten-free sauce, with a salty taste very similar to that of soy sauce.
Liquid aminos typically contains 0 carbohydrates per 15 mL. However, it can have a higher sodium content than soy sauce.
Coconut aminos is a soy substitute made from fermented coconut palm sap and salt. It’s free from soy, wheat, and gluten, and contains less sodium than traditional soy sauce.
However, it does contain a higher level of carbs — typically 6 grams per 15 mL.
Other Soy Sauce Nutritional Information
Soy sauce is low in carbohydrates, fat, and sugar. 15 mL of soy sauce typically contains only 8.5 calories. 0.1 grams of fat, and 0.06 grams of sugar.
However, most varieties of soy sauce are high in sodium, and should only be consumed in small amounts.
Made from fermented soybeans, soy sauce adds a punch of salt and umami to Asian dishes.
While soy sauce does contain some carbohydrates, the small amount per portion makes it suitable for a keto diet.
Soy sauce is typically consumed in only small amounts, but pay attention to portion sizes when using it as a dipping sauce.