Oyster sauce is an integral part of most Chinese dishes and is loved by many people around the world because of its ability to add a range of umami flavors. However, for gluten-sensitive people, oyster sauce is nothing but a red flag.
Oyster sauce contains soybean and wheat extract that naturally contains a lot of gluten. This can trigger a lot of health problems for gluten-sensitive people.
Not to worry though; manufacturers are cognizant of people afflicted with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity which is why many companies now offer gluten-free oyster sauce which tastes exactly the same, but without gluten.
This means that you can easily use a range of oyster sauces without really calling them “substitutes” because they are the real deal except that they are just processed a bit differently.
What are the best gluten-free oyster sauces? Oyster sauce, without wheat or yeast extract derived from wheat, is considered to be gluten-free. While there is virtually no difference in how gluten-free sauce tastes from the non-gluten-free sauce, there might be some discrepancy when it comes to consistency.
To learn more about some of the best options in the market, read on below!
What Is Oyster Sauce?
In the simplest version, oyster sauce is made from caramelized oyster sauce extract, salt, and sugar but many brands offer a range of other options and additives to change the texture and consistency of its sauce.
Oyster sauce is great for stir-frying and makes for an amazing flavoring agent in noodles and rice dishes.
You may also say that oyster sauce completes the Chinese cuisine because, without it, you might not get the signature umami-rich flavors.
Apart from adding flavor, it also has a role in affecting how the food cooks. Oyster sauce contains oyster extract and sugar.
Its syrup-like consistency aids in caramelizing meat and helps promote the Maillard reaction that gives food its distinct browning and flavor.
Oyster sauce comes in many varieties. Some brands add cornflour or starch or wheat as a thickener. Some bottles of oyster sauce may also contain allergens or additives to prolong the shelf life of the product.
This is why it is important to look for a healthy option when shopping for Chinese sauces. Some oyster sauce brands also use soybean and other allergens and gluten-laden ingredients.
However, thankfully, there are many allergen-free and gluten-free options in the market that most of the population can use.
These products contain no gluten and use wheat substitutes or tapioca starch to achieve the same taste while also maintaining the same consistency as regular oyster sauce.
How To Tell If The Oyster Sauce Is Gluten-Free
The best way to know for sure if a product is gluten-free is to check the labeling.
Most oyster sauce brands will label allergens and other products that may cause problems for some people.
This includes gluten-laden ingredients, tree nuts, and other allergens too. Also, some brands may not label their product as gluten-free even if they don’t contain wheat or other gluten-related ingredients.
However, if you are looking for a sure-fire solution then we highly recommend that you pick a brand from our list below.
However, before you do, let’s discuss a few key points in what to look for in a good gluten-free oyster sauce brand.
Oyster sauces are more alike than different and you will find many options in the market with their own unique flavorings.
The best of these sauces is always going to be the one that best suits your needs.
For example, oyster sauce with a high sugar content can go great with dishes like sesame chicken, whereas if you are using oyster sauce as a marinade, we would recommend that you go with a sauce that offers a stronger umami flavor.
To help figure out what is best for you, we have made this detailed buyer’s guide.
This buyer’s guide will be divided into different sections and will address a few important factors that you should look out for when purchasing oyster sauce.
Since our list is already going to focus on gluten-free oyster sauce, we will be looking at some other troublesome ingredients that may cause harm to some people.
Additives are normally added to oyster sauces to make them taste better and to give them a punchier flavor.
However, some of these additives like soybean can cause disagreement in people with sensitive stomachs. This is why we recommend that you check with the brand and the back of the bottle for known allergens.
You may also check for other ingredients that may not be listed as an allergen but may have caused you problems in the past. This is an important step in figuring out what is right for you.
For example, people with celiac disease will have trouble digesting gluten so you may want to not just look for wheat alternatives but other troublesome ingredients too.
Some brands may also use additives, caramel colorings, or thickeners derived from gluten-laden ingredients.
You can either confirm by contacting the brand, trusting the label, or by checking with your dietician, just to be sure.
Sugar is an integral part of oyster sauce; it is what balances out the umami flavors and gives the sauce its unique glistening look. Not to mention, sugar helps caramelize meat and other ingredients when it is added to a hot wok.
If you like your oyster sauce to have more sugar then you may look for brands that use gluten-free corn syrup or fructose in their oyster sauce. You can use high-sugar oyster sauce in several soups, stir fry, marinades, and more.
You may also want to check the sugar content of the sauce if you are diet conscious. Simply check the back of the bottle for daily values to confirm if the sauce fits your dietary needs.
One of the main reasons why oyster sauce is used is for its unique umami flavors.
You may think that other ingredients can add the same flavorings too but what makes oyster sauce unique is its stock that is derived from boiling high-quality and large oysters.
Some brands offer oyster sauce made from oysters sourced from a particular area that is known to have premium oysters.
Sure, they may charge more for the flavor but you will also get the best bang for your buck when it comes to the taste that they impart.
Usually, more expensive brands will offer better tasting oyster sauce but you can still find many cheaper alternatives that achieve the same taste but with the help of additives. Just remember to check for allergens as we discussed above!
Oyster sauce is known to be not too runny and not too thick either. It has to be just right.
When looking for the right consistency, think of it as a runnier version of ketchup that can easily pour when you tilt the bottle.
Some manufacturers will add water to dilute the sauce and make it runnier while others will add starch to make it thicker.
When you pick a bottle, you can easily check the consistency by either tilting or flipping the bottle to see how viscous the liquid is.
Most people prefer a runnier version of oyster sauce as it is easier to work with while others may prefer to have a thicker version to use in marinades.
The best oyster sauce will be the one that suits your needs so if you need it to fry noodles or make a quick stir fry then we recommend getting a thinner version of the sauce.
If you want to use it over meat or as a marinade then a thicker sauce will work the best.
We get it, you only need oyster sauce for just the one recipe and might not need more for months. This is why bottle size is important. Most oyster sauce bottles come in sizes measured in milliliters.
The best ones to buy for short-term and frequent use are always going to be bigger bottles that have 500ml or more of oyster sauce.
If you don’t plan on using oyster sauce that frequently then we highly recommend that you buy a 250-300ml bottle.
This should be more than enough to help you throughout the year. Some people complain that they don’t get to use oyster sauce that often which is why brands also put a lot of focus on shelf life.
Make sure you buy oyster sauce that has a little more than 1 year until its expiry date.
This way you will get multiple opportunities to cook your favorite food and finish the bottle before it goes bad. Avoid buying bottles that offer more than 2 years of expiry since they will probably be loaded with preservatives.
The 7 Best Gluten-Free Oyster Sauces
Now that we’ve talked about what you should be looking for in gluten-free oyster sauce, here are some of the absolute best oyster sauces available on the market right now!
|1.||Megashefu Oyster Sauce||Premium oyster sauce made using superior extraction methods.|
|2.||Wok Mei Gluten-Free Oyster Sauce||Great value, gluten-free, and perfect for everyday use.|
|3.||Kikkoman Vegetarian Oyster Sauce||Thick sauce, perfect for marination and other types of Chinese recipes.|
|4.||Healthy Boy Gluten-Free Oyster Sauce||A healthier oyster sauce option that is gluten-free.|
|5.||Panda Brand Oyster Flavored Sauce||Great tasting oyster sauce at a good price and without gluten.|
|6.||Kikkoman Oyster Flavored Sauce||A non-MSG variant of oyster sauce that provides the same great flavor without gluten or additives.|
|7.||Oyster Flavored Sauce||Perfect for meat and fry recipes. Gluten-free and made using simple ingredients.|
1. Megashefu Oyster Sauce
Starting with a bang, this brand of oyster sauce is known to have a superior taste owing to its high-quality oysters that are sourced from Trat, Thailand.
It doesn’t contain harmful preservatives and is also gluten-free.
This oyster sauce has a strong flavor with woody undertones thanks to its superior extraction process which boils fresh, large oysters for 6-8 hours.
The mixture is then concentrated and added with a range of natural spices and ingredients to give its unique texture and flavor.
The brand offers a promise of quality and the consistency of the sauce is also excellent. We highly recommend that you start here and build your taste buds with this premium oyster sauce brand.
2. Wok Mei Gluten-Free Oyster Sauce
Wok Mei brings value and flavor in one wonderful package.
This oyster sauce brand promises a gluten-free experience that is loaded with umami flavors and is thick enough to be used in both marinades and stir fry.
You may also use this sauce in soups and other Chinese dishes as well.
This oyster sauce comes in a jar-like bottle that is convenient to store in the pantry or the fridge.
The sauce is made from high-quality ingredients and Wok Mei also provides a clear list of ingredients that mention the allergens and gluten substitutes to make the sauce.
This is by far our most favorite brand of oyster sauce and you can find it on Amazon at a great offer right now.
3. Kikkoman Vegetarian Oyster Sauce
Kikkoman is known for its gluten-free sauces and its offering of oyster sauce will have you coming back for more. This sauce is made for vegetarians and gluten-sensitive people.
Made from high-quality ingredients that are sourced from premium locations, you will be getting the best of the best with this brand.
It has the right consistency and thickness to be used in marinades, stir fry recipes, and more.
The sauce comes in a 500ml bottle that is perfect for everyday cooking too. The bottle design makes it easier to grip and pour the sauce with ease without letting out too much.
Unlike other brands that offer an overly strong fishy flavor, this sauce is mellow yet absolutely delicious for any Chinese recipe.
4. Healthy Boy Gluten-Free Oyster Sauce
This brand is focused on healthy oyster sauce options and provides one of the best ranges of sauces that we have seen in the context of nutrition.
Healthy Boy’s oyster sauce is gluten-free and is also free from preservatives, artificial flavors, and other additives.
If you are health conscious and are looking for a brand that you can trust and go to again and again, then this is a good place to start. The oyster sauce is thickened using tapioca starch which gives it a reasonable viscosity.
5. Panda Brand Oyster Flavored Sauce
This brand offers its oyster sauce in two options. The red label of the same sauce is the one that is not gluten-free and contains MSG.
This green label bottle, however, is the same oyster sauce offered by the brand but without MSG and is also gluten-free.
We love a brand that takes care of its customers and we believe that you are also going to love the taste of this oyster sauce.
It has the right thickness, color, and flavor and comes in a 250-gram bottle as well.
6. Kikkoman Oyster Flavored Sauce (Green Label)
Kikkoman makes another entry on our list because of its many variations of oyster sauce.
This brand takes its sauces seriously and it shows in its commitment towards providing not one but several different options of the same sauces.
This oyster sauce comes in a green-labeled bottle which signifies that the sauce is without MSG.
Most people try to avoid MSG in food for several health reasons which is why Kikkoman has also developed a non-MSG variety of the same tasting oyster sauce.
7. Kikkoman Oyster Flavored Sauce (Red Label)
This oyster sauce offers a much pronounced oyster flavor and is produced using oyster sauce concentrate, oyster extract, sugar, and water.
This list of ingredients not only makes it a great gluten-free oyster sauce, but this is also one of the healthiest options in terms of its simple ingredients list.
Other brands will offer a range of additives and flavoring ingredients that may cause allergies in some people but with this sauce, you can use it knowing that it’s safe and also certified to be gluten-free.