Does Soy Sauce Have MSG ?

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MSG is the initials for monosodium glutamate, a flavor enhancer in crystalline granules resembling sugar or salt but a little more transparent. Glutamate is a naturally occurring amino acid and can be synthesized.

MSG is widely used in processed foods to balance fat, sugar, and sodium and instill their vibrancy. MSG adds in a rich umami flavor in the soy sauce, which gets absorbed into the foods cooked in it. So, does soy sauce have MSG? Many soy sauce brands often contain additional MSG, but some don’t.

So we are going to understand more about whether soy sauce has MSG.

What is soy Sauce?

Soy sauce is a brown, salty condiment used as a flavoring and made from fermented soybeans. This sauce originates from china and is a staple ingredient in many Asian countries. It, however, has grown popular in many parts of the world.

The traditional method of making soy involves soaking soybeans in water for some hours, then steaming them. Wheat is then roasted,ground, and added into the steamed soybeans, and brine is added. The mixture is thenleft to ferment for several months or even up to 4 years. 

Some sauces use raw soy sauce whereby it is added into the soybean, wheat, and brine mixture and left to ferment. After fully fermenting, the solids are filtered by pressing, then heated to eliminate yeast and mold before being packed away.

Soy sauce has also been produced inthe acid hydrolysis method, where soybeans are used without wheat, oil, or hydrochloric acid then heated for up to 35 hours until all proteins break down. Some people have even produced soy sauce by mixing traditional and hydrolysis methods.

Even though these two methods givegood results, the soy sauce usually has a less vibrant taste and sells cheaper than the ones left to brew for long.Some modern production methods addmore brown coloring into the soy sauce.

Due to the gluten in soy sauce, gluten-sensitive persons are advised against using it as it may trigger skin irritations and other reactions when consumed. There are various types of soy sauce. They differ in so many ways depending on the countries they are produced.

For instance, Japanese soy sauce uses the same ratio of wheat and soybeans in their production, while Chinese soy sauce production uses a higher ratio of soybeans to wheat.

What is soy sauce made of?

Soy sauce is used in enhancing the flavor of your foods like pasta, soups, chicken, and vegetables. Its sweet-salty and bitter taste boost the flavor of flat-tasting processed foods. Other than flavor, soy sauce has been used as a preservative to help prevent foods from spoiling.


Soybeans are small or large beans enclosedin short, hairy pods and come in yellow, green, brown, and black colors andwith a yellow seed scar running down on the side of the pod. Soybeans are multipurpose legumes with great nutritional value.

Not only are soybeans high in calcium, but they also have a significant amount of magnesium and are low in starch. The beans are first crushed then mixed with wheat and brine during production.


Salt is one essential ingredient in soy sauce production. Also referred to as sodium chloride, it helps create a chemical environment that helps in the proper fermentation of yeast and lactic acid bacteria. Salt is added at the beginning of the fermentation process and helps enhance flavor while still helping prevent spoilage of the finished product.


Wheat is added tosoy sauce,where it is first blended then added into the other ingredients. Pulverized wheat is added as part of the mash alongside crushed soybeans. Some sauce varieties, like the non-brewed one, don’t include wheat.

Fermenting agents

Afterwheat and soybeans are mixed together, they are exposed to mold strains that break down the proteins. Some other bacteria and yeast are also added to react with the proteins through enzymes. The reaction produces amino acids, aspartic acid, lysine, alanine, glycine, tryptophan, glutamate, and peptides that contribute to the flavor of the soy sauce.


Benzoic acid and sodium benzoate are added to the soy sauce to inhibit microbial growth. Some even include additional flavors and extra color.

Does all soy sauce have MSG?

MSG is a by-product ofsoy sauce production and contains glutamic acid, an amino acid present in tomatoes, parmesan cheese, fruits and vegetables, and dried mushrooms. Our bodies also produce it in small quantities and can be found in human breast milk.

MSG is also often added to barbeque sauce, ketchup, mayonnaise, and salad dressings. Some soy sauce is brewed naturally, like the Lee Kum Kee Premium Soy Sauce. So if you are trying to avoid MSG at all costs, you should stop eating foods like oysters, seaweed, and clams.

Another way of ensuring you don’t include MSG in your diet is by avoiding take-outs and making your own food at home. Salt added in meats also contains some free glutamate and sodium.

What is a substitute for soy sauce?

Soy sauce can cause allergen issues in some people, especially children. Persons with celiac disease are also intolerant to gluten present in soy sauce. It also goes without saying that soy saucecontains high sodium levels, which is not good for your body.

So if you cannot have soy sauce for these reasons, you might want to try out other alternatives with the same taste like it. Check out for these excellent soy sauce alternatives:


Tamari is a darker version of soy sauce but without gluten and astrongsalty flavor. Tamari is the best substitute if you want to enjoy soy sauces’ flavor while still watching for your health.

Worcestershire sauce

Worcestershire sauce is a condiment associated with steaks and bloody marys. But did you know that this sauce can be used in vegetables, popcorn, and so many other traditional fares? Well, now you know. Like soy sauce, this British condiment has an umami taste and slightly lower sodium and has no soy and gluten.

Fish sauce

Fish sauce is made from fermented fish soaked in salt for several months to years. The sauce has a savory, umami taste, just like soy sauce. However, you cannot substitute it with soy sauce in equal portions because of its pungent smell.

Coconut aminos

Coconut aminos are made from the sap of coconut plants which have natural sugars that, when fermented, have a mild, savory, and salty flavor. It is slightly sweeter than soy sauce but with the same umami taste and low sodium levels.

Liquid aminos

Liquid aminos are protein concentrates made from soybeans that have not been fermented. They are gluten-free and with just the same sodium content as soy sauce. Compared to soy sauce, liquid aminos have a milder taste and are slightlysweeter.

Maggi seasoning sauce

Maggi seasoning sauce originates from Switzerland. It is made from fermented wheat proteins that are quite concentrated, just like fish sauce. This sauce has what it takes to replace soy sauce in your cooking – umami flavor.Maggi seasoning sauce sometimes does contain soy, so if you are allergic to soy, it would be best to read the ingredients list when purchasing this product.

Miso paste

Miso paste is made from fermented soybeans, salt, and koji. It has a savory taste, just like soy sauce.

Easy Substitute for soy sauce

If you cannot get the above substitutes, you can use other easier options or make them from home. The good thing is that you have the freedom to modify them to your liking.

  • Salt

Salt is a food seasoning present in soy sauce. So you can use it as a substitute, but you will not have the umami kick inyour food.

  • Anchovies

Yes! You read that right! Anchovies are tiny fish that can add a savory flavor to your foods. The downside of using anchovies in place of soy sauce is that they might not work well in some of your recipes. They have a slight fishy smell, and you can chop some and sprinkle in your sauce or curry.

  • Dried mushrooms

Dried mushrooms are a good substitute free from soy and gluten. All you will need to do is first rehydrate them in water and use that liquid in place of soy sauce. The liquid adds the umami punch to your food.


  • Bouillon:Use beef orvegetable bouillon
  • Dried ingredients:Shrimp or kombu
  • Molasses:Traditional molasses, dark organic, or blackstrap molasses are great choices.
  • Herbs/vegetables:Fenugreek seeds, green onions, garlic, and ginger are great options.
  • Vinegar:Substitute soy sauce with cider vinegar, red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, or rice wine vinegar.

Homemade soy sauce substitute

From the ingredients above, you can make the best soy sauce substitute at your home.

You will need:

  • 2 tbsp. beef bouillon
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp molasses
  • A pinch of ginger- ground
  • A pinch of garlic powder
  • Black pepper- ground & fresh


  1. Add beef bouillon, ground ginger, garlic powder, apple cider vinegar, molasses, and water in a saucepan and combine them well.
  2. Place the saucepan over medium heat and heat it till it comes to a boil.
  3. After boiling, simmer under low heat, so the liquid reduces. Turn off till the mixture attains the flavor you desire; a minimum of 10 minutes is enough.
  4. Add your freshly ground black pepper.
  5. It’s now ready for use in your foods. You can also store it in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Frequently Asked and Question (FAQs)

Can soy sauce kill you?

Too much soy sauce is dangerous to your body. Soy sauce contains high doses of amines like histamine and tyramine3,35 that are toxic to the human body when consumed in large quantities. High amounts of sodium could also lead to high blood pressure, heart failure, and stroke.

Why is soy sauce black?

During production, a certain mold is added into the soy and wheat mixture to help break down the proteins to free amino acids and starch into sugars. Thisamino glycosidic reaction gives soy sauce a dark brown color. Some soy sauce also contains molasses that makes it darker.

Why is soy sauce so salty?

The saltiness in soy sauce is brought by the salty brine used. On the other hand, the umami taste is brought by the presence of free amino acids.

Can you eat soy sauce while pregnant?

Soy sauce is a healthy addition to a pregnancy diet. A serving or two is enough for a day. If you have any concerns regarding soy sauce, it is best to speak with your doctor before cooking.

How much soy sauce is too much?

A cup of soy sauce contains 14g of salt. For soy sauce levels to be toxic, one must consume up to 10 cups of soy sauce which puts you at a very high risk of death. There have even been reports of people who have died having consumed less than 10 cups. A tablespoon a day is good for you to be on the safe side. And since a tablespoon contains 900mg of sodium in it, it means you will have consumed 1/3 of the daily recommended allowance.


Yes! Soy sauce contains MSG, which gives it the signature umami flavor that brings out the best in meat dishes, soups, and even vegetables. Use soy sauce minimally in boosting your foods’ flavor while still checking on your health.

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