Learn how to make umami packed vegetarian oyster sauce with this easy step by step recipe! This vegan mushroom stir fry sauce is perfect substitution for any recipe that calls for oyster sauce.

Vegetarian oyster sauce is an ingredient I use in many of my dishes so I often get asked if there is a way to make it at home as its not readily available in some countries. After a few test batches, I’ve finally come up with a recipe worth sharing that not only tastes BETTER than store bought, but also made with easy to find ingredients.

How to Make Vegetarian Oyster Sauce

Ingredients (+ Substitutions)

When developing this recipe I first started by looking at the ingredients in store bought vegetarian oyster sauce (Lee Kum Kee) which contains the following: water, sugar, soy sauce, salt, modified corn starch, yeast extract, caramel color, natural and artificial mushroom flavour. I took the same ingredients and tested out different ratios and added a few additional ingredients to make (IMO) the best tasting stir fry sauce that really reminds me of the real oyster sauce I used to use! Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Dried shiitake mushrooms: This is the key ingredient that replaces the ‘oyster’ flavour and packs in a lot of umami flavour.
  • Miso paste: Another ingredient that I think really adds an additional umami element and saltiness. I find red miso paste to work better here but any miso paste you have on hand will do.
  • Cane sugar: Sweetness to balance out the saltiness. The sugar gets caramelized for an extra depth of flavour, too! More on that below.
  • Soy sauce: For colour and saltiness.
  • Dark soy sauce: Gives that ‘oyster’ sauce appearance by darkening the sauce.
  • Corn starch: To thicken the sauce.
  • Salt

In addition, you can also add other seasonings such as garlic, ginger, Chinese five spice, mushroom seasoning powder or msg for a boost of flavour.

Step by Step Directions

I first made this recipe simply by blending all the ingredients and thickening it over the stove. While it tasted good, it was missing something. A deep flavour that I couldn’t quite put my tongue on. I went over three brands of vegetarian stir fry sauce again and ‘caramel colour’ stood out to me.

I had some leftover caramel sauce from my Japanese purin recipe I was testing and tested a small batch with it. THIS was the missing component! Japanese caramel sauce for purin has a bittersweet complex flavour to it that adds another depth of flavour that truly ties this sauce together. Making caramel sauce can be slightly tricky at first so here are some tips and tricks to make it easy:

  1. Mushroom mixture: Pour the soaking water through a fine mesh sieve to remove any excess dirt. Cut the softened rehydrated mushrooms with scissors (optional, you can skip this step if you have a high speed blender). Blend the soaking water and mushrooms until smooth. 
  2. Caramel: In a saucepan over medium heat add sugar and water. Do not mix or swirl the pan. Let the mixture bubble until amber in colour. As soon as it begins to change colour, do not take your eyes off of it as it can over-thicken or burn in a matter of seconds. Turn off the heat and then add in the hot water. Be careful as the water may splash due to the vigorous bubbling. Stir the caramel– at this point it should be slightly runny and smooth.
  3. Finishing the sauce: Add the blended mushroom mixture to the saucepan and stir with the caramel sauce. Turn the heat back on over low to medium low. Add the soy sauce, dark soy sauce, miso paste, salt and any additional seasonings of choice and whisk until well combined. Then drizzle in the corn starch slurry while continuing to whisk until thickened to desired consistency. The mixture will thicken more as it cools. Taste and adjust the saltiness to your liking.

How to Store Homemade Stir Fry Sauce

  • Remove from heat and once cooled, transfer to an air tight container.
  • Refrigerator: Store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
  • Freezing: Store in the freezer for up to 3 months. I recommend keeping it in ice cube trays for easy removal.

Recipes & Ways to Use Vegetarian Stir Fry Sauce

  • Perfect for any kind of stir fries
  • Add it to sauces for quick noodles or for vegetables
  • Add it to marinades for vegetable and tofu (or other proteins) dishes

If you recreate this Vegetarian Oyster Sauce recipe let me know how you liked it by leaving a comment and rating below or by tagging me on Instagram @Okonomikitchen, I love seeing all of your tasty recreations!
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Vegetarian Oyster Sauce


  • Author: Lisa Kitahara
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 1 1/3 cups 1x

Description

Learn how to make umami packed vegetarian oyster sauce with this easy step by step recipe! This vegan mushroom stir fry sauce is perfect substitution for any recipe that calls for oyster sauce.


Ingredients

Scale

Caramel

  • 1/3 cup cane sugar (62g // or granulated sugar of choice)
  • 2 1/2 tbsp water (37ml)
  • 2 1/2 tbsp hot water (37ml)

Optional seasonings


Instructions

  1. Mushroom mixture: Pour the soaking water through a fine mesh sieve to remove any excess dirt. Cut the softened rehydrated mushrooms with scissors (optional, you can skip this step if you have a high speed blender). Blend the soaking water and mushrooms until smooth. 
  2. Caramel: In a saucepan over medium heat add sugar and water. Do not mix or swirl the pan. Let the mixture bubble until amber in colour. Turn off the heat and then add in the hot water. Be careful as the water may splash due to the vigorous bubbling. Stir the caramel– at this point it should be slightly runny and smooth.
  3. Finishing the sauce: Add the blended mushroom mixture to the saucepan and stir with the caramel sauce. Turn the heat back on over low to medium low. Add the soy sauce, dark soy sauce, miso paste, salt and any additional seasonings of choice and whisk until well combined. Then drizzle in the corn starch slurry while continuing to whisk until thickened to desired consistency. The mixture will thicken more as it cools. Taste and adjust the saltiness to your liking.
  4. Store: Remove from heat and once cooled, transfer to an air tight container. Store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks or in the freezer for up to 3 months. 

Notes

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Category: sauces
  • Method: stove top
  • Cuisine: vegan, chinese, gluten free

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 2 tbsp (32g)
  • Calories: 33
  • Sugar: 5.9g
  • Sodium: 445mg
  • Fat: 0.08g
  • Saturated Fat: 0.01g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 0.05g
  • Trans Fat: 0
  • Carbohydrates: 8.1g
  • Fiber: 0.3g
  • Protein: 0.5g
  • Cholesterol: 0

Keywords: vegetarian oyster sauce, vegan stir fry sauce, mushroom sauce

SAVE IT FOR LATER! ↓

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Konnichiwa

About Lisa

I'm Lisa, a home cook, recipe developer and founder of Okonomi Kitchen. Here, you'll find a mix of classic and modernized Japanese recipes, and creative, plant-forward meal inspiration using seasonal ingredients. I hope to share more about Japanese cuisine and culture through food and recipes.


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7 Comments

  1. I would not have believed this was possible! This vegetarian „oyster“ sauce is delicious and very reminiscent of real oyster sauce. I used red miso and added a dash of sesame oil and I‘m very happy with the results.Thank you!

  2. this is the bomb. for sure writing this recipe down. using it in a vegan pad see ew later <3 thank you!

  3. Made this because I wanted to make a dish that a friend made me last week and I didn’t have any veg oyster sauce on hand and was too lazy to go buy some. Let me just say, WOW SO GOOD??? I also added some of the trader joe’s mushroom umami seasoning to it and it was top notch.

  4. Thank you SO much for this recipe!! We live in Los Angeles and it is super hard to find vegan oyster sauce even locally here so when we saw your recipe we had to try it. Not only was it super easy but it came out super flavorful with a nice thick consistency that just works so well for so many recipes. So good! 10 out of 10, would make and eat again!

  5. This is the easiest and best recipe I’ve EVER seen and made for veg oyster sauce!! It was deliciously thick and packed with tons of flavor! I made the 3x batch since I couldn’t get enough. 😅 My first dish I made with it was pad see ew and the sauce reminded me of the first time I had it, it was amazing and became one of my fav dishes but I was sad when I realized I couldn’t have it due to the sauce but luckily Lisa made it possible again and it tastes even better than the original! I can’t wait to make more with this and even more recipes! ☺️ Thank you for sharing your creative mind and yummy recipes with us, it’s very much appreciated! ❣️