Is Hoisin Sauce Vegan?

Is Hoisin Sauce Vegan (1)

Whether you want an ingredient in your cooking or as a nice condiment in your recipes, hoisin sauce can add some much-needed flavor and consistency, but is it vegan, and are there any questionable ingredients?

We’re happy to say that hoisin sauce is vegan, but it is still wise to check any labeling as there might be some ingredients that are questionable, and below we take a look further to see what is inside. 

What Is Hoisin Sauce Made Of?

This sauce, not to be confused with soy sauce, makes an excellent marinade or dipping option and is typically made with a combination of the following ingredients:

  • Chili, five spice powder, or red chili peppers 
  • Garlic
  • Salt
  • Vinegar
  • Fermented soybeans
  • Sugar, sometimes molasses 
  • Xantham gum 
  • Artificial colors
  • Sesame Oil
  • Caramel color, in some varieties
  • Sodium 

Difference Between Soy Sauce And Hoisin Sauce

These two condiments are sometimes thrown into the same lists, and even though they look similar, the way to distinguish between them is that hoisin sauce has a thicker consistency and is usually sweeter.

You can also find different types of soy sauce, which are more widely used than hoisin sauce in some cultures, including dark and light soy sauce, tamari, white soy sauce, sweet soy sauce, and even gluten-free and low-sodium types.

Each of these can bring a different flavor profile to a dish, and some of these only need to be used in small amounts, but there are ingredients in both hoisin and soy sauce that we will look at next.

Questionable Ingredients 

Even though hoisin sauce is regarded as vegan-friendly, there are some flavorings, coloring, and sugars that might derive from animal testing, and some of these enhancers may come from fish or meat.

When checking the label at the store, there are a few ingredients that, if stated, you may want to look further into and decide if you want to consume them or not. These are:

  • Artificial colors like red 40 and yellow 5
  • Caramel color
  • Molasses 
  • Lactic acid 

The problem with checking with some of these ingredients is that you have to check precisely what processing methods are used, as they could be used sometimes, and many have argued that testing on animals no longer takes place.

How To Make Natural Hoisin Sauce

Is Hoisin Sauce Vegan

If this sounds too much like a minefield, don’t worry, as most authentic recipes don’t contain these ingredients and can be made from the comfort of your own home, so below, we have provided some simple recipes you can follow. 

Homemade Vegan Hoisin Sauce

This exciting recipe uses date paste that makes the sauce taste sweet without using dark brown or even white sugar, and with the miso paste, maple syrup, rice vinegar, garlic cloves, and Chinese 5 spice powder, you get a nice spice kick in your recipes. 

Raw Vegan Hoisin Sauce

Perhaps you don’t have or don’t like dates, and if so, you can use raisins instead, which could give you a different type of sweetness and this recipe uses crushed red pepper, dulse flakes, and barley miso for those who want a raw food version of this sauce. 

Gluten-Free Hoisin Sauce

This is something a bit different, as you have gluten-free soy sauce, or tamari, added in that gives it more of a natural thickness, as it can be easy to overdo it and ruin the consistency.

This one is often made at home because most store-bought versions contain wheat flour. 

Are There Any Other Considerations?

One thing to be careful of is how much you consume if you are buying the store variety, as these tend to have high sodium content, which could easily boost your amount past the recommended intake, so you should aim for lower than 1,500 mg a day.

The Bottom Line 

This can be said for any other product, but there may be varieties that you’re used to that have low sodium levels, and all this does really is add a saltiness to these products, so looking out for this is vital, especially if you are on a vegan diet for health reasons.

Making your own sauce can be fun as, at this level, you can decide how hot or mild you want it to be while having a nice marinade or dipping sauce that kicks your recipes up a notch.

Brandon White
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