5 Best Japanese Tamari Soy Sauces to Buy

Since its creation in China some 2000 years ago, soy sauce and variants such as tamari sauce have been a staple in East Asian cooking.

With so many brands and varieties of sauce on the market, it can be difficult to know the best tamari sauce. We will look at five different products and determine what is the best Japanese tamari.

What is  Tamari Sauce?

You may have seen recipes that call for tamari or soy sauce while cooking. But what is tamari and how is it different from regular soy sauce?

Tamari is a class of soy sauce made with little or no wheat. No wheat means tamari is gluten-free, unlike traditional soy sauce. Tamari is also typically darker and richer than Chinese soy sauce.

All soy sauces are a great way to add saltiness to a dish without adding salt. They also contain much less sodium than regular salt, making them a healthier alternative.

Tamari is of Japanese origin, and today brewers primarily manufacture it in the Chūbu region.

Brewers say the tamari recipe most closely resembles the soy sauces originally brought to Japan by China. Manufacturers create tamari with by-products from the miso-making process.

5 Best Tamari Soy Sauces for Your Choice

1. San-J Tamari Gluten Free Soy Sauce – Best Overall

San-J is the best tamari brand on the market, and their Gluten-Free Tamari is a great choice for home chefs.

It is made with 100 percent soybeans, leaving it with a richer and milder flavor than traditional soy sauce.

This is the go-to product for marinades or stir-fry sauces, and it is the best gluten-free tamari available.

Pros

  • Delicious taste that’s milder than regular soy sauce
  • It is an affordable option
  • 100 percent gluten-free
  • Perfect for marinades or as a sauce in Asian cuisine

Cons

  • High in sodium

2. Kikkoman Preservative-Free Tamari Soy Sauce – Best Value

If you plan on doing a lot of cooking or running a restaurant, this half-gallon-sized product from Kikkoman is an efficient choice.

It is much cheaper by ounce than the offerings from San-J, but it does lose out on some of the richness of San-J’s line of tamari. But this tamari is still very tasty, and it is perfect when you need plenty of tamari.

Restaurants should look at this as the best Japanese tamari for bulk orders.

Restaurateurs can use this for both back-of-house cooking, as well as filling up tamari containers at tables to give customers a gluten-free option.

Pros

  • Very affordable for bulk ordering
  • Perfect and versatile for restaurants and anyone cooking large orders of food
  • Entirely gluten-free and made with four ingredients: water, soybeans, salt, and sugar

Cons

  • Missing some of the deep flavors from San-J tamari
  • Too much for the occasional home chef

3. San-J Gluten Free Tamari Lite – Best Low-Sodium Choice

Perhaps the most common complaint people have with soy sauce is its high sodium content.

Many brands offer sauces with reduced sodium, and this product from San-J is the best low sodium tamari. It has 50 percent less sodium than San-J’s regular version and is slightly more expensive.

While no reduced-sodium tamari will have the same full-bodied flavor as the regular variety, it still has a place in the kitchen.

With 50 percent less sodium, you can comfortably use it in dishes to make them healthier. It is especially effective in recipes where the tamari won’t be the primary flavor but is just one of many.

The healthier nature of this product also means it is superb for a dip at the table. It is a great way to save on salt intake while still getting most of that umami flavor.

Pros

  • Healthier and includes 50 percent less sodium than regular tamari
  • Perfect for more health-conscious dishes or as a dip at the table

Cons

  • Slightly more expensive than regular tamari
  • Missing some of the flavors of other tamari

4. Eden Organic Tamari – Best Organic Choice

Eden Foods is an American company that has brewed soy sauce since 1968.

This tamari from Eden Foods is a great organic choice. Eden Foods ages the product in cedar casks for over two years to deliver a rich flavor.

This sauce has won numerous awards for a good reason. It is a delicious addition to Asian cuisine made with no MSG. This quality comes at a price, however, as the product is about twice as expensive as San-J’s regular tamari.

Pros

  • Rich flavor
  • Organic and gluten-free
  • Packaged in a refillable amber glass bottle

Cons

  • More expensive than any other tamari on the list.

5. San-J International, Organic Reduced Sodium Tamari – Best Vegan Option

When you want a healthier tamari that still packs most of the flavor, this organic reduced-sodium tamari from San-J threads that needle perfectly.

It contains 25 percent less sodium than the regular variety, but still has most of the rich flavor.

This product is the only San-J tamari on the list that is certified organic. It is also vegan and contains no GMOs like all San-J sauces.

The sauce is a good compromise for chefs that want to balance flavor and health.

Pros

  • Excellent balance between being health-conscious and full-bodied
  • Cheaper than San-J’s 50 percent less sodium offering
  • Entirely organic and gluten-free

Cons

  • The flavor won’t match regular tamari
  • More expensive than regular tamari

How to Choose the Right Tamari

Before choosing a bottle of tamari, you should keep a few things in mind.

  • Price
  • Flavor
  • Organic
  • Sodium

You need to know how much you’ll be using it. If you are cooking in a restaurant or making large batches of food regularly, you might consider a bulk option. It will sacrifice some flavor but will save a lot of money.

Consumers should also consider if they want organic, reduced-sodium, or traditional tamari. This preference is entirely up to you, but make sure you know what you want before checking out.

Bonus: if you just want to look for a Tamari substitute, then check out our research on the top 14 tamari substitutes.

Conclusion

If you are in the market for tamari, it can feel like the options are overwhelming. Any of the five sauces listed here is a great purchase, and no matter what you need tamari for, one of these products will suffice.

So check out the links and get to cooking!

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