Difference Between Light and Dark Soy Sauce

Main Difference – Light vs Dark Soy Sauce

Soy sauce is a sauce made with fermented soya beans. This sauce especially used in Chinese and Japanese cooking. There are basically two types of soy sauces: Japanese soy sauce and Chinese soy sauce. Traditional Chinese soy sauces were made with 100% soy whereas Japanese soy sauce is made from a combination of soybeans and wheat. This results in a change of taste; Japanese soy sauce is sweeter and has a less harsh flavor. They are also thinner and clearer than Chinese soy sauces. Both these sauces can be further categorized into two types: light and dark soy sauce. The main difference between light and dark soy sauce is that light soy sauce is lighter in color and thinner in texture than dark soy sauce.Difference Between Light and Dark Soy Sauce - infographic

What is Light Soy Sauce

In this article, we’ll look at both Japanese light soy sauce and Chinese light soy sauce.

Japanese Light Soy Sauce

Japanese light soy sauce is known as Usukuchi. It is thinner and lighter than the darker so sauce. However, they have a firm, salty flavor and light sweetness can be tasted due to the addition of a sweet rice wine called mirin. It should be used more sparingly since they have an intense flavor. This sauce is traditionally used in the Southern Kansai region of Japan. It can be used to season ingredients without turning the ingredients into a darker color.

Chinese Light Soy Sauce

This sauce is made from the first pressing of fermented soybeans, is also known as fresh soy sauce. This is usually more expensive than dark soy sauce. It’s commonly used than its dark version; when a Chinese recipe requires a soy sauce, it is safe to assume that this refers to the light sauce. It is thinner, opaque and lighter brown in color. This sauce is perfect for light seasoning and dipping.

Main Difference - Light vs Dark Soy Sauce

What is Dark Soy Sauce

Dark soy sauce can be discussed under two categories: Japanese dark soy sauce and Chinese soy sauce.

Japanese Dark Soy Sauce

Japanese Dark Soy Sauce is also known as koikuchi; this is more commonly used than the light sauce. This sauce has a deeper color although they have a less intense taste. It is thicker and richer than its lighter version and is less salty. Koikuchi is an all-purpose sauce and is good for marinades and cooking, as well as for dipping or stir-fries.

Chinese Dark Soy Sauce

Chinese dark soy sauce is also darker in color and thicker in texture. But it is less salty and has a slight sweetness since it often has added sugar or molasses.  It is mainly used for cooking; this sauce is often added to food at the last stages to season. Dark soy sauce is also added to marinades and sauces to add color and flavor.

Difference Between Light and Dark Soy Sauce

Difference Between Light and Dark Soy Sauce


Light Soy Sauce: Light soy sauce has a lighter color.

Dark Soy Sauce: Dark soy sauce has a darker color.


Light Soy Sauce: Light soy sauce has a thinner texture.

Dark Soy Sauce: Dark soy sauce has a thicker and richer texture.


Light Soy Sauce: Light soy sauce is somewhat salty.

Dark Soy Sauce: Dark soy sauce has less saltiness.


Light Soy Sauce: Light sauce is used for light seasoning and dipping.

Dark Soy Sauce: Dark soy sauce can be used for cooking as well as for marinades and dipping.


Light Soy Sauce: Chinese light sauce is more commonly used than its dark sauce.

Dark Soy Sauce: Japanese dark sauce is more commonly used than its light version.

Image Courtesy:

“Gurame bakar kecap 2″ By Gunawan Kartapranata – Own work, via

“Image 2″ (Public Domain) via

About the Author: Hasa

Hasa has a BA degree in English, French and Translation studies. She is currently reading for a Masters degree in English. Her areas of interests include literature, language, linguistics and also food.

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