If you like to cook Chinese, you should expand your knowledge of sauces. It gives meat and vegetables an authentic touch of colour, flavour and texture. In this article, we compare oyster sauce and hoisin sauce to determine their similarities, differences and best uses in the kitchen.

What is the difference between oyster sauce and oyster sauce

Although both sauces are used in Asian cuisine, hoisin sauce is a rich, reddish-brown, sweet-salty sauce that can be used as an ingredient or as a side sauce. Oyster sauce is usually used to give dishes the salty taste of oysters with a subtle flavor. Oyster sauce is saltier and looser than oyster sauce, but also less sweet.

For both sauces, the consistency varies depending on the brand. Most oyster sauces have a thicker consistency than oyster sauces.

Common items

Hoisin: Soybeans, sesame seeds, chilli, garlic, vinegar, sugar, spices, salt, starch, water.
Oyster: Oyster extract, water, sugar, salt, thickener, aroma, starch.

Taste and texture

Huazin is a rich, reddish-brown sauce that combines spicy, sweet and salty flavors. It has a shiny, smooth texture, similar to American BBQ sauce. Hoisin sauce is much less salty than fish sauce or soy sauce.

The oyster sauce offers a blend of sweet and salty flavors with a slight hint of oyster. This oyster flavor may not be present in the more expensive brands. Although oyster sauce is salty, it is much less salty than soy sauce.

Fun fact: Although the word hoisin in Cantonese means seafood, there are no seafood in the sauce.

How are oyster and hoisin sauces used in cooking?


Heuxing is widespread throughout southern China and, to a lesser extent, in some northern parts of the country. It is also used in Vietnam for a popular dish, Pho. Source: Wikipedia.

Hoisin sauce is excellent as a sauce for spring rolls, duck pancakes and dumplings. It is also a delicious glaze on duck (Peking duck), chicken, beef and vegetables.

Usually used to make hoisin sauce:

  • Table of spices
  • Glaze for meat and fish
  • Grated roast with noodles
  • Mayonnaise or hoisin dressing


If you like to order fries, you’ve probably already tried the oyster sauce. Used by many chefs in Chinese restaurants, this option is ideal for adding color to dishes. Oyster sauce is dark brown in color and has a smooth, supple texture that gives ingredients like mushrooms or beef and broccoli a nice, glossy sheen. Particularly suitable as a sauce.

Oyster sauce is usually used:

  • Sichuan Noodles
  • Pad Thai.
  • Chow Mein.
  • kung pao prawns
  • Beef fries

Helpful hint: Choose a good quality brand of oyster sauce, as cheap sauces can have a stronger oyster flavor that overpowers the food.

Nutrient comparison

For those who want to limit their salt intake, hoisin is a better alternative, although both contain a lot of sodium. We looked at the average salt content of the main brands of sauces and found that hoisin sauce contained 1,615 mg/100 g, while oyster sauce contained 2,733 mg/100 g.

Hoisin sauce contains about 27 g of sugar per 100 g serving, while oyster sauce does not.

Heusen is suitable for a vegetarian diet, but as the name suggests, oyster sauce contains oyster extracts and is not suitable for a plant-based diet.

Can I use oyster sauce or oyster sauce interchangeably?

Although oysters and oyster sauce have different flavors and colors, you can substitute one for the other in most recipes. Because oyster sauce is saltier, we recommend using less of it or reducing the amount of other salty ingredients in the dish. To replace the oyster sauce, you can use a similar amount and increase the saltiness by adding a little fish sauce. Remember that the hoisin sauce adds zest and sweetness to the dish. For most recipes, this change would not be prohibitive.

As a side sauce, oyster sauce cannot replace hoisin sauce. It is very salty, so if you must use it, try to dilute it with another milder sauce.

Related reading:
Fish sauce or fish stock – what difference does it make?
See our comparison of teriyaki and tonkatsu sauces.

Pad Thai Recipe

Although oyster sauce is popular in Chinese recipes, it is also a tasty addition to Pad Thai that brings all the ingredients together. Follow this simple recipe for dinner tonight.


  • 8 ounces of rice
  • Half-limestone sauce
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • A pinch of fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp jam paste
  • jar of cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon peanut butter
  • ¼ Bohnensprossen cup
  • ¼ cup Italian parsley
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 cup of shrimp
  • ¼ cup tofu
  • 1 tablespoon peanut powder
  • Banana flower


  1. Place the rice noodles in a large bowl of boiling water and cook until tender. Rinse and set aside.
  2. Combine lime juice, oyster sauce, fish sauce, tamarind paste, cayenne pepper and sugar in a medium bowl and stir until smooth.
  3. Put the peanut butter in the hot pan and then add the bean sprouts, parsley and onion. Cook for 2 minutes.
  4. Add the shrimp and tofu and cook until the seafood is cooked.
  5. Stir in the sauce and cook for 1 minute.
  6. Add the pasta and stir until all ingredients are combined.
  7. Make a little space at the bottom of the wok and break the egg into it. Beat it and mix it with the other ingredients.
  8. Serve with peanuts and a banana flower on the side.

Quick tip: If you don’t have tamarind paste, check out our selection of tamarind paste substitutes that work great.

Concluding remarks

When comparing hoisin sauce with oyster sauce, it is easy to confuse them at first. Both are thick, dark brown sauces used in many savory dishes. However, they do differ from each other and are used in different recipes. Oyster sauce adds a delicious, salty umami flavor to dishes. The greatest strength of a good quality oyster sauce is that it does not overpower the other ingredients with too much flavor.

Hoisin can also be used in noodles, vegetables and meat dishes. It gives a bright red color and is therefore the favorite glaze for Peking duck. Hoixing is also an excellent noodle sauce to add to Chinese dishes.

Infographic Hoisin sauce vs. oyster sauce

Check out our infographic below comparing oyster sauce and hoisin sauce.

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frequently asked questions

Can I replace the oyster sauce with oyster sauce?

If you’re making fried rice with shrimp or another seafood dish, or even leafy green fries, the oyster sauce can serve as a legitimate (non-vegetarian) sub. This is not an ideal substitute because oyster sauce is not as sweet and gives a different flavor profile.

What can I use to replace the hoisin sauce?

Horseshoe sauce substitute

What is the best substitute for oyster sauce?

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