Made popular in recent years with the prevalence of Paleo and gluten free diets, coconut aminos is becoming an increasingly used condiment in recipes around the web (including mine)! Since I’m all about cooking with minimal ingredients and only keeping a handful of essentials on hand in my own kitchen, I thought I’d address this ingredient I know some of you have never heard of before. My hope is that after reading this you will know whether or not this sauce is something worth trying, or even swapping out your soy sauce for! So what the heck is "coconut aminos", and why do I prefer cooking with this over soy sauce?
Coconut aminos is a savory sauce frequently used as an alternative to soy sauce for those wanting to avoid gluten and soy. A bottle of coconut aminos typically contains only two ingredients: aged coconut tree sap and sea salt. Its salty, umami flavor is more mild than soy sauce but carries a similar flavor profile with a bit more sweetness.
Coconut aminos, in addition to having a simpler ingredient list than soy sauce, carries health benefits of the coconut including benefits to the heart and immune system due to its high antioxidant properties and vitamins B and C. It also is packed with amino acids as its name speaks to -- 17 in total!
So what's better -- coconut aminos or soy sauce? It’s all about personal preference. For me, the taste of coconut aminos is close enough and I like the small ingredient list (can’t get much simpler than aged coconut sap + sea salt)! I also generally try to stay away from GMO’s and soy is one of the top genetically modified crops next to corn, leaving few regular soy sauce options if avoiding GMO’s is a priority for you. And finally, since far more people have allergies and intolerances to gluten or soy than to coconut, I like keeping my recipes inclusive for folks with food sensitivities. Coconut aminos also fits into Paleo and Whole30 diets while soy sauce technically does not.
So for me, I have swapped out my soy sauce for coconut aminos completely and am happy with that decision! I don't eat tons of Chinese food and rarely follow recipes that use large amounts of soy sauce -- if I did, it might be harder to be satisfied with coconut aminos as a catch-all replacement. If you are a heavy Asian recipe maker, you might want to try sticking to organic soy sauce or if you are wanting to ditch gluten, you could give Tamari a try, which is a largely wheat-free version of soy sauce.
Coconut aminos isn't found everywhere yet, but it's gaining traction. You will be most likely to find it at specialty and health food grocery stores, though I've recently spotted it in some more mainstream grocery stores as well. Trader Joe’s even has their own private label of the stuff! Two of my favorite brands are Braggs and Coconut Secret coconut aminos, which can be found in stores or online.
Hope this helps! If you have any more types of product questions let me know -- I'm working on a minimalist grocery guide for the future and would love ideas of what types of information would be helpful to you.