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Coconut aminos are a wonderful gluten-free and soy-free alternative for soy sauce. Learn more about what they are, how and why to use them in this post!
What are Coconut Aminos?
You may have seen the bottles of this in the Asian section of your grocery store or in a recipe, but what exactly are these coconut aminos?
Pronounced “ah-mee-nose”, this brown liquid is used as a replacement for soy sauce made from coconut tree sap.
It's blended with salt and then aged.
It has up to 14 times the amount of amino acids (building blocks of our muscle tissue and immune system helper) than soy, is very low glycemic, and full of Vitamin C and B.
This handy condiment also, as it advertises on the bottle, has 65% less sodium than soy sauce.
So not only is it soy- and gluten-free, but it has a number of really good nutritional benefits.
It's also suitable for the Paleo, Whole30, and AIP Diets!
Why use coconut aminos?
What's wrong with soy sauce?
Well, first of all, most soy sauce has gluten in it, and for someone like me who is Celiac (gluten-allergic), we need to avoid gluten at all costs.
There are gluten-free soy sauces out there, but they still contain soy (well, duh!).
Reasons to avoid soy
But without trying to get all sciency and technical, here are the reasons I try to avoid soy in general:
- It hangs on to minerals you need like a magnet. Soy has phytates – these bind to minerals like iron, magnesium, and calcium and zinc. Not only do they make these minerals unavailable to you, but they have the ability to remove minerals from your body. Not good.
- It can contribute to overeating. Soy has lectins – these proteins mess with your hunger hormones and make you think you are still hungry when you are not. Eventually this can lead to metabolic issues like insulin resistance.
- It contains estrogen – Soy contains a plant estrogen called isoflavones which can raise your own estrogen levels. In addition to this possibly causing one to have a higher chance of getting breast cancer, it can cause your monthly cycles to become irregular and possibly affect your ability to conceive. Children aren't meant to get extra hormones either, and there have even been studies that suggest babies fed soy formula are given the equivalent of 5 birth control pills a day.
- It can lead to thyroid problems – This is probably the biggest reason I avoid it, since I have Hashimoto's Thyroiditis autoimmune disease (where my body attacks my thyroid tissue). Soy has a high level of goitrogens, which makes it hard for your thyroid to effectively use iodine. Without the right amount of iodine your metabolism slows down, leading to weight gain, feeling cold all the time, your hair falling out, and many other super fun problems.
How do you use this soy sauce replacement?
When used in cooking, coconut aminos are pretty similar in taste to soy sauce.
It has that salty, umami flavor as soy sauce, so it's awesome in Asian-inspired dishes, especially when paired with fish sauce.
When used alone it doesn't exactly taste the same, so I usually recommend it be used more for adding to sauces and dishes.
But it definitely can be used alone if you really need it. Or… if you've been off soy sauce for a long time you might not even notice any difference.
As you can see in this gif it's similar in the look and liquid-texture of soy sauce as well:
To use coconut aminos you just use them 1:1 for soy sauce in any recipe.
Where do you buy coconut aminos?
I used to buy my coconut aminos in bulk (128 oz) from Amazon because I have found the price to do it that way to be most cost-effective, but lately I've been finding them in large jars at my Costco instead.
However, if you are new to these, a gigantic jug isn't probably for you.
Instead, you can find them at most food stores these days in the Asian aisle, near the soy sauce.
Online, Thrive Market seems to have the best price for the 8 oz bottles ($4.45), which are the typical size you'd need (you do need a membership from Thrive though, which is like an online Costco for natural foods).
What is a good substitute for coconut aminos?
If you are trying to be soy-free AND coconut-free, coconut aminos won't be the answer.
This coconut amino substitute is a great recipe by Mel Joulwan that many of my coconut-free clients have loved.
Recipes that Use Coconut Aminos
5 Paleo & AIP Chicken Marinades
Pork Lettuce Wraps (Paleo, Whole30, and AIP modifications)
Make Paleo easier, faster, less expensive, and way more fun with all the resources in my Freebie Library! Click on the picture to find out how to access it.
I just bought some coconut amino this week. Your timing was perfect.
I’ve been seeing Coconut amino and didn’t know what it was. Thanks for your Wonderful description.
You’re welcome! So many interesting ingredients with Paleo 🙂
Trying to eat better this will be great as I am an adventurous eater and cooker
That’s great you are so openminded and adventurous!
Thank you for this post, great info and I’ve been looking for something to substitute soy sauce for awhile.
I’m glad it helps!
I have been looking for a soy substitute for a while ( cause of thyroid trubble and such , I’m so glad I found this product thank you ever so much for posting this . It really means a lot , I love eating dishes that call for soy sauce but I avoid soy products like the plegue
I’m so glad it has helped you!
Thank you for this post, Michele! I’ve been getting this question more and more recently and I’m tired of typing out the explanation so many times. 🙂 I’ll direct people here. You explain it so well.
Thanks Jessica! I think that was the same reason I actually WROTE the post in the first place, haha!