Homemade Vegetarian Oyster Sauce (Vegan Stir Fry Sauce)

5 from 8 votes
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A fabulous vegan stir fry sauce that can be used in any dish that calls for oyster sauce. {Vegan, Gluten-free adaptable}

 Vegan | Vegetarian | Stir Fry | Sauce | Chinese Food

Oyster sauce (耗油, hào yóu), as its name suggests, is made by condensing oyster extracts by slowly simmering oysters in water. It is a flavor enhancer that is often used with soy sauce and other ingredients to cook fried noodles, fried rice and simple vegetable dishes. Hoisin sauce might be the most popular Chinese sauce in the US, but I personally always prefer oyster sauce. Unlike hoisin sauce, which is made mostly with sugar, oyster sauce has a much more sophisticated taste and adds way more flavor to a dish.

Over time I’ve received many questions about how to replace oyster sauce to make a dish vegetarian. The simplest answer is to buy a bottle of vegetarian oyster sauce, often known as mushroom-flavored stir fry sauce. Alternatively you can definitely make your own vegetarian stir fry sauce with just a few simple steps.

 Vegan | Vegetarian | Stir Fry | Sauce | Chinese Food

If you look at the label of store-bought mushroom sauce, the ingredients usually contain water, soy sauce, mushroom extract, sugar, salt, modified starch, glucose syrup, MSG, and preservatives.

The homemade version is far healthier than store-bought sauce and made with wholesome ingredients. When I make this sauce, I blend in a few extra herbs and spices, such as ginger, garlic, miso paste and five-spice powder, to give the sauce even more fragrance.

Homemade Vegetarian Oyster Sauce (Vegan Stir Fry Sauce) Ingredients

The main ingredient of vegetarian oyster sauce is dried shiitake mushrooms, which cannot be substituted by fresh ones – because they have been smoked and dried, their taste is more potent and intense. To use dried shiitake mushrooms, soak them in plenty of hot water. The mushrooms will expand 3 to 4 times their original size once soaked.

Homemade Vegetarian Oyster Sauce (Vegan Stir Fry Sauce) Ingredients

The cooking process is extremely simple… All you need is to cook the mushrooms and aromatics, blend everything into a paste, and then mix in a few more flavor enhancers.

If you do not own a blender, what you can do is mince the rehydrated mushrooms into very fine pieces before cooking. If you do this, cook them over a lower heat so you won’t burn the mushrooms.

Homemade Vegetarian Oyster Sauce Cooking Process

The finished sauce has a rich aroma and a thick texture. With this sauce, you can make a vegetarian version of the pressure cooker pilaf, simple vegetable dishes like Chinese broccoli in oyster sauce, or this scrumptious Vegetarian Chow Mein.

Noodles | Chinese Food | Vegan | Gluten Free Adaptable | One Pot
Vegetarian Chow Mein (Click image to view recipe)

I found that not only does it work great in stir fries, it’s also delicious eaten raw. Please feel free to experiment with the sauce, like adding it into salad dressing, using it as a dipping sauce, or even spreading it on a piece of toast!

 Vegan | Vegetarian | Stir Fry | Sauce | Chinese Food

If you give this recipe a try or discover a new way to use the sauce, let me know! Leave a comment, rate it (once you’ve tried it), take a picture and tag it @omnivorescookbook on Instagram! I’d love to see what you come up with.

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Homemade Vegetarian Oyster Sauce (Vegan Stir Fry Sauce)

5 from 8 votes
The recipe prep time does not include the time you use to soak the shiitake mushrooms.
Author: Maggie Zhu
Course: Main
Cuisine: Chinese
Keyword: pantry
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 1 and 1/4 cups


  • 1.4 oz (40 grams) dried shiitake mushrooms (slightly less than 2 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil (or vegetable oil)
  • 2 cloves garlic , finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon ginger , finely grated
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce (or soy sauce, or tamari for gluten-free)
  • 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce (or soy sauce, or tamari for gluten-free) (*Footnote 1)
  • 2 teaspoons miso paste (Optional) (*Footnote 2)
  • 1 teaspoon agave syrup (or sugar)
  • 1/4 teaspoon five spice powder
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil , toasted


  • Gently rinse the shiitake mushrooms to remove the dust on the surface. Transfer into a bowl and cover with 2-inches hot water. Soak until the mushrooms turn completely tender, 30 minutes to 1 hour. To test each mushroom, press the cap with your fingers. You shouldn’t feel any tough spots.
  • Rinse the mushrooms in the soaking water by gently rubbing the caps with your fingers. Squeeze out extra liquid and transfer the mushrooms to a cutting board. Let the mushroom-soaking water sit for 10 minutes. Save the soaking liquid (we will use it later in this recipe). Slice the mushrooms into thin pieces.
  • Heat peanut oil in a medium size pan over medium heat until warm. Add shiitake mushrooms. Cook and stir until both sides turns golden, 3 to 5 minutes. Add ginger and garlic. Cook and stir for another minute. Transfer everything into a food processor.
  • Add 1 cup of the reserved mushroom-soaking liquid to the food processor. Puree until smooth. Return everything into the fry pan.
  • Add light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, miso paste, syrup and five spice powder in a small bowl. Whisk until the miso paste has dissolved completely. Pour into the frying pan and stir to mix well.
  • Cook over low heat until the sauce is brought to a gentle simmer and is thick enough to coat a spoon. If the sauce turns too dry, add a few more spoons of the mushroom-soaking water.
  • Remove the pan from stove, add sesame oil, and stir to mix well. Transfer to a big bowl to cool.
  • Once the sauce has cooled down completely, transfer to an airtight container and store in the fridge for up for 1 week or in the freezer for 2 months.


  1. The miso paste is added as a hidden flavor to make the sauce more interesting. Either red or white miso paste can be used here. Skip this ingredient if you’re cooking a gluten-free sauce, since most miso pastes contain wheat.
  2. Dark soy sauce will add a dark brown color to this sauce. You can replace it with normal soy sauce. The color of the final product will be slightly lighter but it does not affect the taste.
Did You Make This Recipe?Don't forget the last step! Leave a comment below, and tag me @OmnivoresCookbook and #OmnivoresCookbook on Instagram!


Homemade Vegetarian Oyster Sauce (Vegan Stir Fry Sauce) - Vegan | Vegetarian | Stir Fry | Sauce | Chinese Food | Gluten-Free

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Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. Marlene says:

    This is a great recipe to have, Maggie, not only for vegetarians but also for kosher cooks who don’t eat shellfish. Thanks for this great series.

  2. rnh says:

    The recipe looks good. I wish it kept longer than a week in the fridge. Oyster sauce keeps for months. I wonder if a few dried oysters would work in the recipe.

    • Maggie says:

      So far I’ve kept the sauce in the fridge for 2 weeks without any problem. I also tried freeze it then defrost, and the texture remains the same. If you want to keep it for month, storing the sauce in a small container or in ice tray in the freezer might be the best option.
      The bottled oyster sauce contains food preservatives, so it always has a longer shelf than the homemade one.
      To answer your question, yes, the proper way to make oyster sauce is to use dried oyster or oyster extract. Mine is designed for the vegetarian diet, so I didn’t include them.
      Let me know how the cooking goes if you decide to try out this dish 🙂 Happy cooking!

    • R. B. says:

      I love this sauce so much that it doesn’t last long in my fridge!

  3. Bernadine says:

    Hi Maggie, love your recipes! Do you have a recipe for homemade oyster sauce?

    • Maggie says:

      Hi Bernadine, I do not have a homemade oyster sauce now, but I’d love to add it onto my to-do list.

  4. Shanaz says:

    What an amazing recipe. I love the the texture and color of it.

  5. Karen says:

    Do you think normal field cup mushrooms can be a substitute for the dried shiitake mushrooms?

  6. charlyn dakoykoy says:

    hi.. there,,,i would like to ask if its possible to replace the mushroom with sea urchin..

    • Maggie says:

      Hi Charyln, I’m afraid I cannot answer your question because I’ve never tried it before.

  7. Krissy says:

    5 stars
    Wow!! This is an amazing recipe. I had a hard time not eating it by the spoonful. I halved it and it was still enough for two dishes for my husband and me. We substituted it for Oyster sauce in ‘Buddha’s Delight’ and ‘Pad Kee Mao’. I eat Oyster sauce and like it and was just wanting something a bit lower glycemic, but now I like this sauce even better!

    The pictures were really helpful so I could see if I was doing it right. I peeled and roughly sliced the garlic and just roughly chopped the ginger (if organic I don’t even peel the ginger) and it worked great as the food processor chopped them the rest of the way in the following step. 🙂

    Thank you!

  8. Maryanne says:

    love your recipe. It looks like it will work for me with some changes. My daughter keeps kosher, but is also gluten intolerant and allergic to Soy. It presents all kinds of challenges. I’m going to try your recipe using coconut aminos in place of the soy sauce. I will let you know how it works out.

    • Andre says:

      Your daughter can ferment black beans at home, process them in a food processor add spices and maybe add kombu if she wants more of an umami salty kick. Just a thought.

  9. eeljapan says:

    5 stars
    A luxurious recipe using lots of mushrooms but the flavour is rich and worth it! Thank you for the recipe!

  10. Jessie says:

    5 stars
    Amazing! Just made this and absolutely loved it! Found a gluten free Miso paste and used that instead. Tried it on roasted chinese eggplants and was just blown away at how my 1yr old kept asking for more. Thank you for such a wonderful substitute for oyster sauce!

  11. Nuro says:

    Hi, I jus thought made this recipe and am excited to use it. I’m just wondering how much you use of this mix for a meal for 4 servings.


  12. Jacquelyn Patzelt says:

    5 stars
    Thank you so much! I avoid corn and natural and artificial flavor which basically means I couldn’t use any commercially available oyster sauce. I also avoid soy so I subbed coconut aminos and chickpea miso. It turned out so great.

  13. red says:

    Sometimes I think I read your articles just to look at the pictures. 🙂 I need to try this, but would like use oysters when they’re in season. niio

  14. Ally says:

    This is wonderful–even better than store-bought oyster sauce, to me. I was making fried rice and needed vegetarian oyster sauce because we have vegetarians in the group and I couldn’t find vegetarian oyster sauce in my store. Now I’m so glad I didn’t find store bought, because this is amazing. It was already good as I was making it, but when I added the five spice powder it changed everything–I couldn’t believe how good it was. Thank you! Now I just have to find a few more recipes to use up what I have left over.

  15. movielady says:

    5 stars
    Recipe worked wonderfully, very flavorful. I used it in pineapple fried rice I made the other day and the result was outstanding. I’ve frozen the rest so it won’t go bad on me in the fridge because I don’t use it often.

    Thank you, Maggie, for including such useful (and good!) recipes for those of us who want to make our own staple ingredients, instead of having to use store-bought ones full of junk. 🙂

  16. Didina Gnagnide Angorinie says:

    Do you think I could freeze this in ice cube trays so that I can only defrost small portions at a time? I hate wasting good sauces.

    • Maggie Zhu says:

      Yep you totally can.

  17. T.D. says:

    5 stars
    Made tis sauce several times. I love it! I prefer this sauce to store bought

  18. Mary says:

    What do you think about using dried oyster mushrooms instead of/or in addition to the shiitakes?I have both. Thank you!

    • Maggie Zhu says:

      I think you can use some dried oyster mushrooms in addition to the shiitakes. They have a nice taste but milder than shiitake, so I wouldn’t replace 100%.

      • Mary says:

        5 stars
        Thank you! I’ll make it as written.

  19. Ann Maree says:

    Hi Maggie. Thanks so much for this recipe. I want to make it for the first time today but am wondering about the amount of mushrooms. When I measure my whole dried shitakes, 6 mushrooms make up just under 50 grams but I need about 9 mushrooms or 75 grams to fill 2 cups. I want to get the flavour balance right so which do you recommend I do?

    • Maggie Zhu says:

      Hi Ann, I think the 6 mushrooms (50 g) will work!

      • Ann Maree says:

        5 stars
        Thanks very much, Maggie. I made it with 50 grams (6 mushrooms) and it worked very well. It’s so tasty and delicious! I plan on adding a little to a blackbean chicken recipe I am working on, thinking it will add a nice umami flavour.

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