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15 Best Browning Sauce Substitutes (for meat and vegetables)

Browning sauce is a thick, darkly colored sauce that gets added to foods to enhance the flavor. But if you don’t have any on hand and don’t want to make it from scratch, what is the best substitute for browning sauce?

The overall best substitute for browning sauce is a 50/50 mix of Worcestershire sauce and A1 steak sauce. These will add a strong, rich flavor to any meat or vegetable dish in addition to enhancing its dark color.

Browning sauce is a seasoning sauce made with caramelized sugar or caramel coloring, vegetable concentrates, and seasonings. It has a smoky, sweet, savory flavor that enhances different foods.

Do you crave different flavors and a deep brown color in your meals?

You’re in luck because we will look at 15 browning sauce substitutes. We will explore their ingredients, the meals they go with, and the ideal proportion to use.

Let’s get into it.

1. Worcestershire Sauce

Worcestershire sauce is the quintessential British sauce, as its name faintly suggests.

It’s highly versatile and is one of the best substitutes for browning sauce. Its main ingredients include garlic, sugar, salt, onion, spirit vinegar, anchovies, tamarind extract, dark molasses, and other seasonings.

It has a sweet, salty, savory, and tangy flavor. You can use it in stews, scrambled eggs, gravies, marinades, sauces, and more. You can use it in a 1:1 ratio.

2. Teriyaki Sauce

Teriyaki sauce is a good substitute for browning sauce. It’s made with mirin, sauce, and sugar. It has a tangy, sweet, and salty flavor.

It’s good as a dipping sauce and meat marinade.

It’s also great for meat dishes such as broiled or grilled meat and works well for fish, vegetables, stir-fries, and rice dishes. But it’s not ideal in stews and gravies. You can use it in a 1:1 ratio.

3. Oyster Sauce

Oyster sauce is a thick dark sauce — a mix of salt, sugar, and boiled caramelized oyster juice. It’s slightly sweet, salty, earthy, and with notes of caramel. Some versions may contain cornstarch, caramel, or soy sauce.

Use ½ a teaspoon of oyster sauce in place of browning sauce because the former is saltier. You can add a bit more if you want something stronger.

4. Dark Soy Sauce

Dark soy sauce is a great alternative to browning sauce.

It’s used in sauces, stews, soups, stir-fries, and meat marinades. It’s usually mixed with molasses or caramel and cornstarch, resulting in a sweet, salty, umami flavor. Use it to thicken and add an alluring dark brown color to your meals.

It’s Asian and made with fermented soy. During the fermentation process, MSG (Monosodium glutamate), a natural flavor enhancer, is released. It gives food a savory flavor. It’s an amino acid that naturally occurs in many foods.

Use ½ a teaspoon in place of browning sauce because the former is saltier. You can add a bit more if you want something stronger.

5. Barbeque Sauce

Barbeque sauce is made up of tomato paste, vinegar, liquid smoke, mayonnaise, onion, mustard, black pepper, and molasses or sugar. Some versions may include tomato sauce and chili pepper flakes.

Naturally, its flavor depends on the ingredients used.

Usually, its flavor is a delicious mix of salty, sweet, savory, sour, spicy, smoky, and tangy. You can add it to sauces, use it as a marinade for grilled meat, as dressing, or as dips.

BBQ sauce can be used as a substitute for browning sauce in a 1:1 ratio.

6. Steak Sauce (A1)

Steak sauce, also known as A1 sauce, is a type of browning sauce.

As such, it’s an excellent substitute. It’s made up of raisin paste, tomato puree, caramel color, celery seed, onion, garlic, salt, vinegar, and other spices and flavorings. Some other versions of steak sauce may include different ingredients.

It’s tart, sweet, sour, and salty. It goes well with fish, veggies, steak, game meat, pork, and chicken.

You can add it to salad dressings, marinades, grilled meats, and meatloaf. You can use it in the same proportion as you use browning sauce.

7. Maggi Liquid Seasoning

Maggi liquid seasoning is a good substitute for browning sauce. It’s a concentrated dark brown liquid. It’s made with wheat protein, was invented over a hundred years ago in Switzerland, and is also available in powder and cube form.

It’s got a rich umami, soy-sauce-like flavor that’s great with soups, sauces, stir-fries, and more. You’ve got to try it with brown stew chicken!

The flavor is strong, so you want to use it a little at a time and add a bit more after tasting the meal. Some folks claim the flavor is like a mix of soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce.

8. Bragg Liquid Aminos

Bragg liquid aminos is a dark brown savory seasoning made with soybeans and purified water. This simple sauce is a type of condiment that’s similar to soy sauce, but it is healthier.

Think of soy sauce, but milder and sweeter. A lot of folks find its taste very pleasant. It contains no chemicals, preservatives, or artificial coloring. Naturally, it’s a tad pricier.

It is great in sauces, gravies, stir-fries, dips, grilled food, and dressings. It has a slightly sweet, salty, savory umami flavor.

You want to use small amounts because liquid aminos are saltier than browning sauce. If you don’t care for the savory or “bitter taste” you could add a bit of sugar, butter, or cream.

9. Parisian Essence

Parisian essence has dark brown color and is a mix of sugar and water. It’s sweet and works well in cakes, gravies, soups, sauces, and casseroles. You can use it as a substitute for browning sauce in a 1:1 ratio. But if your recipe calls for a thicker consistency, you can whip in some flour, cornstarch, or arrowroot.

10. Homemade Browning Sauce

Homemade browning sauce is a great substitute if you can’t get browning sauce at the grocery store or you’re allergic to some of its ingredients.

It’s easy to make and requires three ingredients: brown sugar, water, and salt. Let’s check out a homemade browning sauce recipe. In some recipes, you can add lemon juice and onion powder.

Add 1 cup of brown sugar into a skillet or saucepan that can withstand heat. Slowly melt the sugar over low heat. When it’s dark, remove the pan or skillet from the heat. Then, slowly add ½ cup of boiling water and continue to stir.

The hot mixture will spatter, so be careful.

When you’ve poured all the water, add a pinch of salt, and let the mixture cool completely. Now you can use it with any recipe that calls for browning sauce. Store it in an airtight container and keep it in a refrigerator. You can use it for up to 6 months.

11. Gravy Powder

Gravy powder is another British favorite. It’s a good replacement for browning sauce and is available as instant gravy and stock-like powder. It changes the color of food, thickens, and alters the flavor of food.

You can use it to make gravy and sauce and to add a little flavor to soups, stews, casseroles, and meat pies. You can use ½ as much gravy powder, mixed with water as a replacement for browning sauce.

12. Molasses

Despite being a sugar product, molasses are highly nutritious — it contains several minerals and vitamins. It has a dense consistency and a sweet flavor, but it’s not as sweet as sugar.

It’s arguably the best option when you want an alternative to browning sauce. It’s great for adding a desired color and flavor to dark cakes, such as black cake, fruit cake, and gingerbread.

Replace up to half of the sugar in a recipe with molasses, add ½ teaspoon of baking powder to avoid acidity, and reduce the liquid by ⅓ a cup.

In a recent article, I explored 15 Lyle-Golden syrup substitute options. Just click the link to read it on my site.

13. Instant Coffee Granules

Professional chefs use instant coffee granules to add depth and color to dishes. Make sure you use pure coffee, as any other thing won’t produce the desired effect.

They are great for meat dishes, such as pot roast in a Crock-Pot, and beef stew, and go well with gravy and chili. They are also good in dark fruit cakes. Use in the same proportion as you would use browning sauce.

14. Chinese Brown Sauce

Chinese brown sauce is a flavorful sauce for thickening and adding a savory flavor to meals.

Usually, it contains beef stock or broth, but you can also use chicken broth or stock. And you can add grated or minced ginger or garlic to it.

Add broth, sugar, soy sauce, oyster sauce, and cornstarch to a saucepan. Stir and simmer, making sure there are no lumps, then bring it to a boil. You can use it with meals, such as beef and broccoli, chicken and broccoli, pork, and chicken stir-fries. It’s also great with rice, dumplings, and noodles.

Keen to know the difference between Hoisin sauce vs. Oyster sauce? It can be challenging. That’s what I got into in a recent article I published. I explored the differences and the best substitutes.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

15. Kitchen Bouquet Browning

Kitchen bouquet browning is a type of seasoning sauce and browning agent for imparting a dark brown color to sauces, stews, soups, and marinade.

It is not sweet but has a savory flavor, a product of a concentrated vegetable base. It’s made with caramel color and water. It has a powerful darkening effect, so you want to use small amounts to prevent the meal from becoming too dark.


In the article, we explored 15 great substitutes for browning sauce.

We learned they add a desired color and depth of flavor to meals. We looked at what each is made of, some of the meals each goes with, and how to use each one.

We also learned how to make browning sauce at home.

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Image by Andreas Theis from Pixabay

Jeff Campbell