Oyster Flavored Sauce vs. Oyster Sauce: Differences & Uses

Oyster Flavored Sauce vs. Oyster Sauce
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Oyster-flavored sauce and oyster sauce taste very similar, but they are, in fact, quite different. One is made with real oysters, and the other contains oyster extracts and other flavoring agents. But, which is which?

The oyster-flavored sauce is a replica of the oyster sauce. Their uses are similar, as oyster-flavored sauce doubles for oyster sauce. The making makes them very different, despite their similar uses. Oyster sauce is made with natural oysters, while oyster-flavored sauce contains oyster extract and flavoring agents. 

Oyster-flavored sauce and oyster sauce are native to Chinese cuisine; however, they have been spreading like wildfire worldwide. In the following paragraphs, I will describe the differences between these two sauces and share some helpful information. 

Origin, Ingredients, and Preparation 

Like many genius discoveries, oyster sauce came into existence by accident. It is believed that Lee Kum Sheung made the oyster sauce due to his negligence and changed Chinese and world cuisine forever. 

Namely, he was cooking oysters and totally forgot about them. When he remembered to take them off the stove, he noticed that they were overcooked, but to his surprise, it wasn’t as bad as he expected. 

He noticed that the broth became thick and gooey and was very delicious. He turned this mistake into a business idea, but at first, no one wanted to buy his sauce, so his family enjoyed it to the fullest. 

However, a sauce that good was bound to become famous, so he started selling it, which led to him forming his company that would later become a giant in the condiment industry. 

Oyster sauce is made by boiling oysters until they are degraded and creepy soft. The oysters are left to simmer while the water caramelizes and thickens into a thick and gooey sauce. Salt and sugar are also present as flavor-giving agents in the sauce, which makes it taste somewhere between savory and sweet and is best described as umami. 

Considering that oyster sauce exploded in Asia and found a place in households, stores, and food places, the need arose to make it more accessible, which sparked its mass production. Mass-producing oyster sauce was time-consuming, expensive, and economically ineffective, as oyster sauce didn’t come cheap. 

Therefore, the oyster-flavored sauce appeared as the industrial solution. The oyster-flavored sauce is considerably cheaper to make, allows for a mass-production process, and is far more affordable than oyster sauce. 

However, the oyster-flavored sauce isn’t made with real oysters but with oyster extracts, and it contains other ingredients as opposed to the oyster sauce that contains only salt and sugar in addition to the oyster. 

The oyster-flavored sauce also contains cornstarch and a lot of sugar to speed up the process of thickening and caramelizing. There are also other ingredients, such as soy, chicken broth, sake, and salt. 

Therefore, the oyster-flavored sauce is not as clean and pure as oyster sauce, but it does deliver nearly the same umami flavor and has a very similar appearance and texture as the oyster sauce. So, you can consider oyster-flavored sauce a replica of oyster sauce. 


Considering that it is made with only four ingredients, salt, sugar, oysters, and water, the oyster sauce has a very clean, umami flavor. It is slightly savory, slightly sweet, slightly sour, and slightly tangy, or in a word, umami. 

The umami in the oyster sauce is clean and refined, and an umami-experienced palate would be able to recognize that it is the real deal. 

The oyster-flavored sauce has been made to double for oyster sauce and mimics its flavor. So, the oyster-flavored sauce has almost the same flavor as an oyster sauce. However, the oyster-flavored sauce umami isn’t as clean as the umami in the oyster sauce, which accounts for the “almost” part in the “almost the same flavor” statement. 

It is indeed sweet, savory, tangy, sour, and unmistakably umami. Still, if you are knowledgeable about Asian cuisine and you have tried oyster sauce before, you may be able to know the difference. 

Nevertheless, the oyster-flavored sauce is very popular, and it doubles well for oyster sauce. 

Appearance and Consistency

Oyster-flavored sauce and oyster sauce are nearly identical in appearance and consistency. They both have a dark brown color, somewhere between soy sauce and fish sauce, and they have a tick syrup-like consistency and are smooth and almost creamy. 

The oyster sauce gets its consistency from the lengthy preparation process allowing the oyster juices to thicken. The added sugar also contributes to the oyster sauce thickness by triggering the caramelization process. 

The oyster-flavored sauce is also thick and gooey, with a dark brown color as the oyster sauce. However, it came there differently. While oyster sauce thickens naturally, the oyster-flavored sauce thickens due to the added cornstarch and the more considerable amount of sugar it contains. 

Oyster Flavored Sauce vs. Oyster Sauce


In addition to their similar flavors and appearances, oyster-flavored and oyster sauces have similar uses. They are both incredibly versatile, as their umami flavor is a real crowd-pleaser, along with the sweet, caramel, sour, and tangy aroma these sauces spread. 

Traditional Chinese cuisine uses these sauces very frequently, but they seem to adapt easily to other cuisines as well, so they are not restricted to Chinese cuisine only, though they give the dishes that far Oriental vibe. 

They have very wide applications, so you can use them for anything from meat or fish margination to fries. They make excellent salad dressings, glazes, seafood additions, and stir-fried dishes, especially those containing rice or in soups and potages. 

They are very easy to use, as you don’t have to do anything to them aside from opening the bottle and pouring them into your dish. They both make excellent table condiments, so you just place them on the table and use them as you wish. 

Shelf Life 

When it comes to shelf life, oyster sauce is the underdog here. Since it is made with more natural ingredients, among which are fresh oysters, and it passes a more natural process in its production, it is more perishable than oyster-flavored sauce. However, it is still pretty durable, so it stays safe for up to six or eight months at room temperature. 

The oyster-flavored sauce is more durable since it isn’t made with fresh oysters but with oyster extract, which has already been processed. Therefore, the oyster-flavored sauce is far less perishable. You can keep it at room temperature for up to 18 months. 

They are both condiments, so they are designed to be durable. Therefore whichever you decide to use, you will enjoy it for a long time and probably finish it before the shelf life becomes an issue. 


Nutrition-wise, there are significant differences between oyster-flavored sauce and oyster sauce. The oyster-flavored sauce contains more sugar and carbs in general than oyster sauce. It is also poor in nutrients and doesn’t have an exceptionally high nutritional value. 

Oyster sauce is a completely different story. It is very low in sugars and carbs, doesn’t contain fats, and is packed with magnesium and vitamin B12. However, iron is the predominant nutrient found in oyster sauce, and other present nutrients are calcium and zinc. [1]

Nevertheless, even though the oyster-flavored sauce is poor in nutrients, it isn’t harmful as it isn’t intended to eat in large amounts, so the sugars and carbs it contains become quite meaningless in the amounts in the amounts in which it is served. 


Oyster sauce is considerably more expensive than oyster-flavored sauce, which is to be expected considering the making process and base materials. The prices, however, are closely tied to the particular brand, so the sauces vary in price depending on who made them. 

Therefore, you can find affordable oyster sauces and steep oyster-flavored sauces. Nevertheless, oyster sauce is still more expensive than oyster-flavored sauce.


What Do Oysters Taste Like? Do They Taste Good?

 Which Is Better? 

The oyster-flavored sauce is the cheaper and more affordable version of oyster sauce, and it has been designed to double for oyster sauce and does that perfectly well. The whole point of oyster-flavored sauce is to make both sauces equally good. 

Nevertheless, although they are very close in many aspects, oyster sauce is still superior to oyster-flavored sauce, which doesn’t necessarily mean that oyster-flavored sauce is bad. 

Still, the slow cooking process and the fresh oysters used in oyster sauce seem irreplaceable. 

In summation, I would say that both sauces are good and do a great job delivering the umami flavor. Oyster sauce is undoubtedly better quality, but they are pretty close regarding uses and flavors.  

Can You Substitute One with Another?

Yes, you can substitute oyster sauce with oyster-flavored sauce. In fact, the oyster-flavored sauce is, by definition, a cheaper and mass-produced oyster sauce substitute, so the whole idea is to be able to substitute for oyster sauce well. 

They both have almost the same color and consistency and are incredibly close in flavor. You may not notice the difference if someone doesn’t tell you or you have never had oyster sauce. 

They are used in the same way for the same purposes, so they substitute excellently. 

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