Lee Kum Kee
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Light Vs Dark Soy Sauce: When And How To Use These Sauces!

23 April 2021

Soy sauce has a long and decorated history, dating back over 3,000 years to the Western Han dynasty. Chinese monks created the sauce from soybeans as an alternative to meaty cooking sauces. Since its initial creation, soy sauce is now widely used around the world in all different cooking styles and recipes. This adds savoury notes and rich umami flavours to dishes without needing to use too much.


But what is the difference between light and dark soy sauce? When we asked our audience whether they knew the difference between light and dark soy sauce, we found out 48% of people didn’t know the difference! With years of experience in making great soy sauces, we break down the differences and their uses in Chinese cooking.

What is the difference between Light and Dark Soy Sauce?

To put it simply, light soy sauce is used for seasoning and dark soy sauce is used for adding colour to dishes. Light soy sauce is golden brown in colour and rich in taste to add flavour during marinating and seasoning stage. It uplifts the flavour of any meat, noodles or rice dishes. On the other hand, dark soy sauce is used to add deep colours to meat stews and casseroles and often paired with light soy sauce to achieve the perfect taste and colour.

Light Soy Sauce

Light soy sauce has a thinner body and golden brown colour. Using natural fermentation methods, light soy sauce has strong aromatic umami and savoury flavour.  Making it ideal as a marinade, dressing, sauce mix and table condiment.  It is a great addition to stir-fry recipesnoodles dishes and even our own burger recipe!

Light Soy Sauce Stir Fry

Dark Soy Sauce

Our dark soy sauce has a slightly thicker consistency and has a deep rich dark brown colour enrich from the added caramel and the methods of production. Dark soy sauce is mainly used for adding colour to dishes and usually paired with light soy sauce to achieve ideal colour and taste.  Try cooking with dark soy sauce, it makes a great addition to pork recipesstews and barbecue favourites.

Dark Soy Sauce Stew

Lee Kum Kee Soy Sauce Collection

As well as our Premium Light Soy Sauce and Premium Dark Soy Sauce, we have also developed some unique soy sauces based on traditional recipes to help take your recipes to the next level.


Double Deluxe Soy Sauce – One of our finest light soy sauces in the range, created by a unique ancient secret double fermentation process.  High-quality light soy sauce is added to a mixture of selected soybeans, wheat flour and fermentation culture, replacing the usual brine. The resulting sauce is then sun-dried for three months before bottling. This additive-free and first draw soy sauce is perfect for dipping and seasoning dishes to give a rich umami taste.


Sweet Soy Sauce – Based on traditional soy sauce recipes, this soy sauce has a warm, deep colour, with a slightly sweet treacle taste. It’s the perfect balance of sweet and savoury with a delicate soybeans aroma and a slightly thicker texture than light soy sauce.  In Hong Kong, it is often served with clay pot rice and also pairs perfectly with any rice and noodles dishes, as well as a dipping sauce for dim sum, dumplings. The perfect addition to many dishes.


Red Braising Sauce – A convenient sauce, pre-mixed to a perfect blend of soy sauce, rice wine and caramel. Famous for making Shanghainese style red braising pork at ease in your own home. This savoury sauce delivers a deep reddish colour to your dishes with a slightly sweet taste. It is also great to use it for stew tofu and in the Taiwanese style stew beef noodles soup base.


Gluten-Free Light Soy Sauce – All the flavour and taste of our light soy sauce without any gluten. The ideal soy sauce for creating delicious Chinese recipes for those with gluten intolerances.

To view our full collection of soy sauce products and recipes, or to find out more about Lee Kum Kee’s heritage in soy sauce, check out our information page here.

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