Is Hoisin Sauce Vegan? Everything You Should Know

Christiana Mikesch, CPT
Published by Christiana Mikesch, CPT | Senior Coach
Last updated: December 28, 2023
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My clients often ask me if hoisin sauce is vegan-friendly, so I spent hours looking up information on hoisin sauce. I also talked with our dietitian to get an expert's opinion.

Finally, I tried to make this sauce myself.

Here's everything you should know about hoisin sauce.

Quick Summary

  • Hoisin sauce is typically vegan-friendly, as it doesn't contain animal ingredients.
  • Hoisin sauce's vegan-friendly ingredients include fermented soybean paste, chili, salt, garlic, vinegar, and sometimes xanthan gum and artificial food colors.
  • Hoisin sauce is low in calories, as it contains 35 calories per 16 g serving.
  •  In my experience, homemade hoisin sauce is a great way to ensure it's vegan and free from unwanted artificial additives.

What is Hoisin Sauce Made of?

Close up shot of a Hoisin Sauce

Hoisin sauce is made of fermented soybean paste combined with a collection of spices, which usually consist of:

  • Chili – Always vegan-friendly
  • Salt – Always a yes for vegans
  • Garlic – Always vegan
  • Vinegar – Always vegan (including the white distilled vinegar)
  • Xanthan Gum – Made by fermenting glucose and sucrose (sugars)
  • Artificial food colors (sometimes non-vegan) – Some may involve animal testing
  • Caramel Color - Caramel color is usually vegan

In my own recipe for hoisin sauce, I've experimented with white sugar, soybeans, water, and sesame seeds, but I tend to avoid preservatives like sodium benzoate for a cleaner taste.

Potential Non-Vegan Ingredients

Some of my vegan clients are careful about synthetic colors and natural flavors in foods like hoisin sauce, as they can sometimes involve animal testing [1]:

“Most “natural” food coloring is vegan, as they are derived from plants, but the most common type of food coloring that you'll see in food are artificial colors; this includes names like Red 40, Blue 1, and so on. Artificial colors are controversial among vegans”

- Dale Cudmore, 

This also applies to caramel color, which can be vegan, but it depends on the sweetener used to make the color. If it’s produced by using refined sugar, it can be considered non-vegan.

Related Posts:

Homemade Hoisin Sauce

A plate full of Hoisin Sauce and spoon with a spoon beside

I've taken to making my own hoisin sauce to avoid artificial colors and non-vegan sweeteners.

Just combine the following ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 3-5 dates, pitted
  • 1/3 cup brown miso
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp white rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1/8 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/16 tsp ground anise
  • 1/16 tsp cinnamon
  • A pinch of chili or some hot sauce to taste

Does It Contain Gluten?

A hoisin sauce on top of a saucer plate

This usually depends on the brand, so be sure to check the label before purchasing.

Some varieties contain starches such as sweet potato, wheat, and rice.

My gluten-sensitive clients explored various hoisin sauce options and found that brands like Kikkoman and Lee Kum Kee offer great gluten-free choices.

Some brands, like Lee Kum Kee, offer both vegan and vegetarian-friendly versions, and the one that does contain artificial colors, like R40.

So, be sure to check the ingredients before adding it to your shopping cart.

Nutritional Analysis of Vegan Hoisin Sauce

Here's the nutritional analysis of vegan hoisin sauce:

  • Macronutrient composition: Vegan hoisin sauce primarily consists of carbohydrates, owing to its base ingredients like fermented soybeans and sugar. It is low in fat and protein, making it a suitable addition to a balanced diet when used in moderation.
  • Caloric content: According to Nutrition Value, hoisin sauce contains 35 calories per 16 g serving [2]. The caloric value of vegan hoisin sauce is relatively low, making it a diet-friendly option for those monitoring their calorie intake.
  • Vitamins and minerals: Soybeans, its primary ingredient, are a good source of iron and calcium. Additionally, garlic, another key component, is known for its antioxidant properties and can contribute to overall health.

Note: High sugar content might be a concern for individuals managing blood sugar levels.


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About The Author

Christiana Mikesch, CPT
Senior Coach
Christiana Mikesch, CPT is a personal trainer and author with contributions to publications like the Chicago Tribune and Yahoo. She emphasizes a holistic approach to weight loss, combining an energy-fueling diet, goal-oriented workouts, and daily habits. Her approach avoids short-term goals and fosters a lifelong commitment to health and well-being.
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Dr. Kristy June Dayanan, BS, MD is an author with a BS degree from University of the Philippines and an MD from University of Perpetual Help System. Her ability to simplify medical science complexities and dietary supplement jargon for the average reader makes her a valued medical fact checker and reviewer.
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Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD is a published peer-reviewed author and renowned physician from India with over a decade of experience. With her MBBS from Bharati Vidyapeeth and an MD from Rajiv Gandhi University, she actively ensures the accuracy of online dietary supplement and medical information by reviewing and fact-checking health publications.
Learn more about our editorial policy

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