What is tamari?

Tamari is a Japanese version of soy sauce, the main difference being that it contains little or no wheat and thus little or no gluten, something that will be apparent on the content labelling if this is important.

Tamari usually looks darker and has a richer, less salty taste than soy sauce. This makes it much more useful as an unadulterated dip, sprinkle or drizzle, where soy sauce might be too salty or sharp.

How to cook with tamari

Use tamari wherever you might have used soy sauce, for a gentler, more elegant flavour. It complements meat, fish, poultry, fish, eggs, seafood, vegetables and grains. The only mistake you might make is to use too much, but this is much more difficult to do than with soy sauce.

Toast pumpkin seeds in a dry frying pan, then drizzle in a tablespoon of tamari, stir until sticky and coated, then leave to dry in a bowl. Sprinkle over salads, soups or serve as a snack like you would nuts, with drinks. Another great way to use it is as a salad dressing with grated ginger and lemon juice. Toss with salad leaves or use in a snack of avocado with tamari & ginger dressing.

Sticky tamari & honey chicken thighs are a great alternative to teriyaki, served with rice or noodles. Sesame & ginger sushi bowls also make a great lunchbox filler.

How to store tamari

Tamari does not need to be refrigerated but it will keep fresher for longer if it is and is also kept tightly sealed. Expect it to stay in top condition for many months.


Widely available in supermarkets. Asian stores may offer a variety.

Choose the best tamari

Ensure the labels mention ‘brewing’ or ‘brewed’ and there should be no ingredients other than soya beans, with or without wheat, salt and water. Preservatives and flavourings are unnecessary and indicate a low quality.

Only your palate will ultimately tell you which tamari you prefer, perhaps depending on the salt level.

Alternatives to tamari

Try soy sauce.