Is Hoisin Vegan?

By Olivia

Answer: No, hoisin sauce is not typically considered vegan because it often contains ingredients derived from animals. However, it is possible to find vegan-friendly alternatives or make your own homemade version.

What is Hoisin Sauce?

Hoisin sauce is a thick, dark-colored sauce commonly used in Chinese cuisine. It has a sweet and savory flavor profile and is often used as a condiment, marinade, or dipping sauce. The sauce is made from a blend of ingredients such as soybeans, sugar, vinegar, garlic, and various spices.

Ingredients to Watch Out for

While the basic ingredients of hoisin sauce are vegan-friendly, some brands may include additional ingredients that are not suitable for a vegan diet. Here are some ingredients commonly found in hoisin sauce that may not be vegan:

  • Shrimp paste: Some hoisin sauces contain shrimp paste as a flavor enhancer. Shrimp paste is made from fermented shrimp and is not vegan.
  • Honey: Certain hoisin sauce recipes or commercial brands may include honey for added sweetness. Honey is considered non-vegan because it is an animal product.
  • Modified cornstarch: Although not inherently non-vegan, some modified cornstarch may be processed using animal-derived substances, so it’s advisable to check the specific brand or contact the manufacturer for clarification.

Vegan-Friendly Alternatives

If you follow a vegan diet or lifestyle, there are alternatives available that can replicate the flavors and consistency of hoisin sauce without the non-vegan ingredients. Consider these options:

  • Vegan hoisin sauce: Some specialty stores or online retailers offer vegan versions of hoisin sauce that are free from animal-derived ingredients. Check the product labels or descriptions to ensure they meet your dietary preferences.
  • Homemade hoisin sauce: Making your own hoisin sauce allows you full control over the ingredients. By using vegan-friendly substitutes such as miso paste or soy sauce instead of shrimp paste, and agave syrup or maple syrup instead of honey, you can create a delicious vegan hoisin sauce at home.

How to Read Ingredient Labels

Not all hoisin sauces are created equal, and the specific ingredients can vary between brands. To determine if a particular hoisin sauce is vegan-friendly, you need to carefully read the ingredient label. Look out for animal-derived ingredients mentioned earlier, such as shrimp paste or honey.

Additionally, keep an eye out for the following terms, which may indicate the presence of animal products:

  • Gelatin
  • Whey
  • Casein
  • Lactose
  • Carmine

If you’re unsure about any ingredients or their vegan status, you can reach out to the manufacturer for clarification.

Table: Vegan-Friendly Alternatives to Non-Vegan Ingredients

Non-Vegan IngredientVegan-Friendly Alternative
Shrimp pasteMiso paste or soy sauce
HoneyAgave syrup or maple syrup


While hoisin sauce is not inherently vegan due to the potential inclusion of non-vegan ingredients like shrimp paste or honey, there are vegan-friendly alternatives available in stores and homemade recipes. By checking ingredient labels carefully and opting for brands that specifically state their product is vegan, you can enjoy the flavors of hoisin sauce while adhering to your vegan diet.