6 Best Substitutes for Fish Stock

You are preparing a dish that needs fish stock, but you have none, what do you do? What are suitable substitutes for fish stock? Don’t panic we can give you some advice on the best substitutes for fish stock.

What is fish stock?

Fish stock is a flavorful liquid made by simmering fish bones, heads, and other scraps with water and aromatics like onions, carrots, celery, and herbs. The resulting liquid is strained to remove the solids. This leaves behind a clear and flavorful broth that can be used as a base for soups, sauces, and other dishes.

Overall, fish stock is a delicious and versatile ingredient that adds depth and complexity to a wide range of dishes. While it does require some time and effort to make, the resulting flavor and aroma are well worth it.

Okay, before we look at the best substitute options for fish stock, let’s deal with that empty cupboard situation!

Where can I buy fish stock?

If you want to be more prepared and ensure you don’t run out of fish stock again then you should stock up now.

Nowadays most health stores, delicatessens, and general supermarkets stock a wide variety of pre-packaged, and tinned fish stock. Or if you prefer you can also purchase fish stock on-line.

So why not jump on and place your order today.


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Imagine seafood stock

What can I substitute for fish stock?

Here are some of the best ways to substitute the flavor and role that fish stock provides in your recipes.

Use any of the following as a substitute:

  • miso soup
  • oyster sauce
  • soy sauce
  • diluted fish sauce
  • dashi beef stock
  • chicken stock

Fish stock substitutes

Miso soup

Miso soup is a Japanese soup made with miso paste, which is a fermented soybean paste, and dashi, a Japanese broth made from kombu seaweed and bonito fish flakes. The miso paste is added to the dashi along with other ingredients like tofu, seaweed, and green onions. The resulting soup is savory, slightly salty, and has a rich umami flavor. This makes it an excellent substitute for fish stock.

While both miso soup and fish stock can be used as bases for soups, they have different flavor profiles and are used in different types of cuisine. Miso soup is a staple in Japanese cuisine and is often served as a side dish or appetizer. While fish stock is used in a variety of cuisines around the world, particularly in seafood dishes like bouillabaisse, chowders, and risottos.

Overall, miso soup and fish stock are both delicious and versatile ingredients that can add depth and complexity to a wide range of dishes. So go ahead and try using miso soup as a substitute for fish stock.

Miso soup

Oyster sauce

Oyster sauce is a thick, dark brown sauce made from oysters, soy sauce, sugar, and other seasonings. It is a popular ingredient in Chinese, Thai, and Vietnamese cuisine, and is used to add depth and umami flavor to a variety of dishes. The strong oyster flavor means this is a great alternative to fish stock.

Oyster sauce is commonly used in stir-fries, marinades, and dipping sauces, as well as in meat and seafood dishes. It pairs well with ingredients like beef, chicken, shrimp, and vegetables like bok choy and broccoli.

Overall, oyster sauce is a delicious and versatile ingredient that adds depth and umami flavor to a wide range of dishes. While it may not be suitable for vegetarians or those with shellfish allergies, it is a popular ingredient in many cuisines around the world and is widely available in grocery stores and Asian markets. This would make a good substitute for fish stock.

Oyster sauce as a substitute for fish stock

Soy sauce

Soy sauce is a dark, salty sauce that is made from soybeans, wheat, salt, and water. It is a staple ingredient in many Asian cuisines, particularly Chinese, Japanese, and Korean cuisine, and is used as a seasoning and flavor enhancer for a variety of dishes. As I love Chinese cooking I always have some in the pantry, so it would be my go-to in an emergency.

Soy sauce comes in different varieties, including light soy sauce, which has a saltier taste and lighter color, and dark soy sauce, which has a richer, more complex flavor and a darker color. There are also low-sodium and gluten-free versions available.

Soy sauce is commonly used as a seasoning in marinades, stir-fries, soups, stews, and dipping sauces. It pairs well with meats, seafood, vegetables, and grains like rice and noodles. In addition to its flavor-enhancing properties, soy sauce is also rich in umami, a savory taste that is known as the fifth taste sensation, after sweet, salty, sour, and bitter.

Overall, soy sauce is an excellent substitute for fish stock. But remember it does have a strong salty flavor, so go easy.

Soy sauce substitute for fish stock

Diluted fish sauce

Diluted fish sauce is fish sauce that has been mixed with water to reduce its saltiness and intensity. Fish sauce is a pungent, salty liquid made from fermented fish, and is a common ingredient in Southeast Asian cuisine.

When diluting fish sauce, it’s important to taste it and adjust the seasoning as needed. Dilution will reduce the saltiness and intensity of the sauce, so you may need to add more fish sauce or other seasonings to achieve the desired flavor. Only add a few spoonfuls at a time and always check the flavor before adding more.

Diluted fish sauce can be used as a seasoning for soups, stews, and stir-fries, or as a dipping sauce for spring rolls, dumplings, and other snacks. It can also be used to flavor marinades and dressings.

Overall, diluted fish sauce is a versatile ingredient that adds a unique umami flavor to a wide range of dishes. It’s important to handle it carefully, as it has a strong aroma and can stain clothes and surfaces. Diluting it can make it more palatable and easier to use in cooking.

Diluted fish stock


Dashi is a Japanese stock that is commonly used as a base for soups, stews, and sauces. While dashi is traditionally made with kombu (a type of seaweed) and katsuobushi (dried, fermented, and smoked skipjack tuna flakes), there are variations of dashi that use other ingredients, such as beef.

Beef dashi is a type of dashi that is made by simmering beef bones or meat with kombu and other flavorings such as shiitake mushrooms, onions, and ginger. The result is a rich and flavorful broth that can be used as a base for a variety of dishes, including beef-based soups, stews, and sauces.

Dashi can be used as a substitute for fish stock and beef stock in many recipes, as it has a similar rich and savory flavor. It pairs well with beef, vegetables, and grains, and can be used to add depth and complexity to a variety of dishes.

Dashi beef stock

Chicken stock

While chicken stock and fish stock have different flavor profiles, you can use chicken stock as a substitute for fish stock in certain recipes. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Chicken stock has a milder flavor than fish stock, so it may not provide the same depth of flavor. To compensate, you can add some fish sauce or anchovy paste to the recipe. This will give it a hint of seafood flavor.
  • Chicken stock is richer and heavier than fish stock, so it may not work as well in delicate seafood dishes. However, it can be a good option for heartier stews and soups that call for fish stock.
  • If you’re substituting chicken stock for fish stock in a recipe, you may need to adjust the seasoning to achieve the desired flavor. For example, you may need to add more salt or other seasonings to bring out the flavors in the dish.

Overall, while chicken stock may not be a perfect substitute for fish stock, it can work in a pinch in certain recipes. Just be sure to adjust the seasoning as needed to get the best results.

Chicken stock as a substitute for fish stock

Summary for fish stock substitutes

Okay – that’s you all sorted with suitable substitutes for fish stock.

There are a good range of alternatives to use if you run out of fish stock. But always remember to taste each time you add them into the dish. You can always add more, but you can’t take them back out!

The substitute products listed above will provide you with an alternative if you run out of fish stock. Which one will you choose?

And remember if you’re looking to replace fish stock in a recipe, you’ll need to consider what role the fish stock is playing in the recipe and choose a suitable replacement that provides similar benefits.

We have gathered together a lot more facts on ingredients such as herbs, spices, oils, nuts, etc. if you would like to learn some more.