Is Eel Sauce Vegan? Here is what you need to know! – 2023

One of the most difficult meals to give up when becoming vegan is surely sushi. People don’t only miss the food itself but the experience of going to a restaurant and spending a lovely evening with their friends, partner, or family enjoying a meal together. 

Thankfully, nowadays most sushi places have plenty of options suitable for this diet on their menu. Vegan sushi can be extremely tasty and even better than the original one, to the point that you will frequently have to keep your eyes open as everyone at the table will try to steal a bite! 

But have you ever wondered whether your vegan sushi is served with vegan condiments? For instance, what about eel sauce? Its name surely doesn’t suggest a cruelty-free product. So, is it actually the case?

Is eel sauce vegan?

As often in the vegan world, there’s not an easy answer. You may be surprised by this news, but despite its misleading name, eel sauce is often, but not always, plant-based. This means that you can mostly eat eel sauce without worrying whether innocent eels have been sacrificed for your taste buds. 

However, there are some exceptions you need to pay attention to. In fact, some brands use animal products such as eel bones and fish stock to enhance their flavors. If you’re buying eel sauce in your local market, then all you have to do is check the ingredients on the label. Bear in mind that ‘dashi’ is the Japanese term for fish stock, so avoid bottles with this word. 

If you’re in a restaurant, you can always ask the employees, but in general, you can relax. Most sushi places choose vegan options as they are more versatile and affordable. Nonetheless, if you’re eating in a fancy or expensive seafood restaurant, you may want to double-check, as these places are more likely to use eel sauce brands with animal products among their ingredients. 

All the ingredients in eel sauce

So, what are the common ingredients in eel sauce? 

Eel sauce is made of soy sauce, sugar, corn syrup, thickens, and preservatives. Some brands also use garlic, sriracha, and mirin. As we mentioned above, not all eel sauces are vegan-friendly. In fact, some contain ingredients ranging from fish stock to eel extracts such as bones, so make sure to always double-check the label. 

Eel sauce often contains only vegan ingredients, however, if you adhere to a strictly cruel-free diet, there are a few items you may want to pay attention to. 

A few ingredients to pay attention to


You probably weren’t expecting this, but unfortunately, sugar is not always vegan. Often brands use bone char to bleach this ingredient giving its candid white color. Obviously, the sugar in itself does not contain the bone char, but this has still been used for its production, making sugar a not cruelty-free ingredient. However, not all sugar is bleached. For instance, organic, unrefined, natural, and raw sugar are completely vegan. 

Sriracha sauce

Even though most sriracha sauce brands are fully plant-based, some of them, for instance, Huy Fong/rooster sauce created by Vietnamese immigrant David Tran, contain sugar which has been bleached with bone char. 

Unfortunately, most of the time it’s impossible to know whether or not refined sugar has been used in your bottle of eel sauce, however, if the label says it’s suitable for vegan, you can most likely relax.

Why is it called eel sauce?

You may now wonder why it is called eel sauce if there’s no eel in its ingredients. This is because, in the past, this sauce was used to flavor grilled eels. Nowadays, eel sauce is mostly used for sushi, but despite this, it maintains its original name. By the way, Imitation Crab is another interesting thing you should definitely read about.

Some vegan brands of eel sauce you should try

Do you now want to buy eel sauce but don’t have the time to go through all the labels to check the ingredients? No worries! We got you covered! Here is a list of vegan-friendly eel sauces you can add to your diet without worrying. 

vegan eel sauce 1

Otafuku Sushi Eel Sauce 

This is a great option if you are a huge fan of sushi and want to save some money. In fact, you can buy this sauce in bulk, knowing that it’s one hundred per cent cruelty-free.

Kikkoman Unagi Sushi Sauce

This sauce is characterized by its intense flavor. It is also relatively cheap and you don’t have to buy it in bulk.

vegan eel sauce - Primal Kitchen No Soy Eel Sauce

Primal Kitchen No Soy Eel Sauce 

If you like eel sauce but find it a bit too salty, opt for Primal Kitchen No Soy Eel Sauce. This sauce is gluten-free and goes perfectly well with sushi.

Frequently Asked Questions

No, eel sauce is made from sugar, corn syrup, thickens, preservatives, garlic, sriracha, and mirin. However, some versions include animal products such as eel bones and fish stock. This is why you should always carefully read the label.

No, unfortunately, eel sauce is not gluten-free. One of its main ingredients is, in fact, soy sauce which contains wheat. However, there are a few brands, such as Primal Kitchen No Soy Eel Sauce that avoid these ingredients and are therefore suitable for a gluten-free diet.

No, eel sauce does not contain dairy.

Homemade eel sauce will last approximately two weeks in the fridge. However, commercial bottles can last for several months, provided that you keep them in the fridge, as they contain preservatives.

Cruelty Free Reviews

Cruelty Free Reviews

CrueltyFreeReviews serves as a digital guide and a handy manual for new vegans and experienced plant-based veterans alike. Founded back in 2018 by a group of plant-based enthusiasts, we are dedicated to a vegan lifestyle and animal rights. With our team having more than 10 years of plant-based guidance experience by now, we want to give back to the vegan community and support anyone on this journey.