Browning sauce, otherwise referred to as brown sauce, is a type of condiment commonly added to a variety of savory dishes in order to impart a sour or sweet flavor with notes of spice that facilitate the taste of meats or other ingredients.
While browning sauce is generally native to Europe and nearby countries, it has its own counterparts in most of the western world, and as such may require some substitution if the particular variant found in your location is not to your liking.
Browning sauce may be substituted for a variety of alternatives, depending on their availability in your particular area, the characteristics that must be substituted from browning sauce as well as the sort of utilization the browning sauce was originally meant for, such as marinating or as a sandwich dressing.
Why Should Browning Sauce be Substituted?
There are a variety of reasons why a home chef or professional cook may wish to replace browning sauce with a suitable substitute in their cooking, such as the relatively high sugar content of the original condiment or even a lack of availability, owing to the fact that browning sauce in its European farm may be difficult to acquire outside of said area.
Depending on the location, members of the population may even prefer the substitutes of browning sauce more than the actual condiment itself, such as in the case of Scottish individuals producing a variation of the browning sauce normally referred to as chippy sauce.
In certain dishes, alternatives to browning sauce may in fact complement the meal’s flavor and texture even more so than the browning sauce itself, making replacing it not only advisable but an excellent choice in terms of culinary improvement.
Flavor Substitutes for Browning Sauce
With a distinctly tangy and fruity flavor, browning sauce is often considered difficult to replace in the dishes that it is ordinarily incorporated into. Fortunately, a variety of other types of sauces exist that may approximate or even replicate the particular flavor profile of this condiment.
As such, the only limiting factor in terms of replacing browning sauce in your dishes and meals is that of availability, with certain types of sauces only being purchasable in specialty stores, depending on the particular country.
We have listed the three most common sauces that are likely to be available in any grocery store in the hopes of negating this limiting factor.
Hailing from similar countries as the browning sauce, Worcestershire sauce is similar in appearance and ingredients to browning sauce, and as such provides much the same tanginess and light notes of umami to any dish it is added to.
However, in terms of viscosity, Worcestershire sauce is considered to be significantly more watery, acting as more of a liquid than a paste-like suspension, unlike browning sauce. This may equate to Worcestershire sauce being unsuitable for dishes like sandwiches or burgers, wherein it may drip from the food or otherwise be absorbed immediately.
Perhaps the most common condiment on this list, barbeque sauce is immediately available in practically any area of the world, though it is not quite an exact replacement for the taste or texture of browning sauce.
The primary ingredients involved in producing browning sauce are much the same as the ones added to barbeque sauce, though the latter’s particular recipe ends at that point for the most part, with browning sauce incorporating a variety of fruits and spices in order to achieve a more fruity and flavorful body.
One way to utilize barbeque sauce as a suitable replacement for browning sauce is to add it to dishes that possess their own unique combination of flavor that would normally only be augmented by the primary tastes found in browning sauce, with the finer notes being lost in the flavor profile.
A1 Steak Sauce
Technically considered a brand of brown sauce, A1 Steak Sauce or A.1. Sauce is a close approximation to that of brown sauce with a few minute differences depending on its country of production, as this particular brand of steak sauce contains somewhat different ingredients in countries such as Canada or the United Kingdom.
In terms of flavor, this brand of steak sauce is quite similar to that of the original browning sauce from parts of the U.K and Europe, with a somewhat altered flavor profile depending on the exact type of sauce being used.
Marinade Substitutes for Browning Sauce
Apart from acting as a condiment and occasionally as a dressing, browning sauce is also used as a marinade for certain cuts of meat, usually prior to braising or barbequing said meat in order to impart a smoky flavor to its otherwise sweet and somewhat tart flavoring absorbed from the browning sauce.
Native to a large variety of Asian and South-East Asian countries, the term oyster sauce refers to a group of fluids produced during the process of cooking oysters, oftentimes sweetened with additives and thickened with cornstarch so as to produce a honey-like fluid with a distinctly dark brown or crimson color.
Oyster sauce acts as an excellent marinade for browning sauce owing to the fact that it produces much the same tangy yet savory flavoring in any meat that is immersed in it, though oyster sauce may differ in the finer notes of taste, with oyster sauce being somewhat saltier than that of browning sauce.
As such, oyster sauce is an excellent marinade replacement in dishes wherein the saltiness of the sauce is not as noticeable, such as in fish dishes or steaks that have not yet been salted prior to cooking.
While not exactly the sort of marinade replacement one would first think of when choosing to substitute browning sauce in this capacity, pineapple juice is in fact an excellent marinade that provides much of the same tarty and sweet notes of flavor in any meat that it is added to.
Additionally, pineapple juice is oftentimes used as a meat tenderizer owing to the destructive enzymes present within the juice, breaking down connective tissue in meat and producing a more tender and flavorful meat.
It is important to keep in mind that when replacing browning sauce with pineapple juice, the unprocessed fruit juice is best. This is due to the fact that pineapple juice meant for consumer drinking or similar purposes often has additives and extra sugar that may bring its taste too far from that of browning sauce.
Originating from Japan, teriyaki sauce can act as a potential marinade replacement for browning sauce, especially in cases wherein the meat must impart a distinctly sweet and cloying flavor to the consumer.
While this is done in browning sauce through the use of pureed tomato and various other fruits, teriyaki sauce only uses brown sugar and honey, creating a more simplistic flavor that acts as more of a complementary taste than as a main body in the general flavor profile of the dish.
This makes teriyaki sauce, in fact, a more appropriate marinade than browning sauce in instances where the marinade of the meat is only a small part of the entire dish and its subsequent taste.
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2. Michel Roux, Kate Whiteman. (1996) “Sauces: Sweet and Savory, Classic and New” Random House Incorporated ISBN: 0847819701
3. (PHT), G. P. J. R. (2009). Paul Gayler’s Sauce book: 300 world sauces made simple. Natl Book Network.