Dinitrogen (N2) and nitrous oxide (N2O) produced via denitrification may represent major nitrogen (N) loss in terrestrial ecosystems. A global assessment of soil denitrification rate, N2O/(N2O+N2) ratio, and their driving factors and mitigation strategies is lacking. We conducted a global synthesis using 225 studies (3367 observations) to fill this knowledge gap. We found that daily N loss through soil denitrification varied with ecosystems and averaged 0.25 kg N ha−1. The average emission factor of denitrification (EFD) was 4.8%. The average N2O/(N2O+N2) ratio from soil denitrification was 0.33. Soil denitrification rate was positively related to soil water-filled pore space (WFPS) (p < 0.01), nitrate (NO3-) content (p < 0.05) and soil temperature (p < 0.01), and decreased with higher soil oxygen content (p < 0.01). N2 emissions increased with latitude (p < 0.05), WFPS (p < 0.01) and soil mineral N (p < 0.05) but decreased with soil oxygen content (p < 0.05). The N2O/(N2O+N2) ratio increased with soil oxygen content (p < 0.01) but decreased with organic carbon (C) (p < 0.05), C/N ratio (p < 0.01), soil pH (p < 0.05) and WFPS (p < 0.01). We also found that optimizing N application rates, using ammonium-based fertilizers compared to nitrate-based fertilizers, biochar amendment, and application of nitrification inhibitors could effectively reduce soil denitrification rate and associated N2 emissions. These findings highlight that N loss via soil denitrification and N2 emissions cannot be neglected, and that mitigation strategies should be adopted to reduce N loss and improve N use efficiency. Our study presents a comprehensive data synthesis for large-scale estimations of denitrification and the refinement of relevant parameters used in the submodels of denitrification in process-based models.