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Miso Paste Substitutes: Try These 10 Miso Alternatives In Recipes

What if you’re in the middle of cooking and realize you’re out of miso paste? It turns out that there are plenty of miso paste substitutes that can deliver similar umami depth and complexity to your dishes. 

Miso paste, a staple in Japanese cuisine, is a fermented soybean paste that adds a rich, savory, umami flavor to all kinds of recipes. 

When using a substitute for miso paste, start with a smaller amount and adjust to taste. Miso is more than just salty; it’s also sweet, earthy, and a touch fruity, so you might need to balance your dish with other ingredients.

Miso Paste Substitutes: A Guide for the Home Chef

If you’re out of miso paste or prefer not to use it, there are several substitutes that can provide a similar umami lift. Soy sauce or tamari can be used in a 1:1 ratio, but they are saltier and less creamy. Tahini mimics the creaminess of miso and is great in dressings and sauces but isn’t salty. For a strong umami flavor, try fish sauce or anchovy paste, but use less as they are quite potent. In soups or broths, a rich vegetable or mushroom stock could replace the savory depth of miso. Nutritional yeast, dried shiitake mushrooms, Worcestershire sauce, or bouillon cubes can also serve as substitutes.

Remember, each substitute has its own flavor profile, so the taste won’t be exactly the same as miso. You may want to combine, mix and match ingredients to come up with a recipe that’s all your own. It’s all about experimenting and finding what works best for your dish. 

Here are 10 substitutes for miso paste that you can use in your recipes.

1. Soy Sauce

Soy sauce is a great substitute for miso paste. It has a similar umami quality, although it’s saltier and is not really creamy like miso paste. Use it in a 1:1 ratio, but consider reducing other salty ingredients in your recipe.

2. Tamari

Tamari is a type of soy sauce that’s usually gluten-free. It’s darker and richer than regular soy sauce, making it a good substitute for miso. Use it in a 1:1 ratio, but, like soy sauce, adjust other ingredients as needed to balance the saltiness.

3. Tahini

Tahini, a paste made from sesame seeds, has a different flavor profile but can mimic miso’s creamy texture. It’s great in dressings and sauces. Use it in a 1:1 ratio, and consider adding a splash of soy sauce or tamari for umami.

4. Fish Sauce

Fish sauce, common in Southeast Asian cuisine, has a strong umami flavor. It’s very salty and has a distinct aroma, so start with a small amount and adjust to taste. Try starting with a 1:2 ratio of fish sauce to miso.

5. Anchovy Paste

Anchovy paste can provide a deep, savory flavor. It’s potent, so start with half the amount of miso paste the recipe calls for and adjust to taste.

6. Vegetable or Mushroom Stock

For soups or broths, a rich vegetable or mushroom stock could replace the savory depth that miso provides. Use a 1:1 ratio, but consider simmering the stock to reduce and intensify the flavor.

7. Nutritional Yeast

Nutritional yeast has a cheesy, nutty flavor that can mimic the umami in miso. It’s great in sauces and gravies. Start with a 1:1 ratio and adjust to taste.

8. Dried Shiitake Mushrooms

Dried shiitake mushrooms, ground into a powder, can provide a deep, earthy umami flavor. Use half the amount of miso paste called for and adjust to taste.

9. Worcestershire Sauce

Worcestershire sauce, while having a flavor profile of its own, can mimic the savory quality of miso. Use it in a 1:1 ratio, but be mindful of its distinct taste.

10. Bouillon Cubes

Bouillon cubes, particularly beef or vegetable, can provide a savory base for soups and stews. Dissolve one cube in a cup of hot water to replace a tablespoon of miso.

Remember, when substituting for miso paste, consider the dish you’re making. Some substitutes may work better in certain recipes than others. Also, miso paste has a unique flavor, so while these substitutes can mimic its umami quality, the taste won’t be exactly the same. Mix and combine two or more together and taste test before adding to your recipe.

Experimenting with these substitutes can lead to new flavor discoveries and might even inspire you to create new recipes.

The Flavor of Miso Paste

Miso paste is a culinary gem that offers a unique combination of flavors. It’s savory, salty, and umami-rich, with a slight sweetness and an earthy finish. The flavor can vary depending on the type of miso. For instance, white miso (Shiro) is mild and slightly sweet, while red miso (Aka) is stronger and saltier. Overall, miso paste adds a depth of flavor that enhances a variety of dishes.

How Miso Paste is Used in Cooking

It’s the star ingredient in miso soup, a staple in Japanese cuisine. But its use goes beyond that. Miso paste can be used in marinades for meat, roasted chicken, and fish, adding a savory depth and tenderizing the protein. It’s also great in salad dressings, sauces, and glazes, where it balances the sweetness and acidity. You can even use it in vegetarian dishes to add a “meaty” umami flavor. Just remember, miso paste is quite salty, so adjust your recipe accordingly.

Miso paste is a fermented, sustainable, and umami-rich ingredient that can be used to transform some dishes from simple to rich. Don’t limit yourself to just Asian-inspired meals. Here are a few examples:

  1. Miso Soup: This is probably the most well-known dish that uses miso paste. It’s a traditional Japanese soup consisting of a stock called “dashi” into which softened miso paste is mixed. It often includes tofu and seaweed.
  2. Miso Ramen: Miso is also used in ramen to create a rich, flavorful broth.
  3. Miso Glazed Fish: Particularly popular with cod, salmon, or sea bass, the fish is marinated in a sweet and salty miso glaze and then broiled or baked.
  4. Miso Dressing: Miso can be used to make a tangy, umami-packed dressing for salads or vegetables.
  5. Miso Eggplant (Nasu Dengaku): This is a popular Japanese dish where eggplant is broiled and then topped with a sweet and savory miso glaze.

The bottom line

Remember, miso is quite salty, so a little goes a long way! 
Do you have a specific dish in mind you’d like to try making with miso paste substitutes? Share on our Facebook or comment below.

More About Miso

Substitutes For Miso Paste

Substitutes For Miso Paste

What if you're in the middle of cooking and realize you're out of miso paste? It turns out that there are plenty of miso paste substitutes that can deliver similar umami depth and complexity to your dishes.


  • Soy Sauce
  • Tamari
  • Tahini
  • Fish Sauce
  • Anchovy Paste
  • Vegetable Stock
  • Nutritional Yeast
  • Dried Shiitake Mushrooms
  • Worcestershire Sauce
  • Bouillon Cubes


  1. Replace miso paste in your recipes with a 1:1 ratio in most of these miso paste substitutes. Try combining two or more together and taste test before adding to your recipe.

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