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Don’t have miso paste? This unique ingredient is hard to replace, but there are a few options. Here’s the best miso substitute!

Miso substitute

Making a recipe that calls for miso paste and don’t have it? Miso is a Japanese fermented soybean paste that’s full of nutrients and savory flavor. It’s known for its intense savory flavor, otherwise known as umami: the fifth flavor. It’s often used in Japanese-style dishes like miso ramen and miso salmon, but you can also use it as a substitute for cheesy flavor like in vegan pesto.

You can find miso in the international foods aisle near the Japanese ingredients. There are many different types of miso: and they all taste different! Yellow miso, white miso, red miso, dark or brown miso are all different varieties of this magic ingredient.

Important: Miso is such a unique ingredient, you should seek it out if at all possible! This is especially important if the word miso is in the recipe title, like Miso Glaze. But if you don’t have time to shop, here are a few substitutes! They just don’t come close to the real thing.

Best miso paste substitute

1. Soy sauce

The best miso substitute? Soy sauce. Soy sauce can stand in for the salty and savory flavor of miso in a pinch. But keep in mind: miso paste has a creamy texture and soy sauce is very thin, almost like water.

Use this ratio: Substitute ½ tablespoon soy sauce for 1 tablespoon miso paste.

2. Tamari (or coconut aminos)

 Tamari is a Japanese variety of soy sauce that’s made as the bi-product of making miso paste, so it’s a good substitute for miso. The biggest difference between soy sauce vs tamari is that tamari contains little to no wheat! You can also use coconut aminos, a common substitute for soy sauce made from the sap of the coconut palm that is both gluten-free and soy free. Both are slightly less salty than miso, so keep this in mind.

Use this ratio: Substitute ½ tablespoon tamari or coconut aminos (plus a pinch of salt) for 1 tablespoon miso paste.

3. Fish sauce

Another miso substitute? Fish sauce. Fish sauce is a condiment made from fermented fish that’s used often in Southeast Asian cuisine like Thai food. It’s used to bring umami to recipes and has a funky, tangy, salty flavor that’s similar to miso paste. However, its flavor is much stronger than miso and its texture is liquid, not thick and creamy.

Important: Don’t make this substitution in baked goods like miso chocolate chip cookies.

Use this ratio: Substitute ½ teaspoon fish sauce for 1 tablespoon miso paste.

4. Worcestershire sauce

If you don’t have the above condiments, another miso substitute is Worcestershire sauce. Worcestershire sauce is a common condiment that adds savory and complex flavors to dishes from Caesar dressing to the classic Bloody Mary. It was invented in Britain in the mid-1800’s, and its flavor is tangy, salty, sweet, savory, and a little funky. It has much stronger onion and garlic notes than miso, and its texture is liquid, not thick and creamy.

Important: Don’t make this substitution in baked goods like miso chocolate chip cookies.

Use this ratio: Substitute ½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce for 1 tablespoon miso paste.

Here are some great miso recipes for using this magic paste:

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Meet Sonja and Alex Overhiser: Husband and wife. Expert home cooks. Authors of recipes you’ll want to make again and again.

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6 Comments

  1. I have been looking all over for yellow or white miso for your Shrimp stir fry recipe. What can I use as a substitute?