What is a Good Miso Substitute?

Miso is a paste that is made from soybeans and then fermented. Most people use it to add saltiness and an umami flavor to their dishes.

What is a good miso substitute? Tahini, soy sauce, dashi, tamari, fish sauce, salt, and vegetable stock are good miso substitutes. Before we get into the details of these amazing substitutes, let’s educate ourselves a little bit about miso.

Miso is an amazing ingredient that adds flavor to savory dishes. There are three main types of miso in the market. There is the white miso paste, also called Shiro, the dark miso paste, and the red miso paste.

White miso is mild in flavor compared to dark miso and red miso. Additionally, it is pale in color hence the name ‘white miso’.

Most people claim that white miso is the best type of miso among the three.

Since the dark and red miso has a strong flavor, it is recommended that you add it little by little to your dish until you get the flavor that you want.

Using too many of these substitutes in your dish will not give you the results that you want.

Miso uses


Like I mentioned earlier, miso is quite versatile as an ingredient, and everyone loves such an ingredient.

I do not like buying ingredients that would stay for too long in my pantry or fridge because I can only use them in one dish. I always feel like it is such a waste.

Luckily for you, this is not the case with miso. You can use it in so many dishes and in different ways.

My favorite is when I use it as a marinade. To date, I can’t get over the fact that I can marinate meat for 10 minutes and it would be packed with flavor. Miso is really heaven sent.

Here are a few ways that you can use your miso

  • In soups

The first thing that comes to my mind when I think of miso is soup. When used as an ingredient in soup, miso brings out an amazing flavor that is loved by many.

  • In salad dressings

Miso is a very good addition to salad dressings. Simply a tablespoon of wine, one teaspoon of miso paste, and two tablespoons of extra virgin oil, and whisk them together. Pour the salad dressing over your salad and enjoy!

  • In marinades

When used as a marinade, miso embeds all the savory flavors. The best thing about miso is that you do not need to marinate your meat for hours on end. Ten minutes will suffice. Pretty convenient, right?

Mix two tablespoons of miso with six tablespoons of white wine to make the perfect marinade.

  • Adding flavor to your burgers

Yes, you can use miso to make your burgers irresistible. Simply cook your onions in butter until they are soft, remove from heat, and season with one teaspoon of miso. Your burgers will be out of this world.

  • As a sauce

Yes, miso makes for a great sauce when served on the side, especially with meat dishes. Do not get rid of those meat dishes in your pan as soon as you are done cooking.

Instead, add two tablespoons of white miso, a tablespoon of wine vinegar, and a tablespoon of hot water. Mix the three ingredients together to form a flavorful sauce.  You can serve it on the side or sprinkle it over your meat dish.

  • In stir fries

Miso is an amazing addition to stir-fries. It adds a flavor that is simply irresistible. The best way to go about adding miso to your stir fry is to let it finish cooking and cool down then you can add your miso to it. I recommend using white miso in stir fries because of its mild but delicious flavor.

Check out: 9 Substitute For Peanut Oil You Probably Didn’t Know

Miso substitutes


The key to choosing a good substitute is knowing which flavor you want your dish to have.  In this case, we are going for a salty flavor with an umami flavor too.

There are several good substitutes for tahini. The best thing about these substitutes is that you can buy them anywhere because they are readily available.

Most of these substitutes have that salty flavor and umami kick that we are going for. However, some are saltier while others are mild so pay attention to the amount you are using to your dish. Using too much or too little may lead to undesirable results.

Here are some of the best substitutes for miso that you ought to try in case your recipe calls for miso and you have none in hand.

  1. Tahini

Tahini resembles miso in almost every way which makes it a good substitute. The paste is made from soil sesame seeds. Its texture is quite similar to that of miso so you can easily use it in place of miso

Tahini’s flavor is a bit different compared to that of miso. It has a nutty flavor whereas miso has a salty flavor.

All in all, it still makes for a great substitute. I recommend using tahini as a substitute in recipes where you want to add some body to your dish using miso paste.

Please note that tahini may not be the best substitute when used in large quantities because of its nutty flavor.

  1. Soy sauce

Soy sauce is arguably the best substitute for miso. The salty flavor of soy sauce is similar to that of miso which makes it my go-to substitute.

Soy sauce also has the same nutrients as miso and the same umami kick. I like using soy sauce as a substitute because no animal products are used as ingredients. This makes it a great addition to vegan dishes.

However, it is important to note that soy sauce is saltier compared to miso. Therefore, add little by little until you get to the flavor that you want. Adding too much soy sauce at once will make your dish saltier than it should be. Soy sauce is a great addition to savory dishes.

You also need to know that soy sauce may darken the appearance of your dish. So if you do not want your dish to appear darker, use light soy sauce instead.

I recommend using soy sauce as a substitute in dressings and soups. Don’t use it in recipes that require miso to thicken the consistency.

  1. Dashi

Dashi is a Japanese ingredient that adds that umami flavor to dishes. Its flavor is quite similar to that of miso which makes it a good substitute.

Dashi is basically a pale broth made from seaweed. It is a versatile ingredient that is used in many Japanese dishes including ramen and rice among others.

Dashi’s appearance is not the same as that of miso. However, it is still a great addition to savory dishes.

Use dashi as a substitute for miso in any dish that does not require miso to thicken its consistency. The flavor is as amazing as that of miso.

  1. Tamari

Tamari is definitely one of my go-to substitutes for miso because it has a salty flavor and umami profile. 

Tamari has very many similarities with miso. It has just the right amount of saltiness and also has the right thickness. This makes it even better than soy sauce when it is used as a substitute for miso.

Tamari will give your dish the thickness that you would have gotten if you had used miso.

I recommend using tamari when you want to add salt to your dish or as a marinade. You will love how your dish will turn out.

  1. Fish sauce

Just like soy sauce, fish sauce has saltiness and umami similar to that of miso. It is however important to note that fish sauce is saltier compared to miso.

Therefore, add it little by little to build to the flavor that you want. Adding too much fish sauce at once will make your dish too salty for your liking.

I recommend using fish sauce in dishes where you only want to add saltiness and umami. You should also keep in mind that fish sauce contains more liquid compared to miso so it may not thicken your dish.

  1. Salt

If your end goal is just adding some saltiness to your dish, then regular salt will work just fine.

I recommend using salt as a substitute in dishes that have several other ingredients because, unlike the other substitutes, it does not have an umami kick.

  1. Vegetable stock

Surprisingly, vegetable stock is also a good substitute for miso. It particularly works well when used in soups.

Substitute miso with vegetable stock when preparing any soup to give it that kick that you are looking for.

Click here to check out; What To Dip In Hummus.



Miso is an amazing ingredient, but you may need to substitute it with something else for different reasons.

These substitutes work quite well in different dishes. The saltiness and umami flavor is all we are looking for after all, right?

Be careful to use substitutes like soy sauce and fish sauce sparingly because they are saltier compared to miso.

Experiment with these substitutes and let me know if you like them.


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