5 Best Substitutes For Miso Paste

May 27, 2021 | Cooking Tips

Miso paste is a creamy fermented soy paste that adds that special umami to food. We’ve come up with a list of 5 substitutes for miso paste for times that we cannot find it or simply run out.

You’ve probably heard of the word “miso” before and associated it with Japanese cuisines. That’s because miso paste is originally from Japan and it traveled to other Asian countries as well and eventually reached the west.

Miso paste is made from soybeans that have been crushed and then fermented for up to 3 years. Some other cultures are added to the paste while fermenting. The end goal is to achieve a funky, earthy, and salty tasting paste.

Miso paste is used for different kinds of dishes now. It can be used as a rub, marinade, sauce, dressing and even filling for desserts.

However, what happens if you run out or can’t simply find some miso paste in the store nearby?

Here’s a list of substitutes for miso paste.

Soy Sauce

1. Soy Sauce

Ultimately, the best substitute for miso paste is soy sauce. Miso paste doesn’t taste as strong as soy sauce but they are both made from soybeans so it has that same kind of flavor note to it. One of the reasons we use miso paste for cooking is because we look for its umami and that umami lives within the soy sauce.

Remember that soy sauce is not creamy at all unlike miso paste so if you’re using this as a substitute for miso paste, add it little by little until you achieve what you need from the miso paste with the soy sauce.


2. Salt

Some recipes will ask for different amounts of an ingredient and it applies with miso as well. Miso is used for different reasons and sometimes, it’s just a better alternative for an ingredient that you already have sitting on your kitchen counter.

If a recipe is asking for a little amount of miso paste, you can use a little bit of salt to substitute for the miso paste. Chances are that it just needs a little bit of saltiness.

Tahini as a substitute for miso paste

3. Tahini

It looks like it but it doesn’t taste like it. If you’re looking to substitute the creaminess of miso paste and fail at it, don’t worry. You can easily use tahini paste to make your dish a little like miso with a spoon of tahini. Remember that tahini is a good substitute for miso paste when it comes to texture but not flavor. You might want to mix a little bit of tahini with a little bit of soy sauce in the dish if you want to fill the void of miso.

Fish Sauce

4. Fish Sauce

Fish sauce has that strong salty umami flavor just like soy sauce but not quite the same. Obviously soy sauce is made from soybeans and fish sauce is made from fish. However, both have an unmistakable umami to them, which is a good alternative for miso when it comes to salting food, if that’s the purpose of miso paste in a recipe to being with.

Remember that fish sauce is a lot saltier than miso so just like soy sauce, start by adding it a little at a time in the recipe.

Vegetable Stock

5. Vegetable Stock

Earlier we mentioned that miso is often associated with Japanese cuisine. One of the reasons why miso is such a famous Japanese ingredient is because there’s a soup dedicated to miso, which everybody loves. Miso is often used to season, create a mouthwatering texture, and all. What could be substituted for miso in soup is a full-flavored vegetable stock.

A vegetable stock that is packed with flavors could easily kick the miso out of the picture because then it would flavor the soup so fragrantly. If you wish to add a little bit of saltiness to it to make it seem like miso, add some soy sauce.


Hey there! I'm Isabel. I love cooking, dogs, and curling up with a good book! I share recipes for people who LOVE good flavorful food, to share with family and friends.



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