My favourite 10 easy miso paste substitutes you will have at home, plus a recipe for simple miso paste substitute made with beans, sugars and Marmite (or Vegemite).
Every time I need something quick and easy for lunch, I usually end up making a simple soup, like my Tofu & Mushroom soup recipe. It’s simple to make, it’s filling, and it tastes delicious.
The problem is that I don’t always have all the ingredients, so I end up improvising.
One ingredient that I seems to be always out is miso paste, so over the years, I’ve learned how to replace it in my cooking to make sure the dish still tastes amazing.
Looking for the easiest miso paste substitute?
Just use salt!
Salt is the easiest and cheapest miso paste substitute, you already have at home. If you have flavoured or sea salt, that’s great, but don’t worry to much if not (see my longer notes for salt as a substitution for miso below).
PIN IT & KEEP THIS RECIPE FOR LATER
RECIPES USING MISO PASTE
What is miso paste?
If you ever tasted miso paste on its own, you’d realise that it’s a very concentrated, a salty ingredient with a ton of flavour.
The idea is that you use a little bit to make up a whole soup or other dish and it complements other ingredients.
It’s made from soya beans, so if you are sensitive to soya you might find it difficult to digest and might be looking for an alternative anyway.
How do you use miso paste?
Miso paste is often used in Japanese, Vietnamese or Chinese dishes and you will also often find in European or American fusion recipes (recipes with a twist on traditional Japanese recipes or completely new recipes).
Since miso paste is very concentrated, you usually need only 1/2 teaspoon to 1 teaspoon to flavour your recipe (for 2-4 people – if you are cooking bigger amount, you will of course need more miso paste).
The best thing to do is to follow you recipe and add the right amount of miso paste (and only add more if you feel that the dish needs it, by tasting it first).
You can also use miso paste for flavouring dishes that don’t necessarily have miso down as an ingredient. For example I often add a 1/2 teaspoon of miso paste to a basic soup broth and it immediately taste more interesting!
SOUP RECIPES (THAT YOU CAN FLAVOUR WITH MISO PASTE)
- Traditional vegetable soup >>
- Chicken ramen noodle soup >>
- Rice & chicken soup >>
- Baked Potato Soup (Vegan) >>
- Leek & Potato Soup >>
Can I make traditional miso paste at home?
If you are into experimenting in the kitchen, you might be wondering, whether it’s possible to make your own miso paste substitute if you run out of the shop bought one.
Whilst it’s not impossible, I’d recommend to simply substituting miso paste with something from the list below to work well with your recipe. This is going to be quicker and cheaper too.
Miso paste is traditionally made from soya beans mixed with salt and natural mould bacteria called ‘koji’ and then left to ferment over a period of a very long time.
Some companies also add various grains to improve or change the miso paste flavour. This can include for example rice, rye or barley, which is what gives miso paste it’s earthy taste.
The fermentation process can take anything from several months to several years, which is why I said, that making a miso paste at home (if you’ve just find out that you need it to make your soup) is a no go!
MY FAVOURITE (EASY) MISO PASTE SUBSTITUTES
One thing that often saves me from having to use basic substitutions for miso paste is using a miso powder instead. I usually keep some in the kitchen cupboard, because the shelf life is much longer than the paste.
To make miso powder into a miso paste, use the same amount of powder with the same amount of water and mix it.
For example – mix one teaspoon of miso powder with one teaspoon of water. This should be enough for one portion of soup, but add more if needed.
Salt is one ingredient that I’m sure you’ll have at home if you suddenly run out of miso paste.
Sea salts, smoked sea salts or other flavoured salts are a perfect replacement for miso paste if your recipe only calls for a small amount of miso paste.
I love the different flavours you can achieve with salts – like charcoal salt, himalayan salt or herb-infused salts. You can easily dry herbs at home or use these 6 different herbs to add to your salt for extra flavour.
Using a basic table salt is absolutely fine too.
To replace the miso paste in the recipe with salt, simply add a pinch of your favourite salt, taste and add more if needed.
To make the salty flavour more interesting you can also add a bit of dry yeast (if you have any leftovers from baking bread). 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon should be enough to add flavour without changing the texture of your dish too much. This would be about 1/5 of a active yeast packet which is about 7 grams or 2 1/4 teaspoons.
SALT & SEASONING MIXES THAT YOU CAN USE INSTEAD OF MISO PASTE
- Chili Spice Mix – mix in more salt to dilute the chilli flavour >>
- Guacamole Spice >>
- Everyday Seasoning Spice Mix >>
Soy sauce is fairly intense in flavour like miso paste, but it contains more salt.
To replace the miso paste in your recipe with soy sauce add half the amount, taste and then add more if needed.
Don’t add any salt before you add your soy sauce. It might be easier to add more soy sauce and benefit from the extra flavour (whilst adding salt at the same time).
Tahini comes in different versions. The darker tahini has a more robust flavour, but the light one is fine to use to. Tahini is made from sesame seeds and has a much milder taste than miso paste.
You might need extra salt with your dish, but taste it first to see if that’s the case.
I really like Tahini as a miso paste substitute, but you might like to add extra flavour with something like soy sauce, extra salt or anchovies paste as on its own it can be quite bland.
Vegetable or Meat Stock Cubes
Depending on what you are cooking, you can use crumbled vegetable of meat based stock cubes to add flavour to your dishes.
The stock cubes include some salt, so ease off on adding extra salt until you taste your dish.
Using a fish sauce is another option how to replace miso paste in your recipe if you have it already in your kitchen cupboard.
Only use it for meat based fish dishes or vegetable dishes (where people don’t mind the meat ingredients in the fish sauce) and don’t use it for chicken/beef/lamb/ type of dishes.
The flavour combination of fish sauce and say chicken is a tad strange to say the least!
Bowril is a beef based extract, which might not suit to everyone, but I thought I’d mention it anyway. Bowril comes in a thick paste, which can be easily diluted in water.
It’s salty and dark in colour and it can be used instead of miso paste in meat-based dishes.
I think marmite has a very similar flavour to miso paste and since it’s yeast based, it’s also suitable for vegetarian and vegan diets.
It’s quite salty, so again add the marmite in your dish first to replace the miso paste before you add any extra salt or flavourings.
Similar to soya sauce, Worcestershire sauce is full of flavour and it has a salty flavour.
It’s a fermented sauce made from barley malt vinegar, molasses sugars, salt, onions, tamarind extract and other flavoursome ingredients.
It also contains anchovies, so it’s not suitable for vegan or vegetarian diets.
Worcestershire sauce makes a great substitution for miso paste in terms of flavour, but it is a lot more liquid than the paste, so you need to be a bit careful not to add too much to make your dish too runny.
If you are looking for the same consistency, you can add the Worcestershire sauce to a few cooked soya (or other beans) and mashed them up a little to create a thicker sauce. You can also add a tiny bit of sugar syrup (or dark agave syrup) to make the flavour richer and the replacement miso paste slightly darker.
Homemade Miso Paste Substitute
Whilst adding one or two ingredients from the previous list might be sufficient to replace miso paste in your recipe, you can also make a quick and simple miso paste substitute at home.
For next time, when you run out of miso paste, you can be ready by making your own replacement.
Homemade Miso Paste Recipe
- Soya Beans or other beans (cooked from the tin)
- Dark Molasses Sugar (or dark sugar, honey, date syrup or agave) – I often use my Brown Sugar Syrup Recipe for this
- Marmite or Vegemite or Soy Sauce (or Worcestershire Sauce)
Proportions will depend on how much miso paste you need.
To get about 1/3 cups of miso soup, you will need 1/2 cup of beans, 3 teaspoons of dark molasses and 3 teaspoons of Marmite and 1 teaspoon of salt (can be more, depending on your taste buds). You can also use any of the liquid syrups replacements for coconut sugar as they can add a great flavour to your homemade miso paste.
To make the homemade miso replacement, simply put everything in a food processor or a blender and blend everything until smooth.
Taste and add more marmite, soy sauce or salt to adjust the flavour. You should get a rich, strong miso taste.
Keep the homemade miso paste in an airtight container in the fridge and use within 2-3 weeks or so. It will probably last a little longer, but we usually use it up within that time.
Homemade Miso Paste Substitute
- Blender or food processor
- 1/2 cup soy beans cooked or from a tin (can be replaced by any beans)
- 3 teaspoons Marmite or Vegemite
- 3 teaspoons dark liquid molases sugar or honey, agave syrup or date or carob syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon fine cooking salt add more depending on your taste buds
- To make the miso replacement, simply put all ingredients (beans, marmite, liquid sugar, salt) in a food processor or a blender and blend everything until smooth. You can also mix everything with a fork or spoon, but it will take a little longer.
- Taste and add more marmite, soy sauce or salt to adjust the flavour. You should get a rich, strong miso taste.
- Keep the homemade miso paste in an airtight container in the fridge and use it within 2-3 weeks or so (it will probably last a little longer).
This blog post was originally written on 13 July 2021 and last updated on 15 February 2023