What’s A Good Miso Paste Substitute?

Many people are obsessed with miso paste due to its umami flavor. From salad dressings to sauces, it delivers unmatched flavor to any dish. But it’s typically hard to find, so having a miso paste substitute on hand is always a good idea.

Miso paste is a star ingredient in Japanese cuisines like miso ramen and salmon dishes. It has a savory flavor and is incredibly nutrient-dense. The paste also offers a tangy element in dishes and can be found in different colors.

But if it’s an excellent miso paste alternative you’re after, take a look at some of our favorites below.

What Is Miso Paste?

Traditional miso paste originates from Japan and is made using fermented soybeans. It also comprises a variety of grains, typically rye, barley, rice, buckwheat, and others.

There are different types of miso paste depending on how it’s made. The core differences lie in their taste and color. And the colors span from yellow, white, and red to dark brown, influenced by the combination of grains. 

In addition to giving broths and soups a balanced savory and sweet flavor, it can also be used in stir-fries. This paste is known for its rich flavor and is a good source of protein, vitamin A, and other nutrients. Plus, it’s low in calories. 

Miso Paste Substitute

Remember that it’s challenging to mimic the flavor of miso paste, as some recipes suggest. However, you can garner a close match with a substitute.

1. Soy Sauce

Soy sauce does an excellent job mimicking miso paste’s savory flavor. But it has a liquid consistency compared to the creamy texture of miso paste.

However, it’s a great substitute in recipes that call for a savory kick, like bok choy and sticky glazed pork chops.

The only drawbacks are that soy sauce is saltier than miso paste. Therefore, you should add less in recipes that call for miso paste. Use a ½ tablespoon soy sauce for every tablespoon of miso paste required.

2. Fish Sauce 

This may sound surprising, but fish sauce has the same savory flavor as miso paste and makes an excellent replacement. However, because it’s a sauce and not a paste, it is far thinner in consistency.

Since it is derived from fermented fish, fish sauce is not a good option for vegans. However, its intense savory flavor makes it perfect for stir-fries, stews, and Asian broths.

Due to its strong flavor, it’s best to use a small amount and taste as you go. If a recipe calls for miso paste, use a ¼ cup of fish sauce to replace 1 cup of miso paste.

3. Tahini

Tahini is a close match to the texture of miso paste. It is produced from sesame seeds and has a creamy consistency similar to miso paste. But it delivers a nutty, almost bitter flavor compared to the savory undertones of miso paste. 

It’s a fantastic substitute when making sauces and dressings that call for a creamy element. Tahini also works well when making dips and spreads. And is sometimes included in stews and curries.

In recipes, you can easily replace miso paste with tahini at a 1:1 ratio.

4. Shoyu

Like miso paste, shoyu is made from soybeans fermented with water, wheat, koji, and salt. This makes it the best alternative in terms of flavor. 

But there are some differences. For instance, shoyu has a watery consistency, which makes it ideal for sauces, soups, and stir-fries. And if you’re attempting to cut back on sodium, this is a good alternative because it contains less salt.

Shoyu may not be easy to find at your general grocer but might be available through a specialty foods store. However, suppose you have shoyu on hand. In that case, you can use it instead of miso paste at a 1:1 ratio. But you might need to add a little cornstarch if you want a similar consistency to miso paste.

5. Coconut Aminos 

Coconut aminos are produced from coconut tree juice. This dark-colored liquid with a savory and sweet flavor is an excellent gluten-free miso paste substitute.

It’s also a fantastic option for those who are allergic to soy. Since it mimics the flavor of miso paste, you can use it as a substitute in sauces and soups. 

However, due to its naturally sweet flavor, you should start with a small amount and gradually increase it as you taste.


While there are many miso paste alternatives, some are better suited to certain types of recipes than others. Therefore, because of differences in taste and texture, what works for one recipe may not work for another. However, when you’ve determined the best replacement, you’ll no longer have trouble finding a miso paste substitute.