Answered: MSG Substitute

MSG (monosodium glutamate) is a food additive that enhances the flavor of the food. This flavorant is actually added to many foods we consume daily. Sometimes you might need an MSG substitute for health reasons or because you’re all out.

MSG has been used in Japanese cooking since the 1920s to improve convenience bento boxes, ramen, and dashi. However, it’s banned in some countries due to its link to several health issues. Luckily, numerous ingredients can provide an umami flavor similar to MSG.

So, if you’re looking for some substitutions that won’t compromise the integrity of your dish, read on to find out the options for different situations.

7+ Best Substitutes for MSG (Monosodium Glutamate)

1. Beef Stock

Beef stock is a common substitute for MSG. In fact, it has a much lower sodium content than the controversial additive. And it can be used as a substitute in many recipes. It also contains natural glutamic acid, one of the naturally occurring forms of MSG. 

This ingredient will add a moreish, meaty taste to your dish without the unhealthy additives. Another benefit of using beef stock as a substitute for MSG is its price tag. This flavorful ingredient will cost much less than MSG. So it may be worth a try if you’re looking for a yummy alternative. 

2. Soy Sauce

Soy sauce is a staple in Asian cooking and offers an excellent substitute for MSG. It doesn’t contain as many chemicals and artificial ingredients as MSG. However, it does contain sodium, which isn’t the healthiest of ingredients. 

Soy sauce has a deep, rich, savory flavor that will make any dish taste delicious. Additionally, soy sauce contains no added sugars or fats, while MSG may contain less healthy items. This means that soy sauce is a slightly healthier choice than MSG. And it provides a similar flavor profile without the harmful side effects.

3. Parmesan Cheese

Another common substitute for MSG is parmesan cheese. It’s also relatively low in fat and calories, making it a healthier alternative for those watching their weight. And it’s found in most grocery stores, either grated or whole.  

There’s a sweet, almost fruity nuttiness to the parmesan cheese flavor that is perfect for enhancing a multitude of dishes. Most people use it as a flavor-enhancing topping on pizzas and pasta. But it works just as well when lightly dusted on creamy soups and stews. 

4. Dulse

Dulse is a type of seaweed that makes for a great MSG substitute. It’s a mineral-rich food containing a high level of vitamin C. It also contains carotenoids found to decrease free radical damage in the body and help with chronic conditions.

At an affordable price, one will likely find dulse in most upmarket or specialty grocery stores. And it provides a complex flavor that balances sweet and salty perfection. While MSG contains many unnatural chemical ingredients, dulse is abundant in complex long-chain sugars. These help to boost the immune system and promote healthy skin. 

5. Shiitake Mushrooms

One of the best substitutes for MSG is shiitake mushrooms. They’re an adequate substitute because they produce a glutamate-rich liquid when they’re cooked. And these mushrooms can help boost your immune system as they have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

Shiitake mushrooms have a flavor that closely resembles that of MSG. Yet they are far healthier and more affordable to use. These mushrooms contain compounds called ribonucleotides, which also contribute to the natural flavor enhancement of foods. Consuming 

6. Salt

Almost every kitchen and restaurant in the world is stocked with salt to add flavor to various dishes. This makes salt the most widely used flavor-enhancer and obvious substitute for MSG. Those sensitive to MSG may be wary of their tolerance level for salt. In this case, they should add small amounts of salt to their food at first and adjust according to their taste.

Salt is much saltier than MSG and doesn’t embody the same umami flavor MSG provides. However, it does tend to bring out the natural flavors of the ingredients in the food. In fact, some argue that salt enhances the flavor of food more than MSG does. Either way, it’s a worldwide, centuries-old, tried and tested staple for boosting the flavor of a meal. 

7. Yeast Extract

Yeast extract, also known as nutritional yeast, is found in many different foods, such as vegetarian meat substitutes and cheese. This ingredient also has plenty of health benefits to offer. And it provides an excellent source of vitamin B12, riboflavin, and niacin.

This flavorful additive also contains glutamic acid, a perfect substitute for the MSG flavor. Yeast extract is derived from fermented yeast or natural plant extracts. And it provides a nutty, cheesy flavor when added to food. Sprinkle yeast extract on your food as you would with salt. Or use it in cooking and baking for an explosion of flavor.


We hope the above MSG substitute options will help you find an easy alternative to enhance the flavor of your meal. All of these substitutes will provide fantastic results for any savory dish. And the flavors are sure to wow your family and friends when you treat them to your next meal creation.