Miso is made by fermenting kōji, salt, and soybeans. As a Japanese seasoning that has various versions, miso can also be made using rice, seaweed, and barley.
Miso is the star ingredient in miso soup, which is a Japanese staple dish often served for breakfast or as a side dish with other meals. Soy sauce and fish sauce are brilliant alternatives for miso because they hit the same flavor notes and can be added to most dishes instead of miso.
Best Substitute for Miso: Soy Sauce
The best substitute for miso is soy sauce because it closely resembles the saltiness and savory notes that miso adds to a dish. Soy sauce and miso are both made by fermenting soybeans with other ingredients. You can use soy sauce as a 1:1 miso substitute in most recipes.
Other Miso Substitutes, Alternatives, and Replacements
Here is a list of ingredients that you can use in place of miso.
Liquid Miso Alternatives
There are many sauces and liquids that can be used as a miso substitute.
Fish sauce has a tangy, salty flavor that brings umami to Asian dishes. You should use fish sauce as a 1:1 substitute for miso in dishes like miso ramen and miso soup.
Using fish sauce in dishes like miso soup gives depth and an extra kick of saltiness to the dish. If you don’t like the fishy aftertaste that you get from fish sauce, you should use half the recommended quantity when swapping miso for fish sauce in recipes.
Tamari is a sauce that has the same umami and salty flavor as miso paste. Although tamari is a liquid, it has a thick consistency that won’t alter the texture of food when it’s used as a miso substitute.
Because tamari has high salt content, it is a great 1:1 substitute for miso in marinades and stir-fries.
Dashi is a liquid miso substitute that brings an umami flavor to any dish. It can be used as a miso alternative in most dishes, but dashi is a better substitute for miso in soups or dishes that can hold a lot of liquid because dashi has a thin consistency.
You should use dashi as a 1:1 substitute for miso in soups and stews, but avoid using dashi in dry dishes.
Vegetable stock is something everyone has in their pantry, which makes it a convenient miso alternative. Vegetable stock is a good miso substitute in soups, but to get a similar flavor to miso, you will need to add various herbs and spices to the dish.
Although the vegetable stock is convenient, it is much milder than miso, which is why you should use vegetable stock as a 2:1 alternative for miso paste.
Paste Miso Alternatives
Some recipes call for miso paste, so choosing a substitute with a similar texture is advised.
Soybean paste is often used as a miso substitute in soups and stews. Like miso paste, soybean paste is salty and has a thick consistency. Soybean paste is much saltier than miso, so you should only add a pinch to the dish, then add more if needed.
Soybean paste is almost identical in taste and texture to miso, and color is the only difference between the pastes.
Tahini has a creamy, nutty flavor. This paste is a Mediterranean ingredient made out of sesame seeds that can be used in place of miso in recipes that don’t require a lot of miso paste.
Because of tahini’s nutty flavor, you shouldn’t add it to mild dishes because the sesame flavor could overpower the recipe. Tahini also isn’t suitable as a miso substitute in soups. Instead, use tahini as a 1:1 miso substitute in stir-fries and salads.
Bean and Pea Miso Substitute
Peas and beans are versatile and can be blended or crushed into a paste or liquid form. Alternatively, you could eat the beans whole to add texture to the dish.
Adzuki beans have a nutty flavor and a smooth, creamy texture. You can cook and mash adzuki beans into a paste and use them as a miso alternative in dishes that complement a nutty aftertaste.
Adzuki beans are sweeter than miso and will add a new flavor profile to a dish when used as a 1:1 substitute for miso. Anyone thinking of using adzuki beans as a miso substitute should consider adding these beans to soups and stews for the best result.
Chickpeas can be prepared in various ways that will change their taste and texture, and some chickpea variations are suitable as a miso substitute. You can use chickpeas as a 1:1 substitute for miso in recipes that call for miso paste.
Chickpeas are a nutritious ingredient that works well as a paste or whole. You should use chickpeas as a miso substitute in soups and stews.