How to Use Miso Paste: The Definitive Guide

What is miso?

Miso is a paste made from rice koji (Aspergillus oryzae – a type of fungus), salt, soybeans and or legumes (lentils, chickpeas, etc). These ingredients are combined and fermented to develop the distinct umami flavor for which miso is known.

What makes miso versatile is its umami flavor known as the “5th taste” that adds a savory element to anything it touches. (Check out our article to learn about umami.)

Not only does miso paste make an excellent glaze, marinade, and base for salad dressings among other things, but it can be used in place of salt in many dishes, adding not only salty flavor, but a savory kick as well. Using a lower sodium miso, such as Mellow White, may help you reduce your overall salt intake, without sacrificing flavor.

How to choose a miso paste

There are several brands and varieties of miso paste on the market. Before you select the brand or variety that is right for you, it’s important to understand what to look for. When selecting a miso paste, look for organic miso that has been produced without the use of fermentation accelerants. Accelerants like yeast or applied heat can negatively affect the flavor of the miso as well as destroy the beneficial probiotic bacteria.

Why shouldn’t you boil miso?

Boiling miso can harm the probiotic bacteria. At temperatures above 115 degrees Fahrenheit these delicate bacteria are destroyed.

We recommend adding miso paste to soups just prior to serving.

Does miso have probiotics?

Naturally fermented miso such as Miso Master® contains probiotic bacteria thought to aid in digestion and gut health. Web MD sites the probiotics in miso are just one of the many health benefits.

Is miso good for your gut?

The koji that is used to make miso kicks off the fermentation process, resulting in probiotic bacteria considered healthy for the gut. According to, these probiotics can help the good bacteria in your gut thrive.

What does miso do for a dish?

When miso paste is added to a dish it can enhance, compliment or contrast with the other flavors in your recipe or meal.  What miso paste does for a dish really depends on the dish.  Because miso paste is rich in umami flavor it plays well with other flavors. 

Adding miso paste to soup broth will create a layered experience of savory flavors creating an enhanced, intense savory taste experience.  Ever had a chocolate covered pretzel? When miso is added to a sweet or a dessert it provides a contrast alongside the sweetness making a combined umami-sweetness that takes the salty-sweet pairing up a notch.   

The savory, umami quality of miso paste brings out the best qualities of the other flavors in a dish!  

What foods go well with miso?

The typically recommended foods that go well with miso are considered to be the savory foods like meat, fish, and vegetables. However, there is a growing body of recipes out there that use miso in just about every way and with every type of food you can imagine. If paired with something sweet, miso paste adds contrast which brightens both flavors. When paired with meat, fish, or vegetables it can be used as a sweet glaze or an umami flavor bomb. You can even find recipes for cocktails made with miso paste!

Can you eat miso paste raw?

Grab a spoon and dig in – you CAN eat your miso paste raw! I often recommend this to people when they are trying a new variety or are considering which variety to use in a recipe. It's a great way to discover the unique taste of miso and how each variety differs in flavor.

If eating miso paste off a spoon isn’t your thing, we have some other ways you can enjoy your raw, probiotic loaded miso paste.

What is the ratio of miso paste to water?

If you are making soup the ratio of miso paste to water is commonly accepted as 1 tablespoon of paste to 1 – 1 ½ cups of water.

Can I add miso to any soup?

One of the most common and easiest ways to use miso paste is to add miso to any soup you are making. Instead of using vegetable broth or bouillon, simply use miso paste instead. Choose a dark miso (Traditional Red Miso, Barley Miso, Brown Rice Miso) for a darker soup broth; choose a lighter miso (Mellow White, Sweet White, Chickpea) for a lighter soup broth.

Miso Soup Recipes

Traditional Miso Soup

This is the classic miso soup recipe a dark and great one start with if new experience for you. It remains one of our favorites!

Sweet Spicy Peanut Miso Soup

This twist on a classic (use a light miso) miso soup is sure to tickle your taste buds. This one is very rich and surprisingly versatile.

More Miso Soup Recipes 

Miso Dressing Recipes

Red Pepper Vinaigrette with Miso

Whip up a fresh made salad dressing. This is a real treat and once you start making your own you may never look back. This artful vinaigrette is brought together by the power of miso!

Vegan Honey & Miso Mustard Dressing

This super easy dressing has a double dose of miso! Three simple ingredients make for one well-dressed salad.

Miso Sauce & Dip Recipes

Miso Ginger BBQ Sauce

This is an easy and delicious recipe using brown rice miso paste. Any dark miso paste will work for this recipe. This works as a marinade, a dipping sauce, or a condiment.

Raw Vegan Date Caramel with Miso

This is an easy and delicious recipe using sweet white miso paste. Any light miso paste can be used to add the salty kick to compliment the natural sweetness of the dates. We add cinnamon because it tastes good, but it also helps your body convert sugar into useable energy.

Vegan Tofu Peanut Butter with Miso

This high protein peanut butter made with tamari and miso paste is one of my favorite recipes.

Miso Gravy

This a classic sauce that is made that much better when you add miso.

Miso Smoothie Recipes

Apricot, Almond, Chickpea Miso Smoothie

Try adding miso to your favorite smoothie recipe. This is one my favorite whole food smoothie recipes.

Can I just add miso paste to water?

Yep, you can keep it simple and just add miso to water. Make your version of a probiotic beverage!

Miso-biotic Beverage

    Serves 1
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) water, juice, cold tea or coffee
  • 1 teaspoon miso paste
  • 1 teaspoon sweetener of choice
  • Blend all ingredients and enjoy

How do you use miso in cooking?

The only real limitation on how you use miso in cooking is your imagination. A quick and easy way is to simply substitute salt in any recipe with miso paste. When using it as a substitute for salt you will want to make sure to blend it well with the wet ingredients in your recipe so that it flavors your dish evenly.

When roasting vegetables miso is a great substitute for oil and salt! Because of the texture of miso you can make a paste to toss your vegetables in and coat them with miso instead of oil. Another option is to use miso paste in baking by simply exchanging the salt in your recipe for an appropriate variety of miso.

Miso Vegetable Recipes

Sweet Miso Basil Carrots

This recipe has been a staple in my kitchen for years, but recently I gave it an upgrade by adding a touch of miso. Every time I serve this to guests I get rave reviews!

Herbed Roasted Cauliflower with Miso

Cauliflower is one of my absolute favorite vegetables and it is never better than when its roasted. This dish is very simple and the flavors can easily be exchanged to make this in many different ways.

Miso Dinner Recipes

Shiitake Mushroom Stir fry

This simple stir fry makes a great evening meal. It’s quick and easy to make and loaded with umami flavor.

Lemon-Mustard Broiled Flounder

This flounder gets a zing of flavor from the lemon-mustard sauce. Serve it with our Sweet Miso Basil Carrots for a great pairing.

Featured Recipe

Miso Peanut Thai Sauce Recipe

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