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The 10 Best Substitutes For MSG

Have you ever been to a restaurant and noticed that the food tastes surprisingly delicious?

Chances are, it’s because they added MSG to their dishes.

MSG is a flavor enhancer used in many Asian cuisines, but some people may be sensitive or allergic to it.

Others may simply want to avoid consuming too much of this additive.

Fortunately, there are plenty of alternatives for MSG that can add flavor without the potential side effects.

In this article, I’ll discuss 10 of the best substitutes for MSG so you can still enjoy your favorite dishes without worrying about its potential health risks.

What is MSG?


Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is a flavor enhancer and food additive used in many Asian cuisines.

It is an odorless, white crystal-like powder that is derived from glutamic acid, which naturally occurs in some foods like tomatoes, mushrooms, and aged cheese.

MSG’s primary purpose is to enhance the natural flavors of dishes without adding additional calories or fat.

It works by activating certain receptors on the tongue that help us experience umami – one of the five basic tastes along with sweet, sour, salty, and bitter.

It can be found in powdered form as well as cubes known as Ajinomoto or “tastemaker”.

It has become widely popular among home cooks looking to add more depth to their meals without resorting to heavy seasoning with salt or sugar.

When used correctly in small amounts, MSG can significantly improve the taste of food while still maintaining its original flavor profile.

The 10 Best Substitutes For MSG

If you’re trying to avoid MSG in your cooking, you may be wondering what the best substitutes are.

Fortunately, there are several great options that can be used in its place.

Here we look at ten of the best alternatives:

1 – Soy Sauce

Soy sauce is a dark, salty liquid made from fermented soybeans and wheat.

It has a rich umami flavor that adds depth to many dishes.

Soy sauce can be used as an alternative to MSG as it contains naturally occurring glutamates which provide the same savory taste.

It’s also low in calories and fat-free, making it a healthier option for those looking for ways to season their food without adding extra calories or fat.

Soy sauce can be used to add flavor to stir-fries, marinades, sauces, soups and more.

It’s also great for dipping sushi or dumplings into!

Try using soy sauce instead of MSG next time you’re cooking up something delicious!

2 – Fish Sauce

Fish sauce is a popular condiment used in many Southeast Asian cuisines.

It’s made from fermented fish and salt, giving it an intense umami flavor that adds depth to dishes.

The salty liquid has a pungent aroma but is surprisingly mild when added to food.

Fish sauce can be used as a substitute for MSG in recipes, as it provides the same savory flavor without any of the potential health risks associated with MSG.

It can also be used in place of soy sauce or Worcestershire sauce for an extra kick of flavor.

Try adding fish sauce to stir-fries, marinades, soups, sauces, and dressings for an authentic taste of Southeast Asia!

3 – Beef Stock

Beef Stock

Beef stock is a flavorful liquid made by simmering beef bones and vegetables in water.

The resulting broth has a rich, savory flavor that can be used as a base for soups, sauces, stews, and more.

Unlike MSG, which is an artificial flavor enhancer that some people are sensitive to or avoid for health reasons, beef stock is all-natural and contains no added preservatives or chemicals.

It’s also high in protein and minerals like calcium and phosphorus.

Beef stock can be purchased ready-made from the store or easily made at home with simple ingredients like beef bones, carrots, celery, onions, garlic cloves, bay leaves and black peppercorns.

Using beef stock instead of MSG will give your dishes a delicious boost of natural flavor without any unwanted additives!

4 – Cheese


Cheese is a great alternative to MSG when looking for flavor enhancers.

Cheese contains glutamates, which are the same compounds found in MSG that provide umami flavor.

It can be added to dishes like soups, sauces, and casseroles to add depth of flavor without the use of MSG.

Different types of cheese have different levels of glutamate, so it’s important to choose one that will work best with your dish.

For example, Parmesan has higher levels than Cheddar or Mozzarella.

When using cheese as an alternative to MSG, it’s important to remember that a little goes a long way – too much can overpower the other flavors in your dish!

5 – Dulse


Dulse is an edible seaweed that has been used in traditional cuisine for centuries.

This deep red sea vegetable is packed with essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

It has a mild flavor and can be eaten as-is or dried and crumbled over salads or soups.

Dulse also makes a great substitute for MSG – it adds umami depth to dishes without the potential side effects associated with MSG consumption.

When cooked, dulse imparts a savory flavor similar to bacon bits but without the fat content.

Try adding it to stir-fries, stews, and even smoothies for an extra boost of nutrients!

6 – Shiitake mushrooms

Shiitake mushrooms

Shiitake mushrooms are an excellent alternative to MSG.

These mushrooms have a rich, earthy flavor that adds umami and depth to dishes.

They can be used in soups, stir-fries, and sauces for a delicious boost of flavor.

Shiitakes are also packed with vitamins and minerals like B vitamins, potassium, zinc, iron, magnesium, and selenium.

The texture is meaty yet tender when cooked properly.

For the best results, try sautéing them in butter or oil until they’re golden brown.

You can also add them to broths or simmer them in soy sauce for added depth of flavor.

7 – Anchovies


Anchovies are small, salty fish that have a deep umami flavor.

They can be used to enhance the flavor of dishes without adding MSG.

Anchovies are usually sold in cans or jars and can be added to sauces, dressings, and marinades.

The strong taste of anchovies may take some getting used to, but they provide an intense savory flavor that is often lacking in dishes without MSG.

In addition to their use as a condiment, anchovies can also be cooked into pastas and pizzas for an extra punch of flavor.

For those looking for a healthier alternative to MSG-laden foods, anchovies are definitely worth considering!

8 – Herbs and spices


Herbs and spices are a great way to add flavor and complexity to your dishes without relying on MSG.

Herbs like oregano, basil, thyme, rosemary, sage, and parsley can be used fresh or dried to bring out the natural flavors of food.

Spices such as cumin, coriander, turmeric, ginger, garlic powder, paprika and chili powder also provide subtle yet powerful flavor profiles that can help you create delicious meals without using MSG.

These ingredients can be added directly into recipes or used as rubs for meats before cooking.

Using herbs and spices is an excellent way to make flavorful dishes while avoiding unhealthy additives like MSG.

9 – Salt


Salt is a pantry staple that has been used for centuries to enhance the flavor of food.

It’s an essential ingredient in many dishes, from savory to sweet.

Salt can be used as a replacement for MSG when seasoning foods, as it adds depth and complexity to flavors without any artificial additives.

When using salt as a substitute, it’s important to remember that less is more.

Start with small amounts and add more if needed.

For example, you could sprinkle some on your vegetables before roasting them or use it in place of MSG when making sauces or marinades.

Salt can also be added directly to soups and stews for extra flavor, or rubbed onto meats before cooking them.

Using salt instead of MSG allows you to control the amount of sodium in your recipes while still achieving delicious results!

10 – Oil

Avocado Oil

Oil is a great alternative to MSG for adding flavor to dishes.

It can be used in place of MSG when sautéing, roasting, or grilling vegetables and proteins.

Using oil helps enhance the natural flavors of foods while providing an added layer of richness.

Extra-virgin olive oil has a robust flavor that works well with many dishes, such as salads or roasted vegetables.

For more delicate flavors, try using nut oils like walnut or almond oil.

These oils are milder and work best when drizzled over fish or other light proteins.

Avocado oil is also an excellent choice for its high smoke point and creamy texture.

No matter what type you choose, always make sure to use fresh oil for maximum flavor!


Finding a substitute for MSG can be a challenge, but with the right ingredients, you can still enjoy the flavors of your favorite dishes without worrying about the potential side effects of the additive.

Soy sauce, fish sauce, beef stock, cheese, dulse, shiitake mushrooms, anchovies, herbs, spices, salt, and oil are all great alternatives for MSG, allowing you to add flavor to your food without sacrificing taste or health.

Ultimately, the best replacement for MSG will depend on the dish and the flavor profile you’re looking to achieve.

With a few simple swaps, you can still enjoy delicious, flavorful dishes without the worry of MSG.


The 10 Best Substitutes For MSG

If you don't want to use MSG in your cooking, but you still want to add an umami flavor to your dishes, this article is for you. I'm going to share the 10 best substitutes for MSG that will help you elevate the flavor of your meals. I'll explain why each of these ingredients works well as a substitute, and provide tips for how to use them properly in your cooking. With these options, you won't have to compromise on flavor when you choose to leave out MSG.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Course Substitutes
Cuisine American
Servings 4 people
Calories 100 kcal


  • Soy Sauce
  • Fish Sauce
  • Beef Stock
  • Cheese
  • Dulse
  • Shiitake mushrooms
  • Anchovies
  • Herbs and spices
  • Salt
  • Oil


  • Pick your favorite substitute from the list above.
  • Follow cooking directions for your selected substitute with the proper ratio of ingredients.
CEO at Happy Muncher | | Website | + posts

Hi, I'm Benjamin. I love cooking, long walks, and my girlfriend! Here you’ll find simple and delicious recipes that you can make in 30 minutes or less.