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The 5 Best Substitutes for White Miso Paste

Have you ever heard of white miso paste and wondered what exactly it is?

This ingredient is stable in Japanese cooking and is known for its fragrant and savory taste.

While most commonly used for marinades and sauces, white miso paste can be used for a variety of dishes.

If you’re looking to add a unique flavor to your recipes, white miso paste could be the tasty ingredient you need.

But if you don’t have or can’t find white miso paste, don’t worry.

There are plenty of other ingredients that can be used as substitutes – from soy sauce to red miso paste.

Learn more about how to cook with white miso paste and the five best substitutes you may already have in your pantry.

What’s White Miso Paste?

White miso paste is a mild type of fermented soybean paste used primarily in Japanese cuisine.

Its subtle flavor consists of earthy, sweet, and salty notes – making it the perfect addition to dressings, soups, and marinades.

It has a thick, almost buttery texture, and its distinctive flavor is the secret ingredient for sushi rolls and traditional miso soup.

This creamy paste adds umami to any dish without overwhelming other flavors.

White miso is versatile, as it can be added just before serving or cooked over low heat for several hours to give complex flavors to dishes such as stews or slowly simmered sauces.

Start with a tablespoon in recipes calling for miso paste – adding more will give a stronger flavor if desired.

The 5 Best Substitutes for White Miso Paste

If you’re looking for a substitute for white miso paste, there are several options to choose from.

Here are five of the best that you can consider:

1 – Light Soy Sauce

Light soy sauce is a kitchen pantry staple and adds an interesting saltiness to many dishes.

It typically has a slightly thinner texture than dark soy sauce and is a little bit less intense in flavor.

Its combination of salty, lightly sweet, and slightly bitter taste makes it a valuable ingredient in any cook’s repertoire.

It has applications as both an ingredient in marinades and stir fries and as a condiment served alongside meals.

In some recipes which call for white miso paste, light soy sauce can be used instead, although the taste won’t be quite the same due to their differences in sugar content.

2 – Yellow Miso

Yellow miso is an integral part of Japanese cuisine.

This traditional seasoning is made by fermenting a mixture of cooked soybeans and salt with a variety of type-specific grains, such as barley, wheat, or rice.

The result is then left to further ferment anywhere from three months to two years.

Furthermore, its color ranges from light yellow to brown, and its texture can range from a thick paste to crumbly, depending on its age at maturity.

Yellow miso has an intense but subtle flavor that carries a hint of sweetness and smoky, which sets it apart from other types of miso.

It’s more pungent flavor makes this type more suitable for soup bases than white miso paste, though a lighter white miso substitute can be used when desired to more closely mirror the smoothness and sweetness of any given dish.

3 – Red Miso

Red miso is a classic Japanese condiment made from fermented soybeans, rice, and salt.

It has a salty, savory flavor and deep red-brown color, making it an interesting way to enhance the flavor of soups, sauces, and marinades.

It has a more pungent taste than white miso paste, which is milder in flavor and lighter in color.

Red miso can be used as a substitute for white miso paste in recipes that require longer cooking times or some kind of back note to enhance the dish’s overall taste.

While both have similar qualities due to their traditional ingredient of fermented miso paste, red miso will deliver an extra punch to any recipe.

4 – Tamari

Tamari is a traditional Japanese condiment made from naturally aged fermented soybeans.

This flavorful concoction is richer and slightly thicker than regular soy sauce, and its deep umami flavor brings out the best in any dish to which it’s added.

Tamari has a unique taste with a hint of smokiness, and its intense saltiness provides a robust enhancement to meals.

It is also milder than classic soy sauce, and although there are several subtle variations, tamari usually does not have wheat as an ingredient, making it gluten-free.

To substitute for white miso paste when cooking, simply mix equal parts of tamari and water in a bowl until you get a smooth consistency.

5 – Tahini

Tahini is a popular condiment used in several Middle Eastern cuisines, especially with hummus.

It is a smooth, thick paste made from toasted and ground sesame seeds that have developed a more mainstream following over the past few years due to its various uses.

Compared to other nut-based sauces, tahini has a distinctively nutty undertone with a slightly bitter flavor.

Its texture is drier and thicker than butter or other nut-based sauces and is great for adding creaminess or richness to dishes.

Many plant-based home cooks are now replacing white miso paste with tahini for umami-rich flavors for their vegan recipes.

Whisking together two tablespoons of tahini and one tablespoon of water creates an easy substitute for the previous condiment, sure to add complexity and depth to any dish.


In conclusion, there are a variety of items to choose from when looking for an alternative to white miso paste.

From yellow and red miso, which offer more intense umami flavors while still keeping the original sweetness of white miso paste, to tamari and tahini with their savory and nutty undertones, each one has its own distinct flavor that can be used to enhance the flavor of your recipes.

Whether you’re looking for a vegan substitute or an extra kick of flavor, these substitutions are sure to satisfy any palate and provide unique depth to any dish.

Yield: 1 Serving

The 5 Best Substitutes for White Miso Paste

The 5 Best Substitutes for White Miso Paste
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes


  • Light Soy Sauce
  • Yellow Miso
  • Red Miso
  • Tamari
  • Tahini


  1. Pick your favorite substitute from the list above.
  2. Follow cooking directions for your selected substitute with the proper ratio of ingredients.
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