Best MSG Substitutes: Top 12 Alternatives


MSG is a powder used often to intensify the flavor of certain foods. But if you don’t have this ingredient, it doesn’t mean that your food will not taste right.

There are a few replacements you can use to obtain delicious food even without MSG. A more common name for this is monosodium glutamate. It is present in various processed foods you will find on the market. This crystal powder is popular in Chinese cuisine and other Asian cuisines but you can also use it at home. 

The best substitute for MSG could be beef stock. However, you will be glad to learn that you can also use soy sauce and different types of cheese and you will get a rich flavor. Keep reading to find the best MSG replacements you can use at home.

MSG Substitutes

Use the following substitutes in the ratio, you see fit according to the flavor you want to get. In most cases, you will need to add a bigger quantity than you would add the MSG because these replacements are not so concentrated.

1. Beef stock

Beef stock

You can use beef stock instead of MSG to flavor your food but also to add some intensity to the taste of it given by the other ingredients.

Either prepare your beef stock at home or buy it already made from most supermarkets. You will add more beef stock than MSG but the taste will be very rich as well.

Other types of stock work as well but the beef one tends to be the best if you want to add taste to your food. A great idea would be to get beef stock cubes and add 1 cube per dish instead of MSG.

Some Beef cubes include MSG in the ingredients, soo if you are looking to avoid this ingredient completely you might want to stick to homemade beef stock or the one you find without MSG.

2. Soy sauce

Soy Sauce

Soy sauce can add flavor to any type of food from cooked dishes to salads and other cold specialties. The umami flavor of this sauce will definitely make your food taste better. However, keep in mind that soy sauce can come with a high salt concentration.

You can find this sauce from different brands and you can use it in small quantities as you find fit according to your preferences. Try it in your favorite salad first and if you like the taste you can use it in soups, stews, and different Asian dishes.

3. Parmesan cheese

Parmesan Cheese

The Italian Parmesan cheese is very tasty and has a well-defined flavor. The fermentation of this cheese makes it a great alternative to MSG as well as a much healthier one.

Parmesan cheese will work amazingly in Italian dishes such as pizza or pasta but you can use it in salads, omelets, and even soups or stews.

It will definitely enrich the taste of your food significantly and you might want to keep adding it in the future as well, once you tried it one time.

4. Cheddar cheese

English cheddar cheese

Similar to Parmesan cheese, Cheddar cheese can be a great substitute for MSG and if you like its taste it can totally improve a recipe. You can use cheddar cheese that is more than 12 months old in order to make it a great replacement for MSG.

Older cheese will taste better. It will also have a firmer texture that works well with many dishes. Use Cheddar cheese according to your taste in dishes such as stews, soups, salads, or as a topping of pizzas and other similar dishes. You can add as much as you like, however, check the ingredients to see if it contains MSG.

5. Dulse

Dulse is a seaweed type with a salty flavor that can replace MSG very well in Asian dishes. This ingredient can be found easier in Asian markets and stores. However, it started to get popular worldwide. So, you can try your luck at your local supermarket as well.

If you don’t mind the mild ocean flavor of dulse, you can use it instead of MSG in all your recipes except desserts. As for the quantity, you can maintain the same ratio of dulse as if you were using MSG. If you don’t add too much, you will not taste the ocean flavor as strong.

6. Yeast extract


Yeast extract can be easily found in most stores and you can use it to substitute MSG in all your recipes. This ingredient is commonly used to prepare bread and beer but you can use it in soups, stews, and even different dressings if you don’t want to use MSG.

It has a neutral flavor. Therefore, you will not taste it in your recipes but it will enhance all the other flavors to give you a delicious dish.

7. Mushrooms

Shiitake Mushroom

You might be surprised to find out that some mushrooms can intensify the flavor of your meals, and therefore, successfully replace the classic MSG. The best mushrooms to replace MSG are the Shiitake mushrooms.

They have a high concentration of glutamate which makes them delicious and efficient in enhancing the flavors of other ingredients in your food.

You will not be able to add these mushrooms to all your dishes. However, they go great in stews and soups and you can even use them in certain salads.

8. Anchovies

Caesar Salad with Anchovies

Anchovies are also a great ingredient to add to your food if you don’t want to use MSG or if you don’t have it in your kitchen. They also bring an umami taste to foods and enrich the rest of the ingredients in your recipe.

However, be careful how much you use because it can be quite salty. It is recommended to skip the salt altogether if you add Anchovies.

You can use anchovies in different sauces or as a topping for pizza and pasta. They work great in sandwiches too. And if you like the fishy, salty flavor you can use them in a variety of recipes. 

9. Salt

Table salt

It might sound basic to replace MSG with salt but it can actually work pretty well for your recipes. Needless to say that you can add salt in all recipes according to your taste.

Also, you most likely would have added salt. But if you are missing the MSG you might want to add a pinch more. Salt acts as an activator in cooked and cold foods equally, so it will boost any flavors you have in your food to give you a better-tasting dish.

10. Oyster sauce

Oyster sauce

Oyster sauce will not be everyone’s choice. However, if you happen to like it, know that it can replace MSG just fine in most dishes. You can use oyster sauce as much you find suitable according to your taste but also according to the dish you are preparing.

This sauce can come in different flavors and you can even find spicy types on the market. You can use oyster sauce in dishes such as salads, soups, or different other sauces you want to put together.

11. Flavored oil


If you like flavored oil, you should know that it can be a great alternative to MGS. Especially if you want to give your salads a special taste.

You can use flavored sunflower oil, flavored sesame oil, or any other types of oils and you will not regret it. Flavored oil comes in garlic, chili, or even mushroom flavors and will definitely make your food have a better and distinct taste.

12. Herb mix


If you are missing all the substitutes above you can use the basics in your kitchen such as herb mixes. Find a combination of herbs you like and add it to your omelet, stew, soup, or even your salad to give it a richer flavor.

You can add as much as you like in order to enjoy your food the most. These herb combinations are easy to make at home but you can buy different mixes already made as well.

Can You Leave MSG Out of a Recipe?

MSG is a crystal powder meant to enhance the flavor of your food but it doesn’t bring any other benefits to your dishes.

This is why you can definitely skip it from all your recipes and pick a healthier alternative. Choose one replacement from the options above and you might not feel the need to add MSG to your food again.


MSG might boost the taste of your food. However, if you can skip it, you would definitely enjoy much healthier meals.

It is approved by the FDA. However, it is recommended to not overuse it as it is not a natural ingredient and doesn’t bring any nutrition to your body. Use one of the options above and you will have tasty dishes without this crystal powder.

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