13 Best MSG Substitutes

MSG is a flavor enhancer that can be found in many foods, including Chinese food. It’s also known as monosodium glutamate and it’s used to enhance flavors in your favorite dishes.

But it might not be so good for your health. You should also know there are other ways to get that delicious flavor without using MSG. We have the information you need right here!

There are plenty of great alternatives that will satisfy your cravings without compromising your health or taste buds. Check out our list below for some tasty MSG substitutes.

What is MSG?

MSG is a flavor enhancer that is used to add flavor to food. It is made up of sodium, glutamate, and water. Glutamate is an amino acid, which is the building block of protein.

MSG is used in many different foods, including Chinese food, processed meats, and salad dressings. It is also found in some natural foods, such as tomatoes and cheese.

There are some people who believe that MSG can be bad for your health. MSG is known to cause some people to have a reaction called “Chinese restaurant syndrome.” This reaction can cause headaches, flushing, and a feeling of heaviness in the chest.

13 Best MSG Substitutes

1. Beef Stock

Beef stock is a dark-colored liquid that has the taste and aroma of beef. It also includes gelatin, fat, seasonings, which are used to deepen the rich flavor.

Beef stock is a great flavor enhancer that can be used instead of MSG. It will give your dish a rich flavor without the potential health risks. This flavorful ingredient can be used in soups, stews, and sauces.

2. Soy Sauce

Soy Sauce

Soy sauce is another option for those who are looking to add flavor without MSG. Many people like to use soy sauce because it is made with natural ingredients and it also contains minerals like magnesium, which is good for your bones.

Make sure to check the label on your bottle, though, because soy sauce does contain naturally occurring glutamate.

3. Dulse

Dulse is a seaweed that is used as a seasoning. It has a smoky, savory taste, which makes it perfect for adding flavor to soups and seafood dishes.

It’s a healthy ingredient that works as a flavor enhancer and has a slightly sweet taste. You can also use dulse flakes, which are made from dehydrated dulse leaves. They are great for adding to salads or putting on top of dishes for a bit of flavor.

4. Parmesan Cheese

Parmesan Cheese Substitutes

Parmesan cheese is a type of hard, grated cheese that is made from cow’s milk. It has a nutty, savory taste and it is perfect for adding to pasta dishes, soups, and salads.

Parmesan cheese is a good source of protein, calcium, and phosphorous. It’s also lactose-free, which is great for people who are lactose intolerant.

5. Cheddar Cheese

Cheddar cheese can also be a wonderful substitute for MSG, in addition to Parmesan cheese.

Cheddar cheese is a type of cheese that has a creamy texture and it tastes perfect on salads or in pasta dishes. You can even add it to soups or hamburgers to give them that delicious cheddar taste.

Cheddar cheese is good for your bones because it contains calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D. It also helps to lower cholesterol levels.

6. Mushrooms

Mushrooms are not only great for adding flavor but they are also healthy for you! They can be used in many different dishes, such as pasta dishes, salads, and soup.

The best mushrooms to use in place of MSG are the Shiitake mushrooms. Mushrooms have a savory taste and they work great as a flavor enhancer. They have a smoky, earthy flavor and they work well in Asian dishes.

Mushrooms are also a good source of vitamin D, B vitamins, and minerals like zinc and selenium.

7. Yeast Extract

If you are looking for a savory, umami flavor, yeast extract is the perfect ingredient to use. Yeast extract is a type of condiment that is made from yeast cells. It has a strong, savory taste and it is often used in place of MSG.

Some people are turned off by the smell of yeast extract, but it has a wonderful flavor and can be used in soups, stews, and gravies.

It is nutritious and contains 8 grams of protein in one tablespoon. It also has high levels of B vitamins and minerals like magnesium, iron, copper, manganese, zinc, and selenium.

8. Anchovies

Anchovy Substitutes

Anchovies are small, saltwater fish that is often used in Italian and Mediterranean cuisine. They have a strong, salty taste and they are perfect for adding to pasta dishes, salads, and pizza.

Anchovies are also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. They work well as a flavor enhancer and can be used in place of MSG.

9. Oyster Sauce

Oyster sauce is a type of sauce that is made from oysters. It has a salty, savory taste and it is often used in Chinese cuisine.

It is a great substitute for MSG because it has a similar flavor. Oyster sauce also contains minerals like zinc and selenium. It is a good source of protein and it is low in fat and carbs.

10. Various Herbs and Spices

Many types of herbs and spices can add flavor to your dishes without MSG. Some common herbs and spices include basil, oregano, peppermint, sage, parsley, thyme, marjoram, salt (sea or kosher), cayenne, and nutmeg.

Herbs and spices not only add flavor to dishes but also contain various minerals and vitamins for your health. They can reduce blood pressure, fight off illnesses, protect your heart, and improve brain function.

11. Flavored Oil

Substitutes for Vegetable Oil

If you love adding extra flavor to your dishes, flavored oils are a great alternative for MSG.

Flavored oils can be used in place of soy sauce and they add an Italian or Asian flare to any dish. Some popular flavors include saffron-infused olive oil, truffle oil, chili oil, red pepper-infused olive oil, basil pesto oil, and ginger-infused olive oil.

Flavored oils are a healthy way to add flavor to your food and they are low in calories. They are also a good source of monounsaturated fats, which can improve your cholesterol levels.

12. Salt (Sea or Kosher)

Salt is a great way to add flavor to your food without using MSG. It is a natural flavor enhancer and it works well in many different dishes.

Salt can be used in place of soy sauce and it comes in two different varieties, sea salt, and kosher salt.

Sea salt is made from evaporated seawater and it has a milder flavor than kosher salt. Kosher salt is made from ground, dried, and purified salt. It has a stronger flavor than sea salt and it is perfect for flavoring food.

13. Kelp Powder

Kelp powder is a type of seaweed that is often used in place of MSG. It has a strong, salty flavor and is a good source of iodine.

Kelp is also a good source of calcium and vitamin A. It can be used in soups, stews, and sauces to add flavor.

What Does MSG Taste Like?

It makes food taste good! The reason why so many people enjoy MSG is that the flavor enhancer enhances a dish’s natural flavor. Many foods, such as meat and cheese, already have umami in them.

That means when you add MSG to a dish made out of those ingredients it will make them even more delicious—that’s why many people end up craving Chinese food after having it.

Can You Leave MSG Out of a Recipe?

Yes, you can leave MSG out of a recipe and it will still be very tasty. You can also use any of the substitutes mentioned above. However, it is important to note that MSG does not have a strong flavor on its own.

In order for it to work as a flavor enhancer, it needs to be used in conjunction with other ingredients. If you leave MSG out of a dish, the flavor may be slightly different than what you are used to.

Is Salt and Msg the Same?

It is not the same. While MSG does have a salty flavor, it is different from salt. Sodium makes up 12 percent of MSG and according to the Food and Drug Administration, it can often be found in sea salt as well.

You may have noticed that your foods are slightly more flavorful after you added some extra salt to them. It’s because your brain is now associating the salty taste with greater flavor.

When you have MSG, however, the umami makes the natural flavors of the ingredients even stronger. That’s why some people are able to enjoy food more when they use MSG as a flavor enhancer.


There are many different ways to add flavor to your food without using MSG. You can use beef stock, soy sauce, parmesan cheese, herbs and spices, flavored oils, salt, or kelp powder.

Each of these substitutes has its own unique flavor that can enhance your dishes. What are some of your favorite healthy MSG substitutes? Let us know in the comments below!

I’m a passionate food blogger on a journey to become a go-to person who can help others prepare delicious foods. I share recipes, food substitutes, and other cooking tips. Read more about my journey...

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