17 Ways to Make the Most Out of Miso (2024)

As jars in your fridge go, miso reigns supreme in terms of versatility. (Not to mention longevity—most misos can keep up for a year.) Miso’s there whenever you want to add a complex flavor to whatever you're cooking. It can be kind of sweet. It can be kind of salty. It's always packed with umami. To be honest, it can improve almost any dish. But here are a few options if you're not sure what to do with this powerhouse.

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What Is Miso, and How Do I Choose the Right One for What I’m Cooking?

1. Stir it into soup

This mellow, earthy, Japanese classic is a super easy dinner when you’re short on time and want something healthy. Soft tofu contributes protein and richness. But miso can also add deeper flavor to any soup you're making—it has a natural affinity for squash, for example.

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Miso Soup

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2. Boost your broiled fish

Mix miso with sesame oil, spread it on fish filets, and broil the filets to make a shiny glaze that lightens and funks up a fatty fish like salmon.

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Miso-Glazed Salmon Skewers

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3. Mash it into potatoes

Food Director Rhoda Boone has the drop on more flavorful mashed potatoes: While heating the milk or cream that you’re using for the mash, whisk in some miso.

4. Use it to glaze vegetables

After sautéing vegetables like carrots or Brussels sprouts, add equal parts miso and butter at the end for a buttery finishing touch. Or follow the recipe below to cook your vegetables in a miso glaze.

5. Whisk it into salad dressing

Mix rice vinegar, miso, and sesame oil for an easy dressing that’s equally as great on roasted vegetables or in noodle bowls.

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Sesame-Miso Vinaigrette

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6. Make it a mayo

Take ¼ cup of mayo and add ½ teaspoon of miso paste and a teaspoon of lemon juice. Top sandwiches with it, or use it to make some crazy-good chicken salad.

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Sweet Potato Tempura and Steak Sandwich with Bok Choy and Miso Mayo

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7. Make it a mustard

Combine Chinese hot mustard or Dijon with a hearty helping of miso and mirin (a sweetened Japanese rice wine). Once it's ready, miso mustard can be just as versatile as plain old miso. Use it as a sauce for fish, sandwiches, or even with soft pretzels.

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Grilled Sea Bass with Miso-Mustard Sauce

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8. Butter your toast with it

Make a compound butter by mixing miso paste into softened butter, then use for a funky fresh switch-up on your morning toast.

9. Add it to your clam chowder

Potatoes. Cream. Yawn. If your clam chowder isn’t inspiring you, you have the power to change that. As you add potatoes and stock to simmer, whisking in two tablespoons of miso gives the chowder a deeper, earthier flavor twist.

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Miso Clam Chowder

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10. Make a fruity pork glaze

Combine fruit preserves, miso, vinegar, and other aromatics and cook until thickened. Brush over a pork tenderloin before putting it in the oven.

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Roast Pork Tenderloin with Apricot-Miso Glaze

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11. Fold it into crab salad

Miso can be sweet, savory, and super smooth...just like crab. Combine the two to make a great toast topping.

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Hot Miso Crab

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12. Soup up your butterscotch sauce

In her Milk Bar Life cookbook, Christina Tosi explains how to cook miso until caramelized, and then add it to butter and sugar to make a “butterscotch” sauce. The result is great on ice cream.

13. Make miso pasta

A little miso goes a long way, and really makes over some elements in pasta. For a richer, more developed carbonara, stir miso into the eggs and add the mixture as you’re finishing the dish.

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Miso Carbonara with Broccoli Rabe and Red-Pepper Flakes

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14. Caramelize it into butter

Cook miso in a pan for 3 minutes or until caramelized. Add knobs of butter little by little and stir until it forms a sauce. Use this for hearty greens like collards or bok choy.

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Sautéed Collard Greens with Caramelized Miso Butter

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15. Improve your dip

Combine tofu and miso to thicken and enhance the flavor of a sour cream-based dip.

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Miso-Tofu Ranch Dip

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16. Rub it on a turkey

Most common complaint about turkey: it’s dry and boring. Rubbing the bird over with some miso paste, while taking away some of the final golden brown color, changes that dry stereotype.

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Miso-Rubbed Turkey with Turkey Gravy

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17. Add it to ice cream

Go to one of the leading ice cream vendors in the country—you’ll see a healthy helping of savory-tinged ice cream flavors. Adding just two tablespoons gives your ice cream base a touch of umami. Too much work? You could always heat up the miso and thin it out with just a little water for serving on top of store-bought ice cream. Use sweeter white miso varieties like shiro miso.

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White Miso Peach/Pear/Apple

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Editor’s note: As part of our archive repair project, this article has been updated to remove language that exoticizes a common ingredient.

17 Ways to Make the Most Out of Miso (2024)
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