Umami Paste 101: What is it, How to Make it & More!

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Umami Paste

Ever taken a bite of something and been left with an explanation sensation in your mouth?

Perhaps a savoury and meaty taste despite there being now meat in whatever you’ve eaten?

If that sounds familiar to you, then you have just experienced the little known 5th taste sensation: Umami.

Umami has been a thing since 1908 when a Japanese chemist, Kikunae Ikeda, coined the term. It roughly translates to “pleasant Savory taste”.

Since its founding, it has long been a matter of debate as to whether Umami is in fact a basic taste. In modern times, Umami is recognised by most as the fabled 5th taste

Umami is savory, silky and extremely rich. When used correctly, it can add a whole new level of flavour to a dish.

Umami is meaty, earthy and salty and it’s worth remembering that a little will go a long, long way.

But how do you go about adding an Umami flavour to your dishes?

Well one way is to use Umami Paste.

What is Umami Paste?

Umami paste is a collection of ingredients that are umami-rich and contain glutamate.

Foods such as soy sauce, mushrooms, tomato paste, seaweed, anchovies, black olives, miso, parmesan cheese are all great examples of ingredients that can be combined together to make a Umami paste.

Think of umami paste as a highly concentrated hit of umami flavour that can be added to any dish to create real depth.

What is Umami Paste made of?

A standard collection of ingredients used to created Umami pasta will consist of:

  • Anchovy paste
  • Tomato paste
  • Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • Olive Oil
  • Mushrooms (preferable Shitake)
  • Miso Paste
  • Soy Sauce
  • Fish Sauce
  • Black Olives

You can really use any combination of ingredients that are rich in umami flavour and that boast a high glutamate content.

Umami Mushrooms

What Can You Use Umami Paste For?

Umami paste can be used to add layers upon layers of flavour to any dish. It is most commonly used in pasta dishes, casseroles, dips, marinades, stews or chilis.

What is a substitute for Umami Paste?

So there isn’t really a substitute for the rich flavour that an umami paste delivers. However, if you find yourself without any umami paste in stock, then you can just as easily make your own!

Take a look around your kitchen using the information we have provided above and try to spot ingredients you could combine. Or, follow our guide below to making your own umami paste.

Is Umami Paste the same as miso?

No, umami pasta is not the same as Miso. In fact, Umami paste often includes miso paste as one of the ingredients used to achieve the rich, deep flavour.

Whilst both being japanese in origin, Miso pasta is made from fermented soybeans, salt and a culture named Koji. Discover more about miso paste here.

Umami paste in a stew

Is Umami Paste the same as MSG?

Kinda but not really. Both MSG and Umami paste use the same molecule, an amino acid named glutamate, to deliver the same taste experience. However, they are quite different in their appearance.

MSG is often sold in a similar fashion to salt and can be sprinkled onto food either during the cooking process or just after. Umami paste on the other hand is a paste like substance that is recommended to be used during the cooking process.

Where To Buy Umami Paste?

Umami paste can be purchased at a number of places within the UK.

Sainsburys – Umami Paste 90g – £2
Morrisons – Umami Paste 120g – £2
Tesco – Umami Paste 100g- £1.50
Waitrose – Umami Paste 95g – £2.25

You can also purchase umami paste on Amazon and we have collated the best deals for you right here:

Waitrose Umami Paste

Clearspring Umami Paste

Taste 5 Umami Paste

Can You Freeze Umami Paste?

Yes you absolutely can free umami paste. We’d recommend portioning the paste out into an ice cube tray and freezing it in the freezer. It will generally last about 3 months before it will start to lose some of the flavour.

Umami paste can also be stored in the refrigerator and will generally last about 3 – 4 weeks.

How to make Umami Paste

Here we will show you exactly how to make your own, homemade umami paste. We tend to use a mini chopper to blend all the ingredients together and then store the paste in an air tight, kilner jar.

Umami Paste Recipe

Umami Paste ingredients

1 Tablespoon of Anchovy paste
1 Tablespoon of Tomato paste
3 Tablespoons of Grated Parmesan Cheese
2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
3 Finely Chopped Mushrooms (preferable Shitake)
½ Teaspoon of Miso Paste
1 Teaspoon of Soy Sauce
1 Teaspoon of Fish Sauce
1 Teaspoon of Black Olives finely chopped.

Method for Making Umami Paste:

  1. Combine all of your ingredients into a mini chopper
  2. Pulse intermittently until all of your ingredients have combined and a smooth paste has been formed.
  3. Season your paste to taste with salt and pepper
  4. Empty the paste out of your mini chopper into a air-tight jar.
Andy Canter


Ever since I started cooking I’ve been fascinated by how different people’s techniques are and how they best utilise the ingredients around them. Even the person living next door will have their own unique way of frying an egg or cooking a salmon fillet.

This fascination led me on a journey across the globe to discover the countless practices and traditions the world of cooking has to offer. I thought you’d enjoy and find value in sharing that journey with me so I created Cooked Best!