8 Easy and Delicious Ways to Cook with Umami

8 Easy and Delicious Ways to Cook with Umami

How to cook with umami

Ever wonder why just a little tomato paste gives your stew and oh-so-meaty flavor? Or why shiitakes bring your ramen to the next level?

It’s all about umami.

Umami is the fifth taste, savory — the others are sweet, salty, sour and bitter — and it’s the hearty, almost meaty taste you find in some foods. Umami flavor often comes from glutamates, which are naturally found in a range of foods, including tomatoes and mushrooms.

Cooking with ingredients that have plenty of umami is the key to delicious home cooking. And we’ve got eight umami-loaded recipes you need to try. 


Tomato and Roasted Red Pepper Spread

This is it: The spread you’ll want to slather over everything. Tomatoes and red peppers are naturally loaded with glutamates, and cooking them down concentrates their flavor even more. The result is a rich spread seasoned with smoky paprika, plus garlic and onion to round out the flavor. Serve it with chips or crudite for an irresistible app. 


Chipotle Umami Butter

Meet the easiest way to add umami to any dish! Compound butter — the fancy term for butter mixed with seasonings — provides an instant flavor upgrade. This version gets its umami flavor from chipotle chili powder, garlic and Marmite Yeast Extract Spread. Serve it over still-sizzling steak, crispy roast potatoes and soft, warm dinner rolls for the ultimate cozy night in. 


Umami Vegetable Sauté with Tarragon and White Wine

Veggies are a prime source of umami flavor, and this vegetable sauté proves that simple recipes can be delicious. Tomatoes, mushrooms, carrots, asparagus and celery add subtly sweet umami flavors to the dish, as well as a medley of textures to keep your tastebuds guessing. Tarragon and garlic ground the dish with more savory flavor and make this a versatile side that works with almost any main. 


Glazed Salmon and Vegetables

There’s nothing like a sheet pan meal when you need to get dinner on the table quickly. And this recipe gets a hefty dose of umami from a soy-miso glaze. Soy and miso are both staple seasonings in Japanese cuisine, and both provide depth of flavor as well as pleasant saltiness. With a total prep and cook time of just 40 minutes, this dish is ideal for when you need an elevated weeknight meal.


Pork and Broccolini Stir Fry with Italian Style XO Sauce

Every cuisine from around the globe relies on umami-rich ingredients for flavor — so why not take inspiration from multiple cuisines at once? This puts an Italian twist on Xo sauce, a staple sauce in Hong Kong, by including anchovy paste, garlic paste and prosciutto ham. The pork adds even more meatiness, the polenta adds comforting flavor, and the broccolini adds pleasant crunch. 


Tofu Noodle Bowl with Vegetarian Xo Sauce

Of course, you don’t need meat to create a meal with meaty umami flavor, and this plant-based dish is sure to please. It recreates traditional Xo sauce — usually made with shrimp and scallops — using umami-packed shiitake mushrooms, along with aromatic spices, soy sauce, honey and garlic. Make a big batch of sauce to enjoy these noodle bowls for dinner, and spoon the sauce over fried eggs the next morning. 


Miso Caramel Glazed Pork Skewers

Sweet or savory? With this recipe, you don’t need to choose! Earthy red miso provides an unexpected flavor base for a homemade caramel glaze, which infuses this pork with sweet and salty flavor notes. Plus, the sugar caramelizes and blackens as the pork grills, creating those crispy edges you love!


Miso Caramel Oatmeal Whoopie Pies

Umami isn’t just for dinner — it’s also for dessert. And these miso caramel whoopie pies put an unexpected twist on a childhood favorite. Miso caramel oatmeal cookies perfectly balance sweet and salty notes, with just a hint of savory flavor, while the homemade vanilla cream filling is irresistibly light and fluffy. If you're craving an iced treat, replace the filling with vanilla ice cream for homemade ice cream sandwiches.

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