One of the best parts about dining at a Japanese restaurant might be the amuse-bouche: The complimentary miso soup appetizer that kickstarts the delicious meal. Warm, earthy, and salty-sweet, this umami-scented dish is as soothing as they come, all thanks to one of the greatest of ingredients, miso paste.
Miso is a fermented soybean product that is said to have originated in China; it made its way to Japan around the seventh century. Today, this ingredient has become a globally-celebrated staple that can be used in everything from entrees to desserts. What’s more, miso is packed with gut health perks that will add a touch of toasty savoriness and microbiome-balancing benefits to just about any dish.
Here, we’ve compiled a list of eight miso recipe ideas loaded with gut-boosting benefits—from miso grilled cheese sandwiches to creamy ramen to chocolate chip cookies—to satisfy your every mood. You’ll also find a breakdown of the types of miso you have to choose from, and the many health benefits you’ll reap when blissfully scarfing (or slurping) each one.
The three main types of miso
To make miso, soybeans are fermented in a mixture of salt and edible mold (Aspergillus oryzae), also known as koji. Depending on the length of the miso’s fermentation process and the ratio of ingredients used, you can create the three most popular forms of miso: white, yellow, and red.
White miso is the most delicate and mild-in-flavor of the bunch, making it ideal for adding subtle notes of sweet savoriness to dishes like salad dressings or desserts. This pale-colored miso is made using less salt and has a shorter fermentation period than the other two kinds. Next up is yellow miso, which is slightly stronger in flavor and ranges from light yellow to pale brown in color. It’s fermented longer than the white miso but still won’t overpower the taste of sauces or soups. And last but not least, red miso, the saltiest and most robust of them all. It’s fermented for the longest time, and can add the strong signature umami miso flavor to dishes like ramen or marinated salmon.
The health benefits of miso
Where to even begin? “One reason fermented foods like miso benefit the gut because is because they contain probiotics,” registered dietitian Erica Ingraham, RD, previously shared with Well+Good. “Probiotics are helpful live bacteria that are associated with a range of health benefits including reduced inflammation, healthy digestion, and supporting healthy immune system function. Miso [also] contains a range of B vitamins, including vitamin B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), and B9 (folate).” These B vitamins are linked to supporting healthy brain function and the nervous system. Finally, Ingraham notes that miso is loaded with vitamin K, which can help with wound healing as well as keeping bones strong and healthy as you age.
8 gut-friendly miso recipe ideas perfect for any (and every) time of day
1. Miso Butter Grilled Cheese Sandwich
When you think a grilled cheese sandwich couldn’t get any better, this recipe by Half Baked Harvest will quickly change your mind. The super simple recipe is made with spicy miso butter that’s a real game-changer. The creamy butter is slathered over slices of sourdough bread, topped with smoky Gouda, buttery Monterey Jack cheese, and then grilled to perfection. When you’re in the mood to quickly give your ordinary grilled cheese a mighty and gut-friendly upgrade, this recipe is it.
Get the recipe: Miso Butter Grilled Cheese
2. Miso Hummus with Crispy Onion Furikake
A play on a traditional hummus recipe, this version takes it a step further with nutrient-packed ingredients like sesame, fiber-rich seaweed, and miso. To make this hummus even tastier, I Am A Food Blog blends white miso and chickpeas together for a velvety texture and extra probiotic benefits. To garnish the dip, the recipe also calls for a sprinkling of homemade furikake, a flavor-enhancing traditional Japanese condiment made with ingredients like sesame seeds, nori (toasted seaweed), and bonito flakes (dried fish flakes).
Get the recipe: Miso Hummus with Crispy Onion Furikake
3. Creamy Sesame Miso Ramen
One of our favorite miso recipe ideas is, of course, miso soup. Rich, creamy, and noodle-y, this hearty ramen by Half Baked Harvest checks all the boxes for the ideal quick-to-cook comforting meal to enjoy at home. The recipe features a miso-infused broth with ingredients like crispy mushrooms, jammy eggs, and vitamin-packed carrots. And if you weren’t sold already, it can be made using your handy dandy Instant Pot in under 30 minutes.
Get the recipe: 30 Minute Creamy Sesame Miso Ramen with Crispy Mushrooms
4. Secret Ingredient Peanut Butter Stuffed Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie
The not-so-secret ingredient that transforms this simple chocolate chip cookie into something out of this world good is—*drumroll please*—miso. Tieghan Gerard of Half Baked Harvest reveals that the fermented paste adds the ideal amount of saltiness to help balance the sweetness of this decadent cookie.
5. Miso Chocolate Peanut Butter Cornflake Bars
Gimme Some Oven nails it with these crunchy, chewy, and sweet-savory peanut butter cornflake bars. With just a handful of ingredients and zero baking required, this sweet and nutty concoction is perfect for the hot summer months when you can’t even fathom the thought of cranking on the oven. Additionally, Ali from Gimme Some Oven offers several ways to modify this easy recipe to turn it vegan, gluten-free, and nut-free.
Get the recipe: Miso Chocolate Peanut Butter Cornflake Bars
6. Stone Fruit Cucumber Salad with Golden Balsamic Miso Vinaigrette
With stone fruit season on its way and cucumbers at their peak ripeness, this springtime-y recipe is vibrant, refreshing, and loaded with antioxidants. Bojon Gourmet brings together a showstopping assortment of beautifully colored ingredients like peaches, plums, and leafy purslane greens and tops it off with a tangy miso-balsamic vinaigrette.
7. Cheesy Miso Stuffed Mushrooms
Have a last-minute get-together? We’ve got you covered. These seven-ingredient cheesy miso stuffed mushrooms by I Am A Food Blog are the perfect hor d’oeuvres to get the party started. The centers of the shrooms are filled with a gooey cream cheese, mayo, and miso mixture that melts in your mouth with every bite.
Get the recipe: Cheesy Miso Stuffed Mushrooms
8. Gut-Calming Miso Tonic
Stomach feeling a little… off? This soothing vegetable broth features gut-friendly ingredients like ginger, celery, and seaweed, to help mitigate any gastrointestinal woes. Minimalist Baker also mixes in a three-ingredient tonic made with miso (she uses chickpea miso here), green onions, and black pepper to the vegetable broth for added microbiome-boosting benefits.
Get the recipe: Gut-Calming Vegetable Broth (+ Miso Tonic)
If you’re in search of miso recipe ideas that are also great for immunity, look no further than this easy-to-make broth:
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