What Does MSG (Glutamic Acid) Taste Like?

MSG is a food additive used in both food and beverage production. MSG stands for monosodium glutamate and is found in soups, canned tomatoes, deli meats, packaged and processed foods, and some health supplements. In this article, we’ll take a look at what MSG is and whether or not it is bad for your health. We’ll also explain what it tastes like! 

What is Monosodium Glutamate?

MSG is a food additive used in both food and beverage production. It first started being added to food in Japan and the USA in the 1920s and 1930s. MSG has many uses, but these are the most common:

  • It can be used as a flavor enhancer to make processed or canned foods taste better
  • It can be added to soups and sauce
  • It is also sometimes used as an excipient (something that helps bind ingredients together)

The following foods are overflowing with MSG and should be eaten in moderation:

  • Seasonings – MSG is a powerful flavor enhancer and is added to many seasonings, such as taco sauce, to give the meat a deep, richer savory taste.
  • Fast food – MSG is famously used in Chinese restaurants and used in classic dishes such as honey chicken, lemon chicken, and orange chicken.
  • Soups – What is an easy way to make soups more filling and flavorful? Add some MSG! Store-bought chicken soup is jam-packed with MSG.
  • Dressings and condiments – Sauces that are added to savory dishes like ketchup, mayonnaise, barbecue sauce, soy sauce, mustard contain MSG to boost the flavor of the meat.
  • Chips – Chips can taste a bit plain. So many companies and restaurants will add a little MSG. And suddenly, the chips have an incredible savory and salty taste!

MSG plays a big role in why these foods are so yummy. MSG gives these foods a powerful savory flavor that keeps you satisfied and happy for hours. MSG covers your taste buds and lets you taste 100% savoriness!

How Is MSG Made?

MSG is made by fermentation, just like beer or yogurt. To make MSG, corn or sugarcane is fermented, which creates glutamate. The glutamate is then cleaned, crystallized, and dried. And voila, you have MSG!

Why Is MSG Used in Cooking and Food Manufacturing?

MSG has many uses in the food industry. It is often used as a flavor enhancer to make food taste better. When you eat food that has been seasoned with the additive, your taste buds will pick up on the flavor and react to it, making your mouth water and increasing your appetite for more food. Another example of how MSG can be used is when it’s added to canned tomatoes or soups to intensify their flavors. 

What Does MSG Taste Like?

MSG tastes like a soft and gentle salt. It has a deep savory flavor which is classically umami. MSG even tastes meaty and has an earthy flavor. The savory flavor in soy sauce, ketchup, and other dressings is thanks to MSG! 

MSG has a classic umami taste. Umami is characterized by a savory, meaty and earthy flavor. MSG also tastes a little bit like salt. MSG is designed to add richness to foods and not alter them too much. MSG has a purely savory taste that isn’t sweet, salty, or bitter. MSG is pure glutamate. Glutamate has a rich mouth coating savory flavor that leaves you with a feeling of satisfaction. It is found naturally in foods like cheese and meat. MSG can instantly add this satisfying savory taste to any food!

What Are the Health Risks of MSG?

Monosodium glutamate (MSG) has been linked to causing various symptoms, including but not limited to headaches and nausea. MSG can also induce anxiety, numbness, and tingling sensations in some individuals who are sensitive to it; these effects may be caused by MSG interacting with sodium channels on neurons that regulate communication between the brain and spinal cord cells.

See also: Xanthan Gum Taste & Safety. All Of Your Xanthan Gum (E 415) Questions Answered!

Does MSG Taste like Anything?

MSG does not have a strong taste and is similar to a mild salt with a savory flavor. MSG adds a deep umami taste to dishes without altering their flavor profile. MSG is a flavor enhancer that has no distinct flavor on its own.

The average person can’t taste MSG. The flavor of MSG is often described as being similar to the flavor of salt, with some people also describing a metallic taste. Because MSG is an additive in food production, it doesn’t change the taste of the food as much as other ingredients would. 

Does MSG Make Food Taste Good?

MSG makes food taste amazing. MSG has the ability to give any dish a deep and satisfying savory taste. MSG is 100% glutamate which is pure savoriness and can coat your taste buds, leaving you in food heaven. You know that pure joy you experience from a great piece of cheese or meat, a tiny bit of MSG can produce that feeling at any time!

Wouldn’t it be great if you could make any food have a rich, savory flavor? With MSG, it is possible! MSG was designed to enhance the flavor of savory dishes and produce a mouth-coating effect that sends your taste buds into a state of bliss. MSG is pure savoriness, and just a tiny spoonful can turn your bland meal into an unforgettable dining experience.

Can You Eat Straight MSG?

You can eat MSG straight. However, you should not consume 3 grams or more each day. Also, MSG by itself does not have much of a flavor. It tastes like a mild salt with a nonthrilling savory taste. MSG shines when combined with tasty savory dishes and acts as a powerful flavor enhancer.

It is perfectly healthy to eat MSG by itself. However, don’t expect to experience an umami flavor explosion in your mouth. Eating MSG alone is a very bland experience. The notorious flavor enhancer tastes like neutered salt with a savory kick. MSG is not meant to have a strong flavor on its own. Instead, it is meant to enhance whatever dish it is added to without shifting the flavor profile. When added to savory dishes, MSG can enhance the umami taste and give a dish a long-lasting and satisfying umami flavor.

Why Does MSG Smell so Bad?

MSG doesn’t smell bad and, in fact, has zero odor. MSG is like an odorless salt that is a highly effective flavor enhancer. If your MSG has an odor, it may contain moisture or be spoiled by an animal or insect.

MSG is completely odorless! This notorious flavor enhancer has the same texture as salt but has zero smell. MSG does not release any odor molecules into the air. Next time you are at the supermarket, purchase a packet of MSG and sniff it. We bet you won’t be able to smell a thing!


MSG is a flavor enhancer made from fermented crops such as corn and sugarcane. The crops are fermented, creating glutamate, purified, dried, and turned into crystals. MSG by itself has zero odor and a very mild salty and savory taste. However, when it is added to savory dishes, particularly soups, fried meat, and chips, it really shines. A tiny spoonful of MSG can instantly give a dish a rich, satisfying, and long-lasting savory flavor. If you want to boost the umami flavor of your next dish, try adding some MSG, but please consume it in moderation as it can have negative side effects such as headaches and flushing, also known as Chinese Restaurant Syndrome.

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