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 does MSG taste like? MSG is pure umami! It has a strong savory flavor and tastes chickeny and meaty with some salty elements. Even a small amount of MSG can transform your meal from bland and boring to full of savory goodness!

MSG is a bit of a mystery, by itself, it really doesn’t taste like much. It takes a bit like soy sauce with some chickeny and salty elements. But the magic happens when you add it to your meals. MSG is able to a profound amount of savory flavor (aka umami) to your meal in the same way sugar adds sweetness. In this aspect, MSG is similar to Worcestershire sauce and is a fantastic way to bring chillis and bolognese sauce to life!

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. Even KFC includes MSG as one of its secret herbs and spices (don’t tell anyone we told you).
  • 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. You didn’t really think plain old chicken soup could taste that good on its own?
  • Dressings and condiments – Sauces that are added to savory dishes like ketchup, mayonnaise, barbecue sauce, soy sauce, and 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!

Is MSG umami? MSG is 100% umami! Only soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce can come close to MSG in terms of umami. MSG may be the most savory flavor on the entire planet, it instantly adds a rich meaty, and satisfying flavor to any dish it comes in contact with.

Sugar is sweet, and MSG is umami, there is no separating the two. If you want your savory dish to come to life and be supercharged with some umami flavor, then reach for the packet of MSG.

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!

What is the History of MSG and Umami?

Way back in 1908, Dr. Ikeda was tucking into a bowl of a delicious bowl of tofu soup prepared by his wife. He asked her how she was able to produce such an intense savory flavor from just vegetables and tofu. She said the flavor was thanks to dried seaweed called kombu.

This set off a lightbulb in Dr. Ikeda’s head! He started experimenting with kombu and was able to extract a compound, glutamic acid. He decided to taste it and immediately realized that this was the savory flavor he had been searching for. Dr. Ikeda called this flavor umami in homage to the Japanese word umami, meaning delicious. Dr. Ikeda started creating MSG and then founded the company Ajinomoto Group the next year! Ajinomoto Group now has offices in 36 countries and, in 2021, had sales totaling 1.1493 trillion yen ($8 billion)!

Why Is MSG Used in Cooking and Food Manufacturing?

MSG is often used as a flavor enhancer and instantly injects umami flavor into savory dishes. MSG is particularly effective at enhancing the flavor of sauces, chips, fast food, soups, stews, and meat-based dishes.

It is remarkable that a tiny spoon full of MSG can instantly turn bland ketchup into something delicious or take a boring soup and supercharge it with mouthwatering yumminess. Once you start experimenting with MSG and adding it to your meals, it can be hard to stop! Sometimes we got a bit carried away adding MSG to our bolognese sauce and ended up ruining it.

When you add too much MSG to your meals, it can taste a bit like metallic and fake, like a TV dinner or a bag of Doritos. So be careful, start off with a small amount and slowly increase until you hit that sweet spot. You still want your dish to taste fresh and real!

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 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 non thrilling 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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