Our Favorite New Use for Miso Paste Has Nothing to Do with Soup

updated Jun 19, 2019
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Credit: Kelli Foster

Here at Kitchn we’re not shy about our love for miso, the fermented soybean paste known for its starring role in miso soup. It’s our best friend for a flavorful fish marinade, our secret weapon for umami-packed mushrooms, and the key to the best 10-minute Broccolini.

But we recently discovered what might be the very best use for it yet — and we think it might surprise you.

Credit: Mia Yakel/Kitchn

Miso Paste Is the Secret to More Flavorful Veggie Burgers That Won’t Fall Apart

If you’ve ever tried to make your own veggie burgers, you know all too well they can be a chore. Most recipes call for a long ingredient list and result in patties that fall apart — unless you’re incredibly careful and cook them on the stovetop (don’t even think about grilling them). These truths have irritated me for years. Shouldn’t they be as easy to make as beef burgers? Thankfully, on my quest to create a foolproof, grill-able veggie burger, I discovered an ingenious tip from Mark Bittman’s cookbook How to Cook Everything Vegetarian: Use miso paste as a veggie burger binder.

One of the biggest struggles with homemade veggie burgers is that the main ingredients — vegetables or beans — don’t bind into sturdy patties without some help. That’s where the miso paste comes in. Instead of calling on ingredients like eggs, flour, or breadcrumbs for reinforcement — which often result in heavy burgers that still crumble — thick and sticky miso paste binds the ingredients together like a dream.

At first I was worried miso would make the patties too salty. In reality, the paste’s umami richness gave them tons of balanced flavor. My patties made with miso paste were sturdy enough to toss on the grill, without fear of pieces falling through the cracks. Plus, opting for miso paste instead of eggs or breadcrumbs means the veggie burgers are vegan — and if you use gluten-free miso, they’re gluten-free, too.

Give this tip a try with our Ultimate Veggie Burger for Grilling. Or, use miso in place of the binder in your favorite veggie burger recipe.