This sweet and tangy miso dressing can be served with a salad, as a dipping sauce, or as a seasoning for your favorite protein. It’s an easy recipe that only requires 6 ingredients and can be served in as little as 5 minutes total time – no blender needed!
What is Miso Dressing
Miso dressing is a simple blend of Japanese miso paste, rice vinegar, sesame oil and salad oil. The taste is umami, sweet and a little tart. While most commonly served as a salad dressing for greens, think of miso dressing more like an all-purpose dressing / sauce / marinade that can be used a thousand ways.
This creamy miso dressing is dairy-free and vegetarian.
How to Use Miso Dressing
Here are a few ideas on the many ways you can use homemade miso dressing in your own kitchen.
- Salad Dressing: Drizzle over a simple, fresh tossed green salad – or something heartier like a salad with tuna steak, potatoes and green beans.
- Sauce For Grain Bowls or Buddha Bowls: Use for a Japanese donburi (rice bowl), or add a pop of flavor to a healthy farro bowl. Sometimes I use a drizzle on top of this vegetarian chirashi sushi.
- Marinade: Use this simple homemade dressing as a full flavored marinade for fish, tofu, chicken, etc. Simply place your protein in a food storage bag, add the dressing, seal and store in the fridge. Obviously, the longer you marinade your protein, the stronger the flavor when you fire up the grill or sauté pan.
- Dressing for Noodles: I love noodle salads. Especially when using chewy buckwheat soba noodles. Check out this soba salad with miso dressing and fresh ginger.
- Stir Fry Sauce: Sear your veggies, protein and a garlic clove or two in a wok, then stir in this dressing as a fully composed sauce.
Miso Salad Dressing Ingredients
- Olive Oil: I’m using first press extra virgin olive oil. Most wafu (Japanese style) dressings call for vegetable oil – but I find that good quality olive oil has a delicate herbaceous fruitiness that compliments this dressing more than a neutral salad oil.
- Rice Vinegar: Plain rice vinegar imparts a mild sweetness you won’t get from red wine or white wine vinegars. There’s also a nice hit of tartness that dances around the edges. Rice vinegar is one of those Japanese pantry staples you’ll use all the time. Pick up a bottle at your local shop – or grab rice vinegar on Amazon.
- Miso Paste: The earthy savoriness and umami two tablespoons of miso paste brings to this dressing can’t be overstated. In fact, there’s so much flavor imparted by the miso paste alone, there’s no need for added salt or soy sauce in this mixture at all. We’ll take a closer look at miso paste in just a second.
- Sugar: A little sugar plays nice with the tart sweetness from the rice vinegar. Vegans should use raw sugar instead of granulated sugar. And if you’re following a low-sugar diet, feel free to omit this ingredient – or use monk fruit sweetener instead.
- Sesame Oil: The addition of toasted sesame oil not only introduces a wonderful nuttiness to the dressing, it also elevates the umami of the miso paste. But a little goes a long way. I use 2 teaspoons max for this miso salad dressing recipe.
- Black Pepper: You’ll get little pops of sharp heat and pine from adding pepper to this miso dressing. If you can, use fresh cracked pepper. If not, the stuff from the shaker does nicely as well.
What is Miso Paste
Miso paste is soybeans fermented with rice koji (or sometimes barley koji).
- This thick paste is commonly used in Japanese recipes for its umami, earthy flavors.
- Miso is an integral ingredient in miso soup – and in recipes like nasu dengaku among many others.
- Read all about miso paste here.
There are three main types of miso paste:
- Red (umami, salty and punchy) 赤味噌
- White (mildly savory with a hint of sweetness) 白味噌
- Awase / Mixed (a flavor forward mixture of red and white miso) 合わせ味噌
I prefer using white miso paste or awase miso (mixed miso) in this delicate Japanese salad dressing recipe. Both provide just enough savoriness – without overpowering the sharpness of the rice vinegar.
Where to Buy Miso Paste
Luckily, miso paste is fairly easy to track down these days. Of course you can choose from numerous brands and different types of miso paste at most Asian grocery stores. But in the past decade even Western grocery stores typically have a few containers in the refrigerated cases around the fresh veggies or with the dairy. And, if you want to keep it easy, you can always grab miso paste on Amazon.
How to Make Miso Dressing (Easy Instructions)
- Gather all of your cooking tools and ingredients.
- Place all of your measured ingredients into a wide-mouth bowl.
- Whisk until creamy.
- Serve immediately – or place in a jar the fridge until ready to use. Shake well if separation occurs.
How to Store Leftover Dressing
- Store leftover miso dressing in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 month.
- Separation will likely occur. Simply take the dressing container out of the refrigerator 5 minutes before you want to use it – and shake well (or whisk) until re-emulsified and serve.
Since this homemade dressing has such a long shelf life, I typically make more than I’ll need on purpose and bank the rest in the fridge. But since we use it all the time, no matter how much I make, it never lasts long!
That’s OK though. I can just whip up a new batch in less than 5 mins of prep time.
And check out these other delicious and easy Japanese salad recipes
Have you tried this miso dressing recipe? Are there changes you made that you would like to share? Share your tips and recommendations in the comments section below!Print
This sweet and tangy miso dressing can be served with a salad or as a seasoning for your favorite protein! Only 6 ingredients needed!
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 0 minutes
- Total Time: 5 minutes
- Yield: about 2/3 cup 1x
- Category: Sauce
- Method: Whisking
- Cuisine: Japanese
- Diet: Vegetarian
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoon white or awase miso paste
- 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- Ground black pepper to taste
- Put all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk until creamy.
- Refrigerate in a jar or airtight storage container for up to 1 month.
- Serving Size: about 2 tablespoons
- Calories: 110
- Sugar: 1.4g
- Sodium: 0.2mg
- Fat: 11.2g
- Saturated Fat: 1.5g
- Unsaturated Fat: 1.6g
- Trans Fat: 0g
- Carbohydrates: 2.9g
- Fiber: 0.3g
- Protein: 0.7g
- Cholesterol: 0mg
Keywords: Vinaigrette, marinade