Vegan Cooking: How To Add Umami Flavours To Plant-Based Meals

The umami flavour profile, sometimes called the "fifth taste," is essential to vegan and non-vegan dishes alike. Japanese scientist Kikunae Ikeda first used the word in 1908. It means "savouriness" or "deliciousness" in English. When combined with salty, sweet, sour, and bitter flavours, it gives dishes a whole new dimension. Mastering the art of umami is vital for making flavorful, filling foods. 

An amino acid found in many meals, including many plant-based substances, glutamic acid or glutamate is the fundamental source of umami. It originates from a variety of plant-based sources, however it is often linked with savoury foods like meats and cheeses. Vegan recipes may still have depth and enjoyment thanks to these glutamate-rich components, show that umami can be achieved without animal products. 

Understanding what vegan umami is and how to use it is equally as important as being able to replicate savoury flavours. These vegan, umami-rich ingredients, such as sun-dried tomatoes and seaweed, take regular recipes to the next level. This changes everything, redefining how we can eat delicious, filling food that doesn't contain any animal products. 

What To Add 

Balsamic Vinegar 

The umami flavour profile of aged balsamic vinegar is nuanced and layered, with notes of sweetness and tang. Drizzling it over roasted veggies or mixing it into salad dressings brings out the best in the vegetables' inherent flavours.  

Fermented Vegetables  

Their rich, acidic flavour characteristic complements a wide variety of foods. They provide a delicious fermented flavour to sandwiches, salads, or as a tasty side dish.  

Green Tea 

Green tea has a delicate umami flavour that complements the taste. Its subtle depth of flavour fits well with other components and makes it ideal as a cooking liquid for grains or soup base. 


Mushrooms have a strong umami flavour that is earthy and rich. Their adaptability makes them ideal for a wide variety of dishes, including vegan burgers, stews, and gravies. You may use them in place of meat in a lot of recipes because of their meaty feel. 

Nutritional Yeast 

Vegans love nutritional yeast for its cheesy and nutty flavour. Sprinkling it on popcorn, salads, scrambles, and other foods brings out their savoury flavours. The cheese's versatility makes it a favourite for vegan dishes that call for a cheesy taste. 


Olives are a great way to add umami flavour to vegan dishes because of their unique salty and savoury flavour. In addition to topping vegan pizzas like this focaccia pie with flavour, they are a flexible addition to pastas and salads. Spreads made with them may bring out a particular umami flavour in a number of meals thanks to their salty and slight bitterness. 


Seaweed is a one-of-a-kind source of umami due to the salinity and marine flavour it possesses. It is delicious whether used in vegan sushi, soups, or as a crunchy snack, and it provides a flavour of the sea without the use of any fish. 


Toasted tomatoes, whether they are sun-dried or cooked, are an excellent source of umami. Their flavour, which is both sweet and powerful, has the ability to improve pasta sauces, vegan pizzas, and soups, giving a richness that enhances the overall profile of the meal. 

How To Enhance Vegan Cooking

In vegan cuisine, getting the umami flavour out of foods isn't as simple as picking the appropriate ones; it also depends on cooking methods. To make plant-based recipes taste even more umami, try slow roasting, caramelising, or fermenting.