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Nov 13, 2012 12:58 AM

MSG (monosodium glutamate) and Italian Food


First off, let me say that I cook with MSG in recipes where I think it'll help. Please don't respond with BOO MSG messages or whatever. Anyways, I was wondering if any of you have found it to improve Italian tomato sauces at all (I already assume it can make sauces that include broth taste better).

Thanks in advance,


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  1. I also keep a bag of MSG tucked away in the cupboard, but when making italian food I load up on umami through use of porcini mushrooms or pasted anchovies both of which are sources of natural MSG

    1. MSG like SALT is a flavour enhancer, use as you see fit.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Zalbar

        The main reason I asked is that I'm still relatively new to cooking with MSG. I still haven't figured out exactly where/when it'll enhance the flavor, and when it might harm it.

        1. re: pajiba

          I don't personally use msg so can't help you there. I just don't think it should have the stigma it does.

      2. I use MSG in my cooking, incl. Italian-type dishes.

        But with most Italian dishes I prefer anchovies to get that additional flavor boost and dimension of umami that MSG provides.

        1 Reply
        1. re: ipsedixit

          Right. I tend to use MSG when other options don't make as much sense and/or are more of a hassle than worth. Most italian dishes already have so many potential sources to sneak umami in the old fashioned way that I don't bother. Usually the MSG comes out when I'm whipping something together and it's missing a little something-something when I taste it.

        2. Thanks all! I haven't used anchovy paste yet before except for some Thai recipes that call for it. Anchovies I already just throw in... well, anything. Thanks for the advice!

          1 Reply
          1. re: pajiba

            besides just sprinkling in MSG, the more "natural" things you can do is as mentioned anchovy paste or fish sauce, which i do. Though not yet for sauce, I freeze/keep old parmesan rinds to boost flavor and I heard people grinding dried mushrooms, specifically shitakes and used that to get that savory flavor.