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How to replace msg in a meatloaf recipe with salt and sugar?

Good evening I am looking to replace 1 tsp. of msg in a typical 9x5 2 lb. (ground beef) meatloaf recipe, http://allrecipes.com/recipe/anns-sis...
I am specifically looking to avoid the msg and replace it with whatever should go in its place.
I am confused because I have read you can use salt instead, but I also read you should mix salt and sugar 50/50 . .  

Thank you for your help and I am aware of what msg is and does chemically meaning I won't be able to get a perfect substitute . . Thanks :D

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  1. No need to substitute ANYTHING in my opinion if you are using this:


    The salt from the onion soup mix and the sweet from the ketchup should be more than enough, if you're going with that recipe.

    You've got enough flavor from the bacon, chili sauce, etc. No need for MSG.

    9 Replies
    1. re: pinehurst

      hey ok thank you I thought that as well lots of salt in onion mix..
      another way to figure this out is to simply figure out how much sodium is coming in from the msg and substitute with salt accordingly . . thanks!

      1. re: curiousaboutcafos

        MSG does not contribute to the saltiness. It's another flavor, variously described as savory or meatiness, something that is also associated with parmasan cheese, meat, mushrooms, soy sauce, and fish sauce.

      2. re: pinehurst

        Lipton Onion Soup Mix is PACKED with glutamates, isn't it?

        1. re: pinehurst

          The recipe you linked has 1 tsp of Accent in it. Accent IS MSG.

          1. re: kmcarr

            Right! I assumed OP knew that (the recipe said so, too, I think?)

            Total overkill, MSG in meatloaf.

            1. re: pinehurst

              I've never cooked with Accent or msg--is Accent just pure msg only more expensively packaged?

              1. re: rccola

                Yes, Accent is just plain old MSG.

            2. re: kmcarr

              That recipe had to be from a cookbook circa 1950-1990. Accent and MSG and such stuff from the Ajinomoto line were all the rage. Now, not so much.

          2. The recipe link doesn't lead to the recipe.
            I don't use MSG, salt or sugar in my meatloaf. But, if you want to follow a traditional recipe with flavor and that you can work around (leave out the carrot, change the cheese, etc):


            9 Replies
            1. re: HillJ

              hey weirdest thing my recipe was actually from allrecipes.com and is slightly different I have no idea why that link is leading to semi-wrong recipe..

              recipe is here   allrecipes.com/recipe/anns-sisters-meatloaf-recipe/ it's supposed to have water as well again really weird my link got changed..

              thank you for your recipe I will look into it . .

              1. re: curiousaboutcafos

                There is a total of 142 reviews Ann's Sister's meatloaf, a sample of eight of which are on the web page. Of the eight, five of them state they leave out the MSG and a quick survey of some of the remaining reviews say the same thing.

                Consider making the recipe without the MSG and, only then, if you still think something is missing, try adding more salt to the recipe.

              2. re: HillJ


                This link works. There were two extra .. in the OPs link.

                1. re: paulj

                  thanks for the help paulj. but does that recipe look right to you? I wouldn't recommend wasting good meat on it. So many better options.

                  1. re: HillJ

                    It would taste ok, I think, especially if you are used to using onion soup mix as a flavoring. But I don't think there's anything special about it.

                    But would recipe that contains a Tbl of Worcestershire sauce be better?

                    1. re: paulj

                      It's all that warm water in the ingred list that had me wondering. I've used onion soup mix as a flavoring (like 1/4 of pouch) tho but no water. Worcestershire sauce, yes. Nice hit of salt there and flavors. But the recipes below would be my recommendation over this OP'd link.

                      1. re: HillJ

                        Well there is 1 1/2c of dry bread crumbs.

                        What's the typical proportion for a panade, bread crumbs soaked in milk?


                        An ATK meatloaf:

                        2/3 cup saltine crackers, crushed
                        1/3 cup whole milk
                        2 lbs meat
                        2 large eggs plus 1 large yolk

                2. re: HillJ

                  Nor do I. I thought that was weird honestly.

                  1. re: c oliver

                    Maybe all that warm water is for diluting the onion mix but I can't imagine that being good eats.

                3. I think you better find a different recipe. Most of the flavor comes from the onion soup mix

                  INGREDIENTS: Onions (Dehydrated)Salt, Cornstarch, Onion Powder, Sugar, Corn Syrup (Dehydrated)Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Caramel Color, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Monosodium Glutamate, Yeast Extract, Natural Flavors, Disodium Inosinate, ...

                  There are plenty of meatloaf recipes that don't have ingredients like that.

                    1. re: pikawicca

                      Now you're talkin'-that's meatloaf!

                      1. re: pikawicca

                        pika, yours and this http://www.cooks.com/rec/view/0,1618,... are quite like Bob's grandmother's meatloaf. Which we for many years thought was an original :)

                      2. I'm with the crowd who wants you to find an entirely different recipe - one that is made without processed products with questionable ingredients.

                        1. not sure of the recipe you are using.....but..........just...........leave it out! Try that first! If it doesn't have the "flavor" you want, add 1/4 tsp season salt (Lawry's preferably), 1/4 tsp garlic powder, and a 1/2 tsp sugar. "Overhit" the Worcestershire if you use it.

                          1. That's a lot of MSG!

                            Leave it out or just use a pinch

                            1. You might want to check out the 'best meatloaf ever' thread for recipes without a bunch of processed ingredients ... agree that MSG simply doesn't belong in meatloaf. Buy good meat ... it doesn't get more umami than that.

                              1. An issue daunting any food-forum inquiry involving MSG is that the ingredient itself labors under a cluster of inaccurate and obsolete assumptions.

                                Glutamates, guanylates, and other naturally occurring umami sources are common in flavorful foods and are one reason why they taste flavorful. Literal MSG as well as related glutamates occur in many foods, including meats. MSG was used for centuries in Japan as a broth enhancer, in the form of a seaweed where it occurs in concentration, until it was made deliberately from fermented vegetable sources (as now) starting a century ago. Fashionable notions aside, it's unlikely that anyone self-diagnosing an "MSG sensitivity" is correct -- extensive real tests have yet to demonstrate any such issue except in people's minds - which makes sense when you know that glutamic acid (MSG's signature component) is common in your cells anyway, and is even part of a vital nutient (Folic acid).

                                MSG infiltrated cooking recipes as a cheap subsitute for meat stocks, misos, or yeast extracts (in which it occurs naturally). Any recipe calling for MSG will be the same or better using strong reduced meat stock or other natural umami source. The major clearcut health objection to MSG isn't the "G" part but the "S" -- it's a major, gratuitous dietary sodium source.

                                But like other people here, I'm surprised at a recipe full of meat (thus natural glutamates and other flavor enhancers) gilding the lily with MSG. Even meat stock seems redundant here. Besides, recipes are for improvising and experimenting. "Now you are really cooking." (Julia Child in "From J C's Kitchen.")

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: eatzalot

                                  I might as well add that including egg in a meatloaf like this is also gilding the lily, since two pounds of beef contains more than enough albuminous material to hold together most meatloaf recipes once cooked. Egg adds to that, and firms the texture slightly, but using eggs in meatloaves is only really necessary when there's a lot of non-meat filler -- which is how many of our ancestors extended meat that often was in short supply.

                                2. Try sauteing onion in a little olive oil and adding tinned anchovies in olive oil until they dissolve, mix in with meat and whatever else you like (ketchup/whatever). Salty, savory, not so bad for you. Umami galore and no fishiness if you don't overdo it.

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: rccola

                                    rccola has a good point (I forgot about anchovies earlier). Another ancient flavor enhancer -- the basis of Worcestershire and SE-Asian fish sauces, among other things.

                                    Some European meatloaf and meatball recipes call explicitly
                                    for chopped anchovies or anchovy paste. Anchovy filets do literally dissolve when mashed and are a useful flavor enhancer -- in a meaty dish like meatloaf, I doubt anyone could tell they're an ingredient unless told.

                                    Again MSG is important only as a semi-synthetic substitute for any number of more natural traditional effective flavor enhancers from miso to anchovies to Parmesan or Gruyere cheese.

                                    1. re: eatzalot

                                      Where does Maggi seasoning fit in your world of good and bad flavor enhancers?

                                      Dorie Greenspan, in her recipe for 'boeuf a la ficelle' (beef on a string) includes 2 beef bouillon cubes. Why? When she was buying beef for this 'recette perdue', was advised by French woman:
                                      "she confided a bit of culinary advice, suggesting that I add a spoonful of tomato paste to the bouillon, just as her mother did. Oh, and couple of bouillon cubes too. Later that night, after following her advice, I was sorry I couldn't call to thank her -- it was just the right touch."
                                      Around My French Table, p251

                                      David Chang also talked about liking msg on the Mind of a Chef series. And on the MAD talk

                                      1. re: paulj

                                        Rome had its "lost legions;" France now (I gather) has its "recettes perdues!" :-)

                                        Didn't mean to contrast "good and bad" flavor enhancers earlier so much as complex vs 1-dimensional ones. Same reason I seldom add sugar to a savory recipe when the same sweetness effect is available more interestingly via caramelized onions, diced carrots, or etc.

                                        Europe runs on bouillon cubes ("stock cubes" in UK English) in my experience; they are more common in _recipes_ from there than from the US. Since they consist of a little meat flavoring plus salt, caramel color, and flavor enhancers they belong fundamentally to the class of flavored or seasoned salts, and I'd group them with the simplistic flavor enhancers.

                                        I've certainly seen and used Maggi seasoning (it also seems to've had a run of US popularity around the 1960s or so because it surfaces in some of my fairly mainstream cookbooks of that period). Without doing any research just now, I recall its signature component as extracts of browned vegetables. Imitating the browned vegs often used in professional fine-dining kitchen stock pots to add flavor and color. (I once suspected such a kitchen of using Maggi or a similar shortcut, based on a burnt note in a sauce demi-glace, but it turned out the stock was from scratch; chef was grateful for the clue that the prep cooks were over-roasting the stock fixings.) Doesn't Maggi also contain yeast extract or MSG?

                                        Browned vegetable extracts constitute a standard option in the world of commercial umami or stock shortcuts. A commercial flavor enhancer is yeast extracts, whose flavor-enhancing components derive from the self-consuming fermentation (autolysis). Vegemite is a famous packaged yeast extract sold for home use, and a variant product Marmite is basically Vegemite plus the browned vegetable extracts. These home products are better known in UK, Commonwealth countries, and Europe but similar yeast-based flavor enhancers are extremely common in US processed foods, commercial soups, etc.

                                        1. re: paulj

                                          Incidentally, and further to my comment in this thread about how eggs are used more by habit than necessity in meatloaf recipes: A valuable trick I learned from a meatball recipe in the Cook's Illustrated pasta-noodles book is the use of yogurt. It's another natural flavor enhancer made by fermentation, and serves the same role sometimes played by Parmesan cheese in meatballs. As with, say, buttermilk waffles, the effect is subtle, the yogurt (plain and unsweetened, obviously) enhances the meaty flavor without intruding any of its own. I also find less SALT necessary for a well-seasoned result.

                                          Typically now for a meatloaf or meatballs (same concept, different shape), I start with a slurry of yogurt and raw grain (often rolled oats, but spelt flour works even better -- a very useful wheat variant with more pleasant flavor than whole wheat and some nice physical properties, I use it mainly for making fresh noodles). Enough grain to thicken the yogurt into a sludge (the yogurt provides the moisture that the grain absorbs on cooking - without some such liquid, it tends to dry the meat).

                                          Add whatever ground meat(s), say twice the volume of the slurry, and minced vegetables and whatever spices etc. Let the mixture sit an hour or so and re-stir before roasting, for best flavor.

                                          This is a good simple workhorse recipe producing better
                                          meatloaf or meatballs (especially) than any others I've tried. No eggs (the grain, especially spelt flour, provides some starch that further binds the mixture on cooking, beyond what the meat albumin doeas anyway) and the oat option is gluten-free if that's ever an issue. Forget eggs and breadcrumbs, those old knee-jerk ingredient habits.

                                          1. re: eatzalot

                                            Many oats are cross-contaminated and not gluten-free. You have to buy certified gluten-free oats if you actually have celiac.

                                    2. MSG has sodium, so if you want to, you will need some tablesalt to at least replace the sodium part. I would use about 1/2rd to 1/3rd the amount of tablesalt as you would for the MSG. In this case, you will use about 1/2 tsp.

                                      MSG, needless to say, has a fuller favor than tablesalt. This fuller taste or unami cannot be reproduced by merely table salt. This is probably why some people like to use sugar to somewhat substitute for the loss of MSG. I have never tried this.

                                      There are probably other ways to get a better substitute. If you have chicken stock at hand, then concentrated chicken stock will do. Soy sauce actually is full of umami, so is fish sauce.

                                      If you don't have any of these, I am guessing that a small piece of bacon will do a great job. Fried the bacon, and then chop it up very finely, then sprinkle the pieces to the meatloaf. This will add the salt and the unami.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                        NaCl (salt) is 58g/mol http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sodium_c...

                                        MSG C5H8NO4Na 169.111 g/mol

                                        I think that means that on a per weight basis, MSG has a third as much sodium as salt

                                        But just because they are both sodium salts does not mean they can be substituted for one another to produce the same flavor.

                                        1. re: paulj

                                          Thanks. Yeah, I was thinking just that. In a per weight basis, MSG has about 1/3rd the sodium.

                                          <But just because they are both sodium salts does not mean they can be substituted for one another to produce the same flavor.>

                                          The sodium part should be because they (MSG and NaCl) dissolve readily to Na+ in water. The other part is not as easy. MSG has an amino acids with that umami taste to it, so I am thinking that an unami substitution.

                                      2. I can't imagine why anyone would put MSG in meatloaf in the first place. I put an egg in the blender or food processor with an onion and half a big green pepper and salt and a glop of ketchup and whomp it all up, add this to 1.5 pounds of good ground sirloin, add some bread crumbs, form a loaf, and frost it with brown sugar mixed with ketchup and nutmeg before I bake it. That's enough flavor for any moral purpose.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: Querencia

                                          I completely agree with you. Meatloaf has a perfect flavor without dinking around with it. I'm not anti-MSG at all but why mess with something that doesn't need it?

                                          1. re: c oliver

                                            I agree. There are enough additives and crap in prepared food that we all sometimes rely on for convenience---I certainly don't want to "contaminate" real food when I cook it.

                                        2. Try fish sauce--about a teaspoon or two for 2lbs. meat. Or a few anchovies.

                                          5 Replies
                                            1. re: paulj

                                              I haven't heard about these before, except to recall that dashi is a Japanese seaweed-based broth. I thought that came in sheets or flakes. Is it a shelf-stable granular thing?

                                                1. re: Bada Bing

                                                  Once you open should be refrigerated. Quite salty but very, very useful.

                                              1. re: Bada Bing

                                                yes, anchovies are the secret ingredient in my meatloaf, them and icewater.

                                              2. I add no table salt when making meat loaf, but DO add onion soup mix, a half packet for 24-32 oz of meat, and a glug of soy or teriyaki sauce, or a lesser amount of Kitchen Bouquet/Gravy Master. When I forgot to include the OS mix, the result was disappointing, to say the least. However, I use as much filler, by volume, as meat - mainly LOTs of onion, bell pepper, carrot, cabbage (or coleslaw), and sometimes celery, plus some panade and garlic. That dilutes the meatiness; the OS mix restores it. Yeah, I'm not crazy about the ingredient list but half a packet for 8-12 servings is a tiny amount.

                                                I agree that when using the OS mix, MSG, and table salt for that matter, are superfluous.

                                                1. I think that dried Porcini are a font of umami. I would mix the mushroom dust from the bottom of my boletus container in with the meat.

                                                  3 Replies
                                                  1. re: PesachBenSchlomo

                                                    I think this is a great idea, if the OP has porcini around.

                                                    1. re: Bada Bing

                                                      I doubt if a cook who is drawn to an 'allrecipes' like this is going to have a small packet of dried Porcini around, much less a container of it. These days the closest I come to those is little packets of dried mushrooms at Trader Joes, and those are more shiitaki than porcini.

                                                      Speaking of mushrooms, there's an MSG alternative from SE Asia (Singapore) - a purified mushroom powder. I haven't tried it yet because it comes in too large of bags to sample.

                                                      1. re: paulj

                                                        No packets smaller than 500mg for me, thanks! :)

                                                  2. I've just omit it, I wouldn't bother to substitute anything.