Maggi Seasoning Sauce has been a staple in many Asian kitchens for a long time. I grew up sprinkling the inky liquid on rice and dipping steamed bao into a pool of it. It’s the ‘secret’ ingredient in my garlic noodles. But the beloved condiment can be hard to locate outside of Chinese, Southeast Asian, and Latin markets. A few mainstream supermarkets stock it in the international or Asian food aisle.
Frustrated with not being able to find Maggi, Edie M. emailed this question: What are good substitutes for Maggi Seasoning Sauce?
I thought about it and realized that aside from availability issues, some people may have problems with Maggi’s ingredients: wheat, and in the case of the European version (in the fanciful smaller bottle), MSG. So Edie’s question morphed into one about accessibility and allergies: What to do if you can’t find or physically tolerate Maggi Seasoning Sauce?
Here are some alternatives to consider:
If you shop at an Asian market, scan the condiment aisle carefully. Look for knock-offs, which may be sold in long-neck bottles similar to Maggi’s with names that include the word ‘seasoning’. I recently bought Knorr Liquid Seasoning (pictured above), which was made in the Philippines. Lighter in flavor than the Chinese version of Maggi Seasoning Sauce in the big bottle, it is a little sweeter than the European version of Maggi. Knorr features soy but it does contains MSG. For a non-MSG version made with soy, try Gold Mountain Seasoning Sauce, a Thai product.
If you don’t shop at an Asian market, head to a health food or specialty grocer. Locate Bragg’s Liquid Aminos, usually kept near the soy sauces. It is soy based and devoid of MSG. A favorite of natural foods lovers, Bragg’s has been around since 1912 (100 years!). The liquid aminos contains only “vegetable protein from soybeans and purified water.” Its earthy, savory flavor is practically the same as that of the Chinese version of Maggi Seasoning Sauce.
However, Bragg’s liquid aminos is a little less salty than Maggi so I end up using more Bragg’s. Price-wise, the 16-ounce bottle above was about $4.50 at Whole Foods. Bragg’s brags about being a soy sauce substitute but it doesn’t taste like your average soy sauce. It tastes like Maggi Seasoning Sauce. Warning: I once bought Bragg’s from a bulk foods dispenser and it was not as intensely flavored as the liquid aminos in the bottle. My market may have diluted it but to play it safe, stick to the bottled stuff.
Use tip: Whichever substitute you choose, do a little math when using it. Look at the sodium content on the label:
- Chinese Maggi Seasoning Sauce has 400 mg per teaspoon.
- European Maggi Seasoning Sauce has 480 mg per teaspoon.
- Bragg’s Liquid Aminos has 160 mg per 1/2 teaspoon.
- Knorr Liquid Seasoning has 1230 mg per tablespoon.
Given that there are 3 teaspoons in a tablespoon, you can quickly guess how the sub will be fare against Maggi, the benchmark. For example, based on sodium content, Bragg’s Liquid Aminos is 20% less salty than the Chinese Maggi Seasoning Sauce. That explains why I end up using a bit more of the Bragg’s than I do of Maggi in my recipes. (Note: These products, including Maggi, are all sold on Amazon but shipping rates can make them expensive.)
Edie also asked this question: Can you make an ad-hoc version of Maggi? Sorry, I don’t know the answer to that one, but these subs are solid workarounds.
Familiar with these condiments? Have a Maggi substitute to recommend? Please share!