Umami Sprinkles

umami sprinkles
Going vegan is difficult, especially if you’re a heavy meat or dairy consumer. But there is some fairly robust research indicating that a diet containing less animal product can be beneficial for our health and the environment. Instead of getting overly ambitious, going full-on vegan overnight, why not try incorporating some cheese, meat, and dairy alternatives into your everyday meals?

The primary flavor animal products bring to our taste buds is umami– which is a savory and, well, meat-ish flavor– but is not exclusive to meat. Case in point: “Dried Olive Miso Rosemary Shake”, which is billed as a vegan alternative to parmesan cheese. I call it “Umami Sprinkles” cause that’s shorter and cuter, and I think you’ll love this condiment no matter how much meat and cheese you consume.

This recipe is from Serious Eats, available at this link.


Makes ¾ cup, cooking time 5-7 hours

  • 1 pound (500 grams, about 3 cups) high quality pitted green olives (such as Manzanilla), drained and dried on paper towels (can be stuffed with pimentos)
  • 2 ounces (60 grams, about 5 tablespoons) white miso paste
  • 1 ounce (30 grams, about 4 tablespoons) fresh zest from 3 to 4 lemons
  • 1 ounce (30 grams, about 3 sprigs) fresh rosemary leaves


  1. Adjust oven rack to center position and preheat oven to 225°F. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until a very rough puree is formed, about 15 short pulses, scraping down sides as necessary. Transfer mixture to a parchment or Silpat-lined rimmed baking sheet and spread in a thin, even layer.
  2. Transfer to oven and cook until fully dehydrated and crackly, 4 to 6 hours. Let mixture rest in the oven with the door left ajar until completely cool, about 1 hour.
  3. Transfer mixture to a food processor and process until a rough powder is formed. Store mixture in a sealed container in a dark, cool place for up to 2 months.

A few notes on the ingredients:

The olives are crucial to making this recipe work, so don’t use the ones in a can. Jarred manzanilla olives with pimentos are a fine choice; keep in mind the additional acid from the peppers will make the sprinkles a bit tangier.

Additionally, it’s important you use the milder, sweeter white miso in this recipe instead of the red miso, which is darker and has a more intense flavor.

And finally, once you obtain the zest of those three or four lemons, don’t throw the fruit away! Juice the lemons immediately and save it for a later recipe, like a quick vinaigrette.

I saw you glance back up at the cooking time! Yes, umami sprinkles are time-consuming, but once you add them on top of your popcorn or pasta, you’ll be fine with that sacrifice. They are very addicting. So whether you’re vegan or just looking for a new condiment, try to toast up a batch soon! I’ll leave you with one final, non-vegan recommendation: this stuff is really good on salmon steaks.

One comment

  1. […] The original author of this recipe intended the result to be a vegan, risotto-like dish. This can still easily be accomplished if you substitute unsweetened almond milk for the whole milk, and use vegan butter and parmesan alternatives for steps two and four. In fact, this might be a good dish to top with umami sprinkles! […]

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