The Secret Ingredient That Gives Canned Sloppy Joe Sauce An Umami Twist

Sloppy Joes are easy enough to make from scratch. However, it does take some time for the flavors to fully develop. Luckily, store-bought sauce is there to speed up the process when you're pressed for time. The canned sauce acts as a building block for flavor and can be upgraded with any number of delicious ingredients — from a pinch of chili powder to a drizzle of barbecue sauce. But, for truly mouthwatering results, we recommend looking no further than savory miso paste.

Miso paste, which is made with fermented soybeans, has a predominantly umami flavor profile. Aside from this ultra savory quality, miso also boasts saltiness and sour tang. The paste's very bold profile allows it to impart layers of nuanced flavor to an otherwise one-dimensional can of sloppy Joe sauce. In addition to effortlessly boosting complexity, miso paste even has the power to emphasize existing flavor components. Not only does it amplify umami notes, but is also brightens the acidity of the tomato-based sauce. 

Naturally, introducing miso paste into canned (or homemade) sloppy Joe sauce also helps restore flavor balance, which leads to a better tasting bite. For instance, since many store-bought sauces err on the sweeter side, miso paste provides a pleasant contrast, thanks to its saltiness. Similarly, richer renditions can also find harmony when paired with the tangy paste.

How to elevate sloppy Joes with miso paste

All types of miso paste can be worked into canned sloppy Joe sauce. For the best results, though, try using white miso. It's the mellowest of the varieties and has a subtle sweetness and nuttiness that gives the sauce a flavorful edge, while still offering a fair bit of savory goodness and burst of funk. That said, earthy yellow miso or robust red miso can also be viable options for more pronounced intensity. Otherwise, you can combine the different pastes for additional depth.

Since miso paste is meant to enhance flavor, we suggest using the ingredient sparingly. All it takes is a single spoonful of miso paste to liven up even the most lackluster brands of sloppy Joe sauce. Of course, you can adjust the amount you use to suit your taste preferences. The one thing to remember is that if you incorporate a darker miso paste instead of a lighter one, you may need to use less of it. Otherwise, you'll risk overwhelming the sloppy Joe sauce or making it far too salty.

To introduce the paste into the hearty sauce, simply whisk it in after the beef has browned and the sauce has been poured. If the paste is too thick, you can always dilute it beforehand. Whether you're making a vegetarian version with lentils or whipping up a classic sloppy Joe, miso paste is sure to make any recipe all the more irresistible.