All About Umami: The 5th Taste, Explained

Photo by Rocky Luten

While sweet, salty, bitter, and sour can hit you like a punch, umami—the fifth taste, often described as a round, rich, savory flavor—is the key to achieving a perfectly balanced bite. Umami is the superstar that lifts and amplifies other flavors: It literally makes other things taste better. To really explore what umami is—the history and science behind the taste—and discover its many applications in the kitchen, we talked to some experts and tasted a whole bunch of dishes. Check out our stories and recipes below, and stay tuned for more to come.

Stories & More

Umami: The 5th Taste, Explained

To dig into why umami is so craveable, we're going back to the basics. Whether you and umami are old pals or you're just getting know each other, here's everything you've ever wanted to ask. Read the story here »

Cooking with Umami Ingredients

What’s the best way to put umami to work in your kitchen? Try cooking with these umami-rich vegetables, meats, sauces, and more. Read the story here »

The Cultural Journey of MSG in America

How is it that a seasoning became so controversial? We did some digging to answer a few questions we've had on the topic. Read the story here »

5 Things I Learned About Umami, at a Forum Dedicated to the 5th Taste

We're all about umami, but never really understood the science or story behind it. So we attended the World Umami Forum, a two-day event featuring presentations from chefs, food writers, and academics, and learned a ton about the fifth taste. Read the story here »

Your Roasted Holiday Vegetables Deserve This Puckery, Crunchy Topping

Instead of making the roasted vegetables on your holiday spread heavier with cream, butter, and cheese, make them lighter and brighter with a crunchy topping and perfectly balanced seasonings. Read the story here »

Watch: All About Umami

Umami Recipes