Dutch Language Blog

Demystifying the Brown Bottle: Maggi Seasoning Sauce Posted by on Feb 16, 2012 in Culture

I think that if every kitchen in the Netherlands was searched, eight out of ten of them would contain a bottle of Maggi seasoning. The first time I came across Maggi was at a Dutch birthday party. Vegetable soup had just been served and all around me the party guests were eagerly dumping loads of the brown seasoned liquid into their soup, curiosity got the better of me.

The following day, I decided to buy myself a small bottle of this strange item, of which nothing on the front gave me any idea of what it actually was. I got the treasured item home promptly opened it and poured a small drop onto my finger for a taste.

So, what is Maggi seasoning? Maggi is a dark, hydrolysed vegetable protein-based seasoning sauce, which is very similar to East Asian soy sauce without actually containing soy. It is used most often in soups and sauces.

The name is a bit confusing as Maggi is actually a Nestlé brand of instant soups, stocks, bouillon cubes, ketchups, sauces, seasonings and instant noodles. The full name of the seasoning sauce is in fact “Maggi-Würze”, however, in many countries “Maggi” is still used as the seasoning sauce’s name. Consider it a nick-name.

Introduced in 1886, as a cheap substitute for meat extract, it has become popular in countries such as the Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria and Germany. As to its taste, if you like soy sauce then you probably aren’t going to mind Maggi. I personally find you need to add quite a bit to really notice a distinctive “Maggi” taste but that might just be me.

So far, I have never seen a recipe that has an ingredient list that includes Maggi seasoning sauce on it and apart from adding it to vegetable soup, I can’t say I have really used the brown bottle much. So, I am curious. Do you have a bottle of Maggi in your kitchen cupboards and what do you use it for?

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  1. André van der Poel:

    I like it I was used to use it in Holland but don’t know where to buy it here in the US.

    • heather:

      @André van der Poel @Andre – Good luck in your search for a bottle! Have you tried looking online?

  2. Johanna Reyers:

    Maggi is a must for beef stew, pea soup as well as a slew of other dishes.

    • heather:

      @Johanna Reyers @Johanna – I’m thinking I need to start splashing it into a lot more things! 🙂

  3. shannon klein:

    my husband is dutch and he has used it all his life. He says it is used in soups. All kinds of soup and especially split pea soup which is very popular in the netherlands. my dutch mother in law, makes soup every day and at about 3pm, or early before dinner, they always have a cup of soup. they may also have a cup of soup for a late snack before bed.

    • heather:

      @shannon klein @Shannon – I have to admit I am not a fan of split pea soup but I can see how Maggi could be a nice addition there.

  4. Bram:

    Hutspot (carrot/leek/potato mash) and Boerenkool (kale/leek/potato mash) need a dash of Maggi, otherwise it will just be too bland.
    Both to be served with rookworst of course.

    • heather:

      @Bram @Bram – Good tip! I will try adding a dash into my hutspot next time.

  5. Marcus:

    If i make my own Dutch “kroketten” or “bitterballen” it is an very important ingredient. in some of the safeways you can buy it. and often at an asian food/ produce store as well.

    • heather:

      @Marcus @Marcus – Do you ever make vegetarian kroketten and if so would you add Maggi there too?

  6. M:

    I actually think the taste is comparable to Marmite, which is known in England. Although marmite is used on toast and maggi is way to liquid for that…

    • heather:

      @M @M – Oh M…nooooo! 😉 I can’t stand Marmite (although I admit to adding some to home-mad spaghetti bolognese. 🙂

  7. someone:

    Instead of salt you should try to pour some maggi on French fries.

    • heather:

      @someone @Someone – So going to try this!

  8. Frank van Oz:

    My mother has also always used it in Nasi Goreng.

    • heather:

      @Frank van Oz @Frank – Another good suggestion, thanks!

  9. Frank van Oz:

    I see Maggi stocked in asian food stores in Australia but you can also buy it in any coles or woolworths supermarkets. Try Chinese, Viet or Thai small supermarkets.

  10. Frank van Oz:

    I see Maggi stocked in asian food stores in Australia but you can also buy it in any coles or woolworths supermarkets. Try Chinese, Viet or Thai small supermarkets. Tot ziens. Fransje

  11. Kara:

    The best part is the the bubble that appears after you douse it in your soup. The de facto addition to my family’s vegetable soup.

  12. Tessa:

    Grilled cheese sandwiches with Maggi!!

  13. tamara:

    Recently my boyfriend and I came across a recipe that contains maggi: http://rasamalaysia.com/black-pepper-chicken-recipe/2/

    Boyfriend, who is dutch and was confused by non-dutch food containing maggi, went and looked it up and found out that in many asian countries maggi is becoming a house-hold staple, and an important ingredient in a lot of recipes.

    • heather:

      @tamara @tamara – Great find! And thanks for sharing.

  14. M. C.:

    you can find Maggi anywhere…I usually get it at Superstore or Safeway, you can also find it in dutch stores

  15. Carolyn:

    I saute’ canned or fresh mushrooms in butter, onion salt, garlic powder, worcestershire sauce & and add Maggi sauce to it and the flavor is incredible.

  16. Marianne:

    I use it in anything that has a beefy base. Gravy, casseroles, lasange, rissoles…. think of it as a beefy salt

  17. neshrim:

    try adding it to any type tomato italian sauce even in bologniese italian sauce instead of salt and you will love it

  18. Aruban:

    Here in Aruba, you can find maggi bottles in all sizes. Maggi is used in lots of local delights as a seasoning.

    Me, can’t make a dish without a dash of maggi, be it italian, chinese, aruban or even on a hamburger before putting it on the grill!

    We even dip cheese cubes in maggi sauce..

  19. Joop Visser:

    Make sure you buy the Maggi Seasoning that’s imported from Amsterdam. The version that’s made in China is cheap and nasty.

  20. Jess:

    I use it for pretty much everything that is liquid and savory. Or, well, I used to. Growing up in Germany, this was a household staple that, once my mom noticed I love to cook and made me do most of the cooking, was added to everything liquid enough. Mostly soups and sauces. It’s fantastic for making sauces when you don’t feel like putting too much work into it. Soups… I refused to eat soups without Maggi. My favorite was “gebrannte Grießsuppe”. I think Grieß is similar to the American grits and Italian polenta, but a much finer grind. Excuse me if I’m wrong. You basically sauté the Grieß in butter (lots of it! Think Paula Deen) until it’s lightly browned, fragrant and nutty and then you deglaze it with water and (if your guilty pleasure is fake seasonings) a bullion cube and some Maggi. I suppose the proper way would be a good chicken stock, but hey, what can I say… Guilty pleasure… After that, you just cook it down to your desired consistency. Keep in mind that it IS a soup… Not like grits or polenta. I personally liked it a little bit on the watery side, but not TOO watery. Also, don’t forget to salt and pepper it. I always served it (who am I kidding… There was almost no meal where we DIDN’T have that stuff on the table) with the Maggi bottle so you can add however much you want to. I pretty much drowned my soup in the stuff, but it’s all personal preference.
    Now that I moved to the States (and the country at that), I haven’t had Maggi in a good while. I keep telling myself I’ll get my mom to send some over because I can’t seem to find it in any stores near my neck of the woods (literally), but I haven’t asked her yet. Now that I think about it, I also really miss Grieß… Sigh.
    But yeah, that stuff is GREAT. Also good on or in scrambled eggs.

  21. Jess:

    Oh… A good frozen egg roll dipped in Maggi (or drenched in it…) is fantastic too.

  22. Jyro:

    If you searched every Vietnamese house, I think you would also find that at least 8 out of every 10 households has a bottle of Maggi sauce as well 🙂 In the U.S. you can find it in any Asian store. It’s a staple. My mom uses Maggi in place of soy sauce for recipes that call for soy sauce.

    It’s WONDERFUL on eggs over easy/sunny side up. Several drops onto the egg white and into the liquid yolk for dipping your bread – you must try this.

    I also found something out not too long ago…Bragg’s Liquid Aminos tastes like a lighter version of Maggi – now I use that for all of my Maggi needs.

  23. clemancy:

    Several shakes of Maggi makes an average vinaigrette delicious!

  24. Sandy’s soup:

    Used in Matzo ball soup!

  25. earl:

    ingredient list for this stuff is scary – mostly salt, msg and a bunch of other polysyllabic chemicals. guess you folks don’t mind what you put in your bodies.


    why not just use a decent quality soy sauce?

  26. deb:

    My German friend used Maggi on a dish that sounds like “auf lauf”?? Not sure of the spelling, but it is a casserole, using noodles, chopped ham, tomatoes and mozzarella cheese. Bake the casserole, layering the items with last ingredient being the cheese. When done, served with Maggi sprinkled on top..So delicious!

  27. Kathy Brady:

    I just found Maggi seasoning (1 tsp) listed as an ingredient in Horn & Hartdart’s Burgundy Sauce with Beef and Noodles, as served at the long-gone Automat in New York City.The NY Public Library is making the recipe available as part of its exhibit “The Lunch Hour.”

  28. CCL:

    My husband applies it to pot roast on his plate.

  29. Mikie Lynne:

    One of the sandwiches served on Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives, courtesy of Gatsby’s Diner, Sacramento CA recommends it for the seasoning sauce that is one of the ingredients in their recipe for Beet Sliders. Guess I’ll substitute Bragg’s Aminos so I can keep it vegetarian, which is usually the reason people eat non-meat patties on their buns!!

  30. Michelle:

    A few drops on mild cheese and crackers is standard in our household

  31. ccp:

    I recently saw Maggi seasoning for a garlic noodle recipe. I suppose the reason so many people like this ingredient to enhance dishes is that it contains MSG, ugh! So if you’re sensitive to MSG, you may not want to touch this; I’m hoping I can find an alternative to this seasoning. I’ve read on another site that its label may list ingredients differently in various countries such that MSG isn’t mentioned, i.e., “…some Maggi labels actively list monosodium glutamate, while others only list hydrolyzed wheat or soy protein, which contain natural MSG.)”

  32. Jim P:

    I use it in stew, chili, pasta sauce, etc.

  33. TmB:

    Just now, I found Maggi seasoning listed on a copycat recipe for Pei Wei Mongolian Beef. I’d never heard of Maggi Seasoning before, so I came here looking for information.

  34. Jerry:

    I use it on popcorn I make at home. It is delicious as a substitute for butter and salt.

  35. Michelle:

    I’ve been using my entire life. I’m of Southeast Asian descent, and I use it on my eggs in the morning instead of salt. I also use it to marinade my steaks along with a little garlic and oyster sauce before cooking.

  36. hank:

    Both my wife and I grew up with Maggi in our cupboards at home ..We use it in all of the things listed above..Its a european thing, she has a dutch background and mine is polish.We use soy sauce and maggi …totally different in our opinion…you can sub maggi for soy but not the way around…Our kids turn their noses up at scrambled eggs without maggi in it and no soup is right without it:) To date i’ve never met anyone i’ve let sample foods with it in it not run out and buy some..

  37. Steve:

    I grew up with it. Mother was German and she used it in just about every dish she cooked from Sauerbraten to salad. I use it to marinade the beef or pork I cook, it’s great on Hamburgers before grilling. I also use it in homemade soups,

    I have found it in quite a few of the Supermarkets here in and around Atlanta, Ga. It’s available in some Walmarts in the large bottles. I have found it in the local Asian markets and Cost Plus World Market. You can find it on Amazon also.

  38. john:

    raised on the stuff luveley in home made chicken noodle soup brill in instant noodle buy it in litre bottles is best i forgot to include iam of english and german decent howay the lads

  39. Vic:

    Hi Thanks for the info on maggi. My mom used it over the years to add to soup and I really enjoyed it. We have been looking for where to buy it and will try finding it at Superstore or Safeway. Have a great day.

  40. Tony:

    I use it with brown rice – you can get brown rice cups – cook in a microwave for 40 seconds – splash on a few drops and mix it in – its a great low fat high fibre snack – my kids love it when they get home from school especially as a warm snack in winter.

  41. Michelle:

    I make my own salad dressing. oil, vinegar, maggi, salt pepper, a pinch of sugar and a small onion diced very small.

  42. Patricia:

    Many, many years ago I learned to cook with Maggi in Cincinnati at a Chef Gregory cooking class. Now I can’t live without it! So glad to see that it’s still around although not readily available in my local markets. Maggie was used in more than 50% of his recipes along with seasoned salt, garlic and MSG (let that last one go). They were called the “4 Friends”.

  43. Marianne:

    My parents are Dutch immigrants and I, too, was raised on Maggie. It is available in most stores here in British Columbia. A word to the wise – it wasn’t until I started reading food labels that I realized how high the sodium content is in Maggie.

  44. MawMaw:

    I was introduced to Maggi seasoning by my Asian sister-in-law and all this time have thought it is Asian like soy sauce because, to me, it tastes so much like soy sauce.

    I add it to any Asian dishes I make and it seems to be a good addition to those dishes.

    Now, I find it’s Swiss made. Interesting.

  45. Michelle Newman:

    I was introduced to this sauce by some South African friends.
    A basic creamy mushroom sauce seasoned with Maggi, makes an already fabulous creamy mushroom sauce absolutely amazing.
    Fry up some sliced mushrooms in butter, add cornflour and cream until the pouring texture you require is reached. Then dash in a few (or more) drops of Maggie seasoning sauce.
    We were served this sauce as a starter with garlic baked potato wedges, but it’s also fab on chicken or steak.

  46. Nanette:

    I found a recipe for Mongolian beef & it calls for Maggi seasoning. Never heard of it & went searching…that’s how I found you. Is it more like kitchen bouquet, a browning & seasoning sauce? Or more like soy sauce? I’d like to try this recipe and need the proper ingredient. thanks.

  47. Gisela Manning:

    I am German Origin, and immigrated to the United States in 52
    missed my Maggi a lot.
    Use it in Egg dishes, Soups, Final seasoning for Bratwurst etc,

  48. Karin A Crichton:

    http://www.bonappetit.com/drinks/article/how-they-make-micheladas-in-mexico – Maggi Seasoning is an ingredient in this Michelada recipe. I haven’t made them yet – only because I didn’t know where to look for Maggi Seasoning…now, I have found it and can’t wait to try this recipe!! Cheers!

  49. Madalina:

    Here`s a recipe with this ingredient: http://rasamalaysia.com/black-pepper-beef/2/
    I found it very interesting, not yet tried it.

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