Prepared shrimp paste with chilli, Thai lime leaves, sugar and water added.
Duxelles being cooked, which is eventually reduced into a paste

A food paste is a semi-liquid colloidal suspension, emulsion, or aggregation used in food preparation or eaten directly as a spread.[1] Pastes are often highly spicy or aromatic, are often prepared well in advance of actual usage, and are often made into a preserve for future use. Common pastes are some fruit preserves, curry pastes, and nut pastes. Purées are food pastes made from already cooked ingredients.

Some food pastes are considered to be condiments and are used directly, while others are made into sauces, which are more liquidy than paste. Ketchup and prepared mustard are pastes that are used both directly as condiments and as ingredients in sauces.

Many food pastes are an intermediary stage in the preparation of food. Perhaps the most notable of such intermediary food pastes is dough. A paste made of fat and flour and often stock or milk is an important intermediary for the basis for a sauce or a binder for stuffing, whether called a beurre manié,[2] a roux[3] or panada.[4] Sago paste is an intermediary stage in the production of sago meal and sago flour from sago palms.[5]

Food for babies and adults who have lost their teeth is often prepared as food pastes. Baby food is often very bland, while older adults often desire increased spiciness in their food pastes.


Blenders, grinders, mortars and pestles, metates, and even chewing are used to reduce unprocessed food to a meal, powder, or when significant water is present in the original food, directly into a paste. If required, water, oil and other liquids are added to dry ingredients to make the paste. Often the resultant paste is fermented or cooked to increase its longevity. Often pastes are steamed, baked or enclosed in pastry or bread dough to make them ready for consumption.


Traditionally, salt, sugar, vinegar, citric acid and beneficial fermentation were all used to preserve food pastes. In modern times canning is used to preserve pastes in jars, bottles, tins and more recently in plastic bags and tubes.


Main article: List of food pastes

Aromatic and spicy

While many of the pastes listed below may be made particularly spicy or aromatic or not, some pastes are specifically intended to deliver intense flavor rather than bulk.

Cheese and milk

Cheeses always start out as food pastes, but most of them become harder during the fermentation and curing processes.

Fish and meat

Shrimp paste from Thanh Hoa province, Vietnam


Instant soup

Erbswurst, a traditional instant pea soup from Germany, is a concentrated paste

Nut and seed


Sugar pastes are usually used for frosting and icings, or sweet centers in pastry. Sugars are often combined with cream, oils and egg whites as well as water to make pastes.

Vegetable and fruit

Tomato paste

Yeast extracts

Yeast extracts, usually as byproduct from brewing beer,[24] are made into food pastes, usually dark-brown in colour. They are used to flavour soups and sausages, in the preparation of salad dressings, and directly as spreads.

See also


  1. ^ Kipfer, Barbara Ann (2012). The Culinarian: A Kitchen Desk Reference. New York: Wiley. p. 409. ISBN 978-1-118-11061-4.
  2. ^ McGee, Harold (2004). On Food and Cooking: The Science and lore of the Kitchen. New York: Simon and Schuster. p. 617. ISBN 978-0-684-80001-1.
  3. ^ Bartlett, James Y.; Stern, D.G. & Ritter, Michele (2008). Golf a la Carte: Recipes from America's Finest Clubs. Tiverton, Rhode Island: Yeoman House. p. 229. ISBN 978-0-9754676-3-3.
  4. ^ Kipfer 2012, p. 401
  5. ^ Russell, Percy (1995). The Nutrition and Health Dictionary. New York: Chapman and Hall. p. 383. ISBN 978-0-412-98991-9.
  6. ^ Bayless, Rick (2007). Authentic Mexican 20th Anniversary Ed: Regional Cooking from the Heart of Mexico. New York: HarperCollins. p. 99–101. ISBN 978-0-06-137326-8.
  7. ^ Kipfer 2012, p. 130
  8. ^ Kipfer 2012, p. 354
  9. ^ Lee, Cherl-Ho; Steinkraus, Keith H. & Reilly, P. J. (1993). Fish Fermentation Technology. New York: United Nations University Press. ISBN 978-89-7053-003-1.
  10. ^ Kipfer 2012, p. 412
  11. ^ Russell 1995, p. 255 & 326
  12. ^ Kipfer 2012, p. 385
  13. ^ McGee 2004, p. 571
  14. ^ Akinrele, I. A. (2006). "Fermentation studies on maize during the preparation of a traditional African starch-cake food". Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture. 21 (12): 619–625. doi:10.1002/jsfa.2740211205.
  15. ^ Kipfer 2012, p. 354
  16. ^ Russell 1995, p. 327
  17. ^ McGee 2004, p. 514
  18. ^ Kipfer 2012, p. 241
  19. ^ Jones, David (2011). Candy Making For Dummies. New York: Wiley. pp. 65–68. ISBN 978-1-118-05461-1.
  20. ^ "Spaghetti silsie, or spicy fragrant tomato pasta sauce (Eritrea)". Vegventures. Archived from the original on 14 January 2012.
  21. ^ Zubaida, Sami (2000). "National, Communal and Global Dimensions in Middle Eastern Food Cultures". In Zubaida, Sami; Tapper, Richard (eds.). A Taste of Thyme: Culinary Cultures of the Middle East. London: I.B. Tauris. p. 35. ISBN 978-1-86064-603-4.
  22. ^ Kipfer 2012, p. 561
  23. ^ Berger, Miriam. "Is the world ready for this Palestinian dish?". Retrieved 2019-03-28.
  24. ^ Sombutyanuchit, P.; Suphantharika, M.; Verduyn, C. (2001). "Preparation of 5′-GMP-rich yeast extracts from spent brewer's yeast". World Journal of Microbiology and Biotechnology. 17 (2): 163–168. doi:10.1023/A:1016686504154.