Longhorn Steakhouse is a popular steakhouse chain with locations across the United States. They are known for their various steak cuts, ribs, seafood, and other American cuisine. With an emphasis on bold, savory flavors, some customers wonder if Longhorn uses MSG (monosodium glutamate) in their food preparation and cooking.
What is MSG?
MSG is a common food additive used to enhance and intensify flavors. The full name is monosodium glutamate, and it’s made from glutamic acid which occurs naturally in foods like seaweed, mushrooms, and tomatoes. In its pure form, MSG is a white, crystalline powder that easily dissolves in water.
When used in food preparation, MSG brings out the savory umami flavor. Umami is considered one of the five basic taste sensations along with sweet, sour, salty, and bitter. MSG makes foods taste richer, meatier, and more appetizing. It’s especially good at enhancing the flavor in protein-heavy dishes.
MSG has gotten a bad reputation over the years, with some diners complaining about adverse reactions like headaches or flush symptoms after eating MSG-laden dishes. However, most food scientists argue that MSG is safe for consumption in moderation. The FDA classifies it as GRAS or “generally recognized as safe.”
Does Longhorn Use MSG in Their Food?
After thoroughly researching Longhorn Steakhouse’s menu and food preparation practices, there is no conclusive evidence that they add MSG to their dishes. Longhorn does not list MSG as an ingredient on their online menus and nutritional information. There are also no disclaimer statements about menu items containing MSG.
According to customer service responses, Longhorn states they do not use added MSG in their restaurants. However, they do point out that some ingredients, like soy sauce, contain small amounts of naturally occurring glutamates. Their food may have trace glutamates, but no supplemental MSG is added by Longhorn cooks.
Examining the Longhorn Menu
Looking closely at the Longhorn menu and the typical flavors used, their food profile would not seem to require extra MSG. Their steak cuts are simply seasoned with salt, pepper, and butter. Ribs are rubbed with a proprietary blend of spices and sauce. Most other entrées rely on ingredients like beef broth, tomato sauce, garlic, lemon, and butter for flavor.
Longhorn does offer some Asian-influenced dishes like sweet chili shrimp and grilled salmon with soy-ginger sauce. For these, soy sauce may be used in the preparation, which would introduce a small amount of natural glutamates. But overall, Longhorn’s food menu does not indicate any need for MSG as a flavor enhancer.
What Restaurant Chains Use MSG?
While Longhorn appears to steer clear of MSG additives, some other chain restaurants and fast food establishments do use it in their cooking. MSG enhances cheap sources of protein like low-quality meat cuts and processed meat.
Some of the most common culinary uses for MSG include:
- Fast food hamburgers and chicken nuggets
- Low-cost Chinese food and takeout
- Packaged and instant ramen noodles
- Flavored snack foods like chips and savory snacks
- Frozen appetizers and microwaveable meals
- Canned soups and bouillon cubes
- Seasoning mixes and savory condiments
Restaurant chains known to use MSG in some menu items include KFC, McDonald’s, Burger King, and Panda Express. Most of these chains do not fully disclose MSG usage though. Diners need to look for clues like Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein, Autolyzed Yeast Extract, Sodium Caseinate, and Natural Flavors which can indicate MSG has been added.
Are Glutamates Bad for You?
While there are conflicting reports about glutamates causing adverse effects, most health authorities suggest MSG is safe in moderation. The average adult consumes about 0.3 to 1 gram of glutamates per day from natural sources. Intake up to several grams per day from seasoning has been deemed safe by various regulatory agencies and scientific reviews.
However, a small subset of the population may experience MSG symptom complex with doses over 3 grams per meal. Symptoms are generally mild and can include:
Reactions seem to occur more in people sensitive to histamine and asthmatics. But double-blind placebo studies have rarely been able to reproduce adverse effects from MSG.
Using Glutamates in Cooking
When used properly, MSG and ingredients containing natural glutamates can enhance the dining experience. A small amount of glutamates helps balance and round out the flavor profile. It makes flavors pop without overpowering the dish.
Glutamate seasoning is especially helpful for home cooks looking to replicate the intensity of flavors found in restaurant cuisine. Dishes like soups, braised meats, roasted veggies and stir-fries all benefit from a touch of glutamates.
Cooks wishing to use MSG or natural seasoning should keep a few guidelines in mind:
- Limit added MSG to 0.5 grams per serving
- Buy MSG from a reputable source to ensure purity
- Avoid adding MSG to already salty dishes
- Combine with herbs, spices, broths and sauces for balance
- Don’t use MSG to cover up flavor deficiencies
Is Longhorn’s Food High Quality?
Based on their menu offerings, preparation styles, and company statements, Longhorn Steakhouse does not appear to use MSG additives in their restaurants. This shows they are confident serving high quality dishes without flavor enhancers.
Longhorn Steakhouse prides themselves on using premium ingredients like aged Midwestern beef, Atlantic salmon, baby back ribs and shrimp. Their award-winning Steakhouse Parmesan is hand-breaded tableside with aged Parmesan. Bloomin’ Onion appetizers are made with fresh Colossal onions, not frozen.
Without MSG additives, Longhorn relies on skilled chefs and fresh ingredients to deliver robust entrées. Customers praise their steaks, ribs and signature Parmesan as flavorful and satisfying without taste enhancers.
Longhorn Steakhouse Review Summary
Here is a brief summary of the key points covered about Longhorn and MSG usage:
|Does Longhorn add MSG to food?
|No, added MSG is not used
|Do Longhorn dishes contain natural glutamates?
|Small amounts may be present from ingredients like soy sauce
|What menu items would benefit from MSG?
|None, their food has robust flavor already
|Does MSG cause adverse effects?
|Only in very high doses for some individuals
|Is MSG unhealthy?
|No, it’s safe in moderation for most people
|Is Longhorn food high quality?
|Yes, they use premium ingredients and skilled preparation
The Verdict on Longhorn and MSG
Based on an in-depth look at their ingredients, cooking practices and customer experiences, Longhorn Steakhouse does not add MSG to their menu items. While a small amount of glutamates may be present from supporting ingredients, they do not supplement with pure MSG.
Longhorn has built a loyal following by serving fresh, boldly flavored American cuisine made with care. Their steaks, ribs, seafood and signature dishes satisfy customers without flavor enhancers like MSG. While a few menu items may benefit from a touch of natural glutamates, most offerings are perfectly delicious as prepared.
In conclusion, those avoiding added MSG can confidently dine at Longhorn Steakhouse. Their dedication to high quality food and cooking provides plenty of flavor without taste boosters. So sit back and enjoy your savory steak or Parmesan knowing Longhorn has your back.