Fermented pastes of soybeans and soybean–maize blends were evaluated to determine sensory properties driving consumer liking. Pastes composed of 100% soybeans, 90% soybeans and 10% maize, and 75% soybeans and 25% maize were naturally fermented (NFP), and lactic acid bacteria fermented (LFP). Lactic acid bacteria fermentation was achieved through backslopping using a fermented cereal gruel, thobwa. Ten trained panelists evaluated intensities of 34 descriptors, of which 27 were significantly different (P < 0.05). The LFP were strong in brown color, sourness, umami, roasted soybean- and maize-associated aromas, and sogginess while NFP had high intensities of yellow color, pH, raw soybean, and rancid odors, fried egg, and fermented aromas and softness. Although there was consumer (n = 150) heterogeneity in preference, external preference mapping showed that most consumers preferred NFP. Drivers of liking of NFP samples were softness, pH, fermented aroma, sweetness, fried egg aroma, fried egg-like appearance, raw soybean, and rancid odors. Optimization of the desirable properties of the pastes would increase utilization and acceptance of fermented soybeans.