Finding a substitute for Worcestershire sauce can seem like an arduous chore. It has a very distinctive flavor that can add a boost of flavor to recipes like casseroles, meat stews, soups, sauces, and marinades.
The ingredients of Worcestershire sauce include vinegar, molasses, sugar, salt, anchovies, shallots, garlic, spice, tamarind extract, and various other flavorings. This medley of elements is what gives Worcestershire sauce its indescribable taste.
Here is a curated list of 7 ingredients that can replace Worcestershire sauce if needed.
Marmite is a savory food spread that originates from England. It’s a sticky-brown by-product of beer production with a viscous consistency and a distinctive salty, earthy taste. Marmite is traditionally spread on toasted bread, savory biscuits, and crackers to give them an umami-like taste. Marmite also carries nutritional value and has been noted as a rich vegan source for B vitamins.
You can replace Worcestershire sauce with a small quantity of marmite in any recipe and expect similar results. Just keep in mind, marmite has a concentrated vegetable taste that can change the flavor of your recipe if you use too much of it.
Substitute marmite sparingly, and if you still need to make your dish more flavorful, add a splash of soy sauce or lemon juice. Since marmite is a paste, you will also need to water it down to help it achieve a similar consistency to Worcestershire sauce.
1 Cup Worcestershire Sauce = ½ Cup Marmite
Salt is up here on this list because it’s the most readily available substitute for Worcestershire sauce if you’re ever in a pinch and don’t want to make another trip to the store.
However, using salt alone will only make up for the savory part of Worcestershire sauce.
Worcestershire sauce has a pretty complex flavor profile, and savoriness is only one of many flavors even though it may be the most dominant one. If the dish still feels lacking after using salt, you can add a splash of soy sauce or lime for some more complexity.
To substitute salt, all you need to do is look up how much Worcestershire sauce your recipe calls for and add the amount of salt present in that quantity of Worcestershire sauce. If your recipe already includes salt, add some more or use another substitute.
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce = One Pinch of Salt (add more per taste)
#3. Balsamic Vinegar
Balsamic vinegar is one of the main ingredients in Worcestershire sauce and arguably carries most of its flavor. It’s one of the closest substitutes in terms of flavor, so it only makes sense to include balsamic vinegar if you’re ever out of Worcestershire sauce. Balsamic vinegar provides a healthy balance of sweetness and tartness along with some complex flavors.
Balsamic vinegar is like the incomplete version of Worcestershire sauce as it is only a couple of ingredients shy of tasting like Worcestershire sauce. If you want to keep boosting the complexity of your dish after using balsamic vinegar, you can also add ingredients like molasses, garlic powder, pepper, chicken broth, and salt.
Balsamic vinegar tastes sharper than Worcestershire sauce, so be careful when substituting them. Start with a lesser amount of balsamic vinegar and only add more if needed.
1 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce = ½ Tbsp. Balsamic Vinegar
#4. Soy Sauce
Soy sauce is a savory condiment of Asian origin used to flavor dishes like noodles, rice, stir-fried vegetables, and meats. It is made by suspending the paste of soybeans in water and fermenting them for 2-3 days. Soy sauce is also a good source of multiple nutrients, including protein, magnesium, sodium, and healthy fats.
Like Worcestershire Sauce, soy sauce performs a similar role of increasing the complexity of a dish by adding a similar umami-like savoriness. The only difference is, you won’t get the same playful tanginess of Worcestershire Sauce. If you want to make up for the missing nuance of Worcestershire Sauce, you can also add some vinegar, red pepper flakes, or granulated sugar.
Soy sauce has a similar consistency to Worcestershire Sauce and dissolves well. It’s also relatively close in savoriness, so you can substitute them in a 1:1 ratio in all recipes.
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce = 1 Tbsp. Soy Sauce
#5. Barbeque Sauce
Barbeque sauce, or BBQ sauce, is an American condiment with a sweet and savory flavor profile somewhat resembling Worcestershire sauce. It’s pretty mild in flavor and is often used to dress barbecue items like pork, chicken, and beef. However, there are many more uses for BBQ sauce.
You could use it as a topping over fries, pizzas, calzones, or in sandwich fillings. It is an incredibly versatile ingredient. BBQ sauce can pair with almost any kind of savory food, sometimes even sweet or spicy foods. If you’re looking for an alternative to Worcestershire sauce that adds the same amount of tartness and savoriness, look no further than BBQ sauce.
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce = 1 Tbsp. Barbeque Sauce
#6. Fish Sauce
Both fish sauce and Worcestershire sauce are rich in fermented anchovies, so they share a slightly similar flavor. Fish sauce is produced by fermenting small fish in salt for long periods. Eventually, the fish bodies begin to break down, and the juices that are released are used to make fish sauce.
Fish sauce is known for its umami-like earthy, savory flavor and its pungency. But it’s a very adaptable ingredient. Using fish sauce on different foods, from mushrooms to roasted veggies or meats, can elevate the complexity and make any dish more palatable.
If you want to swap Worcestershire sauce with fish sauce, use half the amount first. Fish sauce has a much more concentrated flavor, so it’s best to start with a little.
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce = ½ Tbsp. Fish Sauce
#7. Anchovy Paste
An anchovy is a small breed of forage fish found in both marine and freshwaters. The process of making an anchovy sauce or an anchovy paste is similar to that of fish sauce.
Anchovy paste is sold in tubes and tins in the supermarket. It has a noticeable salty, fishy flavor and may also contain vinegar and other spices.
Anchovy paste has a pretty thick consistency. So if you’re planning to use it as a dressing, you may want to water it down first. It also has a very potent taste, so do not substitute for more than half the amount of Worcestershire sauce your recipe calls for.
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce = ½ Tbsp. Anchovy Paste