Everyone from home cooks to bartenders knows of the wonders of Worcestershire sauce and how it can bring serious flavor to all sorts of recipes.
This fermented sauce is savory, tangy, sweet, salty, and seasoned with spices, making it unlike any other single condiment you'll find in your pantry. While there's nothing quite like Worcestershire sauce, there are plenty of great-tasting substitutes that you can add to your cooking with equally tasty results.
Worcestershire sauce is a liquid condiment that dates to early 19th century England. It was created by John Wheeley Lea and William Henry Perrins, who were two pharmacists. The duo created the Lea & Perrins company which is still the leading brand of Worcestershire sauce today. Worcestershire sauce is made by fermenting ingredients like vinegar, molasses, tamarind extract, anchovies, garlic, spice, and other flavorings and aging it.
This delicious condiment is used to enhance a wide variety of recipes. It's added to beef stews, bolognese, ragu, Caeser salads, deviled eggs, grilled cheese sandwiches, steaks, burgers, and drinks like the Bloody Mary. Use Worcestershire sauce any time you want to add a mouthwateringly savory flavorful layer to cooking. It's especially good with meat, cheese, mushrooms, and tomatoes.
Soy sauce shares salty, sweet, savory notes with Worcestershire sauce, making it a solid substitute in a pinch. It's not as tangy or as spiced as Worcestershire sauce, but it will add plenty of flavor into dishes such as soups and stews, and it can also be added to Bloody Mary cocktails to a similar effect.
Combine one part soy sauce with one part ketchup will give you a sweet-salty-savory-tangy flavor that is reminiscent of Worcestershire sauce. Use this substitute in meat dishes like stews, meatloaf, or burgers. Because soy sauce and ketchup will yield a thicker sauce, it's best to avoid using it for dressings or your Bloody Mary.
With its unique sweet and salty, yet funky flavor, fish sauce is a good Worcestershire sauce sub you can use in stews, soups, and other cooked recipes – it's quite strong, so it shouldn't be used for cocktails.
Like Worcestershire sauce, oyster sauce is sweet, salty, and savory. It has a subtle oyster flavor and is a great option to use in your recipes if you want the complex flavor of Worcestershire sauce but want something with a lower sodium content: oyster sauce has less salt than either fish sauce or soy sauce. It's best used in cooked recipes.
Maggi is a fantastic Worcestershire sauce substitute. It has a similar texture and flavor and can be used in the same ways. Add it to cocktails, splash it onto deviled eggs, or use it to season your burgers. Take note, it's made from wheat so Maggi isn't gluten-free.
Have a jar of pickles stashed in the fridge? Try putting that pickle juice to good use as a substitute for Worcestershire sauce. Its sour-sweet-salty and lightly spiced flavor is great in Bloody Marys and Micheladas and works to enhance the flavor of meat dishes. Plus, it's one ingredient you're sure to have on hand!
Love it or loathe it, there's no denying Marmite is a great alternative to Worcestershire sauce. This thick, salty condiment is ideal in stews and soups. To get a closer taste of Worcestershire sauce, dilute the Marmite with water and add a squeeze of lemon juice, a dash of soy sauce, and a pinch of sugar when cooking with it.
This Chinese rice wine is salty, with an earthy, floral flavor not unlike dry sherry. Be sure if you use Shaoxing wine to use it while you're cooking to let the alcohol burn off.
If you're looking for a gluten-free, vegan-friendly Worcestershire sauce substitute, you should check out coconut aminos. They're made from aged coconut sap and salt and have a sweet, savory flavor that's a little coconut and reminiscent of soy sauce. Use coconut aminos in a straight 1:1 swap for Worcestershire sauce in your recipes.
Old-fashioned steak sauce has plenty in common with Worcestershire sauce. There's tangy vinegar, tamarind extract, sugar, and salt. Brown sauce is perfect as a substitute for Worcestershire sauce when you're cooking. Because it's a bit thicker, you should avoid using it in drinks or as a garnish for dishes.
You can use wine as an alternative to Worcestershire sauce. Stick to bold, rich, slightly spicy reds like Syrah, It's an ideal choice if you're cooking meat or making marinades.
With its sour, sweet flavor, sherry vinegar can be a great Worcestershire sauce substitute in your cooking. It's perfect when stirred into your soups and stews while you're cooking. Because it's very tart, you'll want to avoid adding it to cocktails or dash it over a steak right before serving.
Even better than sherry vinegar as an alternative to Worcestershire sauce is dry sherry. It has some of the condiment's funky, earthiness, and if you season your dishes with some salt and spice, makes a good approximation of Worcestershire sauce.
Miso paste has a lot in common with Worcestershire sauce. It's a fermented condiment with a lightly sweet, salty, savory taste that adds so much flavor to a dish. Use it anything from cocktails to meatloaf, marinades, dressings, and more. For best results, dilute the miso paste with a splash of water.
Worcestershire sauce contains both vinegar and tamarind, so you can make a stripped-down substitute by mixing equal parts balsamic vinegar and tamarind paste. It'll be much tarter than classic Worcestershire sauce, so cut the amount you add to your recipes by half. Keep this one for cooking and use a different alternative for cocktails and salad dressings.
One of the key ingredients in Worcestershire sauce is anchovies. These salty, savory little fish help give this classic condiment its unique flavor. You can whisk anchovy paste with a little water and use it in soups and stews to enhance the flavor of your dish.
If you want to flex your culinary skills, you can start mixing ingredients to make substitutes that taste quite similar to Worcestershire sauce. Combining soy sauce, tamarind paste, hot sauce, and vinegar, is a clever way to approximate the sweet, tangy, sour, salty flavor of Worcestershire sauce. Whisk equal parts of each – you can even add a pinch of ground allspice or cloves to get that spiced flavor in your substitute.