Want a dressing for your Caesar salad? Or to intensify the taste of bloody mary? If so, there you have it, his majesty Worcestershire sauce.
Use it in salads, meats, dressings, cheese sauces, meat marinades, ragus, tomato dishes, juicy burgers, and sweet-savory cocktails. It will intensify the taste that is quite excellent.
The possibilities are endless. It all depends on your taste and wish to experiment.
Worcestershire sauce originates from Worcestershire, England. It was made by two chemists in the 1800s hired to try to duplicate a sauce from overseas in Bengal.
They couldn’t get the same taste so they left the sauce in jars. And after years it turns out that they finally accomplished their mission. They started putting the sauce in bottles and selling it around Europe, and later in the US.
Today, this product is sold in 75 countries worldwide and is used in many cuisines.
This sauce is made of vinegar, sugar, salt, molasses, onions, garlic, anchovies, tamarind extract, chili paper extract, and a couple of other ”undiscovered” ingredients. It has a complex flavor and taste. Meaning, it’s sweet, salty, and savory at once.
If for some reason you run out of it, you can use balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, coconut aminos, barbecue sauce, or oyster sauce. Or some of the following combinations.
You will not reach the exact flavor but you can minimize the effect of its absence. Here are 15 of the best Worcestershire sauce substitutes.
Worcestershire Sauce Substitutes
1. Balsamic vinegar
This is the main ingredient in Worcestershire sauce. Other ingredients are added afterward to intensify its taste and flavor. It has a very similar flavor to Worcestershire sauce. And this makes it an excellent substitute for it.
Balsamic vinegar is made from unfermented grape juice. It has a dark color and intensely sweet, tart, acid, and tangy flavor.
This vinegar has and some health benefits like reducing high blood pressure, blood sugar, acid reflux, and lowering cholesterol levels.
When you use this substitute you should mix equal parts of balsamic vinegar and tamarind paste to bring thickness to the mixture.
2. Soy sauce
Soy sauce is dark, sweet, and has a thick consistency with an umami flavor. It has high sodium levels. Thus, it’s not recommended for people with high blood pressure.
You can use it with steaks, hamburgers, pies, or as a marinade, and if you add equal parts of ketchup you will get the tart flavor in this sauce.
3. Coconut aminos
Don’t like fish or you are vegetarian. This is a great substitute for you to use for Worcestershire sauce. Coconut aminos are made from a fermented mix of sea salt and the sap of coconut palm.
It’s gluten-free, wheat, and soy-free. And thanks to its salty, savory, and umami flavor, it’s used as a dipping sauce or marinade.
You can also use it as a salt substitute in soups. It’s good for people on a low sodium diet. When you use it instead of Worcestershire sauce use equal amounts.
4. Fish sauce
Fish sauce is made of fermented anchovies. It has a salty and savory flavor but it’s not as sweet as Worcestershire sauce. To get the taste of the Worcestershire sauce, use the same amount of soy sauce, fish sauce, and tamarind concentrate.
Then mix in half the amount of ketchup and rice vinegar with a pinch of allspice. Serve it like you will serve Worcestershire sauce.
5. Barbecue sauce
Barbecue sauce is sweeter than Worcestershire sauce. It’s used as a marinade for meat to be barbequed or as a condiment. There are few barbecue sauce flavors. But if you want to have the flavor of the Worcestershire sauce use sweet and tangy flavored ones.
This sauce is thicker and has a lighter color than Worcestershire sauce but it has a similar flavor. Once opened store it in the freezer. You can use this sauce the same way you would use Worcestershire sauce but have in mind that it’s sweeter than it.
6. Oyster sauce
Oyster sauce is made of caramelized oyster juices, soy sauce, and thickened with cornstarch. It’s used in sauces and stir-fries for adding sweetness and umami flavor.
When used as a substitute for Worcestershire sauce make a 1:1 switch. It’s less salty so you can better control the amount of salt in your meal.
7. Sherry vinegar
Sherry vinegar is made from sherry wine that has been aged in barrels for at least 6 months. It has almost the same flavor as Worcestershire sauce.
However, it’s less spicer. The sweet, sour, and funky flavor make it a great 1:1 substitute for Worcestershire sauce.
8. Soy sauce + apple juice
This mixture has a salty-sweet-tart umami flavor made with equal parts of soy sauce and apple juice. You can add it to dishes with more layered flavors and reach new flavors.
9. Soy sauce + hoisin sauce + apple cider vinegar
Mix equal parts of soy sauce and hoisin sauce for a similar substitution for Worcestershire sauce. If you want to make it thinner and add some tartness use a dash of apple cider vinegar.
10. Fish sauce + soy sauce + brown sugar
This sauce can be used in dishes that will be cooked because of the sugar added. Use half fish, half soy sauce and mix them adding a big pinch of sugar until it’s dissolved.
11. Anchovy paste + water
One of the ingredients in Worcestershire sauce is anchovies, so this combo a good substitute for it. This paste is made from salt-cured anchovy fillets, olive oil, vinegar, and sugar.
When you add the same amount of water you have the same sauce that can be used in cooked dishes. If you don’t have this paste you can mash whole anchovy fillets from the jar and add the same amount of water.
12. Red wine vinegar + tamarind paste
Use the same amount of red wine vinegar and tamarind paste. Then, stir well. This mixture is sweeter, tarter, and tangy than Worcestershire sauce. Therefore, it should be used half amount of it.
13. Shaoxin cooking wine
Shaoxin cooking wine is Chinese rice wine. It has a very similar flavor as dry sherry and it’s often salted. Therefore, it’s also very similar to Worcestershire sauce. However, it’s better to use it in cooked dishes because of its alcoholic taste.
14. Fish sauce + lemon juice + cranberry juice
Add an equal amount of each ingredient and mix them. You will get a salty, sweet, tart, and funky flavor. Use as a 1:1 substitute for Worcestershire sauce.
15. A1 steak sauce
A1 Steak sauce is made of tomato puree, white vinegar, corn syrup, raisin paste, orange puree, and salt and has a very similar taste to Worcestershire sauce.
The only thing missing is the spice and heat. When used as a substitute for Worcestershire sauce use the same amount.
Soy-based substitutes are good for vegetarians and can be easily made.
You can adjust the recipe to your needs and experiment in the kitchen. Mix soy and ketchup, soy and apple juice, soy and apple cider vinegar, etc.
Fish-based substitutes go well with soy sauce, brown sugar, red wine, vinegar, molasses, lime/lemon juice, tamarind concentrate, and many other varieties.
Wine-based substitutes are good for 1:1 switches. They’re not spicy, savory, or salty. But they are fermented and sweet which makes them suitable.
In the end here are two recipes for you to try in your kitchen.
Homemade Worcestershire Sauce
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ¼ tablespoon smoked paprika
- 1 tablespoon molasses
- 2 tablespoons honey
- ½ teaspoon crushed garlic
- 2 tablespoons Thai fish sauce
- ½ cup apple cider vinegar
- ½ teaspoon ground clove
- ¼ teaspoon of nutmeg
- 1 lime, juiced
Put all the ingredients in the blender, and blend them in a very smooth mixture. This sauce can last up to one month if stored properly.
Vegan Worcestershire Sauce
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 cups of apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon mustard powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
Put all the ingredients in a saucepan and boil over medium heat. Simmer the mixture and let it sit for 20 minutes until reduced by half.
Cool it down and place it in the blender to reach a smooth texture. This sauce can be stored for three months in proper conditions.
Worcestershire sauce comes in different forms to fit different needs. There are low-sodium, gluten-free, vegan, and other varieties of this sauce.
It can be stored at room temperature if it’s not open. But once opened you must store it in the freezer. Many of us can’t imagine not having Worcestershire sauce in our kitchens.
It’s a flavor booster in most recipes. Thanks to the ingredients used and the way it is aged in the barrels, this sauce it appreciated and makes a difference with its use. Even a small amount does the magic to the dish for a flavor that will be remembered and repeated.