You may not be able to say it or spell it, but Worcestershire sauce is a special condiment that adds that can’t-quite-put-your-finger-on-it type flavor.
If you find yourself in a pinch without Worcestershire, it’s hard to replicate exactly, but we have some substitutes for worcestershire sauce that can get the job done.
What is Worcestershire sauce?
First, to set the record straight, it’s pronounced wuss-stuh-shr. Repeat wuss-stuh-shr.
Worcestershire is a condiment originating from Britain in the 19th century. Lea and Perrins is the original recipe invented by two chemists (one named Lea and one named Perrins, of course) in 1837 and is still the most recognizable brand in its paper-covered bottle.
Worcestershire is a fermented concoction made from malt vinegar, molasses, anchovy, tamarind extract, and spices, and it takes over 18 months to mature. The resulting sauce delivers a potent umami flavor that is unique to any other condiment. Worcestershire is a key flavoring ingredient in beef burgers (and shrimp burgers) meatballs, stews, marinades and sauces (like Russian Dressing), and even some cocktails (try it in a Tomatillo Green Bloody Mary).
While there is nothing else quite like it, the umami, salty, sweet, and slightly smoky flavor notes of Worcestershire can be found in other pantry staples as well.
9 Substitutes for Worcestershire Sauce
Soy sauce is our go-to easy substitute for Worcestershire. It’s also a fermented condiment that’s made from soybeans. Not only is it similar in consistency, but it also delivers the salty, umami flavor you’re looking for.
Use soy sauce in a 1:1 swap for Worcestershire. Soy sauce doesn’t have the spices that Worcestershire does, so you can add a dash of garlic powder, chili flakes, or similar spices if desired.
Coconut aminos is a condiment very similar to soy sauce and commonly used as a soy-free and gluten-free alternative. It’s also a dark brown fermented condiment, but this one is made by fermenting coconut palm sap.
Coconut aminos have a slightly sweeter flavor profile than its fermented condiment cousins but still deliver a salty and savory depth of flavor to sub for Worcestershire.
Use coconut aminos as a 1:1 substitute for Worcestershire.
Another excellent deliverer of umami, miso can do the job for Worcestershire in a pinch. Miso is a fermented soybean paste that is a bit more tangy, but especially fantastic in a meat marinade.
Use red or white miso 1:1 for the Worcestershire sauce that is needed.
Oyster sauce is a thick, dark brown sauce traditionally made from cooking oysters. Most modern versions use oyster extract with spices and thickeners. Oyster sauce doesn’t have a strong fishy flavor, but is a combination of savory umami flavor with a touch of sweetness.
Oyster sauce can be substituted 1:1 for Worcestershire sauce, but is thicker so a small amount of extra liquid may be needed.
Steak sauce might be a pantry staple for you and delivers similar flavor notes as Worcestershire. It is usually made with a base of tomato paste, raisin paste, vinegar, soy sauce, and spices.
Steak sauce is a bit thicker than Worcestershire, so we recommend adding a bit of water to thin it out before subbing it into your recipe. Substitute steak sauce in a 1:1 ratio.
Fish sauce is another option to deliver umami in your recipe that is common in Southeast Asian cuisine. It is made from fermented anchovies (or sometimes another high-oil fish such as mackerel) that match well with the anchovy notes of Worcestershire.
Fish sauce has a strong flavor impact and is usually only needed in small doses. Start with ½ the amount of Worcestershire sauce needed as a substitute.
Anchovies are a main ingredient in Worcestershire sauce, so anchovy paste can provide a similar flavor to your recipe. It works best in dishes that are already fish-based such as a salmon marinade, tuna, or crab cake.
Anchovy paste can be used ¾:1 for Worcestershire sauce.
This one is a little niche, but Maggi seasoning sauce is often compared to Worcestershire sauce in terms of its flavor. It’s another fermented condiment made from fermented wheat protein. If you happen to have it in your pantry, it’s a great substitute.
Maggi sauce is much more potent, so don’t use this one in a 1:1 swap for the amount of Worcestershire you need. Start with ¼ the amount and add more to taste.
Balsamic or Sherry Vinegar
Since Worcestershire is a malt vinegar-based sauce, vinegar can be a great substitute. We like balsamic or sherry vinegar to sub in for Worcestershire.
If you have extra time, balsamic vinegar is an even better option when reduced by simmering. The result is a thicker, slightly sweeter, and more concentrated flavor to add that extra kick.
Substitute either vinegar in a 1:1 ratio for Worcestershire sauce.
It’s pretty impossible to replicate the unique and long-fermented flavors of Worcestershire sauce, so if you can, don’t skip the original version in a recipe. However, if you need a swap and are feeling ambitious, there are some suggested recipes to make it. Try a simple recipe of 1 tablespoon ketchup + ½ tablespoon soy sauce + ½ tablespoon vinegar.
Dare we say it, it’s probably not a huge deal to simply skip Worcestershire in a recipe. Worcestershire sauce is a seasoning sauce and most likely your recipe will work just fine without it too. You might just miss that little extra oomph.
Worcestershire is safe to store in your pantry (or any cool, dry place) and does not necessarily need refrigeration. If kept in the refrigerator, it can extend its shelf life to upwards of 3 years.
For the best flavor, use your Worcestershire sauce by the ‘best by’ date on the bottle. However, because of its fermented properties, there is little food safety risk with condiments such as Worcestershire.
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Use Worcestershire Sauce in These Recipes
Chicken & Turkey