The complex flavor of Worcestershire sauce brings an umami depth to dishes with spicy, vinegary, and salty notes. Although mostly used with meats and marinades it is also a key component in Bloody Mary cocktails and Caesar salad dressing.
If you run out of Worcestershire sauce it might seem impossible to figure out a suitable ingredient combination to replace this unique flavor profile. The good news is that there are diverse ingredient combinations that will add the same depth of flavor to your dish. Have a look in your pantry and see which of the following ingredient combinations are the best alternative for your recipe.
What is Worcestershire Sauce?
Worcestershire sauce is made using a combination of sour, sweet, spicy, and salty ingredients which include vinegar, molasses, sugar, salt, tamarind, anchovies, onion, garlic, cloves, and chili extract.
When choosing an alternative you want to try and hit the same sour, sweet, spicy, and salty notes. The substitute option you choose may also depend on the type of dish you are making
The Best Homemade Worcestershire Sauce Substitute
To mirror the flavor profile of Worcestershire combine soy sauce, tamarind, vinegar ground cloves, and hot sauce. Although this combination is a little more complicated than the below alternatives it will probably give you the closest flavor to the real thing.
Substitute quantity: Combine equal parts of soy sauce, tamarind concentrate (or paste), and vinegar with a pinch of ground cloves and few drops of hot sauce. Use the same amount of homemade sauce as Worcestershire sauce required in your recipe.
Best for: Cooked dishes, meats, marinades, and Bloody Mary cocktails.
The Best Soy-Based Worcestershire Sauce Substitutes
2. Soy Sauce
Soy sauce does not have the same spice or acid level as Worcestershire sauce but provides the same savory depth of flavor. It is similar in appearance, consistency, and dissolves well.
Substitute quantity: Use the same amount of soy as Worcestershire required in your recipe.
Best for: almost any recipes that require Worcestershire including dressings, meat, stews, and cocktails.
3. Soy Sauce and Ketchup
The addition of the ketchup provides some sweetness and tang to the saltiness of the soy.
Substitute quantity: Mix one part soy sauce to one part ketchup to make your Worcestershire sauce replacement.
Best for meaty dishes such as meatloaf, burgers, and stews. The mixture may be too thick to use in a salad dressing.
4. Soy Sauce, Apple Cider Vinegar, and Chili Flakes
Substitute quantity: Mix two parts soy sauce to one part vinegar. Add a sprinkle of chili flakes for heat.
Best for: dishes that do not require a smooth texture such as stews or meatloaf.
5. Soy Sauce, Hoisin, and Apple Cider Vinegar
Hoisin sauce itself can be used as an alternative to Worcestershire. Adding the vinegar, however, thins it out and adds some tartness. Hoisin is a sweet and sour sauce made from plums and fermented black bean and garlic sauce.
Substitute quantity: Stir equal parts of soy and hoisin with a small splash of apple cider vinegar.
Best for: Meats dishes and marinades. The darker color and thicker consistency make it best avoided in cocktails and dressings.
6. Soy Sauce, Tamarind Concentrate, and Vinegar
Tamarind concentrate is used when making Pad Thai. It has a tart, slightly sweet flavor, syrupy texture, and dark color. Since Worcestershire sauce originally contains tamarind, this is a great ingredient to use in mimicking its flavor profile.
Substitute quantity: Mix equal parts soy, vinegar, and tamarind concentrate.
Best for: Dishes such as braises and meatloaf that do not require the same texture as Worcestershire sauce since the consistency is syrupy with a dark color.
The Best Vinegar-Based Worcestershire Sauce Substitutes
7. Balsamic or Red Wine Vinegar
Vinegar is the main ingredient in Worcestershire sauce which makes it no surprise that it makes a suitable substitute when you have run out. Balsamic vinegar is the best option since it has a complex flavor of tart and sweet notes. Alternatively, red wine vinegar mixed with a little brown sugar will also work.
Another variation is to add tamarind paste or concentrate to the vinegar to give it a sweet, tart, and tangy flavor.
Substitute quantity: Mix equal parts of vinegar and tamarind paste. Only use half the amount of vinegar-tamarind sauce to replace Worcestershire sauce required in your recipe. For example, if the recipe calls for 2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce, only use one tablespoon of the vinegar-tamarind mix.
Best for: Most recipe alternatives, however, it is very tart and may be too intense for dressings or drinks.
The Best Fish-Based Substitutes for Worcestershire Sauce
Fish sauce is a salty condiment made from salted, barrel-fermented anchovies. Since Worcestershire also contains anchovies it can be used successfully as an alternative.
8. Fish Sauce and Tamarind Concentrate
You can use this mixture tablespoon for tablespoon to replace Worcestershire sauce.
Substitute quantity: Mix equal parts fish sauce and tamarind concentrate well. Adjust the added salt levels in your dish to make up for the fish sauce’s intense saltiness.
Best for: Cooked dishes due to the dark color and strong flavor.
9. Fish Sauce and Red Wine Vinegar
If the flavor of fish sauce is too intense for your taste, tone it down by adding some vinegar.
Substitute quantity: Combine equal parts of fish sauce and red wine vinegar. Use the same quantity to replace the Worcestershire sauce in the recipe.
Best for: Dressings, soups, stews, meat, sauces, and marinades.
10. Fish Sauce, Soy, and Brown Sugar
When using this combination make sure to dissolve the brown sugar completely.
Substitute quantity: Use equal parts fish and soy sauce with a large pinch of brown sugar to taste. Use the same quantity to replace the Worcestershire sauce in the recipe.
Best for: Dressings, soups, stews, meat, sauces, and marinades.
11. Oyster Sauce
Oyster sauce has less salt than soy or fish sauce. This makes it easier to control the saltiness of your dish when using it as a Worcestershire alternative. It is made from thickened caramelized oyster juices, sugar, and soy.
Substitute quantity: Use equal quantities of oyster sauce to replace Worcestershire.
Best for stir-fry, meats, marinades, and stews. Due to the thick texture, it will not be suitable for light dressings and beverages.
A-1 Steak Sauce is a little thicker but has a similar flavor to Worcestershire and can be used as a substitute in meaty dishes and stews.
Soy sauce is derived from soybeans, wheat, enzymes, and salt. It is saltier than Worcestershire sauce and has a lower acidity level. Worcestershire sauce is largely made of vinegar. The addition of tamarind, clove, anchovies, and garlic give it a more complex flavor.
Worcestershire sauce has a unique flavor that is hard to replicate entirely. You can however get pretty close by using staples such as vinegar, tamarind concentrate, soy, or fish sauce. Most alternatives can be used successfully for stews, steak, prime rib, burgers, meatloaf, pulled pork, and shepherd’s pie. When you are substituting the sauce in a vinaigrette or cocktail, choose a thinner sauce with little to no residue.
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