Looking for an alternative to Worcerstershire sauce? You’re in the right place! Keep reading for my favourite simple Worcestershire Sauce substitutes.
What is Worcestershire Sauce?
Worcestershire Sauce is a versatile condiment from England. It’s classically served with steak or eggs (or both!)
It adds a salty umami flavor profile as well as sweetness which makes me think of it as an English version of soy sauce.
The ingredients include malt vinegar, molasses, sugar, salt, anchovies, tamarind paste, onion, garlic spices and flavour.
The Best Worcestershire Sauce Substitutes
1. Balsamic Vinegar
Given that vinegar is the largest ingredient in Worcestershire, balsamic would be my first go-to when I’m looking for a substitute. Both provide tartness and sweetness and complex flavors.
While many people use Worcestershire in their bolognese, I prefer the sweet acidity of balsamic.
And if you don’t have any balsamic vinegar a splash of red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar or apple cider vinegar or lemon juice and some brown sugar will play a similar role.
Balsamic has the advantage of being suitable for vegetarians and vegan diets.
2. Soy Sauce + Sugar
In recipes like bolognese or beef stew, soups or welsh rarebit or marinades where Worcestershire provides complex flavors, a splash of soy sauce. And possibly a pinch of brown sugar will work well.
Start with half the amount of soy sauce. Add a little brown sugar or molasses to provide sweetness. For a closer match add a little garlic powder or onion powder.
If you need a gluten-free sauce be sure to choose a GF brand of soy sauce. Soy sauce will work for vegan diets.
3. BBQ Sauce
Most barbecue sauces will be sweeter and have a thicker consistency than Worcestershire. They will also add similar onion based complex flavors. If you don’t mind the sugar. Your steaks will taste different but will still be delicious. Steak sauce is another similar option.
4. Tomato Ketchup
Ketchup (or tomato sauce as we call it in Australia) is sweeter and thicker to Worcestershire and isn’t as strong on the savory umami flavors. But it will add complexity to your dish so better than no sauce at all.
5. Fish sauce
Given that both fish sauce and Worcestershire are made from fermented anchovies, there are similar savory flavors.
Worcestershire has a lot more sweetness and other flavours from the spices onion and garlic powder.
Start with half the amount of fish sauce and add a little brown sugar or molasses to provide sweetness.
6. Coconut Aminos
Coconut Aminos are a coconut based version of soy sauce. They are surprisingly similar to Worcestershire in terms of sweetness and savory flavors.
They aren’t as vinegary but are a good match.
The only reason I haven’t included them higher on the list is most people don’t have a bottle in their pantry.
A few finely chopped anchovies or anchovy paste added to your bolognese or caesar salad dressing can add the savory saltiness and depth of flavor you’re looking for.
It wouldn’t be my first option. Especially in simple dishes like Welsh Rarebit.
8. Hot Sauce
A good hot sauce like Tabasco will take the taste of your meal in a different direction but a sauce made from hot chili peppers can add a good zing that you’d get from Worcestershire.
9. Leave it Out
If you’re cooking a soup or stew or bolognese that has many different flavors already you won’t notice if you leave it out. But for simple recipes where Worcestershire sauce is the number one source of flavor better to use one of the alternatives mentioned above.
Worcestershire Sauce Flavour Pairings
- Chicken & Worcestershire Sauce
- Bacon & Worcestershire Sauce
- Eggs & Worcestershire Sauce
- Beef & Worcestershire Sauce
- Cheese & Worcestershire Sauce
Is Worcestershire Sauce Gluten-Free?
Yes Lea & Perrins created by William Henry Perrins and John Wheely Lea is gluten-free.
Can I substitute Worcestershire sauce for soy sauce?
Yes! Because they both have savory umami flavors they can be used interchangeably. Don’t substitute equal parts soy sauce though because it is much saltier. Start with less and add more as needed. And for a closer match add a little sugar or vinegar with the soy sauce.
What does Worcestershire sauce do to food?
The number one function of Worcestershire sauce is to provide flavor and make your food taste better. As mentioned above, the types of flavors are in the salty, sweet and umami (savory range). If you are cooking a dish that includes other strong flavors you can leave out the Worcestershire or supplement with one of the alternatives listed above.
For marinades Worcestershire is flavoring and the salt and acid in the sauce acts to tenderize the protein. Choosing one of the substitutes above will provide a similar function.
What are the cons of Worcestershire sauce?
It’s not suitable for vegetarians because it contains fish from the anchovies. And it does contain some processed sugar. However you are only ever using a small amount and the total amount of sugar is much less than ketchup or BBQ sauce so I don’t worry about it.
The only other downside is that the name is difficult to spell! I often call it Worcester sauce for short.
How to Store Worcestershire sauce
I keep mine in the pantry even once it is opened and it lasts for well over 6 months. However if you want it to last for even longer you can refrigerate after opening.
More Ingredient Substitutes
- The Ultimate Guide to Vegetable Substitutes
- Collard Greens
- Miso Paste
- Oyster Sauce
Also see see the Simple Ingredients Substitutes Index.
Have fun in the kitchen!