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Best Substitutes for Worcestershire Sauce

Lisa Price
Last Updated on
by Lisa Price

You have your recipe all ready to go, and suddenly you realize you don’t have the best Worcestershire sauce. Do you need it? Is there a Worcestershire sauce substitute? What the heck is Worcestershire sauce?

Here are the answers to all these questions and more.

What is Worcestershire Sauce?

Worcestershire Sauce in a Bowl

John Wheeley Lea and William Henry Perrins created the sauce in Worcester, England, in the 1900s. They went on to form a condiment company. The recipe for the sauce is still a secret, though there are some homemade recipes out there.

The sauce has a robust taste. It is used in savory dishes to add an extra punch of flavor. The sauce is fermented and has a salty and sweet experience. It has umami flavors which is one of the five basic tastes that you find in meats and soups.

The flavors you will taste in Worcestershire sauce are vinegar, garlic, molasses, tamarind extract, anchovies, sugar, chili pepper extract, and salt. Some people also claim to taste cloves, lemons, soy, and pickles.

If you’re in the middle of a recipe and need Worcestershire sauce substitutes, there are a few options that can help you get the flavor you are looking for in your recipe.

Top 5 Worcestershire Sauce Substitutes

Depending on the recipe, there are many different Worcestershire sauce substitute options. Sometimes you need a little extra sweet sauce, and sometimes you need the salt. You can experiment with a few other options to find the one that works best in your recipe.

For some of these substitutes, you may affect the consistency of your meal. That can change the mouthfeel and affect the whole taste. That is why you sometimes have to change the amount of replacement you use.

Before you use any of these replacements, make sure to taste them to get a feel for what they are going to do to your dish. It is a crucial step if you don’t plan on cooking a sauce or drink. You are adding these ingredients too. 

These are the top five replacements for Worcestershire sauce so you can finish your favorite recipe.

1. Soy Sauce

Soy Sauce
Soy Sauce is a much older sauce option. People first started using it in China over 2000 years ago.

The best Soy Sauce can work excellently in many recipes. It adds that fermented flavor you are looking for when you use Worcestershire sauce, and it still has a slight sweetness to it.

You can use soy sauce in a one-to-one exchange for the sauce. When it comes to alternatives to Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce is great for salt and other savory flavors. It doesn’t do a great job replacing the sweet or spice flavors.

If you want to get some extra sweet with this replacement, you can add other things. Ketchup, apple juice, apple cider vinegar, mustard, cloves, and sugar, can all be mixed with soy sauce to help make up the other flavors.

When you add spices and other non-liquid options, the replacement can become too thick. If you notice this, you can add more soy sauce or a little bit of water to thin it out to keep the same consistency.

You can use low sodium soy sauce, but you may have to add extra salt to taste. You can also get a vegan and vegetarian option in soy.

Related Article: Soy Sauce vs Teriyaki Sauce Comparison


2. Fish Sauce

Fish Sauce or Worcestershire
Fish sauce first appeared in the Mediterranean but is now considered a very popular Asian seasoning.

Fish sauce is made with barrel-fermented anchovies. It has a powerful and highly salty flavor that you can use as a substitute for Worcestershire sauce in recipes that call for the savory flavor punch. It can be added one to one when used by itself.

If you have never worked with fish sauce before, it can be very aromatic, especially when it is uncooked. You will want to be aware of this feature before using it as a replacement in dressings and bloody marys.

This sauce can work best in cooked dishes. Its smell can also get lost in cooked meats so that you are only getting the flavor from it.

With the fish sauce, you can add various add-ons like spices, sugar, and different juices to try and recreate some of the other more sweet flavor notes of Worcestershire sauce. When you do this, you will have to adjust some of the proportions for consistency.

When you use fish sauce, you want to make sure that you adjust the rest of the salt in the recipe. Otherwise, you may find that you have over-salted your dish and made it less delicious. If you aren’t sure, add less salt and taste constantly to find the right balance.

Related Article: Best Substitutes for Oyster Sauce


3. Sherry Vinegar

Sherry Vinegar
To make sherry vinegar, they take sherry wine and age it in oak barrels until it ferments. 

Sherry Vinegar can be an exciting substitute for Worcestershire sauce. Vinegar, in general, can be used to replace the sauce. It is partially because all vinegar has been fermented. They also do an excellent job of adding a bit of flavor to a meal while still giving sweet notes.

Sherry Vinegar is extra sweet, sour, and malty. It covers many of the same flavor notes you expect to find in Worcestershire sauce, but unfortunately, it is missing the heat and spice that many people love from the original.

To replace that missing heat, you can add peppers and spices to taste to attempt to recreate the flavors.

Sherry Vinegar is excellent in almost everything you cook with the original sauce, but it can be too sour for drinks and sauces that call for Worcestershire. If you don’t have sherry vinegar, you may also want to try balsamic and red wine vinegar


4. Your Favourite BBQ Sauce

BBQ Sauce
BBQ sauce is a replacement that isn’t always going to work, but you might like it when it does. You’re trying to get a big flavor out of Worcestershire sauce, and BBQ sauce can provide those.

Many BBQ sauces include Worcestershire sauce as one of their many ingredients.

Then you add on extra flavors like more spices, tomato sauce, mustard, or other well-known condiments and sugars. If you pick a BBQ sauce that you like, you may find that you add a few flavors to the meal that really work well.

The BBQ sauce is usually much thicker than the original sauce, so you may have to cut it with water. The replacement will usually be a lot sweeter than Worcestershire sauce, but if you like your savory with sweeter notes, that shouldn’t bother you.

You might find that you like some of the added flavors, or you may notice that they are too overpowering and get rid of the flavor notes you loved in the meal. Use very sparse amounts of BBQ at first until you figure out the exact replacement.


5. A1 Steak Sauce

A1 Steak Sauce
According to legend, A1 got its name from King George the IV. He made that exclamation after trying a new sauce.

A1 steak sauce is a Worcestershire sauce replacement that only shares a few ingredients but still gives you a very similar taste profile. It adds the salty and the sweet with many different spices that can help replace the flavors you are missing from Worcestershire sauce.

The steak sauce adds tomatoes and raisins and loses the anchovies and vinegar, but it still matches enough to give you a similar experience in most recipes. 

You can use A1 in almost every recipe that calls for Worcestershire sauce one for one. The replacement is a little thicker, though, so it may not be great when you need to focus on texture. A little bit of water may help with that problem, though. 

The steak sauce offers an extensive flavor profile, so you can use it to replace a lot of the missing pazzazz that you get with the original sauce.

Conclusion

Worcestershire sauce substitute is one of the easiest things you can find. There are so many items that you can use to come close to the same flavor.

Luckily Worcestershire is only a flavor additive. It doesn’t change the way the recipe cooks. There are no chemical reactions for most recipes where you use this ingredient. It gives you a lot of extra freedom when deciding how to replace the sauce.

You can try making an at home recipe, but even the best of these uses a lot of guesswork because the official recipe is still secret. The odds are if you have all those ingredients, you probably already have the original sauce.

If you are happy with the other taste in the recipes, or you don’t like a ton of extra flavor, you don’t even have to replace the sauce. So if you don’t have any of these options, you could decide to just try the recipe without it.

To get an extra punch of flavor, you can always replace the sauce with something else you know you enjoy. It may give you a different but delicious meal that you will enjoy. Don’t feel constrained by the flavors you are supposed to find in the Worcestershire sauce. 

About Lisa Price
Lisa Price
Lisa is Food Champ's resident fitness enthusiast and nutrition expert. She holds a nutrition degree in her home state of Florida and works for a large health system to ensure sound nutrition and dietetics information is passed on to all members.
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