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11 Best Anchovy Substitutes You Can Use For Any Recipe

More often than not, we’ve all been in those situations where you’re cooking up something tasty in the kitchen, and at the last minute, you realize anchovies are a required ingredient, but you don’t have any on hand.

At times like that, it’s always good to have a replacement for those anchovies. So if you’ve been wondering what to use instead, read ahead to find out the best anchovy substitutes.

What Are Anchovies?

Anchovies are small and slender fish commonly found in marine waters.

They are a nutrient-rich variety of fish that contain vitamin B, iron, selenium, and omega-3 fatty acids, all of which are amazing for the health of the body.

They have a strong salty taste filled with a robust umami flavor. Umami is a flavor profile often considered the fifth flavor, which encompasses all the elements of bitter, sweet, savory, and salty.

It creates a unique flavor that is savory, meaty, and earthy.  

This salty and umami combination is one of the main reasons anchovies are a common ingredient in many dishes.

They impart a deep savory flavor that makes any food stand out without overpowering all the other ingredients.

 However, not everyone likes anchovy, so sometimes you just need a substitute.

Whether you’re an anchovy hater or you’ve simply run out of them and need a substitute read ahead to find out the best replacement. Ready? Let’s dive in.

Nutritional Value Table

Substitute (Per 100 gm)Calories (Per 100 gm)Protein (Per 100 gm)Fat (Per 100 gm)
Anchovy Paste214.314.3g17.9g
Worcestershire Sauce670g0g
Shrimp Paste12723.78g2.3g
Fish Sauce355.06g0.01g
Liquid Aminos010g0g
Capers232.36g0.86g
Miso Paste19911.69g6.01g
Umeboshi Paste331g0g
Seaweed382.38g0.26g
Canned Herring15817.96g9.04g
Soy Sauce536.28g0.04g

1. Anchovy Paste

Anchovy paste is a thick paste made from grounded anchovy. Since it is made from exactly what you’re trying to substitute, it should really be your first option whenever you need an anchovy substitute.

 It is packed full of the same sharp, salty, umami, and slightly fishy flavor you can expect when you use anchovy in a dish.

This rich paste is just as versatile as anchovy and can be incorporated into different sauces, marinades, and salad dressings and even used as a pizza topping.

You can get anchovy paste at your local grocery store, but it is also very easy to make on your own.

How To Substitute

Use a 1:1 ratio when substituting anchovy with anchovy paste.

Here is a video to guide you through the steps of making it at home.

2. Worcestershire Sauce

Worcestershire sauce is a fermented liquid condiment from the UK made from a vinegar base flavored with anchovies, soy sauce, molasses, and other rich ingredients. 

This dark sauce has a sweet and tangy flavor with a distinct savory umami taste that makes it a great substitute for anchovies.

Worcestershire sauce is best used as an anchovy substitute in liquid-based dishes like dressing, marinades, stew, soups, and sauce.

How To Substitute

Use one teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce for each teaspoon of anchovy required.

3. Shrimp Paste

Shrimp paste is another fermented condiment that makes an excellent substitute for anchovy. It is commonly used in Asian cooking and consists of grounded shrimp and salt, all in one flavorful fermented mixture.

Shrimp paste often varies in terms of consistency and appearance, as it has many varieties with different colors, consistencies, and even ingredients.

However, the overall flavor in every shrimp paste is a deep salty, and savory taste with a strong seafood flavor that mimics that of anchovy really well.

 It is commonly used in Southeast Asian recipes to make sauces and curries, but it can be incorporated into a wide range of foods.

You cannot consume shrimp paste raw, so it is best suited to recipes that involve cooking. It can’t really be used for things like salad dressing or as a pizza topping.

How To Substitute

Use a 1:1 ratio when substituting shrimp paste for anchovy.

4. Fish Sauce

Fish sauce is a staple seasoning in Asian cuisines. It is a condiment made from fermented fish, which often includes anchovy.  

This golden brown sauce deepens the flavor of any dish it is added to and imparts a savory umami flavor that is very similar to that of anchovies, making it an ideal anchovy substitute. 

Typically fish sauce is commonly used as a marinade or a seasoning for meat, soups, and sauces in Asian cuisine, but the bold flavors of this sauce will work well with any dish.

How To Substitute

If you are replacing anchovy fillet with fish sauce, use ½ a teaspoon of fish sauce for each anchovy filet required.

5. Liquid Aminos

Liquid aminos are a gluten-free alternative to soy sauce that is made from soybeans. It has a savory umami taste similar to that of soy sauce and mimics the deep saltiness of anchovies very well.  

It is an excellent substitute for anchovies in dishes like soups or salad dressing.

How To Substitute

Use one teaspoon of liquid aminos for each tablespoon of anchovy required.

6. Capers

Capers are pea-sized flower buds that come from the caper bush plant. They are a rich source of vitamins A, E, and manganese and are very common in Mediterranean cuisine

These green buds have a briny flavor comparable to that of olives, but they also possess a savory saltine that makes them an excellent replacement for substitutes.

They make a great addition to pasta sauces and dressings.

How To Substitute

Use half a tablespoon of capers for each tablespoon of anchovy required when substituting.

7. Miso Paste

Miso paste is a Japanese seasoning made from fermented soybeans. It is another great anchovy substitute. It has a robust, savory flavor and saltiness, both of which are very similar to that of anchovy. 

This thick paste can be eaten raw or cooked and added to sauces, dressing, and soups.

How To Substitute

Use ½ a teaspoon of miso paste for every tablespoon of anchovy required in a recipe. You also need to add the miso paste towards the end of the cooking process. Adding it very early into dishes with a long cooking time can overheat the miso and kill the active bacteria within it.

8. Umeboshi Paste

Umeboshi paste is another traditional Japanese paste made from a pickled mixture of plum, sea salt, and herbs.

It is characterized by its thick red appearance, and just like miso, it imparts a salty and savory blend of umami into foods. However, it also possesses a sharp, acidic note that helps to mimic the flavor of anchovy.  

Although it is traditionally used in sushi, sauces, and rice dishes, Umeboshi paste is very versatile and can be incorporated in anything from pesto to puttanesca, salad dressing, and pasta.

It is also an ideal option for those on a vegan diet since it is made from plums.

How To Substitute

Umeboshi paste can be substituted for anchovy at a 1:1 ratio.

9. Seaweed

Also known as Nori, edible seaweed is commonly used in Japanese cooking. It often comes in thin dried sheets of black or green, and it is commonly used to make sushi rolls. 

Seaweed has a distinct salty and slightly sweet flavor that makes it a great replacement for anchovy if you’re looking for something to suit a vegetarian diet. 

How To Substitute

Use a 1:1 ratio when substituting seaweed for anchovy.

10. Canned Herring

Herrings are another small marine water fish with a similar taste and saltiness to anchovies. They are rich in protein and omega-3 fatty acids and are typically sold in cans packed with oil. 

They have an oily and salty taste that mimics the flavor of anchovies and make a great substitute for anchovies in salad, sauces, or pizza.

How To Substitute

Use a 1:1 ratio when replacing anchovy with canned herring.

Canned herring can be used for a wide variety of dishes, but in case you need some inspiration, here’s a video to give you some ideas.

11. Soy Sauce

Soy sauce is a very common Chinese liquid condiment used in all kinds of dishes, so most people likely already have it on hand.

It makes a great replacement for anchovy if you’re looking for a last-minute option that will replicate the salty umami taste of anchovies.

 Soy sauce is an excellent choice for those who aren’t the biggest fan of the fishy flavor of anchovies, as you’ll get the deep flavors without any of the unpleasant fishy aromas.

How To Substitute

Use one tablespoon of soy sauce for each anchovy required in a recipe when substituting.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is A Vegan Substitute For Anchovy?

The best vegan-friendly substitutes for anchovy include miso paste, nori, capers, olive, and umeboshi paste. You can also combine at least two of these ingredients to get a more robust umami flavor similar to that of anchovies.

For example, a combination of nori and miso paste is an excellent mixture for perfectly mimicking that anchovy flavor.

Can You Use Fish Sauce In Place Of Anchovy?

Fish sauce has a savory umami taste and is often made from a fermented mixture of anchovies. So it has a similar flavor profile which means it can be used in place of anchovy.

What Is The Best Replacement For Anchovy Is Caesar Dressing?

The best replacement for anchovy in caesar dressing includes either fish sauce or Worcestershire sauce.

Both of these sauces typically contain some anchovies in the base ingredients, so they can mimic the flavors of anchovies really well.

What Flavors Does Anchovy Add To Food?

Anchovy has a strong salty taste that adds a rich umami flavor to food. They also bring a strong, savory element of flavor to any dish.

What Kind Of Fish Is Anchovy?

Anchovies are forage fishes of the Engrualidae family. Although most anchovy species are saltwater fishes, a few varieties are found in freshwater and brackish water areas.

They are generally classified as oily fish and are typically consumed as human food or fish bait.

What Does Anchovy Taste Like?

Anchovies have a very salty and somewhat fishy taste.

They also have a rich layer of umami which gives them a savory taste similar to the one found in Asian cuisines and foods with amino acid glutamate or monosodium glutamate (MSG)

Are Capers And Anchovies The Same?

Capers and anchovies are not the same. Anchovies are salty slender fish, and capers are unripe flower buds of the caper bush plant.

Although they both have similar flavors that can mimic each other, the two are very different.

Can I Use Sardines To Replace Anchovy?

Although they are both classified as oily fish and may sometimes look similar, it is best to avoid replacing anchovy with sardine.

This is because the two of them do not exactly have the same taste or texture, and when incorporated into long-cooked sauces or soups, sardines may provide an entirely different texture and outcome.

Is Worcestershire Sauce A Good Substitute For Anchovy?

Worcestershire is a good substitute for anchovy as it is made from a mixture of ingredients that includes anchovies. It also has a savory umami taste similar to that of anchovy.

What Can I Use Instead Of Anchovies In Puttanesca?

Anchovies are added to puttanesca in minimal amounts to impart a deep umami flavor, so to replicate that taste, all you need are ingredients that will deliver the same salty and savory taste. 

The best ingredients to use in place of anchovies when making puttanesca include seaweed,  miso paste, umeboshi paste, and capers.

You can also use anchovy paste if you want something with the exact same taste.

11 Best Anchovy Substitutes You Can Use For Any Recipe

5 from 3 votes
Prep time

7

minutes
Cooking time

0

minutes
Total time

7

minutes

Find the best anchovy substitute for your recipe. We have a variety of substitutes to choose from to make your dish perfect.

Ingredients

  • Anchovy Paste

  • Worcestershire Sauce

  • Shrimp Paste

  • Fish Sauce

  • Liquid Aminos

  • Capers

  • Miso Paste

  • Umeboshi Paste

  • Seaweed

  • Canned Herring

  • Soy Sauce

Directions

  • Pick any substitute you prefer from the lists above.
  • Follow the recipe instructions for your preferred substitute and use the proper ratio required while cooking.

Recipe Video

Jess Smith