21 Worcestershire Sauce Substitutes (With Vegan Options!)

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Krishia Published: July 15, 2022
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Looking for a substitute for Worcestershire sauce? Not to worry, we’ve got you covered. Here, we have a curated list to help you easily find a Worcestershire sauce substitute within your pantry. These replacements can easily mimic the flavor of Worcestershire sauce to create scrumptious dishes like this glazed pork chops recipe and even cocktail drinks. 

What Is Worcestershire Sauce?

measuring spoon with worcestershire sauce

Worcestershire sauce, pronounced as woo-ster-shir, is a liquid condiment created by pharmacists John Leah and William Perrins (owners and founders of the famous condiments company Leah & Perrins) in the 19th century. And why the name Worcestershire? Because this sauce pays homage to its birthplace — Worcestershire, England.

What does Worcestershire sauce taste like? This fermented sauce is known for its pungent smell and the perfect combination of sweet, salty, tangy, and umami flavors. And because of this uniquely complex flavor profile, Worcestershire sauce has become one of our go-to condiments in the kitchen.

But how does a simple sauce encapsulate such depth of flavors? Well, it’s because of what’s in a Worcestershire sauce. The original Worcestershire sauce ingredients are top secret that has yet to be fully revealed to the world. But using its flavor profile as a basis, most food technologists and chemists associate its flavors with the following ingredients:

  • Sweetness – from sugar or molasses
  • Tangy flavor – from tamarind or vinegar
  • Umami – from soy sauce, fish sauce, or cured anchovies

On another note, is Worcestershire sauce vegan? The original Worcestershire sauce is not vegan since it uses cured anchovies or some sort of fish sauce. However, there are some brands out there that are vegan-friendly. In the end, it’s always better to check the label to make sure (most companies also indicate in the bottle if it’s vegan or not).

Best Worcestershire Sauce Substitutes That You Can Use

A good substitute for Worcestershire sauce should encapsulate its overall distinct taste. And since most of these substitutes are a mix and match of different condiments, you have the liberty to tweak them according to your liking.

From Worcestershire’s sweet and umami flavors, down to its tangy taste, we got everything covered. We got you a long list of options for you to choose from. We listed 21 Worcestershire substitutes that will definitely work like a charm when you badly need a Worcestershire replacement.

Soy Sauce-Base Vegan Substitutes

soy sauce poured into a glass bowl 

Pouring soy sauce on a glass bowl

Soy Sauce

Made from fermented soybeans, we got a condiment that’s definitely in your pantry — soy sauce. It is also the top vegan Worcestershire sauce alternative on our list. Its flavor profile is a good mix of salty and umami, almost the same as Worcestershire sauce. That is why Worcestershire sauce is also one of the best soy sauce substitutes.

Though it lacks Worcestershire’s light kick of acidity, when it comes to overall flavor and consistency, you will never go wrong with soy sauce. Just follow the 1:1 ratio when using this as a substitute.

Soy Sauce + Ketchup

Looking for another easy alternative? Well, just mix equal parts of soy sauce with ketchup! As mentioned, soy sauce mimics the savory umami flavors, while ketchup fills in the tanginess. You can elevate this by adding an equal amount of white wine vinegar to the mix.

Aside from bringing in another layer of flavor, the white wine vinegar  also helps thin out the consistency of ketchup. You can use this combo as a Worcestershire alternative to marinating chicken or for a  bloody mary cocktail. Just use it according to the ratio the recipe calls for.

Soy Sauce + Sugar/Honey

If you are looking for a Worcestershire alternative that you can best use in stew or pasta recipes, then this combo is what you are looking for.

Combine 2 teaspoons of soy sauce with ¼ teaspoon sugar (use ½ teaspoon of honey as an alternative) for every 4 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce. It will give you a combination of sweet and savory tastes. Want to elevate it? You can also add ¼ teaspoon of lemon juice for added acidity.

Soy Sauce + Apple Juice

Apple juice can also be an alternative ingredient that you can combine with soy sauce to achieve Worcestershire’s sweet tangy flavor. This is best to use as an alternative for dishes that you are going to cook, as it may taste too appley for uncooked ones like salads and dipping sauce. 

Use as much soy sauce as the recipe calls for and mix with an equal amount of apple juice. 

Soy Sauce + Hoisin Sauce + Apple Cider Vinegar

This combo is another combination that you can easily concoct from your pantry. We recommend mixing an equal amount of soy sauce and hoisin sauce, which provides sweet, sour, and savory flavor. Add apple cider vinegar according to your liking. It will improve the acidic tarty taste of this recipe.

Vinegar-Base Substitutes

white vinegar in a clear glass container

You can use these vinegar-based alternatives if you are looking for a substitute that leans more on Worcestershire sauce’s acidic and tangy flavor.

You can use a 1:1 replacement with these Worcestershire vinegar-based alternatives. However, we still highly recommend that you add them according to your taste to ensure that you’ll achieve the flavor of your dish according to your liking.

Malt Vinegar + Tamarind Paste + Molasses

This is a perfect mix that you can use as a Worcestershire sauce alternative for your meaty dishes like Nigella’s high-speed burger. The nutty, lemony taste of malt vinegar with the fruity, tangy flavor of tamarind paste, is well balanced by the sweet and slightly smokey taste of molasses. Just combine equal amounts of each ingredient, and you’re good to go.

Sherry Vinegar 

Sherry vinegar is another good alternative for Worcestershire sauce. It has a perfect blend of sweet, sour, and musty flavor — almost the same flavor profile as Worcestershire sauce.

You can use this in your stew or casserole dishes. We recommend that you use this for dishes that you are going to cook, as it is too sour to add to cocktails or to use as a garnish. Gradually add this to your dish until you achieve your desired taste.  

Balsamic Vinegar

This alternative is also a very flexible Worcestershire substitute that you can mix and match. Balsamic vinegar is known for its complex flavor, ranging from sweet fruitiness to tangy tarty taste. You can use it on its own, but you can also dilute it with anchovy paste. The complex flavor of the balsamic vinegar complements the pungent, salty taste of the anchovy paste.

Vinegar + Soy Sauce/Fish Sauce + Hot Sauce + Ground Cloves + Tamarind Paste

Dissolving 1 tablespoon of tamarind paste, vinegar, and fish sauce (use soy sauce as a vegan alternative) perfectly mimics the overall flavor profile of Worcestershire sauce.  Adding a dash of ground cloves and hot sauce will give a kick of heat that you’ll love, especially if you like spicy flavors.

Use this for dishes that require cooking as its texture and color might not look well in salads or dipping sauces. 

Red Wine Vinegar

Though you can do a 1:1 swap with this wine vinegar,  you can also mix it with other condiments like tamarind paste. Combining equal amounts of these two will help you bring out a sweet and tangy flavor. It’s way tangier compared to the usual taste of Worcestershire, but it can also do wonders to your dishes like burgers, meatloaf, and stew recipes.

White Wine Vinegar

White wine vinegar is known for its acidic yet lightly sweet and fruity flavor. Combine this with equal parts of soy sauce for an added umami flavor. You can also add some ginger, garlic, and peppercorns if you want to use this vinegar as a marinade. Just follow the amount of Worcestershire sauce the recipe calls for when you use this as a substitute.

Cooking Wine Substitutes

woman using wine in cooking

These wines are considered gluten-free substitutes for Worcestershire sauce (except for Shaoxing wine). Just always check the label to make sure that wheat is not added in its fermentation process. Following a 1:1 ratio when using as a substitute will help capture Worcestershire sauce’s sweet, tangy, and fermented goodness. You can also mix and match these with other condiments to achieve the overall taste.

White Wine or Dry Sherry

Use this zesty and fruity wine as a marinade or as an added flavor to your creamy pasta and seafood recipes. Since most white wines used for cooking, especially dry sherry, have a citrusy taste and an underlying crisp aroma, it balances the creaminess of your pasta sauce and the flavors of your seafood.

You can combine it with equal parts of soy sauce or fish sauce for an additional savory flavor.

Red Wine

Red wine offers a perfect blend of sweetness and acidity, much like Worcestershire sauce itself. It’s good on its own. But if you want to use it as a marinade and you need some umami taste, you can always add equal parts of soy sauce.

Use this in meatloaf or in this Steak and Shake Frisco melt recipe. Slowly incorporate this into your dish until you achieve your desired taste. 

Shaoxing Cooking Wine (Non-Gluten Free Substitute)

Shaoxing Cooking Wine is one of the oldest types of traditional rice wine produced in China. Though mainly made of fermented rice, a small amount of wheat is added during its fermentation period, making it not gluten-free. It has a close flavor profile to Worcestershire’s sweet yet salty taste.

READ ALSO: Rice Wine Vinegar and Rice Wine: How Are They Different?

Fish-Based Substitutes

a bottle of fish sauce with a plate of fish in the background

Bottle of fish sauce

These alternatives have the funk and flavor that Worcestershire sauce possess. But if you’re a vegan, and you want to try the flavor of fish sauce, you can use this vegan fish sauce recipe. 

For these fish-based alternatives, we recommend adding them to your dishes as needed.

Fish Sauce + Soy Sauce + Sugar

This alternative has a perfect balance of sweet and umami flavors, making this an excellent substitute for Worcestershire sauce. Combine ½ part soy sauce with ½ part of fish sauce and add a dash of sugar. Use this for dishes that require cooking to fully dissolve the sugar. Follow a 1:1 ratio when using it as an alternative.

Fish Sauce + Lemon/Lime Juice

Mix equal parts of fish sauce and lime/lemon juice to recreate the umami-tangy flavor that Worcestershire sauce offers. Use a tablespoon of this combo for every tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce.

Anchovy Paste

Can you use anchovy as a substitute for Worcestershire sauce? Yes! You can easily do this by dissolving the 2 tablespoons of anchovy paste using 6 to 8 tablespoons of water or olive oil. You can use this combo in dishes that you will cook like pasta dishes, but you can also use this as a dressing for your vegetable salads. Just add this to your dish according to your liking.

Other Substitutes for Worcestershire Sauce 

Coconut Aminos

a bottle of coconut aminos

Billy Polard | Flickr

Sweet, salty, and also has umami flavors, coconut aminos is also a handy Worcestershire sauce replacement that you can add to your salad, dips, and even marinades. Follow 1:1 swap when using as a substitute.

Liquid Smoke

bottles of liquid smoke lined up

Liquid smoke has the complex and earthy flavors that Worcestershire sauce has, though it is a bit lacking in terms of sweetness or umami flavors. Remember to slowly incorporate this into your dish as too much of it may make the flavor of your food too overwhelming.

Barbeque Sauce

chef placing barbeque sauce on smoked meat

Barbeque sauce encapsulates the sweet, tangy, and umami taste that Worcestershire sauce has. It may be a bit thicker than Worcestershire, but it is a great substitute for marinating and using to glaze meat like this pork steak with seasoned potatoes. Add as needed when using as Worcestershire sauce substitution.

Oyster Sauce

bowl of oyster sauce on wooden table

You can also use oyster sauce as a substitute for Worcestershire as it has a great balance between savory and sweet. The only difference is it has a thicker and syrupy consistency.  Follow 1:1 replacement for Worcestershire sauce.

Worcestershire Sauce Uses

Person marinating pieces of raw chicken

Marco Verch Professional Photographer | Flickr

The flexibility of Worcestershire sauce encompasses different flavors and cooking styles.

You can use it in creating dips like clam dip sauce and dressing for your salads. It also adds layers of flavors to your marinades, soups, and stir-fried dishes. And many might not be aware, but it can also go well with cocktails like the famous Bloody Mary and Bud light chelada drink.

This condiment is very potent, not only in terms of aroma but also when it comes to taste. That is why a small amount can go a long way. Worcestershire sauce is indeed a must-have in the kitchen. And if ever you find yourself in a pinch in the future, you now know several substitutes that you can use.

Does Worcestershire Sauce Go Bad?

  • How long does a Worcestershire sauce last? Does Worcestershire sauce need to be refrigerated? Well, like any other condiments, Worcestershire sauce has a best before date that usually lasts 1.5-3 years. But since it is a fermented condiment, it can go way beyond the labeled date especially if stored properly in a cool area in your pantry or inside the refrigerator.  

Read Next: How Many Ounces in a Shot Glass? (With Chart)

Krishia

KC is a writer, an artist, a theatre enthusiast, and a food lover. She believes in the saying, “a jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one.” That is why she has myriads of interests—from photography, cooking, designing, journaling, and the list still goes on. She dreams of traveling the whole country on her own someday to satiate her eyes, her curiosity, and of course, her stomach.

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