Best Substitutes For Anchovies

Fried Anchovies

You recently heard that anchovies give a mouthwatering twist when cooked with spaghetti. You decide to try it out, but you are unable to find any. What can you use that can possibly simulate the taste and flavor of anchovies? Substitutes, of course!

Wondering which are those? Some of the best substitutes for anchovies are anchovy paste, Worcestershire sauce, fish sauce, shrimp paste, and sardines.

Anchovy is a small saltwater fish found in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. It is an edible fish that is a popular topping on pizzas. It is also used as a classic seasoning agent in Swedish and Finnish cuisines. 

What happens if you are out of anchovies but still need them to complete your recipe? Don’t worry. Rather than running to the store, you can still go ahead with your recipe with the substitutes detailed in this article.

Why Do We Need To Substitute Anchovies?


Anchovies are oily, saltwater fishes. They have darker, reddish-gray-colored flesh due to the curing process they undergo. They also have a characteristic oversized mouth with distinguished eyes.

They are quite known for their distinct umami flavor. They have a meaty, glossy texture. Some of the different types of anchovies are agostino reccas, don bocarte, martel, martiz and delfino. 

Very popular recipes such as Pissaladière, caesar, anchovy butter, and Puttanesca Sauce make use of the salty, pungent flavor of these delicious fishes. Anchovies are used to embellish pizzas, sandwiches, burgers and are used in sauces, dips, and dressings.

Anchovies are a significant source of vitamins and minerals. They are rich in Omega 3 fatty acids, which boost the cardiovascular system. The presence of selenium in anchovies mitigates the risk of cancer.

That’s a lot to know about a tiny morsel, right? Well, shouldn’t we know what to do if we are out of anchovy? Or if one of your loved ones is allergic to it? Let us talk about that now.

9 Best Substitutes For Anchovies

The nine best substitutes for anchovies are as follows:

1. Anchovy Paste

The best and closest substitute for anchovies will undoubtedly be products made of anchovies. Anchovy paste, dry or non-dry, and canned anchovies are some of the options to consider.

With anchovy paste, the briny flavor of anchovies can be easily emulated in whatever recipe you intend to try out. Anchovy paste has a heavy texture and flavor, which requires you to be mindful while substituting.

2. Worcestershire Sauce

Worcestershire sauce is a popular sauce variety from the UK. It is dark-colored with an intense, umami flavor. Anchovies and soy sauce are a few of the primary ingredients which make it one of the best substitutes for anchovies.

With an unmissable umami flavor and a liquid-like consistency, Worcestershire sauce can be used in place of anchovies in pizzas, salads, stews, soups, and sauces.

3. Fish Sauce

Fish sauce is another worthy alternative for anchovies noted for its bold and aggressive umami flavor. You can use fish sauce in lieu of anchovies in soups, salads, or sauces for a similar flavor.

Although a perfect substitute for anchovies in seafood recipes, be extremely guarded while adding fish sauce considering its intense flavor. This can make or break your dish.

4. Shrimp Paste

Shrimp paste is made by mashing salted shrimps and fermenting them for about two weeks. The resultant paste is of a thick variety and texture with a salty, briny flavor.

For a light anchovy flavor, you can go with shrimp paste which guarantees the same flavor with less intensity. Also, it is relatively easier to find than anchovy paste. What more do you want from a substitute?

5. Sardines

Sardines are a group of tiny, forage fishes related to the Herring. They are also known as pillads. They have an oily texture with a mild salty flavor. 

It may not be an absolute best in substituting for anchovies. This is primarily due to the differences in flavor and texture. But with added Worcestershire sauce, sardines can be good alternatives for anchovies.

6. Capers

Capers are the edible flower buds of the caper plant which are classically used for seasoning and garnishing. They have a salty, tangy flavor with a touch of olivey flavor as well.

These are not the best substitutes for anchovies, among other substitutes. However, these can save you with a decent taste similar to anchovies devoid of a fishy flavor.

7. Umeboshi Paste

Umeboshi is a type of pickled ume fruit found in Japan. The word umeboshi translates into Japanese plums in English. It is found in both smooth and wrinkled varieties.

Umeboshi has a salty, sour taste owing to the high citric acid content in them. Their paste can very well be used to replace anchovy paste due to the salty flavor they share. It is a popular option for vegans as well.

8. Miso Paste

Miso paste is a classic seasoning ingredient in Japanese cuisine prepared using fermented soybean. It has a deep sweet-savory flavor with a smooth, gluey texture.

Its umami flavor can make it a good replacement for anchovies in salads, sauces, stews, or soups. Making sure you don’t overheat miso paste in order not to kill the active bacteria in it is imperative to retain its health benefits.

9. Seaweed

You might already know what seaweed is. It comprises a group of marine algae which have multitudinous uses in various industries. Seaweeds have been used for ages for their ability to modify texture with their gelling properties.

So, how are they good alternatives for anchovies? Their salty flavor, which is a characteristic of seafood, of course. It can be used instead of anchovies by vegans and vegetarian lovers!


The list of best alternatives for anchovies is ready for you to try out in your trials of cooking. Most of them can emulate the taste and flavor of anchovies, but differences in texture will have to be considered before choosing. Regardless, let me know what worked out best for you. See you soon!

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