10 Best Capers Substitutes For You To Try

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Are you looking for the best capers substitutes? I am sure you must have had this thought in the midst of an important recipe. I once decided to try the classic smoked salmon bagel, and to my horror, I found out I didn’t have any capers left. That’s what prompted me to find the substitutes, and now I am here to make your job of finding them easy.


Do you know the best substitutes for capers? I am sure you don’t. (Aren’t you here for that?! Silly me). Some of the best capers substitutes are green olives, black olives, thyme, green peppercorns, dill pickles, and lemon. 

Capers are the caper bush’s green-colored flower buds that grow in the Mediterranean. These are unripened flower buds that are dried and preserved. They have a lemony, tangy flavor with a brine-y, salty touch.

But if you are out of capers, you need to be aware of the best caper substitutes so that you can enjoy your recipes even in their absence. But before we get to its substitutes, shall we get into the caper world and explore capers for a while?

Quick Peek: Capers


The following scribbles tell you what capers are, their flavor, texture, culinary uses, and health benefits.

What Are Capers?

Capers are the caper bush’s green-colored, immature, and unripened flower buds (Capparis spinosa or Capparis inermis). These are cultivated mostly in Italy, Morocco, Spain, Asia, and Australia. Although capers are mostly related to Mediterranean cuisine, these are now enjoyed worldwide. 

How Are Capers Stored?

After choosing capers, these are dried and preserved. These can then be either cured in salt or pickled in brine. Brine-packed capers should be stored in the refrigerator, and that can last this way for nine months. Unopened cans can be stored in your pantry.

Describing Capers: Flavor and Texture

Capers have a lemony, salty flavor similar to the taste of olives. Since these are packed in brine, they have a rich, salty, umami flavor. These have a soft, loose texture. Although capers have a flavor similar to olives, it is not the same concerning texture. 

Uses of Capers

As mentioned earlier, capers are widely used in Mediterranean cuisine, especially seafood recipes. Capers find use in famous recipes such as chicken piccata and pasta puttanesca. These are major ingredients in many Spanish dishes as well. 

Capers can be used in salads, deviled eggs, and all kinds of savory dishes. Citrus, tomato, fish, eggplant, and pasta are some food items with which capers have an amazing bond. Capers can be added to garnish or season dishes and used as a condiment. They can also be used with roasted vegetables and topped in pizzas. 

Some of the recipes that use capers are salmon with capers, French potato salad, smoked salmon bagel, pasta puttanesca, and lemon caper sauce. 

Capers on The Health Radar | Looking Through The Wellness Telescope

Capers are a good source of vital antioxidants. They can help us fight against diabetes and aid in weight loss. Capers are also found to have mitigated the risk of cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and cardiac arrhythmia. That said, capers are also high in sodium, which can increase the risk of high blood pressure and cause heart diseases or strokes. High consumption of capers thus is not beneficial for our health. 

Why Should We Substitute Capers?

Capers are a moderately healthy ingredient used in many ways in recipes. But since these are hand-picked, an extremely delicate process, they are incredibly expensive. That is why it becomes hard to find these easily, and we need the help of the best substitutes for capers. 

Also, the consumption of capers can be allergic to some. It may cause skin rash and irritation. In that case, also, you need the help of these best caper substitutes so that you can enjoy their flavor in their absence. So, shall we talk about them right away? 

Other Food Substitutes You Can Try

10 Best Capers Substitutes 

Now that you know everything you need to know about capers let us discuss the ten best substitutes for capers.

1. Green Olives

Green Olives

Olives are the fruits of the olive tree which are oval-shaped with a hard stone. Green olives are the unripe ones when they are packed. These are soaked in lye, a chemical solution, which is then fermented in brine. 

Green olives have a salty, savory, acidic flavor and a firm texture. This salty flavor profile, and the color profile of green olives, make them one of the best capers substitutes. Since olives are bigger than capers, you might have to chop them into smaller pieces while using them to replace capers. 

2. Black Olives

Black olives, as you can easily guess, are ripened olives. Unlike green olives, black olives are fully allowed to ripen before harvesting. Based on the region and the species, there exist wide varieties of black olives. 

Black olives have a mild, salty flavor and a softer texture, making them the next best substitute for capers. Similar to green olives, you might have to chop black olives into small pieces while replacing capers in recipes. Black olives should be your choice for a mild alternative to capers since they are less intense in flavor and with a softer texture. 

3. Thyme


One of the aromatic herbs from the mint family, thyme, is a popular seasoning agent that is also closely related to the oregano plant. Egyptians had used thyme for the embalming process, they say. It has a minty flavor with a sweet finish. Fresh thyme has a fibrous texture as well. 

Thyme has a minty, lemony flavor and thus is one of the good substitutes for capers. You might already know that thyme should be added early in the cooking process. For substituting capers, go for dry or ground thyme in recipes. 

4. Green Peppercorns

Green Peppercorns

Green peppercorns are the unripe version of peppercorns. These have a mild peppery flavor and a fresh aroma. This mild spicy flavor profile of green peppercorns makes them well-suited as a substitute for capers in recipes. 

Also, when it comes to their color, green peppercorns look strikingly similar to capers. Nobody would find that you have swapped capers with green peppercorns. For best results, pickle green peppercorns in a jar along with lemon and water to replace capers in recipes. You can substitute for capers with green peppercorns in an equal ratio. 

5. Dill Pickles

Dill Pickles

Dill pickles are cucumber slices that are flavored with dill. For dill pickles, Kirby cucumbers are the favorite choices. Cucumbers are cut into slices or spears and immersed in a salty solution that has been heated to a boil. The solution comprises a salt, garlic, dill seeds, red pepper flakes, vinegar, and water. 

Dill pickles have a salty, briny flavor and a dilly taste. They have a crunchy texture, unlike capers. Dill pickles with a salty flavor can be used to substitute for a caper in sauces and salads. They don’t have the bitter taste of capers but are great substitutes for capers in Italian antipasto meals and pasta salads.

6. Lemon Juice

Lemon Juice

Lemons are popular citrus fruits that have a unique, astringent flavor. They have a sour flavor, and their juice is an important ingredient in many foods and beverages. Many often confuse lemon with limes, but both are different with respect to appearance and flavor profiles.

Lemon juice has a characteristic sour, acidic flavor, making them a considerable caper substitute. You can add some ground peppercorns to lemon juice for slight bitterness close to capers. Since it is highly sour, make sure you add lemon juice in small quantities. 

7. Nasturtium Seeds

Nasturtium Seeds

Nasturtium seeds, also called poor man’s capers, are the seeds of nasturtium flowers. It might be enlightening to know that every part of this plant is edible and delicious – flowers, leaves, stems, and young seed pods.

The word nasturtium means nose twister or nose tweaker concerning the spicy kick they have. Nasturtium seeds have a spicy flavor, and when mixed with vinegar, garlic and dill can be used to substitute for capers. The only downside is that these seeds are extremely hard to find. If you do find them, grab them and try them as alternatives for capers. 

8. Caper Berries

Caper Berries

Caper berries are the fruits of the caper bush. These have an oblong shape and consist of seeds. These are popularly used as a substitute for olives in Greek salad. These are mostly brined and enjoyed, similar to olives or pickles. 

Caper berries have an acidic, tangy flavor which is the same as that of canned capers and thus is a considerable caper substitute. These are bigger with a mild flavor; thus, one caper berry can be used to replace a few capers. 

9. Anchovies


Anchovies are small, oily freshwater fishes. These are versatile seafood that is known for their unique umami flavor. They have a meaty, shiny texture. Agostino reccas, don bocarte, martel, martiz and delfino are some of the types of anchovies.

Anchovies and capers differ with respect to the texture, but anchovies can be used to substitute for capers for their salty, umami flavor. Anchovies should be used only if you are okay with their fishy flavor. You should also be careful with the amount you use since anchovies have an intense, fishy flavor. 

11. Artichoke Hearts

Artichoke Hearts

Artichoke hearts are the fleshy, immature part of the artichoke flower. These hearts are edible and delicious. Artichokes have a mixed flavor – a blend of herbal, bitter, and sweet flavors. They have a crunchy and creamy texture too. Artichoke hearts can be pickled or marinated and used to substitute for capers. Artichoke hearts can be used as a substitute for capers in recipes to do with chicken and pasta. 

Short Recap Of Best Capers Substitutes

That must have been an exhaustive read on the best capers substitutes, right? Let me make it easy for you to remember the details with the help of some points.

Best Capers Substitutes In Terms of Flavor And Texture-

  1. Green Olives
  2. Black Olives
  3. Thyme
  4. Green Peppercorns

Final Musings

That was everything on the best substitutes for capers. I hope the article did good in making you aware of what capers are, their flavor, culinary uses, health benefits, and their best substitutes. You can choose a substitute based on the flavor preferences and let me know if you were successful in recreating the flavor and essence of capers. See you soon with another article on substitutes!

How To Use Capers Substitutes In A Recipe


Capers Substitutes

Wanting to try chicken picatta but find yourself out of capers? Take the help of these substitutes. Some of the best capers substitutes are green olives, black olives, thyme, green peppercorns, dill pickles, and lemon.
5 from 4 votes


  • Green Olives
  • Black Olives
  • Thyme
  • Green Peppercorns
  • Dill Pickles
  • Lemon Juice
  • Nasturtium Seeds
  • Caper Berries
  • Anchovies
  • Artichoke Hearts


  • Go through the substitutes and see which one seems fit for the recipe.
  • Collect your ingredients and use your preferred substitute.
  • Use the substitute in the required amount and proceed to make the dish according to the recipe.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What do capers taste similar to?

Capers have a flavor as that of olives. Thus, it can be said that capers taste similar to green olives.

Can I substitute capers for anchovies?

Capers can be used to substitute for anchovies since they have a salty flavor similar to anchovies.

What do you use capers for?

Capers can be used as a tip and with roasted vegetables. They can also be used for seasoning and garnishing. 

How much thyme should you use to substitute for capers?

Capers can be substituted with thyme on a 1:1 ratio. 

What flavor do capers add to a recipe?

Capers add a salty, tangy flavor to recipes.

What to use instead of capers in chicken piccata?

Green olives, lemons, dill pickles, green peppercorns and thyme can be used instead of capers in chicken piccata.

What are non-pareil capers?

Non-pareil capers are the best of capers with respect to flavor and texture. The word ‘non-pareil’ means having no equal. 

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