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9 Best Anchovy Paste Substitutes – I Test Each Alternative

I’ve personally tried and tested a range of different anchovy paste substitutes to find the best one, whatever your reason for avoiding anchovies is and whatever dish you’re cooking.

Maybe you’ve simply run out?

Or maybe you’re allergic, you don’t like the taste, or you’re looking for a plant-based alternative.

Here’s the quick answer.

The best substitute for anchovy paste is mashed anchovy fillets. Swap one teaspoon of anchovy paste for one mashed anchovy fillet. Fish sauce or Worcestershire sauce are also great options. For plant based substitutes, try a yeast extract like marmite, miso paste, or mashed capers.

The experiment

To find the best substitute for anchovy paste, I made my own Caesar salad dressing and tested 9 different options.

The main reason for using anchovy paste in a dish is to add a burst of umami flavor. The paste amplifies the other flavors and brings a tangible depth. 

I was looking for a substitute that brought just as much complexity without altering the flavor too much.

Here’s what I tested and my verdicts:

SubstituteSub 1 tsp anchovy paste forPlant based?Verdict
Anchovy fillets1 mashed filletNo10/10
Fish sauce1/2 tspNo10/10
Worcestershire sauce1 tspCan be9/10
Miso paste1tspYes8/10
Yeast extract1tspYes8/10
Shrimp paste1 tsp (but add slowly)No8/10
Capers or olives1 mashed tspYes7/10
Mushroom paste or powder1 tspYes7/10
Soy sauce1 tspYes6/10

Anchovy fillets and fish sauce most closely mimick the salty, savoury flavour of anchovy paste.

Worcestershire sauce, miso paste, yeast extract, and shrimp paste all have the same depth as anchovy paste, but each one bought slightly different flavor notes.

Things like capers, mushroom paste, and soy sauce have significantly different flavor profiles, but still added the much-needed umami oomph.

Common dishes that use anchovy paste and the best substitutes

  • Caesar salad: anchovy fillets, Worcestershire sauce, mashed capers
  • Pasta puttanesca: anchovy fillets, Worcestershire sauce, marmite

Anchovy fillets

Anchovy fillets are the best substitute for anchovy paste, especially for uncooked dishes like salad dressings.

They taste very similar, and you can easily mash them into a paste.

Or if you’re planning to use a food processor anyway, you can throw the whole anchovy in.

Taste and texture
Mashed anchovies have a slightly more complex, fresher flavor that you might actually prefer!
1 teaspoon of anchovy paste = 1 mashed anchovy fillet 

Worcestershire sauce

Looking for an anchovy paste substitute for a Caesar salad dressing?

Try Worcestershire sauce.

Rumor has it that the original Caesar dressing used Worcestershire sauce instead of anchovy paste anyway!

Heidi from Foodie Crush says ‘if you really can’t stand the anchovy flair, substitute it for 1 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce and 1 teaspoon of lemon juice’.

Be careful not to add too much though, because it will thin out your sauce.

Taste and texture
Worcestershire sauce has a sweet-sour note that you won’t find in anchovy paste, but has a similar effect of amplifying the other flavors.
1 teaspoon anchovy paste = 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce 

Miso paste

When I say umami, one of the first things you probably think of is miso.

The Japanese staple has a complicated flavor that’s hard to define, but is utterly delicious. And that’s exactly how you can describe umami.

Pro tip: if you’re a fan of Korean cooking, Doenjang is another option.

Taste and texture
It’s got the right level of saltiness, making it a great vegan or vegetarian substitute for anchovy paste.
1 teaspoon anchovy paste = 1 teaspoon miso paste 

Fish sauce 

Fish sauce is another great substitute for anchovy paste – in certain dishes.

They have a very similar flavor profile, which makes sense when you consider that anchovies (or some other small, strongly flavored fish) are one of the main ingredients in fish sauce.

For example, in my fish sauce, anchovy extract makes up 68%.

However, the sauce is very concentrated so it has more of a metallic taste.

And in dishes like Caesar salad dressing where anchovies are one of the main flavors, using fish sauce instead can be too much. If you do need to use it, add a very small amount.

Where fish sauce comes into its own is in dishes where anchovies are just adding a background umami hit, like Shepherds pie.

Taste and texture
Fish sauce will add a very similar depth of flavor to your dish, but it can be too fishy in some cases.
1 teaspoon anchovy paste = ½ a teaspoon of fish sauce

Marmite / vegemite

I am a self confessed marmite lover. 

And it’s been a secret ingredient in my spaghetti bolognese for years because of the richness it adds.

It’s made from fermented yeast and is extremely high in glutamates, which gives it the umami flavor we’re after. Vegetmite will work too.

Taste and texture
Another perfect plant based option, but you may want to add a splash of soy sauce aswell for some extra saltiness.
1 teaspoon anchovy paste = 1 teaspoon marmite 

Shrimp paste

Shrimp paste isn’t something most people are going to have on hand, but if you do happen to have some, it’s a great swap for anchovy paste.

It’s salty, briney, and packed with flavor. 

Taste and texture
I find it quite a bit more pungent than anchovy paste, so I would act with caution when you’re adding it.
1 teaspoon anchovy paste = 1 teaspoon shrimp paste

Capers / olives

Mashed capers or kalamata olives may sound inoffensive, but they’re flavor powerhouses.

They’re incredibly briney, giving them a similar flavor profile to anchovy paste. 

And you can easily mash them with your fork if you’re after a paste consistency.

You could even try olive tapenade which tends to have both capers and anchovies as added ingredients. 

Taste and texture
They don’t quite have the strength of anchovy paste, but they’ll definitely improve your dish.
1 teaspoon anchovy paste = 1 teaspoon mashed capers

Mushroom paste

Another vegan-friendly option is mushroom paste. 

Mushrooms feature in so many vegan dishes because of their deep, earthy, and you guessed it… umami flavor.

You can also use mushroom powder and mix it with water to form a paste. Or make your own paste from whole mushrooms.

Taste and texture
You don’t get the same saltiness that anchovies bring, so you may want to consider adding something else salty like soy sauce or capers.
1 teaspoon anchovy paste = 1 teaspoon mushroom paste

Soy sauce

Soy sauce isn’t the best substitute for anchovies because it doesn’t have the same depth of flavor.

Its umami-ness is more surface level. But it’s a very common household staple.

Don’t go overboard when you’re adding it because I find soy sauce to be quite thinning, and it can have a dramatic effect on color (especially for a creamy dressing like Caesar salad dressing).

Taste and texture
If you’re in a real pinch and you have some in your cupboard, it’s better than nothing!
1 teaspoon anchovy paste = 1 teaspoon soy sauce 

Options I didn’t test

If none of the substitutes above work for you, here are a few more options.

These substitutes are moving further away from anchovy paste, but they’re still full of umami.

  • Seaweed – this will add the essence of the sea to your dish, and you can mince it up to make it paste like.
  • MSG powder – this is pure umami flavor, however some people report sensitivities to it.
  • Umeboshi paste – a Japanese paste made from pickled plums that will replicate the umami flavor of anchovy paste.
  • Oyster sauce – full of umami, but is also quite a bit sweeter so you’ll need something sour to balance it out.
  • Maggi seasoning sauce – this sauce is packed with bold savory depth, but it has an extra smokey element as well.

Best Substitutes For Anchovy Paste

In this short recipe, I give you the best substitutes for anchovy paste.
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Ingredient
Cuisine: American, Italian
Keyword: substitutes for anchovies
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 8 minutes
Total Time: 13 minutes
Servings: 1 person
Calories: 10kcal


  • 1 tsp Anchovy paste
  • 1/2 tsp Fish sauce
  • 1 mashed Anchovy fillet
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp Marmite / Vegemite
  • 1 tsp Miso paste
  • 1 tsp Shrimp paste
  • 1 tsp Capers / Olives mashed
  • 1 tsp Mushroom paste
  • 1 tsp Soy sauce


  • Cook your meal according to the recipe.
  • Add your chosen anchovy paste substitute at the appropriate cooking time.
  • Mix until thoroughly combined and continue with the recipe.


Serving: 1tbsp | Calories: 10kcal

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