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13 Best Anchovy Substitutes [Tried And Tested]

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

Here’s the quick answer.

The best substitutes for anchovies are anchovy paste or Worcestershire sauce. Fish sauce and sardines also work well depending on the dish you’re making. Try miso paste, capers, or yeast extracts like Marmite and Vegemite for vegan options.

Ready? Let’s jump right in.

The Experiment

I whipped up a classic Caesar salad dressing and tested 9 different anchovy substitutes to find the best one.

Anchovies are small, slender fish typically found fileted, salt-cured, and canned in oil. They have a distinct salty taste, and they’re mainly used to add a delectable umami bite to dishes. 

I wanted a substitute that replicated the salty, savory flavor.

Here’s what I tested and my verdicts: 

Substitutes Sub 1 anchovy filet forVerdict
Anchovy paste½ teaspoon10/10
Worcestershire sauce½ teaspoon9/10
Sardines¼ oz sardines 8/10
Fish sauce½ teaspoon8/10
Miso paste½ teaspoon8/10
Yeast extract½ teaspoon7/10
Capers1 teaspoon 7/10
Shrimp paste¼ teaspoon9/10
Skip it extra salt7/10

Anchovy paste is an easy swap for anchovies in pretty much any dish.

It has a very similar flavor but it’s slightly milder, making it excellent for anyone who finds fresh anchovies too strong.

Worcestershire sauce is another universal option that works for most dishes. And miso paste (plus seaweed) was my favorite vegan option.

Psst… if none of these options work for you, there’s some extra suggestions at the bottom of the article.

Common dishes and their substitutes 

Two very common dishes that use anchovies are Caesar salad dressing and pasta puttanesca.

The best substitutes for anchovies in Caesar salad dressing (or any salad dressing) are anchovy paste or Worcestershire sauce. In pasta puttanesca, capers or sardines are great substitute options.

But any of the below can work!

Anchovy paste

Anchovy paste is mashed up anchovies with a few extra ingredients, making it a really great substitute, especially in uncooked dishes like salad dressing.

It tastes almost exactly the same and has that umami hit. The only difference is that the paste lacks some salty freshness.

It’s more convenient to use than anchovies too because it comes in paste form. All you have to do is squeeze out the amount you need.

Related: anchovy paste substitutes

Taste and texture
You couldn’t really tell the difference between the original Casear salad dressing recipe and the one with the anchovy paste – perfect substitute.
1 anchovy filet = ½ teaspoon anchovy paste

Worcestershire sauce

Worcestershire sauce also works great as a substitute for anchovies.

Rumor has it that the original Caesar dressing used Worcestershire sauce instead of anchovies 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’.

Psst… one of the ingredients in Worcestershire sauce is anchovies, so it’s no surprise it’s a good sub.

Taste and texture
Worcestershire sauce has a more complex flavor than anchovies, but it added a similar depth to my dressing. One downside was the thin consistency.
1 anchovy filet = ½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce


If you’re making puttanesca or another pasta sauce that uses anchovies, you can swap them for sardines.

Sardines have a milder, more rounded flavor than anchovies. They still have plenty of umami though, and you might be more likely to have some in your cupboard.

However, sardines aren’t a good swap for anchovies in Caesar salad dressing. The sardines won’t melt into the background in the same way as anchovies because of their meatier texture.

Taste and texture
They added a mellower flavor compared to anchovies but the tougher texture meant there were ‘bits’ of fish in my dressing.
1 anchovy filet = ¼ oz sardines

Fish sauce

Fish sauce can work in a pinch, but Cooks Illustrated suggests that this swap is best for dishes that don’t use anchovies as a prominent ingredient. 

And I agree. 

In my Caesar salad dressing, the fish sauce added too much of a briny, metallic taste and thinned it out considerably.

But in something where you just need a background umami hit, fish sauce will work like a charm.

Taste and texture
It’s brinier than anchovies and has a liquid consistency that can thin out your dish. 
1 anchovy filet = ½ teaspoon fish 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: mix in some nori (seaweed) to better replicate the taste of the ocean.

Taste and texture
It’s brought the right level of saltiness and the right texture, making it a great vegan or vegetarian substitute for anchovies.
1 anchovy filet = ½ teaspoon miso paste

Yeast extract (marmite / vegemite)

Yeast extracts like Marmite and Vegemite are also an excellent vegan substitute for anchovies (but always check the labels).

They may not taste exactly the same, but they’re packed with glutamates that will give you that addicting, savory flavor.

And they have a gloopy texture which isn’t as thinning as things like Worcestershire sauce or fish sauce.

Taste and texture
I used marmite an it gave my dressing a bolder, more meaty flavor compared to anchovies, but a similar saltiness.
1 anchovy filet = ½ teaspoon yeast extract

Capers or olives

A third vegan option to substitute anchovies with is capers. 

They come from the unopened buds of the Caper bush and are usually pickled, which makes them salty like anchovies.

They also have a natural lemony tartness that you don’t find in anchovies, but worked superbly with my Caesar dressing.

Psst… you can also use kalamata olives or a tapenade.

Taste and texture
They added a salty taste reminiscent of anchovies to my dressing but with a prominent sour undertone. 
1 anchovy filet = 1 teaspoon capers

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 aa great swap for anchovies.

It’s salty, briney, and packed with flavor. And it has an umami funk that’s kind of addicting!

Taste and texture
I found shrimp paste to be a lot more pungent than anchovies, so act with caution when you’re adding it.
1 anchovy filet = 1/4 teaspoon shrimp paste

No substitute 

As a last resort, you can always leave out the anchovies and compensate by adding a bit more of your other seasonings (like salt).

Your dish might not have the same depth of flavor, but it will still taste good.

For Caesar salad dressing, you can slightly increase the amount of things like parmesan cheese and lemon juice. 

Taste and texture
The un-subbed Caesar dressing tasted delicious but noticeably lacked that extra oomph you’d get from anchovies.

Some more substitute options

Here are other anchovy substitutes I didn’t try but that you can explore.

These substitutes are moving further away from the flavor of anchovies, but they all still have salty, savory elements to them which will bring some depth to your dish.

  1. Dried mushrooms or mushroom paste – a good vegan substitute for anchovies. They’re full of umami goodness but also have an earthy note, you can mix them with capers for added brininess.
  2. Soy sauce – soy sauce has a different flavor profile to anchovies but it’s salty and packed with umami. Everyone has some in their cupboard though, which is a massive plus!
  3. Maggi seasoning – a flavor enhancer that will mimic the savory depth that anchovies bring to the table. But it’s more meaty than fishy.
  4. Bacon or parmesan – for those of you who can’t stand fish, bacon and parmesan will add some umami to your dish.

Best substitutes for dried anchovies

The best way to replace dried anchovies in stock is to use bonito flakes or dried shrimp. You can also use an instant dashi powder mixed with water. For vegan options, try dried mushrooms (shiitake or porcini) or kelp along with a splash of soy sauce to replicate the saltiness of anchovies.

If you’re not near an Asian grocery store, you can try making stock with shrimp shells. Or simply subbing in a different stock like bone broth.

Best Anchovy Substitutes [Tried And Tested]

I tested out 13 different anchovy substitutes to find the best one.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Ingredient
Cuisine: American, Italian
Keyword: anchovy substitutes, substitutes for anchovies
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 7 minutes
Total Time: 12 minutes
Servings: 1 person
Calories: 42kcal


  • 1/2 tsp anchovy paste
  • 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 oz sardines
  • 1/2 tsp fish sauce
  • 1/2 tsp miso paste
  • 1/2 tsp yeast extract
  • 1 tsp capers mashed
  • 1/2 tsp shrimp paste


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


Serving: 1tbps | Calories: 42kcal

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