I’ve personally taste-tested a variety of Worcestershire sauce substitutes to find the best one for every cooking occasion.
Whether you’re on the hunt for the closest flavor match, in need of a last-minute pantry substitute, or seeking an alternative tailored to your specific dietary requirements, rest assured that I’ve got you covered.
Henderson relish is very similar to classic Worcestershire but without anchovies (so vegan-friendly). Soy sauce can replace Worcestershire sauce work in a pinch, but it’s better if you mix it with ketchup, vinegar, and a drop of hot sauce. You can also try Maggi seasoning.
Ready? Let’s jump right in.
I made a simple gravy to try out different Worcestershire sauce substitutes.
Worcestershire is a British fermented condiment made from vinegar, tamarind, molasses, and other seasonings like onion and garlic.
It boasts a combination of tangy, savory, sweet notes with lots of umami goodness, making it an excellent flavor enhancer.
I was looking for a substitute that could deliver the same umami-ness and will give my dishes a tasty boost.
Here are the substitutes I tested and my verdicts:
|Substitutes||How to Substitute||Verdict|
|Henderson’s relish||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||10/10|
|Soy sauce mix||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||9/10|
|Steak sauce||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||7/10|
|Balsamic vinegar||Use 1/2 the amount||7/10|
|Maggi seasoning||Use 1/4 the amount||8/10|
|Fish sauce mix||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||7/10|
|Hoisin sauce||Replace in a 1:1 ratio (add vinegar/citrus juice for added tanginess)||7/10|
|Chinese black vinegar||Use 1/2 the amount||7/10|
Common uses for Worcestershire sauce and the best substitutes
Here are some common ways to use Worcestershire sauce and the best substitutes for those situations:
- For marinades and dressings: Try using Henderson’s relish, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, or Maggi seasoning. Mix the soy sauce with something acidic and some sugar if you can.
- For sauces and gravies: Try using a soy sauce mix, Maggi seasoning, or steak sauce. Fish and hoisin sauce can also work if Worcestershire sauce isn’t a leading flavor.
- For cocktails: Try using Henderson relish or Maggi seasoning. Avoid fish sauce for this application.
- As a condiment: Try using Henderson relish, soy sauce, or hoisin sauce. Steak sauce also works, and you can dilute it with a splash of water if you want a thinner consistency.
Henderson’s relish, fondly known as Hendo’s, is a tangy, fruity sauce from the UK that works as a vegetarian substitute for Worcestershire sauce.
Like Worcestershire sauce, Henderson’s Relish has a distinctively savory flavor profile derived from the balanced blend of vinegar, tamarind paste, and sugar.
Related: substitutes for tamarind concentrate
The twist lies in its subtlety – it has a milder, less salty taste owing to the absence of anchovies.
This condiment used to be available in the UK only, but nowadays, you might just snag a bottle at your local Walmart!
How to substitute: replace Worcestershire sauce in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with Henderson’s Relish.
Soy sauce based subs
In the world of condiments, soy sauce is arguably the jack of all trades.
Its intense umami punch and ready availability make it an easy and practical alternative to Worcestershire sauce.
It’s not as complex as the original, but it’s salty, packed with umami and has a hint of sweetness.
If you want to bring your soy sauce closer in flavor to Worcestershire sauce there are plenty of combinations you can try.
I’ve listed a few here, some easier than others!
- equal parts soy sauce + ketchup + optional ground cloves
- equal parts soy sauce + white wine vinegar + ketchup + dash of hot sauce
- 2 parts soy sauce + 1 part apple cider vinegar + pinch red pepper flakes
- equal parts soy sauce + hoisin sauce + splash apple cider vinegar
- 1 part soy sauce + splash lemon juice + pinch granulated sugar + dash hot sauce
- equal parts soy sauce + tamarind concentrate + distilled white vinegar
- soy sauce + apple cider vinegar + water + brown sugar + mustard powder
- equal parts soy sauce + blackstrap molasses + vinegar
The main objective is to get something savory, something sour, something sweet, something spicy, and something funky. So you can mix and match the ingredients mentioned here depending on what you have available.
Take the fifth bullet point.
Soy sauce is salty with some funk. Lemon juice is sour, sugar is sweet, and hot sauce is spicy. Perfect!
But you could also swap the lemon juice out with vinegar. And the sugar with molasses.
Psst… always remember to taste as you go.
And if you want a recipe to follow, here’s one!
How to substitute: replace Worcestershire sauce in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with soy sauce or your homemade soy sauce mixture.
Balsamic vinegar is an easy alternative to Worcestershire sauce that provides a tangy and somewhat sweet flavor profile.
It lacks the complex, fermented taste of Worcestershire sauce. But it’s depth of flavor and acidity are great where a bit of tanginess would be appreciated.
I love using it in my bolognese sauce.
Balsamic vinegar has a stronger flavor than Worcestershire sauce, so to use it sparingly at first and add more as needed.
Psst… you can also mix in some tamarind paste or allspice if you have it to help round out the flavor.
How to substitute: use 1/2 the amount of balsamic vinegar.
Most steak sauces boast a robust and tangy profile reminiscent of Worcestershire sauce, making it a surprisingly decent substitute.
That’s right, it’s not just for steaks anymore!
The only catch? Steak sauce has a noticeably thicker consistency than Worcestershire sauce.
This didn’t impact my gravy too much since I only needed a small amount, but you can always dilute it with a splash of water to replicate Worcestershire’s thinner consistency.
Psst… HP sauce would also work.
How to substitute: replace Worcestershire sauce in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with steak sauce.
This liquid seasoning is a must-have for your kitchen pantry.
It’s an all-purpose seasoning that has a similar complex savory flavor to Worcestershire and is packed with umami goodness.
The only thing Maggi seasoning is missing is a touch of sourness.
But you can easily fix this by mixing your Maggi seasoning with a splash of vinegar or lemon juice.
I loved the extra savory kick I got with Maggi seasoning! And it’s DELICIOUS sprinkled over a fried egg.
How to substitute: use 1/4 the amount of Maggi seasoning (it’s much stronger than Worcestershire sauce).
Fish sauce based subs
Fish sauce is a super funky sauce made form anchovies, so it has a similar base to Worcestershire sauce.
It can work on its own as a substitute if all you want is a hit of umami and the Worcestershire sauce isn’t lending much other flavor to your dish (you’ll only need a few drops because it’s got a super potent flavor).
But if the Worcestershire sauce is front and centre (like in my gravy), then you’ll need to mix the fish sauce with a few other ingredients to tone down the saltiness.
- Equal parts fish sauce + tamarind concentrate + optional molasses
- Equal parts fish sauce + red wine vinegar + pinch of salt
- Equal parts fish sauce + soy sauce + pinch of brown sugar
- Equal parts fish sauce + sweet molasses + lime juice + pinch of allspice
- Equal parts fish sauce + lemon juice + cranberry juice
- Equal parts fish sauce + soy sauce + onion powder
Pro tip: I’d stick to using fish sauce as a replacement in cooked dishes, and avoid it in things like salad dressings or cocktails. It’s strong flavor needs a little tempering.
How to substitute: replace Worcestershire sauce in your recipe with a 1/4 of the amount of fish sauce, or in a 1:1 ratio with your homemade fish sauce mixture.
That bottle of hoisin sauce in your fridge is a solid substitute for Worcestershire sauce!
It’s made from a combination of fermented soybean paste, garlic, vinegar, sugar, and various spices, giving it a prominent salty flavor with a subtle sweetness.
Although hoisin sauce doesn’t provide the tangy notes that Worcestershire sauce offers, you can add acidity by incorporating a splash of vinegar or citrus juice into your recipe.
This addition will help balance the flavors and create a more well-rounded substitute for Worcestershire sauce.
It will also thin the sauce out.
How to substitute: replace Worcestershire sauce in your recipe in a 1:1 ratio with hoisin sauce.
Chinese black vinegar
Chinese black vinegar is a dark horse in this list, and actually has quite a lot in common with Worcestershire sauce.
Both condiments get most of their flavor through infusion, and black vinegar is much less acidic compared to other vinegars.
Instead it has a fruity sweetness with an umami kick.
And if you find Chinese black vinegar a bit too sour for your taste, you can always mix it with a pinch of sugar for a more balanced flavor.
How to substitute: replace Worcestershire sauce with half the amount of Chinese black vinegar.
Other substitutes to consider
The options I’ve listed above are my top picks for replacing Worcestershire sauce with, but they’re definitely not the only options.
So here are some more!
Leave the Worcestershire sauce out
normally Worcestershire sauce is nothing more than a flavor booster, so with most recipes you can skip it.
Your dish will probably still taste delicious (just not as delicious as it could have been!).
Coconut or liquid aminos
These are very similar to soy sauce, but they’re less salty and gluten free.
You can sub them on their own with Worcestershire sauce, or use them in any of the soy sauce ‘recipes’ I shared earlier.
This is an easy substitute if it’s all you have.
Pickle juice is tart with a faint sweetness, and it’s generally be infused with different spices like dill or mustard seeds.
This gives it a complex flavor that can lift your dishes in a similar way to Worcestershire sauce.
Oyster sauce is made from oysters (who knew?!), so has the same essence of the ocean that anchovies give Worcestershire sauce.
It’s more salty, but chock full chock-full of umami. I would add in a slash of vinegar to add some tartness.
It’s perfect in any Asian-style dishes or seafood dishes.
These yeast extracts have loads of umami that will add complexity to your dishes the same way Worcestershire would.
But they can be very salty, so don’t add too much.
Mix the marmite with water to thin it out, and consider adding a dash of hot sauce to add some spice. Or some lemon juice to brighten the flavor.
In a pinch, you can add a squirt of barbecue sauce to your dish instead of Worcestershire sauce.
Most barbecue sauce have Worcestershire sauce as an ingredient, so they have a similar base flavor.
Plus a delicious smokiness!
Psst… you can also use Worcestershire sauce as a substitute for barbecue sauce.
One reddit user called this ‘Worcestershire sauce but in steroids’, and I think of it as a tropical version of the condiment.
It’s got more heat than Worcestershire sauce and is very tamarind heavy giving it a sour, fruit taste.
Red wine hasn’t got loads of umami like most of these substitutes, but it will add an unmistakable depth to stews and tomato-based dishes and act as a flavor enhancer just like Worcestershire sauce.
You can mix the red wine with an equal amount of tamarind paste to add some umami if you have it on hand.
Psst… you can only use this substitute in dishes that simmer for a while because you need to cook the alcohol off.
Other ingredients with MSG
The reason there’s so many substitutes for Worcestershire sauce is because it’s essentially just adding a bit of umami to your dish, which lots of different things can do.
And most of the time it’s used in such a small quantity you don’t have to worry about your substitute having a similar flavor.
Here are some ingredients jam-packed with umami that will enhance your dish in the same way Worcestershire sauce does.
- Dried mushrooms / mushroom paste
- Bacon grease
- MSG powder
- Tomato paste
- Bouillon powder (a sprinkle is all you need)
- Miso paste (mixed with water to thin it out)
- Anchovy paste
- Shaoxing cooking wine
Substitutes to avoid
I found LOTS of options when I was searching for Worcestershire sauce substitutes. But not all of them impressed me.
Here are a few I’d avoid.
- Honey – this works better as an ingredient you can mix with soy sauce or Maggi seasoning to create a substitute close to Worcestershire sauce. On it’s own it’s just a sweetener with no real complexity.
- Liquid smoke – true to its name, this will add a smoky twist to your dish. But it’s much better when paired with other substitutes like soy sauce to replicate Worcestershire.
- Mustard – mustard on it’s own is way too sharp to replace Worcestershire sauce and it doesn’t have the same fruity background notes.
BEST Worcestershire Sauce Substitutes + 3 To Avoid
- ½ cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
- 2 tbsp water
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tbsp molasses
- ¼ tsp garlic powder
- ¼ tsp dry mustard powder
- ¼ tsp onion powder
- ⅛ tsp allspice
- ⅛ tsp black pepper
Optional, but highly recommended
- ½ tbsp tamarind paste
- 2 tbsp fish sauce
- anchovy paste
- Combine all the ingredients in a large glass microwave-safe measuring cup or bowl.
- Heat the mixture in the microwave in 30 second intervals, until the mixture is boiling. Stir the mixture in between each interval.
- Remove and cool. Use immediately or transfer and store in a lidded jar.