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6 Top Anchovy Substitutes: Perk Up Recipes

We’ve all been there, staring at a half-empty pantry, trying to whip up something semi-impressive.

Suddenly, we remember anchovies, those little salty wonders that can jazz up a dish like nobody’s business. But wait, what if you’re out of them? No need for a grocery run just yet.

Here’s the scoop: you can sub in some pretty common ingredients that’ll do the trick. From umami-rich soy sauce to the briny goodness of capers, we’ve got options to save the day.

We’ve tried them, tasted them, and can confirm—they work! Let’s break down these top-notch substitutions for when you’re in a pinch.

6 Easy Substitutes for Anchovies

While they’re widely known as a pizza topping, anchovies are actually a pantry staple in many cuisines. These small fish pack a punch of flavor with their salty and briny taste, and can be used to add depth to sauces, dressings, and more.

But if you don’t have any on hand or simply can’t stomach the thought of using them (no judgement here), here are six substitutes that will still give your dish that umami kick.

1 – Fish Sauce

First up on our anchovy substitute list is fish sauce. This stuff is like liquid gold for adding depth and umami to dishes. It’s made from fermented fish and salt, giving it a complex, savory flavor. Don’t worry, the smell is strong, but the taste balances out perfectly in recipes.

We use about 1 tsp of fish sauce for every two anchovies a recipe calls for. It’s salty and a bit funky, but it blends seamlessly! I remember the first time we swapped it in a Caesar salad dressing, and honestly, it was a game-changer for us.

If you’re curious about other alternatives, check out this article on fish sauce substitutes.

2 – Soy Sauce

The secret weapon in our pantry? Soy sauce. It’s like the Swiss army knife of flavors, adding that needed umami burst. If you’re out of anchovies, this is your go-to.

Soy sauce is fermented, giving it a rich, complex taste that’s both savory and slightly sweet. Use one teaspoon of soy sauce for every two anchovies in your recipe.

It’s smooth and blends effortlessly. We remember using it in our pasta puttanesca, and it was a hit! For more ideas, check out our guide on best soy sauce substitutes.

3 – Worcestershire Sauce

The secret ingredient you’ve been sleeping on? Worcestershire sauce. It’s got that tangy, savory hit we love. Made with fermented anchovies, vinegar, molasses, and spices, it offers layers of flavor.

It’s not as fishy, which might be a win for some. Swap out one teaspoon of Worcestershire for two anchovies. We’ve drizzled it on grilled veggies and the results were mouth-watering.

Curious about other options? Check out our article on Worcestershire sauce substitutes.

4 – Capers

The tiny green saviors we never knew we loved. Capers are tangy, salty, and pack a punch in any dish. They bring a burst of briny flavor that’s almost like a pickle, but with a more delicate taste. The texture is firm, great for adding a pop to sauces or salads.

In our experience, capers work wonders in recipes asking for anchovies. Use a tablespoon of capers for every two anchovies. We tried them in our puttanesca, and the tang was spot on. Capers aren’t fishy, so they’re perfect if you want the flavor without the fish.

For more caper alternatives, check out our capers substitute guide. They’re versatile and definitely worth keeping in your pantry.

5 – Umeboshi Paste

The journey into umeboshi paste begins with its bold and tart flavor. This Japanese condiment blends plums, salt, and shiso leaves, creating a unique taste.

Umeboshi paste is tangy with a salty kick, which serves as an excellent anchovy substitute. Substitute one teaspoon of umeboshi paste for every two anchovies.

We tried it in our salad dressings, and wow, the zing was impressive. Its distinct flavor elevates dishes without overpowering them. guide on umeboshi paste substitutes.

6 – Sardines

Last in our lineup, we have sardines. These little guys are a solid choice if you need that anchovy vibe. Sardines have a similar salty, briny flavor with a slightly meatier texture. Use one sardine for every two anchovies in your recipe. They’re versatile and easy to find.

We used sardines in a tapenade, and it added a bold, savory punch. You can also mash them into sauces, spreading that rich taste evenly.

Need more ideas? Check out our article on sardine substitutes. Sardines are a simple, efficient swap that doesn’t compromise on flavor.