9 Best Substitute For Anchovy Paste

Anchovy Paste Substitute

Anchovy paste, a delectably pungent ingredient that wields the power to transform and elevate dishes, is undeniably unique. This paste, derived from the delicate anchovy fish, delivers an intense umami-rich flavor and adds depth and complexity to a myriad of dishes. However, what if you don’t have this culinary ace up your sleeve when your recipe calls for it? Or perhaps, you’re grappling with dietary restrictions or personal preferences that don’t entertain the use of this seafood-based product? The good news is, several alternatives can mimic the potent taste of anchovy paste.

Finding the best substitute depends largely on the flavors you are trying to replicate, the dish in question, and your dietary needs. This article explores an array of substitutes, each with their own unique flavor profiles and uses. These alternatives, from familiar pantry staples like Worcestershire sauce and soy sauce to more specialized ingredients like umeboshi paste and seaweed, have been chosen for their ability to infuse a dish with that much-coveted umami flavor and complexity. So, let’s dive into the world of flavors and discover the best substitutes for anchovy paste.

What is Anchovy Paste?

Anchovy paste is a flavorful ingredient derived from the humble anchovy. This small fish, common in the Mediterranean and Southern European cuisines, is mashed into a paste that packs a flavor punch. Often sold in tubes, it’s characterized by its strong, savory, and umami-rich taste. This makes it a secret weapon in many kitchens, where it is used sparingly to enhance flavors without overpowering the dish. Anchovy paste is also known for its excellent blending capacity, merging seamlessly with other ingredients, lending them depth and complexity.

Substitute Suggestions at a Glance

  • Worcestershire Sauce
  • Soy Sauce
  • Miso Paste
  • Capers
  • Shrimp Paste
  • Fish Sauce
  • Umeboshi Paste
  • Seaweed
  • Nutritional Yeast

Best Substitutes For Anchovy Paste

Worcestershire Sauce

Worcestershire sauce, a fermented condiment with a tangy, savory flavor, stands as one of the top substitutes for anchovy paste. The rationale is rooted in its key ingredient: anchovies. Worcestershire sauce is essentially a diluted, spiced, and vinegared version of anchovy paste, making it an ideal substitute.

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One advantage of Worcestershire sauce is its umami and slightly tangy flavor, which can give depth to your dishes, much like anchovy paste. Its consistency, though more liquid, works in sauces, marinades, and soups. However, use it in moderation as it also contains other flavor components like tamarind, vinegar, and spices that might change the flavor profile of your dish if used excessively.

An extra tip: if you need to mimic the texture of anchovy paste, try reducing the Worcestershire sauce on low heat until it thickens. This hack will get you closer to the concentrated flavor and texture of anchovy paste.

Soy Sauce

When it comes to providing that umami punch, soy sauce is another strong contender as a substitute for anchovy paste. Originating from East Asia, this condiment is made from fermented soybeans, water, salt, and occasionally, wheat. It carries a complex, savory taste similar to anchovy paste.

Soy sauce can blend into recipes without detracting from the original flavor profile. Its liquid consistency might alter the texture slightly, but the flavor enhancement compensates for this difference. Like Worcestershire sauce, use soy sauce judiciously to avoid oversalting the dish.

For those seeking a gluten-free alternative, opt for Tamari, a Japanese variant of soy sauce made without wheat. This lends an equally rich flavor while catering to dietary restrictions.

Miso Paste

Miso paste, a quintessential Japanese ingredient made by fermenting soybeans with salt and fungus, makes an excellent substitute for anchovy paste. It offers the same umami-rich, intense flavor that you get from anchovy paste, making it an ideal choice for a variety of dishes.

The thick, pasty texture of miso closely mimics that of anchovy paste, ensuring you don’t lose out on consistency. However, miso is less fishy and a tad sweeter, which may slightly alter the flavor profile. An added advantage of miso is its nutritional value, offering a good source of protein and fiber.

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Remember that miso paste varies in flavor intensity depending on its type: white miso is sweet and mild, while red miso is strong and salty. Choose according to your taste preference and the dish you’re making.


Capers, small flower buds pickled in brine, offer a unique substitution for anchovy paste. Their tangy and salty flavor resembles the brininess of anchovies, making them an interesting substitute in certain recipes. Their texture is different, but when finely chopped or mashed, capers can blend well into sauces and dressings.

Use capers sparingly in your dishes, as they can be quite potent. If you’re substituting capers for anchovy paste, remember to adjust the salt in your recipe, since capers carry a high sodium content. They’re a wonderful substitute in dishes like pasta puttanesca or Caesar salad, where they can mimic the briny flavor of anchovy paste.

Shrimp Paste

Shrimp paste, commonly used in Southeast Asian cuisine, can be another great alternative to anchovy paste. Made from fermented ground shrimp, it brings forth a strong umami flavor that matches the savory taste of anchovy paste.

However, it’s worth noting that shrimp paste has a distinctly powerful aroma that some might find overpowering. Its flavor, though incredibly savory, carries a sharper seafood taste than the more subtle anchovy paste. Use it sparingly, and remember to cook it well to mellow out the flavor and aroma.

Fish Sauce

Fish sauce, a staple in many Asian cuisines, is another substitute that brings the same savory depth as anchovy paste. It’s made from fermented fish, usually anchovies, and salt, which results in a strong umami flavor.

The liquid consistency of fish sauce is different from the paste-like texture of anchovy paste, but its flavor works well in soups, stews, and sauces. Like soy sauce, use it sparingly to prevent overpowering the dish or making it too salty.

Umeboshi Paste

Umeboshi paste, a Japanese condiment made from pickled ume fruits (a type of plum), offers a uniquely tangy and salty flavor that can replace anchovy paste in some recipes. Although the flavor profile is quite different, umeboshi paste brings a similar depth of flavor to dishes.

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Bear in mind, umeboshi paste carries a strong acidity and saltiness that can overpower a dish if not used judiciously. Consider it in recipes where the tangy flavor can be an asset, such as dressings, marinades, or Asian-inspired dishes.


Seaweed may not be the first alternative that comes to mind, but it’s a great plant-based substitute for anchovy paste. Seaweed is a common ingredient in Asian cuisines and offers a unique umami flavor, known as the ‘taste of the sea,’ which mirrors the seafood essence of anchovy paste.

Dried seaweed, such as nori or kelp, can be rehydrated and finely chopped or ground into a paste, then added to dishes for that salty, ocean-like flavor. While not identical, seaweed’s flavor can help mimic that of anchovy paste in vegetarian and vegan dishes.

Nutritional Yeast

For those seeking a non-seafood alternative, nutritional yeast offers a surprising solution. This deactivated yeast has a nutty, cheesy flavor that brings umami to dishes. While it lacks the fishiness of anchovy paste, nutritional yeast can provide depth and savoriness to recipes.

It’s popular among vegans and vegetarians for its cheesy flavor, making it an excellent addition to sauces, dips, and vegan cheese recipes. Be mindful of its texture – nutritional yeast is often sold in flake form, so it won’t lend the same consistency as anchovy paste.

Substitutes for Anchovy Paste: Nutritional Profile

Let’s examine the nutritional profiles of these substitutes. Here is the data for ¼ cup:

SubstituteCaloriesFat (g)Carbohydrates (g)Fiber (g)Protein (g)Gluten
Worcestershire Sauce300700Yes
Soy Sauce34050.63.3No
Miso Paste200628612No
Shrimp Paste300.5303No
Fish Sauce300206No
Umeboshi Paste4001021No
Nutritional Yeast601748No


While nothing can perfectly replicate the unique flavor of anchovy paste, you have plenty of alternatives that can do justice to your culinary creations. Whether you’re catering to dietary restrictions, allergies, or simply don’t have anchovy paste at hand, the substitutes detailed above will ensure your dishes don’t lack in flavor or complexity. Explore these alternatives and experiment with flavors to find what suits your taste buds best. Enjoy the culinary adventure!

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