9 Best Substitute For Anchovy

Anchovy Vegan Substitute

Transitioning into a vegan lifestyle can be daunting, especially when you’re confronted with the challenge of finding substitutes for certain flavors you have grown to love. One such flavor is the salty and umami richness of anchovies. It’s distinctive and deeply savory, lending a depth of flavor to dishes that’s hard to replicate. However, even if you’re vegan or simply allergic to fish, you don’t have to miss out. There’s a world of alternatives that can provide similar tastes and textures without compromising your dietary choices. This article will provide an in-depth look at these alternatives, discussing their merits and how they compare to the real thing.

What is Anchovy Vegan?

When we talk about “anchovy vegan,” we’re referring to vegan substitutes for anchovies. These are alternatives that aim to emulate the taste, texture, and culinary properties of anchovies without containing any animal products. They are crucial for people following a vegan diet who still want to enjoy the unique flavor characteristics that anchovies bring to various dishes.

Quick List of Substitutes For Anchovy Vegan

  • Seaweed
  • Tamari
  • Miso
  • Capers
  • Olives
  • Umeboshi Paste
  • Nutritional Yeast
  • Vegan Worcestershire Sauce
  • Mushroom-Based Sauces

Best Substitutes For Anchovy Vegan

Finding a satisfying substitute for anchovies involves more than just replicating taste. It’s also about finding something that can provide the same depth of flavor and versatility in recipes. The following are the best substitutes you can use.


Seaweed, particularly varieties like nori and kelp, is a great vegan substitute for anchovies. Seaweeds are rich in natural salts and have a briny flavor that closely mimics the taste of seafood, including anchovies.

From a culinary standpoint, seaweed offers a lot of versatility. It can be used whole, crumbled, or ground into a powder, and incorporated into a variety of dishes. For instance, you can create a seaweed paste for a vegan Caesar salad dressing or sprinkle some seaweed flakes onto your pasta for a hint of umami.

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Nutritionally, seaweed is a powerhouse. It’s packed with vitamins and minerals such as iodine, which is vital for maintaining a healthy thyroid function. Not only does it impart a great flavor to your dishes, but it also enhances their nutritional profile.


Tamari is a type of soy sauce that’s usually gluten-free and rich in umami flavor. It has a deeper, less salty taste compared to regular soy sauce, making it a suitable anchovy substitute.

In terms of usage, tamari can be used in the same way as anchovies in dressings, marinades, and sauces, bringing a deep, rich flavor to the dishes. A dash of tamari in your stir-fry or soup can elevate the dish’s taste, making it more flavorful and savory.

In terms of nutrition, tamari is a good source of protein and contains several minerals. However, it’s high in sodium, so it should be used sparingly, especially if you’re watching your salt intake.


Miso, a traditional Japanese ingredient made from fermented soybeans, is another excellent vegan substitute for anchovies. Its intense savory taste, known as umami, can mimic the flavor depth that anchovies add to dishes.

Miso paste can be used in a variety of recipes. A spoonful added to soups, stews, or sauces introduces a complexity of flavor that is hard to achieve with other ingredients. Even a simple dish like miso-glazed vegetables can be transformed into a gourmet delight with its addition.

While miso is relatively high in sodium, it is also a good source of essential nutrients, including proteins, vitamins, and minerals. Plus, since it’s fermented, it provides probiotics that promote a healthy gut.


Capers, the small flower buds of the caper bush, are pickled and used as a seasoning or garnish in various dishes. Their tangy and salty flavor makes them a great substitute for anchovies in certain recipes.

You can use capers to add a burst of flavor in pasta dishes, salads, and even pizzas. They are particularly effective in recipes where the anchovy is not the star ingredient, but rather used as a background flavor.

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Capers are low in calories and contain some fiber, vitamins, and minerals. However, like most pickled foods, they are high in sodium, so they should be used moderately.


Olives, particularly black olives, can be a good substitute for anchovies due to their salty and slightly tangy flavor. They don’t have the exact fishy taste, but they can provide a similar savory note in dishes.

Olives can be chopped and used in pasta, salads, or sauces, wherever you’d typically use anchovies. A tapenade, a spread made from pureed or finely chopped olives, capers, and olive oil, can also work as a great anchovy paste substitute.

From a nutritional perspective, olives are high in healthy monounsaturated fats and contain a good amount of dietary fiber. They also provide essential nutrients, such as vitamin E and iron.

Umeboshi Paste

Umeboshi paste, made from pickled umeboshi plums, is a flavorful condiment with a balance of salty, sweet, and tangy taste. The complex flavor profile of this Japanese ingredient makes it an effective anchovy alternative.

You can use umeboshi paste in dressings, dips, and sauces, or even spread it on a piece of bread for a quick, savory snack. Its bright flavor can uplift any dish, providing a similar flavor depth as anchovies.

In terms of nutrition, umeboshi paste is a source of iron, thiamin, and other nutrients. It also has potential health benefits, including alkalizing effects and aiding digestion.

Nutritional Yeast

Nutritional yeast, with its cheesy, nutty flavor, is another alternative you might consider for anchovies. While it doesn’t have the fishy flavor, it offers a different kind of umami that can enrich dishes.

You can sprinkle nutritional yeast on your pasta, popcorn, or even use it in your vegan cheese recipes. It’s a versatile ingredient that can enhance the flavor profile of many dishes.

On the nutritional front, nutritional yeast is a complete protein and a rich source of B-vitamins, making it particularly beneficial for vegans.

Vegan Worcestershire Sauce

Traditional Worcestershire sauce contains anchovies, but vegan versions offer the same tangy, umami flavor without any fish. It can serve as a good substitute for anchovies, especially in sauces and dressings.

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The applications of vegan Worcestershire sauce are wide. It can be used in soups, stews, dressings, and marinades to bring a depth of flavor that’s somewhat similar to anchovies.

Nutritionally, vegan Worcestershire sauce isn’t a significant source of any nutrients, but it’s low in calories and can be a good flavor-enhancer in vegan diets.

Mushroom-Based Sauces

Mushroom-based sauces, like soy-free and gluten-free vegan oyster sauces made from mushrooms, can mimic the umami depth of anchovies. Mushrooms naturally have a meaty, umami flavor that can substitute for anchovies in many recipes.

You can use mushroom-based sauces in stir-fries, soups, stews, and other savory dishes. Their rich flavor can make vegan dishes more satisfying and complex.

In terms of nutrition, mushroom-based sauces may contain a variety of vitamins and minerals, depending on the type of mushrooms used. However, they can be high in sodium, so mindful use is recommended.

Substitutes for Anchovy Vegan: Nutritional Profile

The nutritional profile of these substitutes varies. Below is a table showcasing the nutritional content of each in a ¼ cup serving.

Umeboshi Paste100g2g0g0g420mg
Nutritional Yeast601g7g4g8g5mg
Vegan Worcestershire Sauce130g3g0g0g65mg
Mushroom-Based Sauces500g11g1g1g960mg

(Note: This table is not exhaustive and should only be used as a general guide. Nutritional content may vary based on the brand and specific product.)

Final Thoughts

While anchovies provide a distinct flavor that is not easily replicable, the vegan substitutes discussed above come very close. Using ingredients like seaweed, tamari, miso, capers, olives, umeboshi paste, nutritional yeast, vegan Worcestershire sauce, and mushroom-based sauces can offer a depth of flavor and umami that closely mirrors that of anchovies. These substitutes not only keep your dishes flavorful and exciting, but they also add variety to your meals and contribute to a balanced, nutritious diet. With these options, adhering to a vegan lifestyle without compromising on taste becomes less of a challenge and more of an exciting culinary adventure.

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