Anchovies are a type of small, salty fish that have been used for centuries in Mediterranean cooking.
They add an umami flavor to dishes like pasta sauces and salads, and they’re also great as a topping on pizza or bruschetta.
But not everyone loves the taste of anchovies – some people find them too strong. If this is you, then don’t worry!
There are plenty of alternatives that can be used instead.
In this article, I will share with you 16 of the best substitutes for anchovies so that you can enjoy all the flavors without having to deal with the pungent smell or taste.
What Are Anchovies?
Anchovies are small, salt-cured fish that have been used for centuries as a flavoring agent in many dishes.
The most common type of anchovy is the European anchovy (Engraulis encrasicolus), which is found in the Mediterranean Sea and parts of the Atlantic Ocean.
Anchovies are usually sold canned or jarred in oil, but they can also be found fresh or dried.
They have a strong, salty flavor and are often used to add umami to dishes like pizza, pasta sauces, salads, and more.
When buying anchovies packed in oil, look for ones that are plump and shiny with no signs of spoilage.
If you’re using them fresh or dried, make sure they smell fresh and not overly fishy.
Anchovies can be added directly to recipes without any additional preparation; just break them up with your fingers before adding them to the dish.
For a milder flavor, soak them in milk for 10 minutes before draining off the liquid and adding them to your recipe.
If you don’t care for their strong taste or texture, try substituting capers instead; their briny flavor will still provide an extra punch of umami without being too overpowering.
The 16 Best Substitutes For Anchovies
Anchovies are a popular ingredient in many dishes, but they can be hard to find or too salty for some people.
If you’re looking for an alternative, here are 16 substitutes that will still give you the same flavor and texture:
1 – Seaweed
Seaweed is a great substitute for anchovies in recipes.
It has a similar salty, umami flavor and can be used as an alternative to the fishy ingredient.
Seaweed comes in many varieties, including wakame, kombu, nori, dulse, and hijiki.
Each type of seaweed has its own unique flavor profile and texture.
Wakame is milder than other types of seaweed and can be used to replace anchovies in salads or soups.
Kombu is often used as a base for stocks or broths because it adds depth of flavor without being overpowering.
Nori is most commonly associated with sushi rolls but can also be added to dishes like pasta sauces or stir-fries for an extra kick of umami flavor.
Dulse is more pungent than other types of seaweed and works well when mixed into dressings or marinades.
Hijiki has a nutty taste that pairs nicely with roasted vegetables or grains like quinoa or rice.
No matter which type you choose, make sure to rinse the seaweed thoroughly before using it in your dish to remove any dirt or sand that may have attached itself during harvesting from the ocean floor.
Seaweed should also be soaked for at least 10 minutes before cooking so that it softens up and absorbs liquid better while cooking.
2 – Soy Sauce
Soy sauce has a salty, umami flavor that can be used to replace the saltiness of anchovies.
Soy sauce also adds depth and complexity to dishes without overpowering them like anchovies can.
Soy sauce is made from fermented soybeans, wheat, salt, and water.
The fermentation process creates a rich flavor that works well in place of the brininess of anchovy paste or fillets.
To use it as an alternative to anchovies, add 1 teaspoon of soy sauce for every tablespoon of anchovy paste called for in the recipe.
You may need to adjust the amount depending on your taste preferences and how strong you want the flavor to be.
3 – Capers
Capers have a salty, briny flavor that is similar to anchovies, but without the strong fishy taste.
They also add texture and crunch to dishes.
Capers can be used in place of anchovies in sauces, dressings, salads and other dishes.
For example, capers can be added to Caesar salad dressing instead of anchovies or they can be used as a topping for pizza instead of anchovy fillets.
When substituting capers for anchovies it’s important to remember that capers are much saltier than anchovies so you’ll need to adjust the amount accordingly.
Start with half the amount called for in the recipe and then adjust according to your taste preferences.
4 – Umeboshi Paste
Umeboshi paste is a traditional Japanese condiment made from salted and pickled ume plums.
The paste has a salty, sour, and slightly sweet flavor that works well in adding depth to savory dishes.
It can be used as an alternative to anchovies when making sauces or marinades for fish or vegetables.
Umeboshi paste is also excellent for adding a punch of umami flavor to soups, salads, dressings, and even desserts like ice cream.
For those who want a more intense flavor experience, the paste can be combined with other ingredients such as miso or soy sauce.
With its unique taste profile and versatility in the kitchen, umeboshi paste makes an ideal substitute for anchovies in any recipe.
5 – Miso Paste
Miso paste is a fermented soybean condiment that has been used in Japanese cooking for centuries.
It has a salty, umami flavor and can be used to add depth of flavor to many dishes.
Miso paste can be found in various forms, from white to red or even mixed with other ingredients like barley or rice.
When substituting miso paste for anchovies, it’s important to remember that the flavor will be more subtle than the fishy taste of anchovies.
However, miso paste still adds an interesting complexity and savory richness to your dish without overpowering it.
Try adding a spoonful of miso paste into soups, sauces, marinades, dressings and more!
6 – Anchovy Paste
Anchovy paste is a convenient and tasty alternative to whole anchovies.
The paste is made from mashed anchovies that have been blended with oil, spices, and other ingredients.
It has a stronger flavor than fresh anchovies, making it ideal for adding intense umami notes to dishes.
Anchovy paste can be used in place of the fish in recipes such as pizzas, sauces, dressings, and dips.
It’s also great for marinating meats or vegetables before grilling or roasting them.
A little bit goes a long way when using this condiment – start off small and add more if needed!
7 – Shrimp Paste
Shrimp paste is a condiment made from fermented ground shrimp and salt.
It has an intense, salty flavor with a hint of sweetness that adds depth to dishes.
Shrimp paste can be used in many different ways, such as adding it to sauces or marinades for meats and vegetables.
It also works well when added to soups or stews for extra umami flavor.
When substituting anchovies for shrimp paste, you may need to adjust the amount used since shrimp paste is much more concentrated than anchovies.
However, its strong flavor makes it a great alternative if you’re looking for something with similar intensity but without the fishy taste of anchovies.
8 – Bragg Liquid Aminos
Bragg Liquid Aminos is a versatile seasoning made from naturally fermented, non-GMO soybeans.
It has a salty flavor that can mimic the taste of anchovies in many dishes.
The liquid aminos are also rich in essential amino acids and minerals like potassium, magnesium, and iron.
They can be used as a substitute for anchovies in recipes such as Caesar salad dressing or puttanesca sauce.
The liquid aminos will add an umami depth to your dish without being overly fishy or overpowering other flavors.
9 – Sardines
Sardines are a small, oily fish that have been eaten for centuries and remain popular in many cultures today.
They are high in omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, iron, and other minerals.
Sardines have a strong flavor with an intense brininess that pairs well with bold flavors like garlic and herbs.
When substituting sardines for anchovies, it’s important to remember that they will impart a more pronounced taste than the latter.
For this reason, you may want to use less sardine than you would anchovy when adding them to recipes such as pasta sauces or salads.
Their meaty texture also makes them great for grilling or baking whole – just be sure to remove any bones before consuming!
10 – Salt
If you’re out of anchovies, plain old salt can be a great substitute.
Salt is an essential ingredient in many recipes and can help to enhance the flavor of dishes without overpowering them.
It’s important to remember that when substituting salt for anchovies, you may need to adjust the amount used in order to achieve the desired taste.
For instance, if a recipe calls for one tablespoon of anchovy paste, then you may want to use two teaspoons of salt instead.
In addition, using other seasonings such as garlic powder or onion powder can help add depth and complexity to your dish.
Overall, while it won’t provide the same umami flavor as anchovies do, plain old salt is still a great alternative when you don’t have any on hand!
11 – Fish Sauce
Fish sauce is a savory condiment made from fermented fish that has been used in Southeast Asian cuisine for centuries.
It has a strong, salty flavor with hints of umami and sweetness.
Fish sauce can be used as an alternative to anchovies in recipes, adding a depth of flavor without the fishy taste.
Try using it to marinate meats or vegetables before grilling, or add it to dressings and sauces for extra complexity.
It can also be mixed into soups and stews for added richness, or sprinkled over dishes like noodles and rice as a finishing touch.
Fish sauce is an essential ingredient in many Asian cuisines, so don’t hesitate to give it a try if you’re out of anchovies!
12 – Worcestershire Sauce
Worcestershire Sauce is a savory condiment that can be used to add flavor to many dishes.
It’s made from a combination of ingredients, including anchovies, vinegar, molasses, tamarind extract, garlic and onion powder, sugar and spices.
The sauce has a salty-sweet taste with hints of umami and tanginess.
When substituting Worcestershire Sauce for anchovies in recipes, it should be added at the end of cooking as its flavor will become more intense when heated.
This sauce is great for marinades, dressings or sauces and can also be used as an ingredient in Bloody Marys or Caesar salads.
It adds depth of flavor without overwhelming the dish like anchovies might do.
13 – Dried Mushrooms
Dried mushrooms are a great alternative to anchovies when looking for an umami flavor boost.
They offer a savory, earthy taste that can be used in place of fish or other salty ingredients.
Dried mushrooms are incredibly versatile and can be rehydrated, chopped up, or ground into powder to add depth to soups, sauces, stews, and more.
The intense flavor of dried mushrooms is perfect for adding complexity to dishes without overpowering them.
Plus, they’re rich in vitamins and minerals like iron and zinc – making them a nutritious addition to any meal!
So if you’re out of anchovies but still want that umami kick in your cooking, why not try dried mushrooms?
14 – Parmesan
Parmesan cheese is a hard, nutty-flavored Italian cheese made from cow’s milk.
It has a sharp and salty flavor that adds depth to any dish.
When substituting Parmesan for anchovies, it can be grated or shaved over salads, pastas, pizzas and more.
The umami taste of Parmesan will provide the same flavor complexity as anchovies without the fishy aftertaste.
Parmesan also works well when added to sauces like pesto or marinara for an extra punch of rich flavor.
15 – Bacon
Bacon is a delicious and versatile ingredient that can be used in many different dishes.
It has a smoky, salty flavor that adds depth to any dish.
Bacon can be cooked in a variety of ways, such as pan-frying, baking, or microwaving.
When substituting bacon for anchovies, you’ll want to use the same amount of bacon as you would anchovies.
The smokiness of the bacon will add a unique flavor to your dish while still providing the desired saltiness from the anchovies.
Whether it’s used as an appetizer or incorporated into main courses like pastas and salads, adding bacon is sure to give your meal an extra kick!
16 – Olives
Olives are a delicious and nutritious snack that can be used as an anchovy substitute.
They have a salty, briny flavor that adds complexity to dishes without the fishy taste of anchovies.
Olives come in many varieties, from green to black, with different levels of saltiness and sweetness.
When substituting olives for anchovies, it is best to use pitted olives so they can be chopped or mashed into a paste more easily.
The paste can then be added to sauces or dressings for pasta dishes, salads, pizzas and more.
Olives also add texture and color to any dish – just make sure you adjust the seasoning accordingly!
The 16 Best Substitutes For Anchovies
- Soy Sauce
- Umeboshi Paste
- Miso Paste
- Anchovy Paste
- Shrimp Paste
- Bragg Liquid Aminos
- Fish Sauce
- Worcestershire Sauce
- Dried Mushrooms
- Pick your favorite substitute from the list above.
- Follow cooking directions for your selected substitute with the proper ratio of ingredients.