Vegan Anchovy Substitutes: 15 Options You Should Try

Anchovies play an essential role in adding flavor to your meals, as their known for the savory “fifth taste”, which adds incredible depth to dishes. 

Many sauces include anchovies to provide umami, namely Worchestershire sauce, and numerous other sauces, which is obviously an issue if you’re vegan. 

If you wish to reproduce the flavor of anchovies but want a plant-based replacement, we found 15 substitutes that might help you get the same end result. 

Seaweed

One of the most common foods that vegans use instead of anchovies is seaweed. While there are many foods that can be used to replace seaweed, nothing offers the same fishy taste that seaweed has to offer. If you are looking to keep the fishy taste that comes with anchovies, we certainly recommend seaweed as a substitute.

There are many kinds of seaweed available, allowing you to be as picky as you want! If you are not familiar with seaweed, it may be better to start with dulse or nori, the most common seaweed types used as anchovy substitutes.

While seaweed alone is a great substitute for anchovies, many vegans prefer to mix several substitutes for the best result. That being said, you may want more than just seaweed, and thankfully, we still have many suggestions to share!

Olives

If you don’t have time to go running around to stores and need a quick and easy substitute for anchovies, olives are the way to go. There are many kinds of olives that you can use, and while most of them will do the job, we certainly recommend kalamata olives. 

Kalamata olives large olives that have a smooth and meaty texture, much like anchovies, hence, we consider them a perfect substitute for us vegans!

Lastly, a little fun fact for you. Kalamata olives are a strong source of oleic acid, which has been proven to improve your health, especially in your heart. It is also known to contain cancer-fighting properties.

Mushrooms

Another super simple yet tasty substitute is mushrooms! As you can imagine, mushrooms are very easy to find at almost any grocery store, and they can be great to include in your vegan meals. 

Mushrooms are very tasty as they can absorb plenty of flavors. They are the meatiest vegetables, after all! What’s even better is that mushrooms absorb flavor swiftly, thus, being a perfect anchovy substitute for home cooks that are always on the go!

Soy Sauce

Who says we need to substitute anchovies for another solid food? Soy sauce is another delicious substitute to consider using next time you make a meal that requires anchovies. While it may seem simple enough to pour a bit of sauce on your food, that’s often all it takes to get the same salty taste that anchovies contribute to your meal.

Soy sauce alone is often all it takes, but you can make your meal even more enjoyable by combining soy sauce with a solid substitute such as mushrooms or seaweed, as previously mentioned.

Tomatoes

Great taste doesn’t require complexity. Tomatoes are both tasty and nutritious, as well as being an excellent substitute for anchovies.

Tomatoes also absorb flavor, thus, they will taste amazing in whatever you decide to cook.

Tamarind

Tama-what now? Tamarind. Don’t worry, the average person doesn’t know of this fruit, but if you need to impress someone such as a work colleague, your husband, or even yourself, going the extra step with tamarind can make your meal even more delicious. You can usually find tamarinds in the produce section at your local grocery store.

The fruit is mainly found in tropical Africa and is a pod-like fruit offering a sweet, tangy pulp, making a perfect vegan substitute for anchovies.

Tamari

Although similar to soy sauce, Tamari is a Japanese sauce that is slightly thicker than soy sauce. Tamari sauce is not quite as salty as soy sauce, but there is no doubt that it tastes delicious. If you are someone that does not like too much salt, tamari may be the perfect substitute for your vegan meal!

Sauces such as tamari allow you to add so much delicious flavor to your meals without the need to include animal products. As with soy sauce, it is recommended to pair tamari and a solid substitute to your meal. We suggest mushrooms or olives as the best matches for tamari sauce, but be creative with it!

Capers

Capers have been used as an anchovy substitute for a long time, and there is no doubt that it is one of the best ways to make your meal without using anchovies, all while staying as close as possible to the original recipe.

Capers are so well known as anchovy substitutes that there is a rule of thumb when it comes to substituting capers for anchovies. 

Before doing anything with capers, you should rinse them in case they were in a vinegary liquid. Once done, you should prepare ½ tbsp of capers for every 6 anchovy fillets. This is the perfect ratio, according to Cook’s Info.

Some cooks have even tried using the caper brine paired with other suggested substitutes we shared to give your meal even more flavor and liquid if needed.

Miso Paste

Miso paste offers a fermented flavor, hence, so many people recommend it as an anchovy substitute, including us! Miso paste is a soybean-based paste that is mixed with salt and koji.

There are three types of miso including white miso, red miso, and mixed miso. When using miso to replace anchovies, it is recommended to opt for white miso as it tends to come with better results, in this case.

Umeboshi Paste

Umeboshi originated in Japan and is a paste made with fermented plum. Although it is a fruit-based sauce, umeboshi paste is surprisingly an excellent anchovy substitute. Despite being made with plums, the sauce is not too sweet, yet still offers a fruity taste. The sauce is commonly described as tangy and salty, much like anchovies, thus, a substitute that we had to include on our list!

A.1. Sauce

As a vegan, you likely don’t have steak sauce around, but you can certainly easily find A.1. Sauce at any grocery store! We recommend using A.1. sauce in particular as the main ingredient of this sauce is tomato puree, which is another ideal substitute for anchovies.

Many people using A.1. Sauce to replace anchovies in vegan dishes as it offers the salty taste of anchovies and it will make for a delicious meal that everyone, including non-vegans, will love eating and maybe even ask for seconds!

Tomato Puree

As we just mentioned, tomato puree is another substitute known for replacing anchovies and tasting as good as them! We have already suggested tomatoes, but with tomatoes, you will have to cut pared to have chunks in with tomatoes ur food.

Depending on your dish, you may want to avoid entire pieces of tomato, thus, tomato puree is liquid and delicious and will be super simple to incorporate in your next vegan dish! It’s also excellent to add to food that tastes dry as it will keep your tasting juicy and tasty.

Vegan Worcestershire Sauce

Worcestershire Sauce is another commonly seen substitute for anchovies. Worcestershire Sauce is known for its distinctive taste, one that is hard to describe. One thing is for sure though, it tastes amazing and when you have Worcestershire Sauce, you never need anchovies!

Traditional Worcestershire Sauce contains anchovies or other fish sauce, thus, it is important to look for vegan Worcestershire Sauce to substitute your anchovies.

As with other sauces on this list, pairing Vegan Worcestershire Sauce with a solid substitute is ideal for the best result.

Maggi Seasoning

Although less common, if the previous suggestions won’t work for you, you can consider using maggi seasoning as an anchovy substitute. Maggi seasoning offers the same salty taste as anchovy and is easy to incorporate with any meal.

Maggi seasoning is most commonly found in sauces, soups, and stir-fries, but in your kitchen, you are the boss!

Salt

If all else fails, salt it is. Although certainly not the best option as it does not offer texture or thickness in any way, the easiest way to get the salty taste of anchovies. Salt is very easy to add to any meal, whether it be soup, pasta, stir-fries, etc.

Salt can be added to any meal, even if you also choose to use one of the other substitutes mentioned on this list, however, if you cannot find any of the previously mentioned ingredients, salt can at least add flavour to your meal. Nevertheless, it is safe to say that salt should be used as a last resort.

Conclusion

We understand the struggle that comes with trying to follow recipes or making delicious meals without using fish, or other animal products. We also understand that anchovies are an important part of many meals as they provide so much flavor. Without them, your dish will be lacking in taste, unless you use the right substitute. We hope that our 15 suggestions have helped you solve your anchovy problem!

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Alexandre Valente

Hey there! My name is Alex and I've been vegan for more than three years! I've set up this blog because I'm really passionate about veganism and living a more eco-conscious life. Hopefully, I can use this website as a channel to help you out on your own journey!

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