Worcestershire sauce is a savory, tangy condiment made from a malt vinegar base and flavored with fermented anchovies, molasses, tamarind fruit, onion, garlic, and more. The most popular brand without a doubt is the Lea & Perrins original sauce in its iconic orange bottle, but sometimes - when you simply don't have time to visit the store - you may find yourself having to improvise without the original. The exact Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce recipe is a well-guarded secret, but If you're in a pinch and looking for a way to try to replicate it, don't worry, we've got you covered.

Quick Worcestershire sauce alternatives:
Soy sauce
Taramind paste mixed with soy sauce
Red wine
HP sauce
A1 steak sauce

Worcestershire Sauce Alternative

This recipe makes a 3/4 cup of Worcestershire sauce substitute and requires you to blend the ingredients together, so you'll need a blender or a condiment container you can really shake up.

What You'll Need

  • 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons of Thai fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of honey
  • 1 tablespoon of molasses
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground clove
  • 1/2 teaspoon of onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon of garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon of chili powder
  • 1 lime

Instructions

1. Combine ingredients and squeeze the juice from the lime into a container.
2. Blend or shake the contents together until as even as possible.
3. Store in an airtight container for maximum 1 month.

glass boat of worcestershire sauce

FeellFree/Shutterstock

Vegan Worcestershire Sauce Alternative

The classic version features anchovies, so a vegan Worcestershire sauce will be missing that slightly fishy essence. For this vegan version that makes about 1 cup of sauce, you'll need a saucepan and a fine strainer, since this recipe calls for both boiling and filtering.

What You'll Need

  • 2 cups of apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup of soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup of light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon of dry, ground mustard
  • 1 teaspoon of onion powder
  • 1 clove of crushed garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper

Instructions

1. Combine all ingredients in a medium-sized saucepan and boil over medium-high heat.
2. Bring the contents down to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes until the mixture has been reduced by half.
3. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer and let the sauce cool fully before using.
4. Keep your sauce refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 months.

bowl of thick worcestershire sauce

CKP1001/Shutterstock

Worcestershire Sauce Uses

Typically Worcestershire sauce is used to add flavor to meat and marinades, but it's also a key ingredient in cocktails like Caesars and Bloody Marys. Worcestershire sauce is great for adding to soups and stews, but is mostly used to enhance the flavor of steak, prime rib, meatloaf, pulled pork, meat pies, burgers, sandwich melts, and more. This versatile sauce can also be used as an alternative to soy sauce or fish sauce to change up familiar recipes and dishes.

One of the popular uses in Britain - where the sauce originates - is as a drizzled topper for "cheese on toast", where it adds a savory extra kick.

In the U.S. and Canada, Worcestershire sauce is known to complement beef burgers particularly well. Over in Spain, Worcestershire sauce is an accessory to salads, while in Hong Kong it gets used frequently as a dipping sauce, stir-fry sauce, and marinade for beef. In El Salvador, the sauce is frequently paired with refried beans.

Worcestershire Sauce History

In Worcester County in the early 1800s, an English nobleman called Lord Sandys hired two chemists named John Lea and William Perrins to try to duplicate a sauce he'd acquired overseas in Bengal.

The chemists got to work but couldn't figure out a recipe they liked. Frustrated, they left their sauce attempts in a cellar in jars, and rediscovered the mixture a few years later, deciding to give the recipe another taste. It turns out, after years of fermentation, the sauce they'd concocted was actually pretty good!

Lea and Perrins decided to bottle and sell their accidental creation, and in just a few years the sauce's popularity had spread throughout Europe without any advertising at all.

Worcestershire sauce spread to the U.S. in 1839, when an entrepreneur from New York ordered a small shipment from Europe and started selling to Americans. In a few years, the demand had skyrocketed until Lea & Perrins was the only commercially bottled condiment in the United States. Today, Lea & Perrins sells to 75 countries around the world, with different countries incorporating the sauce into their food cultures in unique, varied forms.

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