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 is the Lea & Perrins original sauce in its iconic orange bottle. However, you may find yourself without a bottle of this tasty sauce when cooking, meaning you have to improvise without the original. While the Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce recipe is a well-guarded secret, if you're in a pinch and looking for a way to try to replicate it, we've got some Worcester sauce substitutes right here.
This recipe will yield you three-quarters of a cup of this Worcestershire sauce. You'll need a blender for this, as the ingredients must be blended together to give the smooth appearance.
With the classic version of the sauce including anchovies and the substitute using fish sauce, a vegan Worcestershire sauce might sound impossible. Fear not, as we have a vegan substitute for the classic sauce, although it will be missing that slightly fishy essence. This recipe yields one cup of sauce.
If you don't have the time or the ingredients to create a replica of this unique sauce, worry not! There are a few household ingredients or bottled sauces that can easily serve the place of Worcestershire sauce. The sauce traditionally has a umami-styled flavor, meaning you'll want ingredients that are sweet and savory. Good, quick alternatives include:
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.
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.