Caviar Substitutes For When You Don't Want To Pay For The Real Thing

Caviar is the ultimate fancy food that ironically used to be reserved for peasants. Caviar, aka sturgeon fish eggs, used to be considered bottom-feeder food that wasn't nearly as prized as sturgeon meat. It was also so overly abundant in the early 20th century that it used to be given away for free as bar snacks (per Forbes). Over time, as people realized the extensive process that goes into harvesting caviar, the demand increased, as well as the price. The Guinness Book of World Records listed the Iranian Beluga Almas as the most expensive caviar, with two pounds selling for just over $30,000.

Caviar is a bit of a high-maintenance food, and given its hefty price tag, it makes sense that eating it requires some special utensils. While some people believe caviar should be eaten with a silver spoon, the experts believe otherwise. Caviar is delicate and can easily take on the flavor of tin or silver. According to Petrossian, caviar should ideally be served on a mother-of-pearl spoon. A good budget-saving option is to use plastic spoons or even a clean hand.

If you don't want to shell out money for special silverware, there are some fun and delicious caviar alternatives that won't break the bank.

No fish needed

If you're hosting a cocktail party and want to serve something special, there are some faux caviar options that'll have your guests swooning. If you want to still serve fish roe, there are some less expensive options like lumpfish roe and herring caviar (per Fine Dining Lovers). For those wanting something closer to the real thing, Vendace caviar is the roe of a freshwater fish and still costs a pretty penny, at around $425 per kilogram. Salmon roe is one of the more well-known caviar substitutes and is easily recognized by its bright red color. If you enjoy sushi, you may be accustomed to the roe, which is called Ikura (via Sushi Modern).

If you're simply not into the idea of eating fish eggs, there are some other egg-free options. Soy pearls look almost identical to caviar, but are made with soy and can be flavored and colored (via YouTube). The pearls are essentially flavorless before anything is added, but can make quite a statement atop an appetizer. If you're looking for a casual and fun take on caviar, cowboy caviar is a summer staple. Cowboy caviar can be a dip or a salad and is made with tomatoes, black-eyed peas, beans, jalapeƱos, corn, avocado, and dressing (per Spend with Pennies). While it doesn't taste like traditional caviar, it's fresh, affordable, and a crowd-pleaser.