The Simple Substitutes You Should Know For Anchovies

Anchovies can be quite a contentious ingredient. Some people love the salty, briny fish fresh from the can, while others shudder at the thought of any showing up on their pizza. An authentic Caesar salad even contains little bits of anchovies in the dressing to give it that signature umami flavor (per The Recipe Critic). Aside from being a staple in the Mediterranean diet, the tiny saltwater fish can be eaten straight from the can. If the idea of simply spooning the anchovy into your mouth is a little too much to handle, there are plenty of ways to sneak some anchovies into your diet.

Even if you're not a fish lover, anchovies can be a great addition to recipes. Anchovies provide a natural umami flavor, known as the fifth taste. Umami adds an extra bite of savoriness to dishes, much like MSG or aged cheeses (via Healthline). Serious Eats notes that anchovies or anchovy paste can be added to pasta sauces for an extra punch of flavor. Anchovies can even be mixed with melted butter and poured over popcorn for an extra pop of flavor.

If you want the added umami, but can't stomach the anchovies, there are several options that can provide the salty, savory flavor you crave.

Get the flavor without the fish

Anchovies just aren't everyone's cup of tea, so what can you do if you want that umami depth of flavor without the fish? According to The Stone Soup, there are several options to add that meaty depth or flavor, with some being vegetarian and vegan-friendly. If you'd prefer using a liquid instead of blending up anchovies, soy sauce, fish sauce, and Worcestershire sauce are all great alternatives. Fish sauce and Worcestershire sauce even contain anchovies, ensuring a punch of flavor.

Those who can't consume anchovies can easily substitute with vegetarian-friendly options like olives, capers, dried mushrooms, and umeboshi paste. Umeboshi paste is made from pickled Japanese plums that have a slightly salty flavor (per Flavorful Home). All of these provide that extra hint of saltiness that is necessary for umami flavor. If you aren't vegetarian, bacon or parmesan cheese can work to add extra salt and depth of flavor. In a pinch, adding salt to dishes that lack savoriness is a surefire way to enhance the flavor. It won't provide the meatiness, but it will add flavor, and you probably already have it in your pantry.