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Worcestershire Sauce Recipe: Easy Homemade Substitute

homemade worcestershire sauce recipe worcestershire sauce substitute

Worcestershire sauce recipes can be intimidating. An authentically homemade Worcestershire sauce recipe requires a rather long fermentation process, and most of us aren’t that patient. It requires anchovies. Do you eat anchovies? (Maybe you do. They’re nutritious little buggers.) It requires far more attention than I’d like to give something as simple as a condiment.

And store bought Worcestershire sauce? Have you read those labels lately? Until recently, it was practically impossible to find one at your supermarket that didn’t contain high fructose corn syrup. Can you spell d-i-s-a-p-p-o-i-n-t-m-e-n-t? Seeing a traditionally fermented, flavorful condiment reduced to such levels of mass-produced mediocrity is enough to make me cringe.

Maybe even shed a tear.

Enter my homemade Worcestershire Sauce recipe. You don’t have to do any long ferments or cooking. You don’t need any wild or unusual ingredients. It’s not “authentic,” but it’s a fantastic substitute for Worcestershire Sauce when you don’t want the HFCS.

I’ve seen a few of the homemade Worcestershire sauce substitute recipes out there, and almost all of them are missing the single most important ingredient in a good Worcestershire sauce — anchovies. I understand their desire to be “simple.” Hey, even I want a simple Worcestershire sauce recipe!

But, how hard is it to stir in some anchovy paste? Or, in the case of my own version of an easy homemade Worcestershire sauce recipe, some Thai fish sauce (which is fermented from anchovies)?

I also know that a real Worcestershire sauce would contain tamarind paste, but (unlike Thai fish sauce, which is usually stocked right next to soy sauce) that’s an odd ingredient that most grocery stores don’t carry. A decent substitute for the distinctive sweet & sour tamarind is a combination of black strap molasses and lime, so that’s what I went with here.

Hope you enjoy!

Worcestershire Sauce Recipe: Easy Homemade Substitute

(makes 3/4 cup)

The Players

(where to find organic, bulk spices)

The How-To

Mix all ingredients together in a blender, or shake thoroughly in a dressing bottle!

That’s it. See what I mean about this being an EASY homemade Worcestershire sauce recipe?

Again: It’s not 100% “authentic.” I know it’s missing tamarind. I know it’s not a probiotic-filled craft ferment. But this substitute for worcestershire sauce works well in a pinch, and it’s made entirely with ingredients I routinely keep in my pantry.

(photo by FotoosVanRobin)

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I am a passionate advocate for REAL FOOD -- food that's sustainable, organic, local, and traditionally-prepared according to the wisdom of our ancestors. I'm also an author and a nutrition educator. I enjoy playing in the rain, a good bottle of Caol Ila scotch, curling up with a page-turning book, sunbathing on my hammock, and watching my three children explore their world.
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72 Responses to Worcestershire Sauce Recipe: Easy Homemade Substitute
  1. Linnae
    March 19, 2012 | 2:08 pm

    I cannot wait to try this!! I LOVE worchestershire sauce and miss it terribly!! THanks so much!!

    • KristenM
      March 19, 2012 | 2:08 pm

      You are welcome. I’ve been meaning to post this for more than a year now! I need to be more organized than I am.

  2. Laura
    March 19, 2012 | 2:23 pm

    This is awesome! Thanks for posting!

  3. LEa
    March 19, 2012 | 2:36 pm

    Yum! How long does it keep in the fridge? I don’t use a ton of W-sauce but it is so important to have on hand–I am just wondering how much to make at a time.

    • KristenM
      March 19, 2012 | 2:37 pm

      I’ve never had it go bad, and I’ve had mine in the fridge for at least a month before…

      • Suzette @
        March 20, 2012 | 8:13 pm

        Great! My question exactly!

  4. Foodsmiths General Store
    March 19, 2012 | 3:24 pm

    Hot stuff! I’ll give this recipe a shot. On the topic of naturally-fermented fish sauce might I also recommend Red Boat Fish Sauce.

  5. Ceitllyn
    March 19, 2012 | 3:30 pm

    Have you tried to doing an overnight ferment? Just wondering how that would be compared to traditional long fermentation process. Thanks for the post, been thinking about how to make W.Sauce without the junk. :)

    • KristenM
      March 19, 2012 | 4:00 pm

      I’ve never tried to ferment it because I usually whip this together right when I need it for a recipe.

      It seems like you could stir in a tsp. of living whey or a little bit of a veggie starter culture and let it sit out for a quick ferment. It’d probably be slightly more sour and less sweet, but it’ll be full of probiotics!

  6. Sarah
    March 19, 2012 | 3:54 pm

    May I pin this on my pinterest? I’m so excited about homemade worcestershire. I’ve looked up recipes before but they seemed way too complicated. This is perfect.

    • KristenM
      March 19, 2012 | 4:01 pm

      Of course you can pin it to Pinterest. You can pin anything there!

      If you don’t follow me yet, I’m on Pinterest here.

      • Sarah
        March 22, 2012 | 8:38 am

        I just wanted permission due to the news lately regarding the fuzziness of the legality of pinterest policies as it relates to copyright. :) Thanks for granting!

        • KristenM
          March 22, 2012 | 10:08 am

          Oh, well in that case, you would have to ask the original photographer, whose photo credit is listed in the photo credit portion of this post.

          Personally, I don’t care how Pinterest’s terms of use is worded. The images shared on Pinterest are low-res, web-quality images that can’t be used for hardly anything artistic at all. They’re slightly larger than thumbnail, but still nowhere near print quality.

          Futhermore, if you to hold the liability for that pinned photo rather than Pinterest, it would mean that the person who owns the photo’s copyright had the time, energy, and TONS of money it would take to take legal action against you. How likely is that?

          As a person who publishes copyrighted content, all I ever do if someone reproduces my blog (or something similar) is send them a DMCA take down notice. Then they take it down, and no actual criminal or legal involvement is necessary. All this to say, if someone *really* didn’t want their photos to be pinned, they wouldn’t sue you first and ask questions of you later. They’d contact you and ask you to remove the pin. You would, and you’d apologize. Then, that would be that. There’s really no need to worry about liability.

          • Sarah
            March 26, 2012 | 12:46 pm

            Those are great points!

          • anon
            April 8, 2012 | 10:28 pm

            Actually, if the images are copy righted then the owner can send you a bill for the use. General blog owners generally are so happy to have the traffic driven to their blog that they don’t care about it being “pinned” and possibly having the image reused with out permission. But you need to be careful not to pin copyrighted images that are sold.

  7. jean
    March 19, 2012 | 4:09 pm

    Thank you for this! I haven’t used Worcestershire sauce in years for the very reason you said in the post. I will use this recipe. Thanks, again!

  8. Breezy
    March 19, 2012 | 4:25 pm

    We have a good source for tamarind paste- do you have a suggestion how much we might substitute for the molasses and lime? Thanks!

    • KristenM
      March 19, 2012 | 5:19 pm

      I’d start with 1 tsp and taste it, possibly working up to 1 tbsp.

      • Leslie
        February 5, 2013 | 12:59 pm

        and what about anchovy paste instead of the fish sauce? I’ve had that in my pantry for a while and nothing to use it in -

  9. wendy
    March 19, 2012 | 4:55 pm

    so much easier than the one I use! There are spices in it it took me 6 months to find locally! But husband is allergic to fish so I guess I am stuck with the hard one!

    • Morgan
      August 9, 2012 | 5:24 pm

      Try replacing the Thai fish sauce with umeboshi paste, found in health food stores or food coops. Will have to determine amounts by trial and error. Two brands appear to be free of additives: Emperor’s Kitchen and Eden Foods. (Are we allowed to put in brand names?) You should be able to tweak the easy recipe to omit the fish rather than use a more complicated recipe with loads of expensive and hard to find ingredients. Good Luck!

  10. Tanya
    March 19, 2012 | 6:50 pm

    Thanks so much! I used to use Worcestershire sauce all. the. time. Then they added HFCS! yuk! I’m allergic to corn.

    I’ll still look for Tamarind sauce/paste b/c my family loves Pad Thai (or whichever Thai noodle dish uses it). You’d think it wouldn’t be so hard to find in Los Angeles, with all the Asians, but I haven’t found it recently.

    • Gabrielle
      March 20, 2012 | 10:18 am

      When I lived in California I only found tamarind paste in Indian and Middle Eastern stores, not Asian. You may want to try there.

    • Andrew
      July 16, 2012 | 4:22 pm

      Try latino stores as well. Tamarind paste is made from tamarind pods for the Mexican beverage Tamarindo. You might also find the dry tamarind pods and make the paste from the pods yourself.

    • Morgan
      August 9, 2012 | 5:16 pm

      I live in a small East Coast city, but found tamarind paste in an Indian grocery rather than an Asian one.

  11. Stephanie
    March 19, 2012 | 7:30 pm

    Totally gonna try this one. Thanks so much for sharing.

  12. Jennifer
    March 19, 2012 | 10:12 pm

    How long can you store it?

    • Jennifer
      March 19, 2012 | 10:14 pm

      nevermind, just saw the same question above.

    • KristenM
      March 19, 2012 | 10:14 pm

      I’ve never had mine go bad, and I’ve stored it in the fridge for at least a month before using it all up.

  13. Diana
    March 20, 2012 | 3:47 am

    I will try this recipe, but can you tell me the way I would use tamarind paste, as that is much easier for me to obtain that black strap molasses. I would not even know where to obtain black strap molasses, probably online.

    • KristenM
      March 20, 2012 | 8:19 pm

      Please see my response to Breezy, above.

  14. pat
    March 20, 2012 | 8:53 pm

    This is awesome! Well done!!!

  15. Kristina
    March 27, 2012 | 11:52 am

    I am so excited to find this. Thank you. Thank you. My son is allergic to soy and corn. I haven’t been able to find commercially prepared Worcestershire Sauce that doesn’t contain one or the other.

  16. Candice
    March 29, 2012 | 8:40 pm

    Hi, just making this recipe right now but not sure if u mean minced garlic, or garlic powder?

  17. Marjorie
    March 31, 2012 | 10:24 am

    Thank you! Super excited to find this recipe. I gave up on Worcestershire Sauce about a year ago because I couldn’t find a clean version anywhere. This is awesome :)

  18. Laurie
    May 21, 2012 | 9:01 am

    Thank You! Finally a recipe… That will help prevent MSG poisoning which
    store bought Worcheshire Sauce contains… and as dangerous as high fructose corn syrup! Can’t wait to try the recipe. ;-)

  19. Kelly @ The Nourishing Home
    June 1, 2012 | 8:42 am

    Hi, Kristen! I wanted to let you know that I’m sending my readers your way for this fabulous Worcestershire sauce recipe. I use it in my wonderfully juicy and tender Grilled Skirt Steak w/Balsamic-Apricot Marinade recipe which I just posted today. Thanks for your terrific and EASY recipe! Blessings, Kelly

  20. Sandy
    June 6, 2012 | 10:19 am

    If I need to go out and try to find “Thai fish sauce” (something the average cook usually doesn’t have in their cupboard) to make a Worchesterhire Sauce substitute in a pinch, I might as well just pick up some Worcestershire Sauce to begin with.

    • KristenM
      June 6, 2012 | 10:23 am

      Well, this isn’t meant to be a substitute in a pinch, but a healthy homemade version that isn’t full of highly refined ingredients like high fructose corn syrup.

    • Kira
      May 10, 2014 | 3:41 pm

      I’ve never had trouble finding fish sauce in the Asian section (usually the same aisle as the Mexican section) of most big grocery stores. As for this being an easy substitute, the point of substituting is to avoid all the crap ingredients without having to wait days/weeks for an authentic fermented version. I’m adding blackstrap molasses and tamarind to my grocery list. Thank you, Kristen!

  21. Zuber
    January 20, 2013 | 11:39 am

    Awesome, did’nt have molasses, so used brown suger. Tastes like slightly sweet Worcester.


    • KristenM
      February 4, 2013 | 12:22 am

      Brown sugar would be sweeter! Glad you liked it.

  22. Linda
    February 1, 2013 | 2:37 am

    Great recipe! I can’t wait to try it since I’ve avoided commercial Worcestershire Sauce for years because of questionable ingredients. I’d like to learn your source for real blackstrap molasses, but checked the link and couldn’t find it. Would you provide that information?

    Many thanks,

  23. DC
    February 4, 2013 | 2:39 pm

    Hi there, love your site! Thank you, God bless you for being a channel for wisdom and amazing truths to flow thru!

    I wanted to comment about the tamarind paste, it is sure to be available in most any Indian store (India Indian :) and every town is sure to have at least one Indian store in it (okay, not every but almost). Hope this helps someone who wants actual tamarind paste– and hopefully it is all natural, now that I haven’t checked so please do.

    • bobbie joh
      January 14, 2014 | 11:41 am

      hi DC.. i get my tamarind in a block, from the local asian grocery. it is called wet tamarind, and is from vietnam. it says seedless on the front, but in fact it is NOT! it must be soaked in hot water for a minute or two, then strained through a strainer. easy to work with, and the only ingredient is tamarind. i use about 1 part tamarind to 2 parts water – you can experiment

  24. Jeff
    February 4, 2013 | 9:15 pm

    I live in the Atlanta area and we have lots of Asian farmers markets. I have easy access to tamarind paste and I want to use in the Worcestershire sauce instead of limes.

    So, how much tamarind paste should I use instead of the limes?

  25. Jeff
    February 9, 2013 | 2:20 pm

    Okay, I’m tired of waiting so I will try to go ahead and make it using tamarind instead of lime juice. I’ll go ahead and squeeze the lime juice to use that as a measure of tartness for the tamarind.

    I want to use tamarind in order to get it the closest to the real thing as possible.

    • Alanna
      February 12, 2013 | 9:46 pm

      She addressed a very similar question earlier in the comments section, so I would start there and modify as needed.

      • Jeff
        February 23, 2013 | 2:35 pm

        Yes, thanks. I was able to get tamarind concentrate at a local Asian store. About 1 tblspn works well.

  26. Alanna
    February 13, 2013 | 12:04 am

    Wow – just made this to spruce up my ho-hum beef pot roast, and I’m pleasantly surprised by how good this is! I was worried it’d be too sweet with all the honey, but the lime juice works well to counteract that. Mine doesn’t look as dark or thick as the picture (probably because I only had regular molasses), but I’d definitely make this again!

  27. Kristine.
    March 8, 2013 | 10:47 am

    my husband brought home a bottle & due to [toxic] ingredients, i had to throw it away, so wasteful, but better for my family.
    thanks for sharing your wisdom with us!

  28. micaiah
    April 13, 2013 | 11:56 am

    I’M SO HAPPY THIS DOESN’T HAVE SOY!! Thank you! This seriously opens up so many other options for sauces/condiments that I can make without icky stuff or foods I can’t eat- makes my day! :)

  29. janine jones
    May 27, 2013 | 5:22 pm

    I have also used balsamic vinegar with great success :-)

  30. Celeste
    June 1, 2013 | 7:45 pm

    My daughter can’t have nightshades, so I tried replacing the chili powder with freshly grated horseradish and it worked wonderfully. Thank you for this recipe!

  31. Keren Jackson
    July 3, 2013 | 9:19 am

    This looks delicious! I just wanted to share that the Worcestershire Sauce I buy (Lea & Perrins) does not have HFCS. It does have the ominous ‘Natural Flavorings,’ but everything else in the list is clear and pronounceable! Distilled White Vinegar, Molasses (maybe not authentic blackstrap molasses), water, sugar (not sucanat), onions, anchovies, salt, garlic, cloves, tamarind extract, and chili pepper extract. I get it at HEB, and it claims to be ‘The Original’, ‘All Natural’, and ‘Truly Authentic’.

    • Danisty
      July 7, 2013 | 12:02 am

      My friend just sent me a link to this page and I was going to say the same thing. The Lea and Perrins doesn’t have HFCS or really anything weird. It’s also a whole lot thinner than the sauce in this picture. This looks more like a steak sauce. Worcestershire sauce is almost the same consistency as water.

  32. Kay
    July 6, 2013 | 11:30 am

    This is so very good, I did swap with anchovies and added a little extra molasses. It’s thin but has a clean fresh wonderful taste.

  33. Trisha
    July 28, 2013 | 9:24 am

    This is fantastic! I just told my wife that if you were gay and I wasn’t married, I’d marry you. Lmao! The recipe is dead on. Thank you so much!

    • Kristen
      July 28, 2013 | 10:53 am

      I do believe that’s the first time I’ve ever received THAT particular compliment. Thank you for the flattery and kind words!

  34. Trisha
    July 28, 2013 | 9:46 am

    This is also perfect for those of us who refuse to eat gmo foods and restrict themselves to an all organic diet.

  35. Kim
    August 22, 2013 | 4:11 pm

    I just needed W sauce for a recipe and didn’t have the fish sauce, molasses or lime. I subbed brown sugar, used regular vinegar, and added a prune (because I had one and thought the sweetness and dark color might add) and pureed it all in the blender. It was fine and great for what I needed, and close enough for my needs! So, even with out “all” of the stuff about, this recipe saved the day for me! Thanks!

  36. Emily McMillan
    September 20, 2013 | 4:22 pm

    Is that fresh garlic or garlic powder?

  37. Sandy
    October 27, 2013 | 7:21 pm

    Anybody have a shelf/ refer lie on this. I scanned the comments but didn’t see anything. Thanks in advance and I’m sorry If I missed it.

  38. Karen
    December 22, 2013 | 4:45 pm

    Re the SCD worcestershire sauce recipe: I haven’t read all the comments, but I wonder if anyone has pointed out that molasses is illegal on the SCD diet.

  39. bobbie joh
    January 14, 2014 | 11:23 am

    thank you!!!! i have wanted a worchestershire recipe for ages. hate that store bought stuff, but wanted the flavors. this is going in my arsenal right NOW!

  40. Nancy
    January 14, 2014 | 2:27 pm

    Thank you so much ~ do you think I could double recipe and keep in fridge? For how long? What about canning this?

    • Kristen
      January 14, 2014 | 2:29 pm

      I think it would can well. I’ve never had it go bad, and I’ve kept it as long as a month.

  41. Marzlie
    January 14, 2014 | 11:51 pm

    one question – if tamarind sauce is available, how much would you add?

  42. Jennifer
    January 30, 2014 | 4:56 pm

    I would love to try this, but sadly i am allergic to fish so i actually need a recipe without the anchovies

  43. Sarah
    May 24, 2014 | 6:37 pm

    I made this, and right off the bat, it was SO GOOD. I decided to follow one of the suggestions in the comments and I added 1 tsp live whey (I had some leftover from my cream cheese and kefir cheese making) and let it sit on the counter for a few days.

    I brought it over to my mother-in-law’s today so that she could use it in a dish that she is making (but we can’t have gluten, so we needed an alternative). She had to call me to tell me that she was practically drinking out of the bottle because it was SO GOOD. She said it’s better than Lea and Perrins (and she is EXTREMELY picky about her Worcestershire sauce and won’t buy anything BUT Lea and Perrins). So that says A LOT!

    THANK-YOU for making this recipe!!!!!!!!!

    • Sarah
      May 24, 2014 | 6:39 pm

      Oh, and I also wanted to mention (in case anyone was wondering) that the Canadian and the UK version of Lea & Perrins has barley malt (gluten) in it. That is the original recipe. So that’s why I was glad you made this recipe!!!

  44. Beth @ Hooked on Health
    August 10, 2014 | 9:54 am

    I learned so much from your review of purchased Worcestershire sauce. I too have a great substitute posted on my blog It does contain tamarind and anchovies. I think it is really close to authentic. I did use regular soy-sauce back when I posted it (I wasn’t paleo) so using a homemade substitute for that will be necessary.

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My name is Kristen Michaelis. I'm a nutrition educator, author, and mother of three. I adore hats, happy skirts, horizons full of storm clouds, the full-bodied feel of wind as I ride motorcylces, reading in my hammock, and a hearty shot of Caol Ila scotch. I'm also a rebel with a cause.
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