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The 5 Best Vegan Substitutes for Anchovy

Like all other food, cooking and eating anchovies is a delicious and wonderful experience.

Some people love the taste of anchovies; some people hate them.

However, there are many reasons for vegans to seek an alternative to anchovy or at least minimize eating it.

It is not suitable for vegans for a multitude of reasons.

So vegans need to find a substitute for anchovies, and fortunately, there is a wide range of potential substitutes.

This article will discuss why veganists should consider a substitute for anchovies and the top 5 best vegan substitutes for anchovies.

What is Anchovy?

what is anchovy

Anchovies are small, silvery fish that live in many different parts of the world.

They often swim near the seafloor and typically feed on plankton and small organisms such as crustaceans.

Anchovy is a common name for nearly a hundred species of oily, non-sport fishes in the herring family Clupeidae.

Anchovies are found in oceans worldwide and are especially abundant in the Mediterranean sea.

The main use of anchovy is as a food.

The meat of the fish is canned in oil or salt, eaten fresh, or used to make anchovy paste.

Anchovy paste can be used as a spread on toast or sandwiches and is also an ingredient in many dishes.

Why Do Vegans Need an Alternative to Anchovy?

Vegan diets exclude the consumption of any products made with or by animals, including eggs and dairy products.

This excludes many ingredients commonly used in cooking, such as anchovy paste.

However, it is easy to find vegan alternatives for these ingredients.

Anchovies have a unique taste which some people enjoy on their own, while others do not.

However, anchovy paste can add a savory taste to dishes like stews and casseroles that might otherwise lack some depth of flavor.

Many vegan alternatives are available for this; we will discuss more below.

The 5 Best Vegan Substitutes for Anchovies

For vegans, finding substitutes for anchovy can be difficult.

Try these five alternatives if you are looking for the same umami flavor in your pasta, salads, and soups but don’t want anchovy made from salt.

1 – Seaweed


Seaweed is a great alternative to vegan anchovy.

First and foremost, seaweeds include a variety of different vegetables that grow in the sea.

It may be surprising to find out these types of leafy greens both taste and look like the ocean.

When fresh, seaweed has a strong and salty flavor.

When dried, seaweed is crunchy and adds a subtle thick texture to your dishes.

The key to using seaweeds is to find the right variety of seaweed that best suits your taste buds.

For example, dulse may be milder, and kelp has a stronger fishy flavor.

In short, seaweeds include vegetables such as bladderwrack (a type of kelp) which you can use in place of vegan anchovy.

2 – Soy Sauce

soy sauce

Soy sauce is a great substitute for anchovy.

First and foremost, you can use it to add flavor to your marinades, stews, dressings, and soups.

Many traditional dishes from Asia use this type of sauce as a base layer of flavor.

In short, soy sauce is made from fermented boiled soya beans and roasted grains.

This sauce is rich in the amino acid, glutamic acid.

This substance gives soy sauce its umami flavor that replicates anchovy saltiness.

When shopping for soy sauce, try to avoid brands with high amounts of sodium.

As a result, you may want to opt for low-sodium or even soy sauce made from coconut rather than soybeans.

This bean variety is often used in gluten-free cooking.

3 – Capers


Capers are the flower buds of a small, thorny Mediterranean plant.

They are typically brined in vinegar or salt before being packaged and sold.

The flavor profile of capers is similar to that of anchovies in saltiness and fishy notes.

However, there is a sweeter and bitter taste in the aftertaste.

You can use capers as a garnish or as an ingredient in sauces, marinades, and salad dressings.

In addition, these pungent green specks add flavor to pasta dishes, soups, and even casseroles.

Try to buy the whole form rather than caper flakes or caper puree when cooking with capers.

This is because you can keep these ingredients in the refrigerator for about six months.

As a result, it’s best to buy whole capers and crush them with your hands before adding them to salads, dressings, and other dishes.

4 – Umeboshi Paste

umeboshi paste

Umeboshi paste is made from pickled plums.

There are sweet and salty versions available in the market.

This paste is quite popular in Asian cuisine.

It’s often used as a flavor enhancer and added to rice and noodle dishes.

Umeboshi paste has a tart and savory taste similar to the umami flavor of anchovies.

This paste is particularly salty and slightly sweet, with hints of tangy fruitiness.

However, the paste is tart and slightly acidic due to its ingredients.

As a result, you may want to use it sparingly.

5 – Miso Paste

miso paste

Look no further than miso paste if you’re looking for a vegan substitute for anchovy.

In general, the Japanese eat this paste as a condiment.

In addition, it’s often used as an ingredient in many dishes, from soups to salad dressings.

In short, miso is made from fermenting soybeans and rice or barley.

As a result, this paste is quite thick and earthy with bittersweet notes.

Compared to anchovy, miso has a strong fermented flavor that is intense in aroma.

This makes it an excellent substitute for adding depth of flavor to vegan dishes without using animal products.

However, many people find the taste of miso too strong when they first try it.

If you’re in this camp, consider using just a little bit of miso to start with and then adding more to taste.


In conclusion, anchovies are a popular ingredient in many dishes from all over the world.

However, due to its unappealing flavor and fishy notes, most people do not eat anchovy.

As a result, there are plenty of vegan substitutes for anchovies such as soy sauce, capers, umeboshi paste, and miso paste.

These ingredients may not be exact replicas of anchovies, but they accurately replicate their saltiness and flavor profile.

Therefore, if you are looking for vegan substitutes for anchovies, look no further than the above products.

Yield: 4 Servings

The 5 Best Vegan Substitutes for Anchovy

The 5 Best Vegan Substitutes for Anchovy
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes


  • Seaweed
  • Soy Sauce
  • Capers
  • Umeboshi Paste
  • Miso Paste


  1. Pick your favorite substitute from the list above.
  2. Follow cooking directions for your selected substitute with the proper ratio of ingredients.
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