Worcestershire sauce is one of those magical flavor-enhancing ingredients that I splash into just about everything savory. Something not quite right about a soup? Probably needs Worcestershire.
Chili a bit bland? Worcestershire sauce saves the day again.
As we work towards making more of our own foods, including condiments, from scratch I got to wondering…what’s in this stuff anyway?
I’ll admit I was pretty intimidated by making my own Worcestershire sauce.
The old school traditional version is fermented in casks for over a year and contains a lot of fresh fish that slowly ferment during the process.
The original Worcestershire sauce recipe that was developed in England in the early 1800s is based on a fermented fish sauce that dates all the way back to the Roman Empire.
These days there are plenty of brands of Worcestershire sauce, and all of them have a slightly different flavor and consistency.
Worcestershire Sauce Ingredients
The two most commonly available versions, in the US at least, are Lee and Perrins and Annie’s Organics.
Since Lee and Perrins was founded in 1837 by the people that actually invented what is known today as Worcestershire sauce, their version is obviously the most “traditional.”
The Annie’s version has a much thicker consistency, and it’s vegan, so it lacks anchovies which are a key ingredient that provides most of the “umami” flavor that Worcestershire sauce is known for.
Either way, the Worcestershire Sauce ingredients lists for both commercial versions give you a good idea of how to make your own. Unfortunately, “natural flavorings” can be just about anything, but still, it’s a nudge in the right direction.
Lee and Perrins Worcestershire sauce Ingredients: Distilled white vinegar, anchovies, garlic, molasses, onions, salt, sugar, water, chili pepper extract, cloves, natural flavorings, tamarind extract
Annie’s Organics Ingredients (Vegan): Water, Apple Cider Vinegar, Molasses, Soy Sauce (Water, Soybean, Salt, Wheat, Alcohol), Cane Sugar, Tamarind, Sea Salt, Cornstarch, Xanthan Gum, Garlic, Onion, Clove, Chili Pepper.
Since I find the thick texture of Annie’s version pretty unappealing, I won’t be adding any corn starch or xantham gum. The thick dip-able texture is a better choice for a steak sauce like A1, but that more or less makes the vegan aspect pointless…
Choosing a Worcestershire Sauce Recipe
I started combing the internet for Worcestershire sauce recipes and I didn’t make it very far.
Just about all of them are a mixture of cider vinegar and soy sauce, with a few seasonings thrown in. None that I found contained anchovies, and all of them are ready to use as soon as you whisk them together.
Sure, instant gratification is nice, and it’s great for making a quick Worcestershire sauce substitute if you happen to run out…but it’s not what I’m going for. I’m trying to craft something special, and waiting for the flavors to come together just right is part of the process.
Disappointed, I shelved the project until I came across a recipe for Worcestershire sauce in The All New Ball Book of Canning and Preserving. The ingredients list is long, but reading through it, I happened to have all the ingredients waiting in my pantry.
To be fair, I have a pretty well-equipped pantry, and most people probably don’t have tamarind paste or anchovies in stock at all times. Beyond those two things, the recipe is pretty basic pantry staples and spices.
The original recipe called for 1 tsp. anchovy paste and I’ve instead used a 2oz can of whole anchovies. A single teaspoon didn’t seem like nearly enough, especially since it’s the second ingredient in the Lee and Perrins Worcestershire sauce ingredient list.
I also substituted maple syrup for the brown sugar since we make our own homemade maple and have plenty on hand.
After a month of aging in the pantry, this homemade Worcestershire sauce is incredibly satisfying. It tastes surprisingly like the original, but with a little bit more warmth of flavor.
As an added bonus, I also have a jar full of Worcestershire sauce paste that was filtered out of the liquid sauce. It’s chunky, but has all the flavor of the original sauce.
The original recipe says to discard it, but that’s a shame. I’m saving it to add by the spoonful to soups. I imagine it could also be pureed finely and then dehydrated for use as a Worcestershire sauce powder.
So all in all, is it worth the extra effort to make your own Worcestershire sauce?
It’s a fun project, and I’m amazed by how good it tastes. It’s less salty than the original, and the flavor is warmer.
I’m very happy with the results. I’ll make it again for sure.
This homemade version doesn’t exactly save money, and it’s not made with homemade ingredients either (unless you can grow both your own tamarind and anchovies…) but it is incredibly tasty.
Saving money and producing everything 100% yourself doesn’t have to be the only reason to try making something from scratch.
Sometimes it’s worth it just for fun kitchen science, with delicious results!
Homemade Condiments & Preserves
Looking for more easy homemade condiments and preserves?
Homemade Worcestershire Sauce
This homemade Worcestershire Sauce is a lot like the commercially prepared version, with a taste that's well rounded and full of umami.
- 1/4 cup raisins
- 1/4 cup boiling water
- 1/2 cup un-sulfured molasses
- 1/4 cup tamarind paste
- 2-ounce can anchovies
- 1 onion, coarsely chopped
- 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled & chopped
- 6-8 garlic cloves, crushed
- 2 cups white vinegar, divided
- 2 cardamom pods
- 2 Tbsp. kosher or canning salt
- 2 Tbsp. brown sugar or maple syrup
- 1 Tbsp. crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 Tbsp. dry mustard
- 1 tsp. whole cloves
- 1 tsp. black peppercorns
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- Pour boiling water over raisins in a small bowl and allow to stand 15 minutes until raisins are softened. Drain and discard water.
- Place raisins, molasses, tamarind paste, anchovies, onion, ginger, garlic and half the vinegar (1 cup) into a food processor. Process until smooth.
- Pour the pureed mixture into a saucepan and add the remaining ingredients (including remaining vinegar). Bring the whole mixture to a boil, then remove from heat.
- Pour the mixture into a 1 quart canning jar, seal with a plastic lid and store in a cool, dark place for at least 1 month (or longer for stronger flavors).
- After aging, pour the sauce through a fine mesh sieve before use.
Home Preservation Projects
Looking for more from tasty home food preservation projects? Try any of these:
- How to make Pickled Eggs
- Dill Pickles Recipe for Canning
- Duck Breast Prosciutto (Salt Cured Duck Breast)
- Salt Cured Egg Yolks
How long will the Worcestershire sauce last and does it need to be refrigerated after strained?
It should last indefinitely since it’s basically a vinegar infusion. I keep mine in the pantry, and it’s still great several months later. The ball canning book says to put it in the refrigerator, and though I’ve found that unnecessary, that might be a good solution if you’re the cautious type.
I live in Australia where we have pretty warm temperatures. I think Worcestershire is generally kept in the fridge by a lot of people, but I am guessing the antimicrobial properties of the vinegar would stop it from being rancid.
Is there a non-fruit substitute for the raisins?
This is the traditional method for making Worcestershire sauce. You can probably just omit them but it will probably affect the flavor.
I am curious if you have a recommendation for a vinegar substitute? I have food allergies and that’s why I’m looking for DIY condiment recipes. White vinegar is in the corn category. Would lemon juice or apple cider vinegar work?
Apple cider vinegar is a good substitute, but I’d avoid lemon juice since it will really change the flavor. I do use apple cider vinegar in this because we make our own and have plenty on hand. That works wonderfully.
When you say seal us that tighten by hand ir a water bath seal
You just want to use a plastic lid and tighten it by hand.
mine has been in the fridge since I made it several months ago – Jan – Feb, ’21. It’s quite “thick” and I’m going to thin it with malt + ‘spirit’ [ordinary white] vinegar when I filter it in – Sept. [say Labour Day]. I used the recipe I found in “Glen and Friends” which is very similar to yours’, with all the basic ingredients – my thanks to you.
once again , you rock girl ! where do you get all of these fantastic recipes ?
thank you again , Ron in Texas
i really like your attitude! It’s true; sometimes making it at home from scratch isn’t really going to save any money, but it is preserving knowledge, which is probably more important in the long run. Thanks so much for the marvelous source of information.
In the recipe you said, “Pour the mixture into a 1 quart canning jar, seal with a plastic lid…”
Is there a reason for the plastic lid versus the flat canning lids? Thank you.
I’ve discovered your blog a couple of months ago. We made the elderberry gummies, but instead of gummy bears we made hearts, jewels, and daisies. When major sickness passed through my girls’ school this past semester, they never caught the illness. Coincidence? Maybe. But it is a fun and tasty precaution either way.
Thank you for sharing your knowledge with us!
You can use regular canning lids for this, but I’ve found that things high in vinegar and salt really break down the canning lids if they’re opened and closed repeatedly. Eventually, the contents get a metallic taste and the rings rust. Given that this isn’t going to be canned, I use the BPA free plastic lids that ball canning sells. You can use metal though if you like if you haven’t had this issue.
That makes sense. Thanks you!
I had the same curiosity. Thanks for sharing your experience!
I’m so glad I found you, I just love this recipe!!!
Your third from the last ingredient says 1 tsp of whole cloves. But whole cloves of what? Please respond.
Cloves are a common cooking spice here in the US. They’re often ground, but you can get them whole too. If using ground, which is more common, only use about 1/8 to 1/4 tsp because they’re strong. If you’re not familiar with cloves, here’s more info: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clove
What if we don’t want to use anchovies. I don’t eat from the Pacific ocean due to fish die offs and Fukushima radiation.
No worries, you can just skip that ingredient and still make a darn good sauce.
Anchovies are found in every ocean, most in Europe come from the Mediterranean and Atlantic. Check the country of origin. As a side note, coal fired power plants produce more radiation than nuclear power plants.
Radiation from coal fired plants? Explain.
No worries..anchovies don’t come from the Pacific Ocean!
Check the country of origin on the packaging. You may find that they come from European waters and don’t have that problem.
Can fish sauce be used in place of sardines? What would the volume used to substitute?
Fish sauce sounds like an excellent substitute for the anchovies, and may well result in better flavor since it’s been cultured to really bring out the umami in the fish. The amount…good question. If I were doing it, I’d try perhaps 1 tablespoon in place of the 2 ounces of fish. That’s a good starting point, but you may need to adjust from there.
Oof, just saw the other comment about mushrooms. No need to approve my previous comment since I have my answer. Thanks for sharing your recipe.
You’re very welcome!
I use Worcester sauce in my hambers. I once found black pepper soaked in Worcester sauce, I have soaked my own to replicated this. When I make this sauce I am definitely drying out the ‘toss out’ and adding black pepper and my other favorite spices♡
JoAnn M Lakes
I still want to make this vegan so thinking about using seaweed for the anchovies. I’m planning to use hijiki since it has a stronger and rich umami flavor. Any thoughts that might be useful?
Seaweed sounds like a great vegan substitution. Also maybe consider umami-rich dried mushrooms like shiitake. Enjoy!
Cedar Rock Cabin
I made some Worcestershire sauce last week using seaweed as my step son is vegan. Unfortunately, I had not seen this recipe at that point. IDK if seaweed is an exact substitute, but I was extremely happy with the results. I cannot wait to try this recipe! I actually have tamarind paste on hand! Admittedly, I’ve never purchased anchovies.
You will have to let us know how you like the recipe once you have had a chance to try it.
I made this. It turned out wonderful. I use the sauce paste on steaks. I make my own A1 sauce and the addition of the paste puts it over the top! It has almost that same tangy smell quality as A1. So good! That most copycat A1 recipes lack.
Awesome. So glad you liked it!
As a like minded person I appreciate your insight. Happy trails from Western PA.
You’re welcome! ❤
Should I use black or green cardamon pods as recipe doesn’t specify
We only have green here, so that’s what I used.
Sounds like a good recipe – cant wait to try it out. Can we use old red wine instead of ACV?
I don’t see why not!
Do you shake it while it is ageing?
I don’t, but it wouldn’t hurt if you do.
just found your site and love it so far. I’ve made my own Worcestershire before but I like the idea of using maple syrup. My next batch I am going to try it with some Sorghum syrup. When are you gonna join Instagram? would love to follow you there.
Thanks for your post!
Hi, Chris! I’m on Instagram: @ashley.adamant 🙂
Hi..i made this today..but mine was a bit more thick than yours…what should i do??add water or vinegar there??Please tell..
I would probably add more water and adjust the seasonings if it needs it.
Can’t wait to try your recipe! Want to make some for family as well. Does this recipe double, and/or triple well? Also how much does the single recipe yield after its strained?
Thanks again for great recipes. I, too, just found your site and can’t wait to try some of your other recipes.
This recipe makes about 3 cups of sauce. I don’t see any reason why you couldn’t double it or triple it. If you give it a try, let us know how it works out.
I am interested in bottling this for gifts. Are there any processing instructions for after the aging time?
First of all I want to express all my gratitude to this excellent blog. I am from Spain, I am a fan of worcestershire sauce since i was young. Lately I dicide to try and test several diferent recipes. I found yours interesting. Right now its time to wait for getting better flavours, I will leave them about a week then I’ll pour the sauce and let all the diferent recipes aging at leat 2 more weeks. I would like to know how many mililiters do you consider a cup? I would like to reproduce your recipe but Its hard for me to understand that measure.
There are lots of measurement converters on the internet. You can find one and should be able to type the measurements in and it will convert it for you.
I have a severe allergy to apples and I have developed problems with soy as well, my mother has a gluten allergy and a sulfite allergy. This is the first recipe I’ve come across that doesn’t use apples cider vinegar or soy sauce which contains wheat, I’m super excited to try this out once I get the tamarind paste, unless there is a substitute you might suggest? I’ve been experimenting with fermenting foods and just made my own hot sauces so this is fits with my interest in lactofermented food. Thank you so much for sharing this. Please keep up the amazing work (^_^)
Can this recipe be doubled.
I am so excited about this! I am potently allergic to all nightshades (It is ugly- swelling, hives, can’t put on my shoes) and I have gotten sensitive enough that some of my favorite pantry items are a no-go. Can you make anything without Worcestershire sauce? Not really. Anyway, I will just drop the red pepper flakes and I should be back in the flavor business! Woohoo! If you can create me a pepper free tobacco replacement I would love you forever, but I think that maybe beyond hope. (I LOVE spicy, I cry a little every time I cook. Garlic, ginger, wasabi, and horseradish only carry me so far.)
Honestly, you could skip the red pepper flakes and it’d still be amazing. I imagine you could try something else for heat too…not sure what. Extra garlic maybe? My husband really loves Sichuan pepper, and that has a good bit of heat and great flavor without being nightshade. Might be a good option, but you should try it first to see if you like the flavor of Sichuan pepper…it’s delicious to me, but not for everyone. Good luck!
Is there anything to substitute for the anchovies? I have allergies to most fish. But especially seafood.
You could just leave the anchovies out. You could also try substituting seaweed or umami-rich dried mushrooms like shiitake.
Here in Colorado we spell that Lea & Perrins. Same sauce, it seems. Scarce right now owing to a labor dispute.
So how can this be canned or bottled to save it longer?
Thank in advance.
The Ball Book says to keep it in the fridge but Ashley just keeps it in the pantry. Since it’s basically a vinegar infusion, it should last a while.
This a great sauce for Gluten Free eaters.
This recipe looks amazing… So – I doubt I can source cardamom pods in my area. How much ground cardamom (which I have) should I use?
One cardamom pod is equal to about 1/6 teaspoon of ground cardamom.
Want to thank you for sharing your kitchen science with us out, here, you are a absolutely inspiration to all of us! Unfortunately we are not off-grid, but living on the other side of the globe, far away from home, we have to create and make our own traditional food and other needs that are not readily available here unless you have it shipped. So, we thank you very much for sharing! Alet and Edward.
You’re very welcome. So glad that you’re enjoying the posts.
Hi from New Zealand, I have made this Worcestershire sauce as per your recipe and I must say, “it came out amazing”!
It taste like the Holbrooks (our old time sauce” before Lazenby came on the market. I am busy with my second batch already.
One thing about your writing here was that you mentioned to make use of the solids too. Well, this came as a gift to us, because back home they sell a BBQ salt called Worcestershire sauce BBQ salt! We have to buy it from an importer here at a crazy expensive price. So, now by drying and making a lovely powder as you suggested, we actually are creating our own Worcestershire BBQ salt! Thank you very, very much for sharing your lovely recipes and experience. Kind regards
Edward and Alet
I am so glad that you enjoyed the recipe and that you are able to now have your own Worcestershire BBQ salt.
Hello and thanks for your time!
I would like to make a vegetarian version of it and use mushrooms instead of anchovies.
I already did a “soja sauce” with a lactofermentation of dried mushrooms and they give the umami flavour..
Do you think it could work?
It’s definitely worth trying. Let us know how it goes.
Thanks for this very intriguing recipe.
With the anchovies, I’m wondering in about spoilage. Could you age it in the refrigerator?
The anchovies that I could readily get are packed in oil. Would include the oil in the sauce?
Aging it in the fridge will probably affect flavor and the large amount of vinegar in the recipe allows it to sit and age on the shelf without spoiling. I would not include the oil from the anchovies in the sauce.
I save the solids and dehydrate and then grind fine to make an amazing dry rub for meats! Highly recommend this whole recipe!
Hello, what does the raisins do in the sauce? Is there a substitute to it?
Apparently this was a very traditional ingredient in many sauces like Worcestershire. You could probably just omit them if you don’t want to include them in the recipe. It will most likely affect the flavor.
Since the good ol’ Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce only contains Vinegar, Molasses, Corn Syrup, Anchovies, Onion, Salt, Garlic, Tamarind Extract, Cloves, and Chili Peppers…this recipe actually sounds a bit more like the British HP Sauce (they also call it “brown sauce”) that they put on literally everything! HP Sauce has dates (kinda like raisins) and mustard, plus tomato puree and orange juice that I’ve seen in recipes similar to yours. Frankly, these all look amazing and I intend to experiment, basing my first pass on yours!
Also, have you ever duplicated the Lea & Perrins White Wine Worcestershire Sauce / Chicken Marinade? I think it’s basically regular Worcestershire Sauce with Sauterne Wine, Whey (Milk), and Turmeric, minus the cloves and with less molasses. Trying to duplicate this is what started my quest!
I have not tried to duplicate the White wine Worcestershire sauce. Let us know how your experiments go.
a more specific recipe, containing the amounts of each ingredient, may be found at Glen and friends -Worcestershire ?
Hello I’m wondering about either a substitute for tamarind paste or is it okay to omit? I have none on hand and really want to make cottage pie with homemade Worcestershire sauce (: will omitting tamarind terribly affect the outcome ?
I saw a suggestion that you could mix equal parts of brown sugar and vinegar to substitute. If you decide to try it just let us know how it works.
Where did you get the apothecary bottle used in these pictures?
I’m not sure where this specific bottle came from but you should be able to find something similar on Amazon.
What recipe book was this from it looks extremely familiar
The recipe is in The All New Ball Book of Canning and Preserving. Here is the link https://amzn.to/2VezUi6
Hi there, I saw in the very first comment you answered siting the Ball canning recipe for this. I have never been able to locate a Ball recipe for wocestershire sauce could you please tell me what edition if you remember? Thats
If you look in the post, there is a link to the exact book that the recipe is found in. When you click on that link, it takes you to Amazon where you can look inside the book. It shows the index and you can see there that the Worcestershire recipe is on page 257.
Is there a safe way to reduce the sodium /salt you use?
With the amount of vinegar in there, I’d assume that’d be enough to preserve the sauce if you reduced the salt…but I have no way of knowing that for sure. If you do reduce the sodium, I’d suggest keeping it in the refrigerator just to be safe.
What kind of molasses do you recommend, blackstrap or fancy molasses? Thank you.
Either works fine, but I’m using Blackstrap.
That’s great and I prefer blackstrap for most things but wasn’t sure for this.
I got a little excited when making this and thew everything except the reserved vinegar in my Vitamix and blended away before I realized I did a poor job of reading the recipe where you reserve some of the ingredients post-puree. I then added the mixture with the vinegar and brought to a boil. Do you think this will be okay? I plan to make a batch the “correct” way but didn’t want to toss the oopsie batch!
It’s worth a try rather than throwing the whole thing out. Let us know how it goes.
After you remove it from heat, do you immediately put it in the jar and seal it? Or do you let it cool before sealing it?
You can go ahead and let it cool.