Worcestershire sauce; the infamous sauce that everyone owns, but no one can seem to pronounce and no one seems to know what is inside it. Before we go into the ingredients typically found in Worcestershire sauce, let’s briefly discuss the history of this epic sauce.
During 1837, in Worcester, England, two chemists by the name of John Lea and William Perrins, began creating the sauce, promoting it publicly in 1840. (1,2)
It is one of the earliest bottled sauces still sold today, though the ingredients and process of production have changed since its origination.
The process of fermentation the chemists used was believed to be inspired by the fermentation of soybeans by the ancient Chinese, which allowed the sauce to be stored in glass bottles at room temperature for long periods of time without going rancid. (1,2)
Now, let’s discuss the makeup of Worcestershire sauce. In order to make Worcestershire sauce, you must combine vinegar, sugar, salt, molasses, anchovies, tamarind, onions, garlic, cloves, chili pepper extract, and other spices, allowing the ingredients to ferment, giving this sauce it’s explosive and potent flavor. (3)
It has a savory, salty, and sweet taste, with a tangy flavor, thanks to the high content of vinegar. The distinct umami taste is contributed to the use of anchovies, making it an excellent ingredient in marinades, dressings, soups, stews, as a condiment for dipping and drizzling, and a great sauce to brush on top of vegetables and meats.
Though this sauce is delicious and keeps you coming back for more, if consumed in high concentrations over a long period of time, it can exacerbate the symptoms of and contribute to the development of certain chronic diseases. (4,5,6)
The reason it should be limited in the diet is because of the incredibly high amount of sodium and amino acids, which can lead to aminoaciduria (high concentration of amino acids in the urine), hypertension (high blood pressure), renal calculi (blood in the urine), and renal failure (usually in diabetics). (6)
It is for this reason that people at risk of developing these diseases stick with healthier alternatives to Worcestershire sauce.
#1. Low-Sodium Soy Sauce + Lemon Juice + Hot Sauce
Low-sodium soy sauce is a great alternative to Worcestershire sauce, for it has the same umami and savory taste. By adding lemon juice and hot sauce, you are also obtaining the tart, acidic, and slightly spicy feel that so many people love about Worcestershire sauce.
When combining the ingredients for this sauce substitute, you only want to add about 3-4 drops of hot sauce and about 1/4-1/3 teaspoon lemon juice to the soy sauce, for you want mostly a umami taste, which too much hot sauce or lemon juice can mask quickly if not careful. This sauce is great in marinades, brushed on top of meat, and makes a great addition to dressings (in small amounts).
#2. Reduced Sodium HP Sauce
Reduced sodium HP sauce is not only lower in salt than normal steak sauce, but is also lower in sugar, making it a great option for diabetics. It makes for a great alternative to Worcestershire sauce because it has a similar savory taste, without all the salt.
It is best used on meats and meat alternatives cooked on a grill, smoker, or in an oven, but is a tad too strong to use as a condiment, unless mixed with a little water. It can be found at most grocery stores or online on Websites such as Amazon.
#3. Tamarind Paste + Low-Sodium Soy Sauce + White Vinegar
Tamarind paste comes from the tamarind fruit and involves mashing the fruit and draining most of the liquid. It has a sour and tart taste, which makes up some of the flavor profile of Worcestershire sauce.
In order to obtain the full savory, acidic, tart, sour, and umami taste of Worcestershire sauce, combining tamarind paste with low-sodium soy sauce and white vinegar does the trick.
The vinegar brings about the acidic taste, while the low-sodium soy sauce brings about the savory and umami taste. This combination sauce is great in dressings, as a condiment, in marinades and marmalades, on top of vegetables and meat, and in stocks, soups, and stews.
#4. Red Wine Vinegar + Liquid Aminos
Red wine vinegar is a byproduct of fermented red wine, giving it a robust, complex, smooth, and tangy flavor, which makes it a perfect substitution for Worcestershire sauce.
When combined with liquid aminos, the richness of red wine vinegar is magnified, for liquid aminos add a slightly sweet and savory taste. This sauce is an excellent option for vinaigrettes, marinades, for pickling, and as a condiment. You will still be able to enjoy the complexingly umami taste of Worcestershire sauce without the salt and sugar content!
Commercial worcestershire sauce contains sugar and it’s very high in carbs, therefore, it is not keto-approved.
You can combine red wine vinegar with coconut aminos and a little bit of keto-friendly sweetener to mimic worcestershire sauce.
(2) History Of Worcestershire Sauce (1837-2012): Extensively Annotated Bibliography And Sourcebook – Compiled By William Shurtleff & Akiko Aoyagi