What is Worcestershire sauce? Is it gluten-free? Is it vegan? The short answer is “Sadly, not always”. We have found several brands you can buy that are certified gluten-free and actually found 3 brands that make vegan AND gluten-free Worcestershire sauce. See them below.
What is Worcestershire sauce?
It is a savory aka umami sauce that was created in England by Lea & Perrins. The original sauce is started out as a fermented fish sauce that was left to dust in storage as it was so inedible. When they found it years later, it has turned into a tasty savory sauce. You can read more about its background here.
Ingredients of the original Lea & Perrins
According to the original recipe of Lea & Perrins, the sauce is created by using these ingredients:
- Anchovies (fish)
- Tamarind extract (a fruit that is grown in India)
- Natural flavoring
As the exact recipe of Lea & Perrins is a secret you have to pay attention to the ingredients list when you buy any Worcestershire sauce. Different brands will have different ingredients.
What does it taste like?
The taste of Worcester sauce is pretty close to soy sauce. No wonder some brands who would like to make a vegan version of it, use soy sauce (soybeans) instead of anchovies (fish sauce). But it is more. It is a mix of sweet, sour and spicy as well. A bit of sweet due to molasses and sugar, a bit of sour due to vinegar and a bit of spicy due to chili pepper extract.
We call it the FLAVOR BOOSTER and we use it to enhance or deepen the flavor of certain dishes.
- The sauce is a great addition to spicy marinade e.g. for our cauliflower steak or tofu steak.
- We also like to add them to stew, chili, shepherd’s pie, lentil loaf or meatloaf.
- It is pretty great to spice up any tomato-based sauces like a marinara sauce or a bolognese sauce.
Don’t worry! If the recipe calls for Worcestershire sauce and you don’t have it in hand, Food52 collected 35 ways to substitute it.
Is Worcestershire sauce gluten-free?
If you have celiac disease or need to follow a gluten-free diet, you need to pay attention when buying Worcestershire sauce. Even if the ingredients are gluten-free, always look for the gluten-free label, which ensures that there is no cross-contamination as well.
In terms of ingredients the one you need to look out for is what kind of vinegar the brand uses to make the sauce. If it is any type of malt vinegar, then sadly the Worchestershire sauce is NOT gluten-free.
The other thing to consider and check is whether the flavoring or the spices they use are gluten-free or not. If it is bold or underlined or highlighted among the ingredients then sadly the Worchestershire sauce is NOT gluten-free.
Here is a list of brands who confirmed that their product is indeed gluten-free. This means that neither the vinegar nor the flavoring nor the spices are contaminated with gluten. The star icon means it is an Amazon affiliate link.
Colgin*replaces Malt vinegar with White vinegar, thus eliminating gluten completely. It makes the perfect condiment for steaks and barbeque. It also makes the perfect addition to a good Bloody Mary.
True to its name, French’s* has been around for generations and boasts a loyal customer base. It’s most famous for it’s tasty and consistent flavor, and while it doesn’t have a gluten-free label, the ingredients are free of gluten. French’s uses distilled vinegar which is ideal as the distillation makes sure that all the gluten in the vinegar is filtered out perfectly.
Nothing beats a well-aged Worcestershire sauce and Heinz* comes with one of the finest. Their ingredients mark themselves safe from gluten. Only soy and anchovies stand out as possible allergens. Bloody Mary, steaks, salads, burgers – whatever be the course, Heinz spreads savory deliciousness!
This Kosher certified Worcestershire sauce by Kroger* is a go-to gluten-free brand endorsed by many. Unlike many other popular brands, Kroger satisfies your anxiety with their detailed and clear lists of ingredients. If you don’t like to experiment with brands, but want your sauce to be 100% free of gluten without a doubt, pick up a bottle of Kroger and put your mind at ease.
Lea & Perrins (US)
Lea and Perrins (chemists) were the humans behind this heavenly recipe, that is unmistakably the Godfather of Worcestershire sauce. Legend has it that the original Worcestershire sauce was created by accident. Although the authentic English version has Malt vinegar in it, it is replaced with distilled vinegar when exported to the United States (see more info), thus making it fit for the “gluten-free” label.
Say cheers to safe indulgence with this gluten-free organic blend. With zero gluten, and apple cider vinegar that brings a tang to its flavor, The Wizards* truly weave magic into these bottles.
Try Me Wine and Pepper
Want something more from your regular Worcestershire sauce? The mild yet rich and nutty flavor of cooking sherry and a fine sprinkle of hot jalapeno is what sets this one* apart. Distilled Vinegar to the rescue again! But pay heed to the fish and soy in it, if you are prone to allergies.
This brand is your best choice for a hyper sensitive gut. Handpicked with utmost care, all the ingredients in WanJaShan* are organic, vegan and gluten-free.The fine taste is a bonus for the safe relish it offers.
Popular brands that are not gluten-free
- 365 Everyday Value* – There is no gluten among the ingredients but sadly it is stated that it is manufactured in a facility that also processes wheat.
- Annie’s* – They use apple cider vinegar so that would be great, but the sauce contains soy sauce, so sadly not gluten-free.
- Bourbon Barrel Foods* – The same as Annie’s. They use apple cider vinegar so no malt, but there is soy sauce among the ingredients. Therefore, it is sadly not gluten-free.
- Bull-Dog* – It is the Japanese Worcestershire sauce. The only questionable ingredient is “distilled vinegar from alcohol”. There is no specification, so I would say it is highly unlikely to be gluten-free.
- Lea & Perrins in the UK – Sadly, the bottles in the UK contain malt vinegar (from barley), therefore not gluten-free.
Is Worcestershire sauce vegan?
Anchovies or fish sauce are usually among the ingredients. The original Worcestershire sauce recipe, therefore, is not vegan nor vegetarian. However, as the original recipe was not trademarked, there are several copycat brands that chose not to use any fish-related products. The taste might slightly be different, but they aimed to be as close to the original taste as possible.
Gluten-free and vegan brands
Here are 3 brands that label its Worcestershire sauce both vegan and gluten-free:
Even though Colgin* is not officially labelled vegan, it uses a completely vegan-friendly list of ingredients. The goodwill of the brand ensures the best quality too, hence making it a safe vegan alternative
Made by the true culinary wizards of sauce magic, the The Wizards* sauce is delicious, thick and purely plant-based. It’s the zesty best friend to all your favorite recipes that you didn’t know you were missing!
WanJaShan’s* Organic Worcestershire is certified vegan and is made from all-natural, organic ingredients. The versatile condiment is perfect for savory vegan dishes and meat-based dishes alike, so no matter what your dietary preference, don’t give this one a miss!
Homemade Worcestershire sauce?
Karissa has a super easy and simple vegan Worcestershire sauce recipe that you can make in like 5 minutes.
More gluten-free pantry guides
We have also listed 11 vegan foods to avoid on a gluten-free diet.
If you are looking for certified gluten-free products you can buy in stores, check out the below articles. We researched in detail what they were made of and which brands are safe to use. We also give you examples of the best gluten-free substitutes or of homemade gluten-free recipes in case you need them.