February 21, 2012

Salt-Free, Hand-Mixed Worcestershire

Here’s a fun fact:


It’s not a real word.

I know, I just found that out too. And I’ve been using it for a long time. A very long time. And you know what? I have no intent of stopping.

Because there are a lot of weird words already out there that have been deemed “usable” and “real” and “in the dictionary.”

February? Raspberry? Library? Are you serious, Webster?

So, yeah. I’m keeping majoratively and I’ll use it whenever I want.

And as for things like worcestershire, which I can hardly spell let alone say, I’m going to stick to cooking them versus dealing with the random assortment of consonants and vowels.

To salt-free the original fermented condiment (which can have 20mg to 160mg per tablespoon, depending on the brand), I simply looked to a well trusted resource: Amanda Hesser and her New York Times Recipe Redux column.

In it, she tasks Chef Barbara Lynch to makeover the 1876 version. The winning recipe combined the savory sweet flavors of reduced tomato sauce, roasted garlic, eye-popping vinegar, and umami from fish sauce.

For our version, I kept most of Lynch’s worcestershire magic. But for that umami, I swapped the fish sauce for molasses. My favorite fake-fermented flavor around. Of course, I’ve seen other versions that brilliantly use tamarind paste, which you should try if you have it lying around. As well as pulverized anchovies, which you could swap out for low-sodium sardines if you want that fishier flavor.

And since sauce takes only minutes to make and it stores for a few weeks in your fridge, it means it is time to pull out all the recipes that call for worcestershire and make it them.

So this February, get your sauce on.

Salt-Free Worcestershire Sauce

Adapted from Barbara Lynch’s Worcestershire Sauce


  • 1 teaspoon grapeseed oil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped shallots
  • 1 cup no-salt added tomato puree
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground clove
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt-free chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium molasses OR tamarind paste
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup honey


Heat the oil in a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and sauté until softened and caramelized. Add the tomato sauce and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in all the remaining ingredients except for honey and let cool.

When the sauce is cool, add the honey. Transfer the sauce to a blender and purée until smooth. Pass through a fine-mesh sieve, using the back of a spoon or spatula to press the mixture through. The finished Worcestershire sauce may be kept refrigerated in a clean, covered jar for several weeks.



Mary February 21, 2012 at 11:17 am

Oh thank you so much for coming up with this recipe. I was anxious to see you post it and can’t wait to try it.

Thanks again.
Mary Matoza

KK February 22, 2012 at 9:14 am

There’s a reason why we ran out of Worcestershire sauce and I forgot to get more. 🙂

Barbra Donachy March 15, 2012 at 10:19 pm

Thanks for posting this. We are always looking for ways to reduce salt AND make everything from scratch. This recipe fits both.
Greetings from north of the Arctic Circle.

mrs b January 26, 2013 at 1:51 pm

Thanks for posting, I will try this out. Where did you get salt free chilli powder please? I’m in the UK and the only option I have found is to get chilli flakes and make my own.

jessg23 January 31, 2013 at 10:32 am

Most supermarkets here have them. But you an always order it online from specialty spice stores like Penzeys: http://www.penzeys.com

Blair K. March 13, 2013 at 7:50 pm

I am new to low sodium cooking and have been looking for sauces with “umami.” This looks wonderful! Can’t wait to try it!

Just got your cookbook today and it looks fantastic. Excited to find your recipe for umami sauce on p. 109. One question: Is it supposed to include red wine? I was confused because the sodium count refers to red wine, but I don’t see it in the ingredients. Or is that in case you want to substitute it for the water?


jessg23 March 16, 2013 at 5:25 pm

No red wine. Little printing error!

magnoliasouth March 22, 2013 at 11:28 am

Thank you so much! I am thrilled to find this recipe. I’ve always wanted to make my own and I cannot tell you how I am so thankful to find this. 🙂

I do have one question though. Is there a reason why you halved the cider vinegar? Was it too vinegary or something? Many thanks though in any case!

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