What Is Worcestershire Sauce?

Everything you need to know about this funky ingredient.

Published Feb. 22, 2023.

Let’s get one thing straight—the first thing you need to know about Worcestershire sauce is how to pronounce it. Say it with me: “wooh-ster-sheer.” 

There you go, that’s the hardest part over with! Now here’s everything else you need to know.

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How did Worcestershire sauce come about?

This funky sauce has been around for a heck of a long time. It was first dreamed up by two chemists by the names of Lea and Perrins (maybe you recognize those names?) in the English town of Worcester (pronounced: “wooster”).

It’s since become a kitchen staple, used in many marinades and sauces (such as Caesar dressing), even becoming an essential ingredient in one of the world’s favorite cocktails, the Bloody Mary. But this sauce’s staggering complexity can make identifying its ingredients pretty difficult.

What’s in Worcestershire sauce?

The base of Worcestershire sauce is vinegar, which has been flavored with such colorful additions as anchovies, molasses, tamarind, onion, garlic, and a variety of other seasonings. There are also vegan options that eliminate the anchovies for other flavorings, but by and large the ingredients are consistent across brands.

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How should I use Worcestershire sauce?

Primarily, Worcestershire sauce is used in marinades and sauces. A few of our favorite uses are in a bright and creamy dressing for Caesar Brussels Sprouts, a bit of meaty depth in our Beef Pot Pie, some extra tang in Homemade Barbecue Sauce, or in a red wine and shallot sauce served on top of Steak Tips.

However you end up using it, this classic and much-loved sauce deserves a place in your pantry—and lasts basically forever in your fridge—if it doesn’t have one. But I bet it already does.

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