Is Worcester Sauce Gluten Free?

in Oct 19, 2022

If you’re on a gluten-free diet, then aside from asking “How are you supposed to pronounce Worcester?” (WUS-ter) the biggest question on your mind might be “Is Worcester sauce gluten free?”.

Firstly, what is Worcester sauce? Also known as Worcestershire sauce, it’s a fermented condiment mostly used to add an umami taste to dishes. It was created, believe it or not, in the city of Worcester in the early 19th Century by two pharmacists whose surnames you may have heard of: Lea and Perrins. Since then it has become a widely-used and universally-known store cupboard essential for Britons of all ages.


Is Worcester Sauce Gluten Free?

But back to the question of whether Worcester sauce is gluten free. The answer is mixed. First and foremost, we would be remiss not to mention that our own brand Worcester style sauce is absolutely gluten free. So you don’t have to worry about that.

But more generally, and considering the broader range of Worcester sauces on the market and whether they’re gluten free, it mostly comes down to one ingredient: malt vinegar.

Malt vinegar is the most common gluten-containing ingredient you’ll find in Worcester sauce, and here in the UK it’s relatively ubiquitous. The reason it’s unsuitable for gluten-free diets is because it contains barley. So if it’s made with malt vinegar, it’s a no-go.

The original Worcester sauce ingredients included malt vinegar, which is probably why it’s still so commonly used. But luckily there are gluten-free options out there, which tend to substitute in different types of vinegar.

Of course it’s always best practice to check the label first, which will most likely tell you if the product is suitable for gluten-free diets.

Is Worcester Sauce Vegan?

Another important Worcester sauce-related question: is it vegan? This can often take people by surprise, but traditionally the ingredients of Worcester sauce include anchovies. Which makes many brands decidedly not vegan friendly.

This is another check-the-label scenario, but it may prove tricky to find a vegan-suitable Worcester sauce. Maybe even more so than sourcing a gluten-free version!

Again (and just for the record), our Worcester-style sauce is absolutely vegan-friendly, so if this is a priority for you then your safe with us. Otherwise, just be sure to double-check the back of the bottle when you’re out shopping.

Substituting Worcester sauce

Now if you happen to find yourself in a tight spot and need a quick Worcester sauce fix, but can’t find a suitable option, there are a few substitutes you can try out…

The first is simply balsamic vinegar. Depending on the recipe you’re using, you might find that balsamic will provide a similar tartness and sweetness.

Or, failing that, you could try a bit of (gluten-free) soy sauce. And consider adding a pinch of sugar for extra sweetness.

And if all this talk of Worcester sauce has got your tastebuds tingling, then why not have a go at making a Bloody Mary Cocktail (or, for an alcohol-free version, a Virgin Mary Mocktail), or rustle up some good old-fashioned cheese on toast!