Substitutes For Capers – 14 best alternatives

For those who would just be hearing about capers and its substitutes for the first time, let’s have a brief intro about capers.

Capers are small fruits borne by a thorny perennial plant called Capparis spinosa.

The fruits are handpicked while unripe and preserved in a mixture of brine and vinegar.

The plant belongs to the cabbage family. Capers are associated with Mediterranean dishes but are grown everywhere from Morocco to Australia.

They have a long culinary history and are even referenced in the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh as far back as 2000BC.

They are found in varying sizes, some are as large as a grape while others are as small as peas.

The larger variety is a Caperberry which has been allowed to mature.

Capers are used to make spicy sauces or to garnish salads, meat, veggies, and pasta.

They are slightly vegetal, sweet and forwardly acidic, tangy, sour, bitter, and salty and therefore can provide wonderful and distinct flavors to dishes.

Because of how unique the flavors in capers are, people are keen on finding a perfect substitute that could provide similar flavors when capers are not available.

Note: Capers can be preserved/ last for a while as long as they are submerged in their brine.


What does it taste like?

Capers have a variety of flavors depending on where they come from and how they are prepared.

Their main flavor is salty with a trace of brine, but depending on how they’re prepared, you could detect hints of vinegar and spice, such as cumin or black pepper.

When capers are cooked, their flavors get intensified due to their small size. As a result, a little goes a long way and can add some unique flavors to your dishes.

Caperberries, for example, are delicious sprinkled over streak or eggs!

READ ALSO:How to clear your pimples naturally 

What to use capers for?

Capers, like many other dried herbs and spices, are an excellent way to add a burst of flavor to your dishes. But that isn’t all they are capable of!

Here are some of our favorite uses for capers in the kitchen 

  • Capers are a simple way to jazz up a salad or sandwich. Don’t overdo it because a little goes a long way!
  • Add them to pasta dishes for a flavor explosion with each bite.
  • They’re also great in marinades and sauces, bringing just the right amount of tangy saltiness without overpowering the other flavors in your dish.
  •  You can even eat them as an appetizer or snack on their own. Just make sure to get them while they’re still available.



Capers Nutritional Value

When drained, one tablespoon of capers contains;


  • Calories                  2
  • Protein                   less than 1 gram
  • Fatless                    than 1 gram
  • Carbohydrates      less than 1 gram
  • Fiber                       less than 1 gram
  • Sugar                      less than 1 gram


There is plenty of other option that is just as delicious and easy to use as capers.

If you don’t want to go through the hassle of storing them. You might be amazed at how many ingredients can give your favorite recipes comparable flavor bursts.

Below are the 14 best substitutes for Capers


  Substitutes for Capers

If for one reason or the other, either the unavailability of capers or you want something with a milder flavor, consider the following substitutes for capers.

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1. Nasturtium Buds

nasturtium buds as substitutes for capers
Nasturtium buds (image: Pixabay)

It is an edible flower that can make a good substitute for capers.

Unlike capers that have a bitter taste, nasturtium provides a robust peppery flavor.

Nasturtium buds are sold at gardening stores but preferably, you could buy the seeds and grow them in your garden at home where you can easily access them whenever they are in season.

They require just good soil and water to flourish. Also, avoid the use of pesticides while growing them as every part of the plant (from the seeds, leaves, and flowers) are edible.

The best way to preserve them is to pick the buds while they are still young and green, and put them into a small jar of vinegar, onion, dill, and garlic until you need to use them.


2. Green olives


Green olives are way bigger, so you’ll need to use half of the number of olives that equates to the number of capers you would have used.

For example; For every 4 capers that you would have used in your recipe, use 2 green olives as a substitute.

They are salty, acidic, and savory, sharing a similar flavor profile as capers making them an excellent alternative.

You can use them as a garnish on salmon. You can also use them in casseroles, sauces, and salads.


3. Lemon juice

lemon juice as substitutes for capers
lemon juice (Image:Pixabay)

In a meal like chicken piccata, lemons may readily replace capers.

Their tartness, on the other hand, may overshadow a meal with a lot of acidities, such as vinaigrette.

  • Add the lemon to a pan with butter over medium heat to soften the tart flavor.
  • Cook stirring constantly until bubbles appear on the surface of your mixture, but don’t let it brown.
  • Remove from the heat and use it right away.

when using lemon juice as a substitute for capers, a little goes a long way other additions, such as fresh herbs or shallots, can help smooth out the flavors in recipes.



4. Vinegar 

Vinegar (image: pixabay)

Although vinegar isn’t a fantastic alternative for capers, it can be used in a pinch. it will work if your recipe calls for a tiny amount of capers or if you want to add acidity to a dish using capers.

Remember that vinegar has a distinct flavor than capers and may alter the flavor of your food.

if you are using vinegar instead of salt cut back on the amount by a quarter or half otherwise your dish can be too salty.

For Mediterranean cuisine, use white wine vinegar and for everything else use apple cider vinegar.

Capers can be substituted with other things such as olives, peppers, cucumbers, or green beans.

These components are similar to tart and salty, so they will complement your dish without overpowering it.



5. Bacon (or ham)

Bacon ham (Image: Pixabay)

in salad dressings, bacon and ham are excellent substitutes for capers.

in salads, bacon is a salty, smoky, umami flavor that may be quite enticing.

To substitute caper in a basic green salad dressing recipe, consider substituting chopped bacon or chunks of Bacon fat.  (However, if you are trying to keep things vegetarian you will want to avoid both bacon and ham).

Consider using cured meat as a garnish on an antipasto or bruschetta dish if you want to get creative with your substitution.



6. Pickled Shallots

Shallot (image:Nick Fewings via Unsplash)

Pickled shallots offer a vinegary bite to food that is remarkably comparable to that of pickled shallots.

They are also simple to create at home and may last for months in the fridge.

While they don’t have all of the health benefits of capers, such as being high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory characteristics, they are still quite versatile and less expensive! Red onion, vinegar (red wine is recommended) and salt are all you need.



7. Pickled Peppers 

Pickled pepper(image: arinaja via pixabay)

If you don’t have any capers on hand, a brine of salt and vinegar can be used instead.

Pickled peppers like ( Pepperoncini ) can also be pureed in a food processor and used in salad dressings and sauces instead of capers.

Because pickles are naturally salty, they enhance flavor without adding extra sodium.

Salads and sandwiches benefit from their texture as well.

Pickles are high in Vitamin C, which helps fight free radicals that cause wrinkles and premature aging.

Don’t worry about overeating; one medium dill pickle only contains about 20 calories.



8. Harissa paste

Harssa paste(Image: Pixi0815 via pixabay)

Harissa is a thick paste prepared from Chiles, garlic, and salt that can be found in most gourmet markets.

While it ain’t quite a substitute for genuine capers, because it isn’t spicy, it may add depth to any dish that might use see heat.

Use it to top-drilled chicken breasts or to make hummus with fresh harissa.

The recipe below can keep for a long time if kept refrigerated after opening.

Recipe courtesy of In Jennie’s Kitchen: A Mediterranean Cookbook by Jennie Schachtman (2013). If you don’t have all of these components on hand, check for another harissa recipe.



9. Garlic paste

Capers are a traditional pickled in salt and vinegar before being put in jars with vinegar as a preservative.

They are pricey because they are difficult to harvest, and the flower buds must be handpicked.

However many individuals nowadays purchase dried versions that may be reconstituted by just adding water.

If capers aren’t available, garlic paste can be used.

it won’t have the same texture as real capers, but it will offer a similar burst of flavor to any dish it is put to and won’t cost nearly much.

Note: Be sure not to confuse garlic paste with minced garlic.

You may either make your own or buy premade variants at most supermarkets



10. A bit of sugar

Sugar (image: Faran Rauf via Unsplash)

If you don’t have any capers on hand, don’t worry about it instead, add a pinch of sugar, a bit of lemon zest, or a sprinkling of flaky sea salt to bring see zing to your dinner.

Sea salt is very useful since it adds texture while also breaking up flavors.

Finish your dinner with a dusting of something smoked or umami-packed, such as smoked paprika, Chinese five-spice powder, or truffle salt, if you want to raise your salt game.

Whatever option you choose we guarantee that your meals will never be the same.



11. Tomatoes (fresh or canned), tomato paste, or tomato sauce

Fresh Tomatoes (image:Tom Hermans via Unsplash)

Capers are little, acidic, pickled buds that offer a strong blast of flavor to anything from pasta meals to tartar sauce in many Italian-style recipes.

Tomato products work well as strand-ins. You may make a nearly equivalent product at home by chopping up a tomato or using canned tomato paste (diluted with a little water).

just keep in mind that tomatoes have a higher acidity than capers, so they don’t go well with strong-flavored meals like fish or asparagus.

Try them with roasted carrots, eggplant parmesan, or mushroom risotto instead.



12. Roasted red peppers

Roasted pepper (image: smdelacolina via Pixabay)

The flavor of a roasted red pepper is comparable to that of a caper but it lacks the crispiness to and bite of a caper

Red peppers, on the other hand, can be used with other ingredients in dishes (such as own olives) to create a delicious flavor.

You’ll get some great acidic notes even if it doesn’t have that briny pop.

To substitute substitutes roaster peppers for capers,

  • Use 1 table for each serving or 1/4 cup chopped roasted red peppers.


If you are switching from Saltier capers to less salty roasted red peppers, you might want to add a pinch of salt.

Make sure you don’t use canned roasted red peppers because, depending on how they are prepared or preserved, they can be both spicy and sweet.


13. Artichoke Hearts

Artichoke Hearts among substitutes for capers
Artichoke Hearts (image: HolgersFotografie via pixabay

Many dishes that call for capers can be made with artichoke hearts instead.

It has a softer flavor, and some people may prefer it as an alternative.

When using artichoke hearts, however, you must allow time for the dish to absorb some liquid, or else it will taste dry and flavorless. If a recipe asks for 10 capers use 12 artichoke hearts instead.

if you are creating an acidic meal such as marinara sauce, this replacement won’t require any additional liquid.


14. Thyme

Fresh and dry Thyme (image: Ian Yates via Unsplash

Both dry and fresh thyme work well as Substitutes for capers.

Simply use half the amount of dried thyme as fresh thyme.

Use 1 tablespoon of fresh thyme leaves instead of 14 tablespoons of dried thyme.

You can use fresh or dried basil in tiny amounts for the capers.

2. teaspoons of fresh basil or 12 teaspoons of dried basil oregano, marjoram, tarragon, chervil, and mint leaves are all good replacements in my opinion.


Health Benefits of Capers

Capers have various benefits given to humans, Before you eat capers, you would want to know the various health benefits they give to the body.

Below are the health benefits of capers 

  • Good for diabetics
  • it helps with weight loss
  • strengthen your bones
  • increase the strength of your immune system
  • it protects your teeth
  • improves hair condition


1. Good for diabetics

Sugary and fried foods can spike your blood sugar levels quickly. They can cause your liver to malfunction.

Capers have been demonstrated in studies to help diabetes and people with high levels of harmful cholesterol.

Your kidneys and liver will be protected as a result of this.


2. It helps with weight loss

Capers’s high fiber content ranges from three to four grams per 100 grams.

You will feel less hungry if you eat more fiber. Roasted capers will also help you maintain a reduced calorie intake.

This is excellent for putting you in shape and refitting your old clothes.


3. Strengthen your bones

Strong bones necessitate the use of vitamin K.

A vitamin K shortage can lead to osteoporosis and arthritis, both of which are significant bone diseases.

if you eat a lot of capers regularly, vitamin K will help to build your bones.


4. Increases the strength of your immune system

A study on animals reviewed that eating capers can increase your immunity.

They became stronger and more capable of fighting infections as a result of this.

capers extracts have also been shown to eliminate harmful bacteria and microbes from our bodies.

This helps strengthens your defenses and decrease your chance of getting sick.


5. It protects your teeth.

Calcium and other minerals are the building blocks of your teeth.

Carriers can deplete calcium levels in your teeth. As a result, it is important to include calcium-rich foods in your diet.

Capers are good for people who have brittle teeth, swollen gums, and low mineral density, such as copper, calcium, sodium, and iron.

It will only be a matter of time before caper extract is featured prominently in toothpaste commercials.


6. Improves hair condition

Capers and vitamin B have been shown to improve blood flow to the scalp. Hair health is enhanced by increased blood flow.

Capers will strengthen your hair strands if you have hair loss or are experiencing hair loss.

There is no need to put on a cap or bun your hair. You will always want to show off your hair at all times.


What are the best substitutes for Capers?

Capers can be replaced with a variety of different ingredients. Pickled onions or green olives are two popular options. Both have a salty tart flavor that is similar to capers.

Diced jalapeno peppers, diced pickles, and chopped anchovies are some other alternatives.

When looking for an alternative for capers, think about the flavor profile you want to achieve.

Pickled onions or green olives are nice options if you want something with a similar salty or more tangy flavor, diced jalapeno peppers or diced pickles would be a better choice.  

Keep in mind that chopped anchovies will give the dish a fishy flavor, so keep that in mind while making your choice.


How to cook with Capers

Capers are excellent methods to enhance the flavor of your dishes.

They can be substituted for olives, pickles, and other salty foods.

You can use them in cooking or as a garnish.

Start by washing capers in cold water before cooking with them.

This will help to reduce the saltiness a little. Then as normal add them to your recipe and cook.

You can also add them right before serving, toward the end of the cooking process

Simply add Capers to your dish before serving, if you want to use them as a garnish, they will offer a great salty flavor and a splash of color to the dish.


Would it be Safe to Use Gherkins Instead of Capers

Yes, you can use pickled cucumbers for capers; however, as discussed in this post regarding substitutes for capers, it is not nearly an equal substitute.

If you are trying to make a specific recipe that called for pickled cucumbers, I would advise sticking to it as strictly as possible. 

If a recipe doesn’t specifically call for pickled cucumbers (such as capers or gherkins), replacing should be fine.

When substituting pickles,  bear in mind that their flavor may overshadow your ditch or that they may provide a great zing of two components like canned tuna or deviled eggs.

it is entirely up to you!



How much thyme to substitute for capers

One component thyme to four parts capers is the simplest method to answer that issue.

One teaspoon of thyme can easily be substituted for 1 tablespoon of capers.

This makes it simple to figure out how much thyme you will need if you are substituting other herbs or spices for capers in a recipe.

Just make sure your ratio isn’t too high or low, even if your spice mix has identical ingredients, if you can’t measure it precisely, you are unlikely to achieve an exact match with what your recipe requires.



Capers are not easy to find and are very expensive to buy, above is well-detailed information on the best substitutes for capers.

We hope this article helps you find the best substitutes for capers and capers’ health benefits.


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