Substitutes for Capers

Capers, known for their tangy, salty, and slightly floral flavour, are a unique ingredient often used in Mediterranean cuisine. If you’re looking for substitutes that can offer similar taste profiles or serve as a complementary addition to your dishes, here are various options to consider.

Best: Green Olives (Finely Chopped)

Finely chopped green olives can be an excellent substitute for capers. They share a similar briny, salty flavour, though olives are milder and lack the floral notes of capers. They work well in dishes where capers are used for their salty and tangy qualities.

How to Use

Chop green olives finely to mimic the size and texture of capers. Use them in sauces, dressings, or as a garnish in similar quantities to capers.

Cheapest: Pickled Green Peppercorns

Pickled green peppercorns are a cost-effective and accessible alternative to capers. They offer a similar size and texture, with a tangy, slightly spicy flavour that can complement dishes in a way similar to capers.

How to Use

Use pickled green peppercorns in the same way as capers, but start with a smaller quantity as they can be spicier. They work well in sauces, dressings, and as a garnish for fish or meat dishes.

Tastiest: Dill Pickles (Finely Chopped)

Finely chopped dill pickles can serve as a tasty substitute for capers. They provide a similar crunchy texture and tangy flavour, with an added hint of dill, which can add an interesting twist to many dishes.

How to Use

Chop the dill pickles into small pieces, similar in size to capers. Use them in salads, sandwiches, or dressings, or as a garnish for seafood or meat dishes.

Most Accessible: Lemon Zest and Brine

A combination of lemon zest and brine (from pickles or olives) can be a readily accessible substitute for capers, providing a similar tangy and salty flavour profile. This option is great when you need a quick fix with common kitchen ingredients.

How to Use

Mix lemon zest with a small amount of brine to balance the tangy and salty flavours. Use this mixture as a garnish or in dressings and sauces where capers are called for.

Most Unusual: Nasturtium Seeds (Pickled)

Pickled nasturtium seeds, often referred to as “poor man’s capers,” offer an unusual but fitting substitute for capers. They have a similar size, with a peppery flavour reminiscent of watercress or mustard, adding a unique twist to dishes.

How to Use

Use pickled nasturtium seeds in the same way as capers. They work well in salads, dressings, and as a garnish, especially in dishes where a peppery note would be welcome.