10 Reasons Why You Need Anchovies in Your Life

Make your friends and family puzzle over your secret ingredient. Go on. Give anchovies a try. You'll wonder how you ever lived without them.

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fresh anchovies
Photo: Shutterstock / rosarioscalia

It may be a love it or loathe it ingredient, but the humble anchovy is so much more than a mere pizza topping! Anchovies add a subtle salty-savory flavor that’ll give your meals more nuance. Better still, they’re packed with heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids and a wealth of vitamins and other essential nutrients. We’re thinking it’s high time to reconsider the anchovy.

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Photo: Taste of Home

Italian inspiration

You’ll find anchovies are a staple in many Italian recipes. The fillets practically melt away in the sauce, adding loads of flavor but little to no fishiness. They’re famously a key ingredient in pasta puttanesca, but you’ll find them in all sorts of classic Italian dishes.

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Photo: Shutterstock/ BBA Photography

Sneak anchovies into a sauce

Follow Italy’s lead and try using anchovies in anything from stews to stocks, savory pies (think cottage pie) and more. Or if you’re beefing up your pizzaiolo skills, slip an anchovy into your homemade pizza sauce for mouthwatering results.

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cesar salad
Photo: Shutterstock/night flower

Hail Caesar!

You can’t have a Caesar salad without anchovies. They up the ante when blended in to any rich, creamy dressing with their pleasant pop of brine. Here’s how to make the best Caesar ever.

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Salad with tuna and anchovy
Photo: Shutterstock/Barbara Dudzinska

Tasty toppings

While we’re on the topic of salads, anchovies are simply a must for salad niçoise, one of our summery picnic favorites. Chop them into your greens—their savory character is terrific with a salad loaded with vinaigrette. Need more inspiration? Sub anchovies for salmon in any of these gorgeous salads.

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Photo: Shutterstock/Mila Bond

Spread the love

Hosting a little get together during the week? Bring out the canapes! Anchovies are fabulous with garlic, so you might try adding them to this tasty roasted garlic and tomato spread. Dice up a fillet or two to throw in an olive tapenade—it’s a great party dip.

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Photo: Shutterstock/hlphoto

Secret stuffing

Anchovies are perfect as a stuffing or rub for a Mediterranean-style roasted fish or chicken. Use whole or ground fillets, lemon, and bunches of fresh herbs like rosemary and thyme to season your main course from the inside out.

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meat with marinade and herbs
Photo: Shutterstock/Arteck555

Marinate more

As with sauces, you can add anchovies to marinades for that extra burst of flavor. Grilled short ribs come to mind, but an anchovy-spiked roast or grilled steak would be equally outstanding. Be sure to keep them in mind for your next barbecue!

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Anchovy and Garlic Butter.
Photo: Shutterstock/Andrew Riverside

Pass the (anchovy) butter, please

Not keen on major marinades? Keep it simple by making anchovy butter and letting it sizzle over a good cut of meat. Sirloin, lamb (like this Mediterranean beaut), pork loin—you name it. A little anchovy butter will add loads of flavor.

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Turkish Hamsi Tava with cornbread / Fried Anchovies
Photo: Shutterstock/Alp Aksoy

Fried anchovy garnish

Fry up anchovies until they’re perfectly crispy and crumble them over your dinner du jour. Salty, savory, and a little bit of crunch? Even the most skeptical anchovy detractors will struggle to say no.

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Black olive tapenade with anchovies, garlic and olive oil on wooden table
Photo: Shutterstock/etorres

Clever condiments

Mix anchovy paste into condiments like mayonnaise or tapenade for a delicious sandwich spread. We love it on this loaded steak sandwich. You can also stir the paste into chili sauces if you prefer a bit of heat or make your own homemade version of Worcestershire sauce.

Camille Berry
Part of the third generation in a family of restaurateurs, Camille was born with a passion for cooking and food. She embarked on a career in hospitality where she excelled as a sommelier and wine director. This hospitality experience has given her a wealth of first-hand knowledge about how to pair all manner of drinks with food—plus some serious kitchen skills. These days, she's hung up her wine key in favor of a pen and covers all aspects of food and drink.