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7 Best Substitutes for Capers

The best substitutes for capers are easy to find.

In fact, they’re probably already in your fridge. And they’ll satisfy all your salty needs.

The 7 Best Substitutes for Capers
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Easy Alternatives for Capers

Capers add a flavorful and unique element to any dish. But what if you don’t have any on hand?

Don’t despair! 

There are many tasty and interesting alternatives. And each one will bring the same piquant flavor and sensation to your meal.

In this article, I’ll share some of the best substitutes for capers. So, you can cook delicious meals without requiring a special trip to the store.

Let’s get started! But first…

What Are Capers?

Capers are tiny, salty, pickled flower buds from the caper bush. They look like little green balls or teardrops, with a wrinkly texture to them. 

But don’t let their small size fool you – these pungent buds pack a punch! 

Caper bushes are native to the Mediterranean and Middle East regions. But now, capers grow in many places around the world. 

They offer a unique combination of salty-sweet acidity that lifts any dish, from sauces to salads.

So go ahead and add capers to your next meal. You won’t regret it.

And if you can’t find any, try one of these top capers swaps!

Best Substitute for Capers 

Chopped Green Olives in a White Measuring Spoon

1. Chopped Green Olives 

Chopped green olives can bring more deliciousness to your dishes. This is why they are becoming increasingly popular as a substitute for capers.

Not to mention, they’re the cheaper and easier option! 

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Green olives have the same amount of zip and umami you would expect from capers. And you won’t have to break the bank to buy them.

The briny taste of green olives provides an incredible zing similar to capers. So, if you want something that really packs a punch, green olives are worth trying!

How to Substitute: Swap 1 tablespoon of capers with 1 tablespoon of chopped green olives.

Dill Pickle Slices in a White Bowl

2. Chopped Dill Pickles

For those struggling to find a quick substitute, chopped dill pickles provide an ideal solution. 

The flavor is almost the same – sour with a touch of sweetness from the mustard and garlic. But the distinct crunch is seriously satisfying.

And dill pickles are readily available at local grocery stores. In fact, I’d wager more people have pickles in the fridge than capers or even olives.

So, bringing some life back into conventional dishes is just a few steps away.

How to Substitute: Swap 1 tablespoon of capers with 1 tablespoon of chopped dill pickles.

Fresh Kalamata Olives on a Small Wooden Bowl

3. Chopped Kalamata Olives

Kalamata olives are perfectly balanced between salty, savory, and sweet. So they’re a fantastic way to add a zesty zing when capers aren’t available.

They’ll also provide you with omega-3 fatty acids while they’re at it! 

And what’s more, their juiciness provides plenty of moisture to every recipe.

So if you’re ever in a pinch, you can trust Kalamata Olives to deliver every time.

How to Substitute: Swap 1 tablespoon of capers with 1 tablespoon of chopped Kalamata olives.

Preserved lemons in a jar

4. Preserved Lemons

Many people tout lemons as a fantastic substitute for capers.

And they’re absolutely right because lemons possess all the characteristics we love about capers – minus the salt.

So while you can add a simple squeeze of juice to your recipe, I think you’re best bet is preserved lemons.

They’re usually packed into jars with a brine solution, making them plenty salty. And after a while, the peel softens to the point you can dice and eat it.

That makes it an ideal solution when you need a salty-sweet addition to a meal.

How to Substitute: Swap 1 tablespoon of capers with 1/2 tablespoon of chopped preserved lemons. Add more as needed.

Dried Green Peppercorn in a Wooden Spoon with Peppercorns Spilling Out on the Wooden Table

5. Green Peppercorns

Green peppercorns are a popular alternative to capers in a pinch. 

Not only do they look similar, but they have an unmistakably earthy, grassy flavor.

They add distinctive zing to everything from salads and seafood dishes to sauces and sides.

Plus, they’ll bring a nice texture.

How to Substitute: Swap 1 tablespoon of capers with 1 tablespoon of green peppercorns.

Dried Organic Thyme on a Wooden Bowl

6. Thyme

Are you in the mood for a gourmet dinner, but you’re out of capers? Fear not!

Thyme is an excellent substitute, as it’s packed with flavor. In fact, it makes your dish even more distinctive than if you had capers.

Adding thyme to caper-based dishes or sauces is a great way to make them shine.

Cooking with thyme doesn’t have to be complicated, either. It only takes a minute to add this herb to anything.

And it will transform your dish from blah to my-oh-my!

That all said, I recommend only using thyme in slow-cooked dishes. And when capers aren’t the star of the show.

How to Substitute: Swap 1 tablespoon of capers with 1 teaspoon of dried thyme.

Dried Nasturtium Seeds on a Clay Dish

7. Pickled Nasturtium Seeds

Nasturtium seeds come from an entirely edible plant – the nasturtium plant. You can eat every part of the plant, and it has a similar flavor to arugula.

The seeds, though, make a wonderful caper substitute – especially if you pickled them first.

Here’s how:

  1. Collect the seeds when they’re still young (green).
  2. Wash and dry the seeds, then add them to a clean glass jar.
  3. Make a brine with 1 cup each of water and white vinegar.
  4. Add salt and a few herbs, if you like.
  5. Pour the brine over the seeds, seal the jar, and store it in a cool, dark place for 1-2 weeks.

After 2 weeks, they’ll have a very similar taste and texture to capers.

How to Substitute: Swap 1 tablespoon of capers with 1 tablespoon of pickled nasturtium seeds.

Can You Leave Capers Out of a Recipe?

Technically yes, you can leave capers out of a recipe. But if you do, you’ll need to find a suitable replacement; otherwise, your dish may fall flat.

Capers bring an unmistakable flavor to any dish – from sauces and salads to pasta toppings.

So if you decide to omit it, your dish will taste different. 

However, this doesn’t mean your dish won’t be tasty without capers. It just means it’ll lack that salty tang and crunchy texture you’d get from capers.

The Best Substitute for Capers

Cuisine: American
Servings

1

serving
Prep time

3

minutes
Total time

3

minutes

The best substitutes for capers are easy to find. In fact, they’re probably already in your fridge. And they will satisfy all your salty needs.

Ingredients

  • Option 1 – (Best Overall) Green Olives
  • 1 tablespoon chopped green olives

  • Option 2 – (Best Availability) Dill Pickles
  • 1 tablespoon chopped dill pickles

Instructions

  • (Best Overall) Chopped Green Olives
  • Swap 1 tablespoon of capers with 1 tablespoon of chopped green olives.
  • (Best Availability) Chopped Dill Pickles
  • Swap 1 tablespoon of capers with 1 tablespoon of chopped dill pickles.
Substitutes for Capers

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author avatar
Kim - InsanelyGood
Hey there! I'm Kim. I love running, cooking, and curling up with a good book! I share recipes for people who LOVE good food, but want to keep things simple :)

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