Anchovies are typically sold in jars or tins and packed in oil, which acts as a flavor enhancer and preservative.
Most people discard the leftover oil after using the anchovies, not realizing the oil itself is actually a valuable and unique cooking ingredient.
In this article, we’ll discuss more about what anchovy oil is, how to use it in cooking, and where to buy anchovies packed in oil.
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What is anchovy oil?
Anchovy oil is the leftover oil from anchovies that have been packed in oil, usually olive or sunflower oil.
The oil becomes infused with the anchovies’ flavors — salty and fishy — making it excellent for adding depth and complexity to a variety of dishes.
Anchovy oil packs a strong punch of umami, the fifth taste alongside sweet, salty, sour, and bitter. Umami is a savory or meaty flavor that characterizes foods high in glutamic acid, a type of amino acid found in protein-containing foods (1).
Compared to actual anchovies, anchovy oil has a milder, subtler flavor profile without any overpowering fishiness.
As a side note, the term “anchovy oil” can also refer to oils extracted from anchovies. This type of anchovy oil is usually only available as an omega-3 supplement for pets.
How to use anchovy oil
Anchovy oil can be used in pretty much any recipe that calls for actual anchovies or fish sauce as well as any other dish you’d like to boost with a hefty dose of umami flavor.
Here are some different ways to use anchovy oil in cooking:
- Use as a cooking oil for frying eggs, shrimp, and fish, or sauteing vegetables.
- Drizzle over pizza in place of anchovies.
- Mix into deviled egg filling for an extra savory punch.
- Add a few drops to your favorite pasta sauces.
- Whisk into salad dressings, such as Caesar or vinaigrettes.
- Stir into marinades for chicken, shrimp, or fish.
- Use for flavoring starchy side dishes like potatoes, rice, and pasta.
- Add to cocktail sauce for dipping shrimp.
- Make a delicious, anchovy-flavored compound butter or aioli.
- Mix with lemon juice and herbs for a tasty bread dip.
- Use in a roux for gumbo or seafood bisque.
Where to buy
Anchovies packed in oil can be found at most grocery stores in the canned meats aisle, typically next to the canned tuna and other fish.
We’ve also compiled a list of some of the best oil-packed anchovies available for purchase online.
Anchovies packed in olive oil:
- Agostino Recca Fillets of Anchovies in Pure Olive Oil (3-ounce)
- Agostino Recca Flat Fillets of Anchovies in Olive Oil (2-ounce) (Pack of 3)
- Ortiz Anchovies in Olive Oil (3.5-ounce) (Pack of 3)
- Crown Prince Flat Anchovies in Pure Olive Oil (2-ounce cans) (Pack of 12)
Anchovies packed in sunflower oil:
- Delfino Battista Anchovy Fillets in Sunflower Seed Oil (14.5-ounce)
- Roland Foods Smoked Anchovy Fillets in Sunflower Oil (1.7-ounce)
How to store anchovy oil
If your anchovies came in a jar, you can leave the leftover anchovy oil in the jar and store it in the refrigerator.
Anchovy oil from anchovies packed in a tin should be transferred to a glass jar or other air-tight container before storing.
When stored in the refrigerator, anchovy oil should last several months.
The refrigerated oil might solidify due to the cold temperatures, but it’s still good to use. Just let it come to room temperature on the counter, or warm it on low heat in the microwave to bring it back to liquid form.
Anchovy oil is the leftover oil from anchovies packed in oil, and it serves as a flavorful cooking ingredient that can add depth and complexity to a variety of dishes.
You can use anchovy oil in place of other cooking oils for frying eggs and seafood or sauteing vegetables. It’s also perfect for drizzling over pizza or whisking into salad dressings and sauces.
Oil-packed anchovies are easy to find at grocery stores and can also be purchased online. After you use the anchovies, store the leftover oil in the fridge for the next time you need a boost of umami flavor.
Amy Richter is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist based in Missouri. She is an experienced nutrition writer and medical advisor for Healthline and Medical News Today. Amy is passionate about all things food-related and enjoys translating complex science into easy-to-understand articles.