Capers are the pickled flower buds of a Mediterranean shrub called the Capparis spinosa. They’re typically preserved in a salt and water brine or packed in a mixture of brine and vinegar. Some fancier capers are cured in salt. They’re slightly vegetal and sweet, and forwardly acidic, tangy, sour, bitter and salty. Capers can brighten up everything from eggs to antipasti. They add complexity and a lip-smacking punch to tons of chicken and fish dishes (we see you, tartar sauce). They also work wonders in salad dressings, sauces, veggies and pastas.
The best part? Capers keep indefinitely as long as they stay submerged in their own brine, so grab a jar at the store the next time you see one. Until then, here are nine substitutes for capers to use in a pinch.