Cooking With Alcohol: Substitute Ingredients

Here's a handy list of substitute ingredients in recipes with alcohol

Stirring mixture of chicken, mushrooms, onions, bacon and tomato passata cooking in a pot, and adding red wine to it
Dorling Kindersley / Getty Images

What to do when a recipe calls for a specific kind of alcohol and you don't happen to have that particular ingredient? Cooking with alcohol can be tricky, and not everyone wants it as an ingredient; if you're going to be serving the dish to children or to someone who doesn't drink alcoholic beverages, it's not always appropriate. This guide will help you substitute different alcoholic ingredients with non-alcoholic ones.

Almost all of the time you can find a good alternate ingredient to serve as a substitute for alcohol. Just be aware of which substitution works best for a given kind of alcohol.

Here are some suggestions for what to use in your recipe when you're out of booze or just don't want to include it. Your end results will differ slightly from the original recipe, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. 

Amaretto

This is an easy one. Instead of this almond-flavored liqueur, you can simply use almond extract.    

Beer or Ale

For light beers, substitute chicken broth, ginger ale or white grape juice. For heavier beers, use a stronger beef, chicken or mushroom broth or stock. Non-alcoholic beers may also be substituted.

Brandy    

This liquor is made of distilled wine or fruit juice, so you can substitute apple juice or another flavor of fruit juice depending on the recipe. You may also want to use a flavored extract (vanilla, lemon, etc) if the recipe only calls for a small amount.

 

Calvados

This is a type of apple brandy, so you can just use apple juice concentrate or juice.

Chambord    

For this sumptuous black raspberry liqueur, you can substitute raspberry juice, syrup or extract for similar results.

Champagne or Sparkling Wine

Sparkling white grape juice or ginger ale are fine nonalcoholic alternatives.

Claret or Bordeaux  

Non-alcoholic wine, diluted currant or grape juice, cherry cider syrup will work fine.

Cognac    

This aged, double-distilled wine (or fermented fruit juice) can be replaced with peach, apricot or pear juice.

Cointreau    

You can substitute frozen orange juice concentrate or regular orange juice for this French, orange-flavored liqueur.  If you use orange juice, first reduce (boil) it to give it a thicker consistency before adding to your recipe.

Curacao    

Liqueur made from bitter Seville oranges is another ingredient that can be replaced with frozen orange juice concentrate or reduced fresh orange juice.

Creme de Menthe    

This thick and syrupy, sweetened mint liqueur, comes in both clear and green varieties. If your recipe needs the green color, just add a drop of green food coloring. You can use spearmint extract or oil mixed with a little water or grapefruit juice to approximate the flavor.

Framboise  

This is a French raspberry liqueur can be substituted with raspberry juice or syrup or even seedless raspberry jam, depending on the recipe.

Frangelico    

Italian hazelnut liqueur which can be replaced with hazelnut or almond extract.

Galliano    

This golden Italian anise liqueur has a very specific taste, but can be substituted with either anise or licorice extract.

Grand Marnier    

Another orange-flavored French liqueur which is easily substituted with frozen orange juice concentrate or reduced fresh orange juice.

Grappa  

This is a very sweet Italian grape brandy, so you can use either grape juice or reduced non-alcoholic red wine in its place.

Grenadine    

The main ingredient in a Shirley Temple (the beloved kids' drink) comes in alcoholic and nonalcoholic varieties, so this is an easy fix.

Hard Cider    

Fermented, alcoholic cider can be swapped for apple cider or apple juice.

Kahlua    

This sweet, syrupy Mexican liqueur made with coffee and cocoa beans can be substituted with strong coffee or espresso combined with a touch of cocoa powder.

Kirsch (Kirchwasser)    

Colorless liqueur made of cherries is easily replaced with any of the following juices: black cherry, raspberry, boysenberry, currant, or grape, or any of the corresponding flavors of syrup, depending on how thick you want your recipe.

 

Red Burgundy    

Dry French wine which can be substituted with a non-alcoholic variety, grape juice or red wine vinegar, depending on how sweet the recipe needs to be. 

Red Wine  

There are a lot of possible options for replacing red wine in a recipe (most often a sauce or soup). Non-alcoholic wine, beef or chicken broth or stock, diluted red wine vinegar, red grape juice diluted with red wine vinegar or rice vinegar, tomato juice, and liquid from canned mushrooms are all possibilities. 

Rum    

It's one of the most-used cooking liquors. When you break it down, rum is just liquor distilled from molasses or sugar syrup. So for light rum, use pineapple juice flavored with almond extract. For dark rum, use molasses thinned with pineapple juice and flavored with almond extract. You could also try rum extract flavoring, but it's likely to have some alcohol content.

Sake    

This Asian fermented rice drink can be swapped for rice vinegar, but be careful of the consistency. Vinegar will obviously be a bit more pungent, so don't expect to use an equivalent amount. 

Schnapps  

Flavored, colorless liquor which can be replaced with the corresponding flavored extract such as peppermint, peach, and so on.

Sherry    

Known as a dessert wine, sherry can be swapped for orange or pineapple juice in most recipes.

Tequila    

Most chefs are unlikely to have cactus juice, but agave nectar, which is another acceptable substitute for tequila (since they're made from the same plant) is available in most grocery stores. 

Triple Sec  

Another orange-flavored liqueur which can be replaced with orange juice frozen concentrate or reduced fresh orange juice.

Vermouth    

The key ingredient in a proper martini, vermouth is a wine-based drink infused with herbs, which may be sweet or dry.  If your recipe calls for sweet vermouth, use non-alcoholic sweet wine, apple or grape juice or aged balsamic vinegar. For dry vermouth, use non-alcoholic white wine, white grape juice or white wine vinegar.

Whiskey

This may be the one alcohol that can't easily be substituted with a nonalcoholic alternative.

If the recipe calls for a small amount, it may be omitted altogether. 

White Wine    

Like its red cousin, there are plenty of replacements for white wine. Try non-alcoholic wine, chicken broth or stock, diluted white wine vinegar or cider vinegar, white grape juice diluted with white wine vinegar, ginger ale, canned mushroom liquid, or water. For marinades, substitute 1/4 cup vinegar plus 1 tablespoon sugar plus 1/4 cup water.