There are times when you're half way through cooking a meal only to find that your pantry is missing an ingredient. Panic sets it. If you're out of cooking wine or don't want to use alcohol in your recipe then keep reading. We have a cooking wine substitute for almost every scenario you'll find yourself in.
Why not just leave the wine out?
Wine has more than one purpose as an ingredient: it can add a sweet undertone, depth of flavor and acidity to the dish. It's a tenderizer, adds moisture and is a key ingredient when making a de-glaze. If you skip using the wine it will, more often than not, negatively impact your meal.
6 cooking wine substitutes that work
Most of the replacement ingredients listed below are common items which you're sure to have in the cupboard. If not, they're stocked in supermarkets all over the United States (and other countries). Let's take a look at these ingredients now, you're probably in a hurry to get that dish completed.
1. Stock and vinegar
Best used to replace: red wine
An abundance of recipes use red wine. It is often used to deglaze a pan and in slow cooked meals. If you need an alternative ingredient, try adding a hearty stock for flavor then increase the acidity with a splash of vinegar.
Another good backup option is juice such as cranberry or red grape - their fruity undertone adds excellent depth of flavor.
2. Vinegar and red grape juice
Best used to replace: burgundy wine
A common variety of burgundy is dry red wine that is made from Pinot noir grapes. It makes a fantastic beef burgundy pie or slow cooked casserole. The best substitute for burgundy wine is vinegar combined with red grape juice. Don't go overboard with the vinegar as it will quickly overwhelm the dish with a sour and acidic taste.
3. Vanilla extract and water
Best used to replace: fortified wine
Sherry, port, Madeira and Marsala are found in a wide selection of recipes. They are excellent for savory dishes and desserts. For sweet desserts, use a mix of vanilla extract and water. For savory dishes use equals parts of apple cider vinegar with water. You can also use a little sugar to enhance the flavor.
4. White wine vinegar
Best used to replace: white wine
Slow cooked chicken, seafood, sauces - they're all enhanced by white wine. An excellent substitute is white wine vinegar as it has a similar flavor profile. Chicken stock combined with a splash of lemon juice is also an excellent option.
5. Apple juice and white vinegar
Best used to replace: Shaoxing cooking wine
Shaoxing cooking wine is a traditional Chinese wine that is a popular ingredient in many Chinese savory dishes. A good substitute for Shaoxing wine is apple juice combined with a splash of white vinegar.
6. Apple juice
Best used to replace: rice and mirin wine
If you're making chicken teriyaki or a Sichuan stir-fry, chances are you'll need one of these ingredients. Don't have them? You could use apple juice which creates a pseudo stir-fry sauce that few dinner guests will complain about. White grape juice is also a good backup option.
Do you need an apple cider vinegar substitute? We've got 10 suitable options.
Check out our recommended substitutes for cooking sherry.
What are the recommended alternatives to apple brandy?
Watch and learn more about wine substitution
How much of the backup ingredient should you use? That's a good question which is hard to answer. I originally spent a lot of time trying to piece together the exact quantity of apple juice or vinegar you'll need to replace the wine. The problem is, recipes use wine for different reasons so the amounts used will vary.
I suggest that you add vinegar and lemon juice conservatively. Add a splash, taste test and add more as required. You don't want to overpower the meal.
If you're out of cooking wine or prefer not to use alcohol when cooking then don't stress. There are plenty of cooking wine substitutes that will let you finish that dish. Just make sure you consider the purpose of the wine in the recipe. If it's to add some acidity then choose an alternative ingredient, like vinegar, that does the same job. Remember to hold back a little on the quantity of the substitute - the last thing you want is a bitter, sour tasting meal on your hands.