If your recipes calls for using an alcoholic beverage, what can you use instead?
After posting two recipes for Green Peppercorn sauce, I received an email from a gentleman telling me he does not drink any kind of alcohol and would prefer not to use it in any recipe and what could he substitute for red wine.
Great question and one I’m asked a lot. The answer really depends on what you are cooking and what type of alcohol the recipe calls for. Although it is my opinion that most of the alcohol is cooked off in the process, I can respect someone’s wishes not to handle it at all.
Why cook with an alcoholic beverage in the first place?
The main reason is to add flavor to what you are cooking. Although you may use red wine to deglaze a sauté pan to make a pan sauce, the wine adds additional flavor to the sauce. Adding a bottle of beer to a slow cooked braise leaves some alcohol but contributes a lot to the flavor.
Think of those holiday rum cakes you may have enjoyed. I remember my Aunt Tess’s rum cakes that would get all us kids a little sleepy after a meal at her house. Those cakes would burn in a fireplace like logs.
Another reason you cook with alcohol is for the chemical reaction that occurs. For example, beer has a yeast in it that helps leaven or get a rise out of bread. Acidic wine is used in some marinades to help break down meat fibers. And what about using wine in fondue to lower the boiling point of cheese to prevent curdling.
So what can home cooks use instead of alcoholic beverages?
Some of the more common substitutes are juices (especially grape, orange, apple and cranberry), beef, chicken & vegetable stock, vinegar, and fruit syrups.
Most Commonly Used Substitutes
|Beer or Ale||non-alcoholic beer, chicken stock, beef stock or mushroom stock|
|Port||grape juice with a little lime zest or cranberry juice with a little lemon juice added or orange juice|
|Red Wine||Concord grape juice, red wine vinegar, or non-alcoholic red wine|
|White Wine||white grape juice with a little white wine vinegar added or non-alcoholic white wine|
|Sweet White Wine||white grape juice with a pinch of powdered sugar added.|
|Champagne||ginger ale, sparkling cranberry or white grape juice or sparkling apple cider|
|Coffee Liqueur||espresso, non-alcoholic coffee extract or coffee syrup|
Other Commonly Used Substitutes
|Anisette||anise Italian soda syrup or fennel|
|Bourbon||vanilla extract, orange or pineapple juice or peach syrup|
|Chambord||raspberry juice, syrup or extract|
|Cherry Liqueur||syrup form a can or jar of cherries|
|Cherry Brandy||same as Cherry Liqueur|
|Cognac||juice from peaches, apricots, or pears|
|Cointreau||orange juice concentrate|
|Creme de Cacao||non-alcoholic vanilla extract and powdered sugar|
|Creme de menthe||spearmint extract diluted in a little water|
|Rum||white grape juice, apple juice or apple cinder flavored with almond extract|
|Sherry||vanilla extract, orange or pineapple juice or peach syrup|
|Vodka||white grape juice or apple cinder mixed with lime juice|