Alcohol Substitutions

August 19, 2012 2 Comments

Alcohol Substitutions

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

Amaretto almond extract
Anisette anise Italian soda syrup or fennel
Bourbon vanilla extract, orange or pineapple juice or peach syrup
Brandy brandy extract
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
Kahlua coffee liqueur
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

Last modified on Wed 3 September 2014 4:29 pm

Comments (2)

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  1. Sahar says:

    I want to make a double chocolate mousse cake and the recipe says to use 1/4 cup coffee flavoured liqueur. What can I use instead of the liqueur and coffee.

    Thank you

  2. Jenni says:

    @Sahar You can sub 1/4 cup of almost any liquid. If you don’t want the alcohol and you don’t like coffee, you may want to look for a different recipe, but to sub, I’d just go with water or milk. You could also use 1 tablespoon of vanilla (if it’s not already called for) and 3 tablespoons of almost any other liquid that would taste good with chocolate. An out-of-the-box idea would even be orange juice since orange and chocolate go so well together.

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