Last Updated on June 10, 2021
What can be used in place of beer or wine in a recipe?
While some dishes have a precise catalog of ingredients with no possibility for change or variation, most meals offer far more wiggle room—including those with alcohol as a key ingredient. You might have any number of reasons to nix alcohol from your cooking. Maybe you don’t have any in your pantry. Or, it could be that you’re trying to stop or reduce your alcohol intake, and don’t want to purchase it or keep it in your house.
Whatever your reason, here are some of the best and easiest alcohol substitutes.
Alcohol Substitution Tips
In nearly all recipes that call for alcohol, the purpose is to add flavor. Beer tends to add an earthy flavor to food, while wine is used to intensify or enhance the flavors and the aromas. Because of its acidity, alcohol is also a simple, flavorful way to tenderize or marinate meat.
Before substituting out your alcohol, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- If you’ve made a recipe with alcohol before, you can gauge what’s going to taste the most like the alcohol you’re leaving out. Whether it can withstand a bit more sodium or sweetness, make your substitution accordingly.
- Many recipes calling for alcohol make use of imprecise measurements—like a splash, dash, or drop. Apply the same measurements to your alcohol-free substitute.
- When exact measurements are used, make a direct 1:1 swap.
How Can I Substitute Beer in a Recipe?
Beer is a versatile alcoholic beverage. There are many different kinds of beer, from dark stouts to light ales, and each imparts a different flavor. Here are a few handy substitutes you can use in place of beer in your cooking:
- Nonalcoholic beer: This easy swap allows you to use the wide range of nonalcoholic beers available today.
- Chicken broth: If your sauce calls for light beer, chicken broth is a flavorful, easy replacement.
- Mushroom stock: For recipes calling for darker beers, mushroom stock is a great option.
- Cola: Full-sugar dark sodas are the best substitution for marinating meats because of their high acid content.
- Bitters: If your recipe needs a bit of bitterness, try adding some angostura bitters, orange rind, or the white pith of an orange.
What Can I Replace Wine With When Cooking?
Red wine is dry, tart, and slightly acidic. It adds complexity. White wine is also dry but tends to be a bit sweeter. Wine complements many dishes—meat, sauteed vegetables, sauces, and gravy.
Here is what you can add instead of wine to augment the flavors of your recipe:
- Beef broth: In a sauce, soup, or braise that calls for red wine, salty yet dry beef broth can achieve a similar effect.
- Red grape juice: Grape juice adds that signature deep red coloring and has a similar flavor. Add water, vinegar, or citrus juice to cut the sweetness and add some tartness. For marinades, combine grape juice with vinegar in equal amounts.
- Coffee or tomato juice: These beverages have a similar pH to wine. Just add a bit of sugar or honey for a touch of sweetness.
Need More Help Cutting Back on Alcohol?
If you’re trying to cut back on drinking—or even quit—Ria Health is here for you. We take a realistic approach to alcohol reduction. Our team will partner with you to develop a treatment program that works for your unique needs and goals. We can even provide anti-craving medications to help you safely and comfortably drink less. Best of all, our program is 100 percent online. With our handy app, you can have effective help anytime, anywhere.