The Best Alcohol Substitutes for Cooking
Photo By: Valentyn Volkov
Photo By: Michael O Meara
Eliminating wine and spirits doesn't mean you have to toss out the culinary classics. Here are eight easy switch-outs to help you omit the hard stuff yet stay true to a recipe's flavor when making everything from fondue to fruit cobbler.
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Instead of white wine, try … lemon juice. This citrus offers the same light, bright acidic hit you get from a crisp white. Dilute it with a little water or chicken broth, and use it in place of wine wherever it's called for in your recipe.
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Instead of red wine, try … grape or pomegranate juice plus a splash of red wine vinegar. The juice will lend a similar deep tannic sweetness to a bold red, and the vinegar will deliver the bite that brightens everything up.
Cobblers and Pies
Instead of bourbon or whiskey, try … prune juice. That raisin-y sweetness that deepens the flavor of desserts can be evoked with a splash of something plummy.
Au Poivre Sauce
Instead of cognac, try ... peach, apricot or pear nectar. Though cognac is made from white grapes, the sediment-y, fruity quality of these juices mimics the effect that cooking with brandies has on a pan sauce.
Instead of mirin or sake, try … rice vinegar. These rice-based wines can add a sweet and salty quality to dishes, and so does rice vinegar, which is also derived from (surprise!) rice.
Instead of kirsch, try … black cherry juice or syrup. That tiny, almost imperceptible hit of cherry that rounds out the cheeses so well will also work when it's alcohol-free.
Instead of beer, try … club soda or seltzer. In dishes like beer-battered onion rings, the bubbles will work their magic in a similar way.
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Instead of beer, try … clam juice or chicken broth with a splash of malt vinegar. You'll get a satisfying malty tang.
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Instead of port, try … balsamic vinegar. That deep, dark sticky-sweet flavor of an aged balsamic will be nearly indistinguishable from the flavor of fortified wine.
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Instead of vanilla extract, try … vanilla bean seeds. The paste you scrape from a vanilla bean is what gives vanilla extract flavor, after all. For a second, budget-stretching alternative, make vanilla sugar. Stick a scraped bean or two in a sealed canister of sugar. With time, the sugar will take on a warm, rummy fragrance and can be substituted for the granulated sugar in your recipe.
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