9 Best Alcoholic And Non-Alcoholic Substitutes For Brandy In Cooking And Baking

While some people use alcohol as an after-dinner drink, other people use alcohol in cooking and baking. 

You can use pretty much any type of alcohol in cooking and baking. Common choices pertain to vodka, wine, cooking sherry, and brandy. Used right, it can complement and uplift a recipe effortlessly. 

9 Best Alcoholic And Non-Alcoholic Substitutes For Brandy In Cooking And Baking

What Is Brandy?

If you’re not familiar with what brandy is, it’s a distilled alcoholic beverage, often made from fermented wine. 

Brandy is a very popular drink, and there are many famous brands of brandy, such as is called Cognac, and is usually used solely as an after-dinner drink, rather than in cooking and baking.

There are also different types of brandy, depending on the fruit used to make it. Popular types include applejack brandy (made from applied), plum brandy (made from plums), cherry brandy (made from cherries), and apricot brandy (made from apricots).

These different varieties of brandy are used in baking and cooking, and as a delicious after-dining drink. Using different types of fruit to make brandy ignites different flavors, and it can complement certain recipes very well.

Usually, brandy is added to a dish to add a more intense and complex flavor, and it is very popular during the winter months. 

In cooking and baking, brandy is usually paired with desserts, cakes, and sauces. If you’re using a recipe that calls for brandy, but you do not have any in your house, don’t fret.

We’ve researched the best substitutes for brandy, so your recipe can still have that extra special kick that you’re looking for. 

In our best substitutions, we’ve picked a mixture of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. We did this intentionally so that those who are unable to drink alcohol can still enjoy making creative recipes.

It’s also good if you have children, and you’re not comfortable making a meal prepared with alcohol for them. 

The best substitutes we have chosen for brandy are rum, apple juice, bourbon, whiskey, wine, vodka, gin, and white grape juice. 

Used correctly, you can transform your dish by bringing unique flavors into the recipe. 

So, if you need to substitute brandy in your recipe, we’ve got you covered. 

The Best Alcoholic Brandy Substitutes

Whether you’re looking for an alcoholic substitute or a non-alcoholic substitute, we’ve got you covered. Check below for our excellent choices.  

Rum

Rum is one of the sweetest alcoholic beverages you can find. It is notorious for being used in cooking and baking and has been used for centuries. It’s great a great replacement for baking cakes, as it’s even sweeter than brandy.

If you find that it’s too sweet for your recipe, then you can dilute the flavor by adding a little water, and tasting as you go.

If you want to replace brandy with rum, you can use the same volume that the recipe called for. You don’t need to adjust the recipe, which is another reason why rum is an excellent choice. 

Whiskey 

Whiskey has a wonderfully strong aroma. The flavors of the whiskey are rich and complex, due to the distilling process. While the texture of whiskey is far different from brandy, it is workable once cooked.

Another note is that whiskey has more of an alcoholic taste, so if you find the alcoholic note to be too pungent, you can add a drop of syrup to the recipe. 

If you want to substitute brandy with whiskey, then you’re going to want to use ½ the amount of alcohol the recipe calls for. 

Wine

wine

Another great substitute for brandy is wine. Now, there are many variations of wine, so the type you select will depend on the recipe you’re using.

Generally speaking, red wine will ignite a more complex flavor in the recipe, but it will also change the color of the dish. White wine will not change the color of the dish too much, but it will add a level of complexity to the dish. 

Usually, wine is used to substitute brandy in cooking. For example, wine pairs excellently with meat and sauces. If you plan on using wine as a substitute for brandy, then you’re going to want to use ⅓ cup of wine for every cup of brandy needed.

Wine is very potent, and it contains a lot of sugar, so it is best to start with a small amount, and increase the volume if needed. If you find that the wine is too sugary for your dish, add a pinch of lemon juice or vinegar.

Likewise, if you find that the dish has become too dry tasting, then add a pinch of sugar. 

Bourbon 

Next on the list of substitutions for brandy is bourbon. 

Bourbon is a very popular alcoholic beverage, reserved mainly for those who have a fine pallet. It has a delicious smoky flavor, with a residue of sweetness. Due to its earthy flavor, it’s best to not use equal parts of bourbon as you would brandy.

Instead, I would recommend starting with ⅔ of the amount that the recipe calls for. That’s due to the earthiness of bourbon, which may consume too much of the flavor in your dish.

If you find it is not strong enough, then you can include the extra ⅓. That way, you keep the integrity of the dish, and it’ll help you understand the complex flavors. 

Vodka 

Another fantastic replacement for brandy is vodka.  

A lot of people are surprised to find that vodka is frequently used in cooking and baking, due to its potent taste. In actuality, vodka works wonderfully in cooking and baking. It is neutral alcohol, so used sparingly, it should not affect the taste of your dish. 

One reason it is popular in baking is that it can improve the texture of baked goods, and it is also colorless. If you find that the vodka is too dry, and you need an extra bit of sweetness, add the smallest dash of sugar. 

Gin

The next great replacement for brandy is gin. 

Like vodka, gin is neutral alcohol. If you’ve ever compared the taste of both, you’ll notice that gin has more of a kick, so you’re going to want to use less than you would with vodka.

When using gin as a replacement for brandy, you’re going to want to pour a small amount of gin in at a time, to ensure you do not overpower the dish. 

Gin is used mostly for cooking, rather than baking. It works great with fish, pasta, meat, and poultry. This is due to its crisp and herbal flavors. However, the great thing about gin is that you can often find it infused with other flavors.

Popular infusions pertain to orange, rhubarb, honey, and vanilla. Depending on the recipe required, you can also use infused gins to compliment the flavors of the dish.

Just be mindful of what you select, a honey gin would pair great with meat, but a vanilla gin would not work as well. 

The Best Non-Alcoholic Brandy Substitutes 

White Grape Juice 

White Grape Juice 

Our first non-alcoholic substitution for brandy is white grape juice. 

The great thing about white grape juice is that it gives a delicious kick of flavor without needing any alcohol. The only issue with using juice is that the level of sugar can drastically change the recipe.

Due to this, you have to be much stricter with the ratio (no guessing, and drinking as you do so). For every tbsp of brandy, use ½ tbsp of white grape juice, and ½ tbsp of water.

By adding water, you’re diluting the strength and taste of the sugar, protecting the delicious taste of your recipe. 

White grape juice is usually used in cooking, rather than baking. It’s very much enjoyed with pork and poultry. 

Apple Juice 

Our next non-alcoholic beverage is apple juice. 

Apple juice is a wonderful substitute for brandy. For recipes that only require a couple of teaspoons, you can use equal amounts of apple juice that you would brandy.

If it’s a larger recipe, then you’re going to want to mix the apple juice with water. This avoids the recipe being dressed in the taste of apples and from being overwhelmed by the sugar content. 

Extra Brandy Substitutes 

Brandy Extract 

If none of the substitutions on the list thus far suit your needs, you can also use brandy extract. It’s a great way of getting the taste of brandy, without having to whip out the bottle of alcohol.

It’s usually used in desserts, but it is also used for sauces and marinades. You should use 1 part extract with 4 parts of water to replace brandy itself. It’s very potent, so definitely keep in mind that brandy extract is small but mighty. 

Broth 

Okay, look — broth does not taste like brandy. However, you could use broth to replace brandy in a recipe, depending on the desired use.

If you’re making a sauce or a marinade, and you’re looking for something to give it an extra dash of flavor, the broth could work in your favor.

It’s traditionally used with meat and vegetables anyway, so it’s likely that it will compliment your recipe. Just don’t use broth while baking, because that’s a sure-fire way to create a disaster. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What Use Does Brandy Have In Baking?

Some people are surprised to find out that brandy is used in baking. Brandy can add sweetness to a recipe, and depending on the volume used, an alcoholic kick.

It’s traditionally used with winter recipes, such as gingerbread and Christmas cake. It’s also used in the chocolate cake, though, and many people make glazes with brandy. 

What Use Does Brandy Have In Cooking?

Likewise, some people are surprised to find out that brandy is used in cookery.

Using alcohol in cooking helps bring forth the flavor of the ingredients, in most cases, the alcoholic punch is ‘cooked’ out, so you’re left with the lovely flavor of the alcoholic beverage. In the case of brandy, it can add a sweet and smoky flavor. 

I Can’t Drink Alcohol. Will The Non-Alcoholic Substitutions Be Just As Good?

If you can’t drink alcohol for whatever reason, you can still use a great non-alcoholic substitution. In most cases, it tastes just as great, albeit different — depending on how important brandy was in the recipe.

If it was a recipe that was solely based on brandy, then the substitutions might not be as ideal, but it doesn’t mean you can’t alter it to make it just as delicious. You do not need to use brandy in your recipe if you cannot drink it.

Does Brandy Extract Contain Alcohol, Or Is It A Non-Alcoholic Substitute? 

Brandy extract does contain alcohol, so it is not suitable for those who are unable to drink alcohol. 

If you are able to drink alcohol, then you may be interested to know that while it does contain alcohol, it is a very small percentage, therefore it generally does not give an alcoholic taste in cooking or baking. 

I Want To Make A Fruit Cake, But I Don’t Have Brandy. What Should I Do?

Brandy is traditionally used in fruit cake and Christmas cake, but if you can’t drink alcohol, or you don’t have any brandy on hand, you can use one of the alternatives on the list. 

For example, white grape juice is an excellent replacement for fruit cake. You could also use a different kind of juice, depending on what you plan on putting in the mixture, e.g., orange juice. 

Summary

That brings us to the end of our wonderful article on the 7 best substitutions for brandy. I hope that you’ve found our article helpful and that it has inspired you to be creative in the kitchen.

Whether you plan on using an alcoholic alternative, or a non-alcoholic alternative, we’re sure that your recipe will turn out just great. If you have any substitutions for brandy, comment below — I’d love to hear what you recommend. 

As always, thank you for reading! 

Jess Smith
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