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15 Equally Tasty Marsala Wine Substitutes You’ll Love

Marsala wine is a very versatile wine known for its delightful taste, which is why it commonly features in recipes like chicken marsala and many more.

However, you may not always be able to use it in your cooking when it is required. So, it is essential to know what replacements you can use instead.

Whether you don’t enjoy having alcohol in your food or you’ve run out of marsala wine at the last minute, in this post, you’ll find the best substitutes for marsala wine.

Nutrition Table

RecipesCalories
Dry sherry116
Amontillado136
Brandy and grape juice100
Port103
Balsamic vinegar and prunes60
Sweet vermouth140
Pinot noir81
White grape juice and sherry vinegar5
Balsamic vinegar and brown sugar40
Dry white wine120
White wine + brandy + brown sugar100
Moscato160
Pedro Ximenez113
Chicken stock38

What Is Marsala Wine?

Marsala wine is a fortified Italian wine originating from Sicily. Depending on the color and brand, it is made from a base of either red or white grapes, but it is always fortified with brandy and aged to produce a more robust flavor.

The brandy gives it a fairly high alcohol content compared to most wines. It ranged between 15-20% alcohol per volume.

Marsala wine has a distinctly complex flavor profile with a nutty, sweet taste and aromatic notes of apricot, vanilla, honey, and walnut.

The intensity of this flavor can vary depending on the type of marsala wine, but the overall taste of all marsala wine is a similarly rich and sweet flavor. 

Its unique flavor profile makes it a staple cooking wine added to many different dishes. Marsala wine is often incorporated into dishes like beef, rice, tiramisu, cake, and the classic marsala chicken.

Although marsala wine is universally loved and used as cooking wine, it can still be served for drinking purposes.

It is a great dessert wine and can be paired with cakes, chocolate, or even cheese. It is also commonly served as an aperitif, a pre-meal drink.

Now you know how great marsala wine is, but if you don’t have it, fear not; we can still find you some great substitutes. Ready? Let’s dive in.

1. Madeira Wine

Madeira wine is undoubtedly the best substitute you can use when you don’t have marsala wine. Just like marsala wine, Madeira is a fortified wine made from a base of different varieties of grapes.

It is native to the Portuguese Island of Madeira, where it gets its name but it is very popular and commonly sold in many stores. 

Madeira wine has a nearly identical flavor to marsala wine, with sweet and nutty notes of hazelnut, caramel, peaches, and walnut. It also usually has the same color, so you can use it in any dish that calls for Marsala wine.

How To Substitute

Use a 1:1 ratio when replacing marsala wine with Madeira wine.

2. Dry Sherry

Dry sherry is another great substitute for marsala wine. It offers a very similar taste to marsala wine.

It is nutty, crisp, and slightly sweet. It also has a similar alcohol content, so it will surely add the same flavor-enhancing properties to your dish.

When using dry sherry, make sure to use regular drinking sherry wine and not the cooking variety.

Any sherry wine labeled as a cooking wine will likely have more salt, and that is definitely not what you want when you’re trying to mimic the taste of marsala wine.

How To Substitute

Use a 1:1 ratio when replacing marsala wine with dry sherry.

3. Amontillado

Amontillado is a Spanish wine that is very similar to dry sherry. It is a fortified wine with a fruity and nutty flavor that mimics the taste of marsala wine really well.

It also has a unique aromatic flavor layered with notes of herbs and spices, so it works well with savory dishes. You can use amontillado as a substitute in any dish that calls for Marsala wine.

How To Substitute

Use a 1:1 ratio when replacing marsala wine with amontillado.

4. Brandy And Grape Juice

Brandy and grape juice is another great substitute you can use in place of marsala wine. The mixture will give you a complex fruity, and acidic taste with a bright sweetness that will boost the flavor of any dish.

You can use this mixture for both sweet and savory dishes.

How To Substitute

Combine ¼ of a cup of grape juice with one teaspoon of brandy. Then use a 1:1 ratio when of the brandy and red grape juice mixture when substituting.

5. Port

Port is another great wine you can use in place of marsala wine. It is a Portuguese wine made from a base of grape spirits and fortified with brandy, so it has a similar flavor and color to marsala wine. 

The taste of port is quite rich and sweet, but beyond that, there are buttery smooth notes of berries and nutty caramel. It is commonly paired with desserts, but you can use it for savory dishes as well. 

There are four port varieties, each with a slightly different flavor profile. They include ruby port, tawny port, white port, and rose. You can use any one of the four options you get your hands on.

How To Substitute

Use a 1:1 ratio when replacing marsala wine with Port.

6. Balsamic Vinegar And Prunes

A mixture of balsamic vinegar and prunes is a fantastic substitute for marsala wine, especially for those who don’t want anything with alcohol. 

The combination of sweetness from the prunes and fruity tartness from the vinegar will create a balanced yet complex flavor that will surely improve the flavor of any dish.

However, this option does require a bit of cooking, so it’s not something you can try at the last minute. You will need to simmer the prunes on low heat until they soften. Then strain it and combine it with the vinegar before you can use it.

How To Substitute

Add half a cup of prunes to a pot a let it simmer. Then strain and combine it with two tablespoons of balsamic vinegar. Use that mixture at a 1:1 ratio when substituting.

7. Pinot Noir

Pinot noir is another lovely alternative you can use in place of marsala wine. It is a red wine made from pinot noir grapes, and it has a fruity and earthy taste with a bright acidity that enriches the flavor of any dish you add it to. 

You can pair this red wine with both sweet and savory dishes.

How To Substitute

Use a 1:1 ratio when replacing marsala wine with pinot noir.

8. White Grape Juice And Sherry Vinegar

If you’re looking for a non-alcoholic alternative to marsala wine, a combination of white grape juice and sherry vinegar is the ideal option to replicate the taste. 

The grape juice is sweet and will add a touch of sweetness to the dish, while the sherry vinegar has distinct nutty and aromatic flavor notes similar to marsala wine. 

The mixture will also add a rich acidity that will enhance the flavor profile of the dish.

How To Substitute

Use a 1:1 ratio when replacing marsala wine with white grape juice.

9. Balsamic Vinegar And Brown Sugar

A combination of balsamic vinegar and brown sugar is another lovely substitute you can use in place of marsala wine when you don’t want alcohol in your food.

The taste may not be completely similar to that of marsala wine. However, it will deliver a rich and complex sweetness with a tart taste that will definitely improve the flavor of your dish. 

With this combination, you may need to make a balsamic reduction with vinegar and brown sugar before adding it to your dish.

Doing that will ensure the sugar melts well and also bring out the flavor of the balsamic vinegar. 

How To Substitute

Combine ¼ of a cup of balsamic vinegar and one teaspoon of brown sugar. Then use a 1:1 ratio when using the mixture as a substitute for marsala wine.

10. Sweet Vermouth

If you have some sweet vermouth on hand, you can use it as a substitute for marsala wine. 

It is an aromatized wine with rich floral and herbal notes that would work well with savory dishes. The subtle sweetness will also improve the flavor of any sauce or meat dish.

How To Substitute

Use a 1:1 ratio when replacing marsala wine with sweet vermouth.

11. Dry White Wine

Dry white wine is another great substitute you can use in place of marsala wine. It is crisp, acidic, and usually contains a floral aroma, so it will work well with just about any dish. 

You can use any dry white wine you have, but some of the best options include sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, and pinot gris.

How To Substitute

Use a 1:1 ratio when replacing marsala wine with sweet vermouth.

12. White Wine + Brandy + Brown Sugar

If you have white wine, you can take it a step further by combining it with brandy and brown sugar. 

This trio of ingredients will give you a nearly identical taste to marsala wine. You can use the mixture for desserts or savory dishes.

However, if you’re using it for a svaory dish, you can add a pinch of salt to tone down the sweetness a bit.

How To Substitute

Mix one cup of white wine with half a cup of brandy and one teaspoon of brown sugar. Then, use the mixture at a 1:1 ratio when substituting.

13. Moscato

If you’re making a sweet dessert that requires marsala wine, you can use Moscato as a replacement. 

It is made from muscat grapes and has a fruity flavor with a very sweet taste, so it will enhance the taste of any dessert while adding a touch of acidity and sweetness.

How To Substitute

Use a 1:1 ratio when replacing marsala wine with Moscato.

14. Pedro Ximenez

Pedro Ximenez is another great substitute you can use in place of marsala wine. It is a Spanish grape wine with a deeply aromatic flavor and a sweet taste. 

Pedro Ximenez has a slightly thick texture that makes it a great wine for cooking. You can use it for both svaory and sweet dishes.

How To Substitute

Use a 1:1 ratio when replacing marsala wine with Pedro Ximenez.

15. Chicken Stock

If you’re in a bind and need an easy last-minute substitute, chicken stock is a great option to try. It won’t exactly give you the same flavor as marsala wine.

However, it will impart its own savory umami taste that will surely enhance the flavor of your dish. 

Chicken stock also usually has an element of subtle sweetness that comes from the vegetable base used to make it, so it adds a mild touch of sweetness as well. 

Since it is more of a savory liquid, you can only use stock for savory dishes. You can also use vegetable stock if you’re on a vegan or vegetarian diet.

How To Substitute

The amount required will vary depending on the dish. However, you can start with ⅛ of a cup and add more as needed.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Use Red Wine Instead Of Marsala Wine? 

You can use red wine in place of marsala wine. However, pinot noir is the best red wine to use if you want to properly replicate the flavor of marsala wine.

Can I Use Apple Cider Vinegar Instead Of Marsala Wine? 

You can use apple cider vinegar instead of marsala wine. It won’t give you the same exact flavor as marsala wine, but it will add a slightly sweet and tart flavor that will enhance the flavor of the dish.

Does Marsala Wine Have Alcohol?

Marsala wine contains alcohol. It typically ranges between 15-20% alcohol by volume.

What Does Marsala Wine Taste Like?

Marsala wine has a nutty and sweet brown sugar-like taste with aromatic notes of apricot, vanilla, and honey.

Is Marsala Wine Just For Cooking? 

Marsala wine is commonly used for cooking, but it can also be enjoyed as a drink. You can mix it with other drinks to make a cocktail or enjoy it plain.

However, you’ll need to be careful with the content you consume as marsala wine contains a higher alcohol content than most wines. It is best enjoyed in moderation.

Does Marsala Wine Need To Be Refrigerated After Opening?

Marsala wine has a stable shelf life since it is a fortified wine, so you don’t really need to refrigerate it after opening. Instead, store it in a cool, dry place away from sunlight.

However, if you can’t find a place where it won’t be exposed to sunlight, then you can store it in the fridge.

What Can I Use Instead Of Marsala Wine For Marsala Sauce?

When you’re making marsala sauce, white wine or brandy are great alternatives you can use in place of marsala wine. However, you can use white grape juice if you prefer something without alcohol.

15 Equally Tasty Marsala Wine Substitutes You’ll Love

5 from 3 votes
Prep Time

15

minutes
Cooking Time

30

minutes
Total Time

45

minutes

There are different marsala wine substitutes, and many people want to find a way to enjoy it without adding any sugar. Choose your recipe now!

Ingredients

  • Dry sherry

  • Amontillado

  • Brandy and grape juice

  • Port

  • Balsamic vinegar and prunes

  • Sweet vermouth

  • Pinot noir

  • White grape juice and sherry vinegar

  • Balsamic vinegar and brown sugar

  • Dry white wine

  • White wine + brandy + brown sugar

  • Moscato

  • Pedro Ximenez

  • Chicken stock

Directions

  • Choose your favorite substitute from the list given above
  • Follow the directions given in the recipe after having substituted the ingredient in the correct ratio

Recipe Video

Jess Smith