10 Best Rum Substitutes For Baking & Cooking

Rum has been used in recipes for centuries. It can complement sweet or savory dishes and create meals rich in flavor. Rum originates from the Caribbean and produces most of the requirements throughout the world, and it’s very popular.

However, rum is an acquired taste and some would prefer something different for their recipes. We’ve found some of the best alcoholic and non-alcoholic alternatives that we think you’re going to love. 

10 Best Rum Substitutes For Baking & Cooking


When you think of gin, you probably imagine a tall glass, lots of ice and lime on a sunny day. Who doesn’t enjoy a cooling G&T? However, as well as being a refreshing beverage, gin can be used in baking. Surprised?

With so many gins on the market there are a plethora of choices when it comes to flavors, making it a versatile option for adding a subtle taste to many dishes.

Think of it as similar to adding herbs and spices. Gin works very well in sauces for steak, fish, or chicken. Mixed with cream or yogurt, the complex flavor will create a unique and rich flavor that will complement a meat meal. One tablespoon is all you need. 

Gin also works well in cake recipes that include dried fruit. The botanicals in gin create a glorious lemon drizzle or citrus baked cake, perfect for an afternoon tea party with friends. 


Brandy is a spirit that’s granted to warm the cockles. But when you’re not swigging it down with ice as a nightcap, it works fantastically in the cooking department. It also makes a great substitute for rum due to its sweetness. 

Brandy is so versatile, it can be used in all sorts of cooking. It’s much stronger than wine, so use it sparingly. It works fantastically with turkey, pork, chicken, seafood, and you can create rich and flavorsome sauces. 

Brandy produces a fairly exotic taste, and you can even pop a teaspoon into soups to liven it up.  It also works well in sweet desserts such as fruit salads and sweet sauces. Brandy is also the key ingredient in a rich and satisfying Xmas cake or pudding.

The best Xmas cake is made months before the big day, so it can soak up all the flavors of the brandy. Gorgeous!


I bet you didn’t know Tequila was suitable for cooking with? Not only is it a favorite summer drink, but it has a wealth of other uses. Tequila comes from a popular plant called the blue agave that grows in Mexico.

It has a mild sweet flavour and goes fabulously with a variety of popular dishes. 

You can create tasty marinades for steak, prawns, or chicken with a mix of lime, chili, honey, garlic, and pepper. Leave to marinate overnight and then cook, you won’t regret it!

Tequila is a great spirit to experiment with as it’s rich in smokey and woody flavors, meaning it goes fantastically with grilled foods. It’s also lovely with desserts and can give a boozy element to summer puddings and cakes.

You can even add it to a sorbet for a refreshing, healthy alternative to calorific puddings. 

Apple Juice 

If you prefer your rum alternative to be non-alcoholic, then apple juice is a good choice. The acidic and sweet flavor of apples make fantastic sauces, dips, and dressings. It’s interesting to note that apple juice flavor isn’t dissimilar to rum and can be used whenever a recipe asks for rum.

For the best flavor use good quality apple juice not from concentrate.  Freshly pressed apples are healthy and work fantastically in recipes. If you have the time, try making apple juice from scratch, you can keep it in a sealed container at room temperature ready for when you need it. 

Apples can be used in bread and cake making, and can also be a great base for sweet and savory sauces. It is also perfect for making mulled wine or mixing with other drinks for a non-alcoholic cocktail. 


Cognac is similar to brandy but has a number of different flavors. There are a variety of different tasty cocktails containing Cognac, but it also adds a dense richness to sauces, especially for meat.

Cognac is produced in France and created using a specific combination of grapes. The spirit is then kept in oak barrels for a minimum of 2 years. This process creates a unique flavor and complements many dishes. 

For the chocolate lovers out there, cognac works very well with chocolate based desserts such as Xmas truffles and hot sauce puddings. It also tastes fantastic with snacks such as cheese, apples, nuts, and figs.

Cognac also works well added to peppercorn sauce to serve with a nice juicy steak.

Apple Cider

Apple cider has become increasingly popular in recent years. It has an abundance of health benefits and any extra usage is well worth it. It is much stronger than apple juice, so it’s important to limit the amount added to recipes. 

Apple cider goes great with chicken, and you can create a mouth-watering sauce with chicken stock, mustard, and herbs. 

Sausages are also a great match for apple cider. In the same way we serve applesauce with a pork roast, you can blend apple cider with honey and mustard for a lovely sticky glaze.

Another great option is to add the apple cider to gravy for a rich and tasty sauce. It’s the perfect accompaniment to pork. Delicious!

If using apple cider vinegar, you can add it to cakes to help make them rise. The high acidity reacts with baking soda adding to the lift, ingenuous really!


Port is known for its warming properties. On a cold day, nothing warms your insides like a nice glass of the rich red stuff. Port is wine that has gone through a process of fermentation and is fortified with brandy.

The process results in a strong beverage that is super sweet. You’ll be interested to know that, as with the others, it also works very well in cooking. 

There are several types of port such as ruby, tawny, and vintage. Ruby port is the cheapest and usually has flavors of berries and is a rich red color. Ruby and tawny port is good to use in stews and casseroles with beef, pork, or chicken.

There are some excellent recipes online for winter warming comfort food using a good ruby port. 

Orange Juice 

Orange juice is a great non-alcoholic alternative to rum and has a perfect balance of acidity combined with sweetness. It’s great to add sweetness to soup, sauces and marinades. Not only does it taste awesome, good quality orange juice is packed full of vitamin C, which is essential for a healthy functioning immune system. 

When following recipes, you can substitute traditional vinegar based sauces with OJ. It also has the benefit of making meat, fish and poultry tender, improving the texture of any dish.

Mix the OJ with some of your favorite herbs and spices such as basil, thyme, oregano and a good dose of garlic. You can even experiment with others such as soy sauce, sesame oil and ginger for a delicious Asian twist. 

It won’t surprise you to know that orange juice works fantastically in sweet cakes and desserts. You can use it in place of water or milk in recipes and will add a lovely fresh and citrus taste to cakes or bread. 

Grape Juice 

Another excellent non-alcoholic option, and its sweetness enhances the flavors of many dishes. It’s also extremely good for you. Grape juice is full of vitamins and has the benefit of being fibrous, essential for good health.

The antioxidants in grape juice helps migraines, improves digestion, reduces risk of heart disease and many other illnesses. 

Just as with orange juice, when a recipe calls for water or milk, replace it with grape juice for a unique and sweet flavor. For a white grape juice cake, mix together flour, sugar, eggs, pecans, and grape juice for a scrummy and sweet treat. 

Rum Extract 

If you want to maintain the rum flavor but not use the alcohol, then rum extract does a great job. Furthermore, you can store extract for a long period of time if it’s kept somewhere dry.

You only need a small amount as it’s very concentrated, but it is very effective when used in cakes and breads. Be sure to carefully select the right extract.

There are many products available that are just an imitation rum and some that are natural. Both tastes are similar, but the discerning taste buds will tell the difference. 

As a rule of thumb, if a recipe calls for 2 tbs of pure rum, use 1.5 tbsp of extract. Because the extract is highly concentrated, it’s best suited to sweet desserts and not savory dishes. 

So, there you have 10 of the best rum alternatives. Cooking is good for the soul and triggers our creative side, so time to get baking and cook up some great dishes. Bon appétit.

Jess Smith
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