Cooking sherry is a wonderfully versatile ingredient that is often used in a variety of dishes. You may think that cooking sherry and sherry wine are the same thing, but there are a few distinct differences between the two which make them suited to different things.
The main difference of course is that cooking sherry has a much higher salt content.
So even though sherry wine can be utilized as an alternative to cooking sherry, cooking sherry couldn’t be used in place of sherry wine.
But if you haven’t got any cooking sherry to hand when you’re part way through making your dish, what are you meant to use instead? Having to stop cooking just to pay a visit to the grocery store can be a nightmare.
So what are the best alternatives for cooking sherry?
The best food items to use in place of cooking sherry include sherry wine, any white wines such as Pinot Grigio or Chardonnay, French vermouth, drinking brandy, Shaohsing wine, Marsala fortified wine, bottled red wine vinegar, cider vinegar, chicken broth or stock, fresh orange juice or other types of fruit juice, vanilla essence or extract, or sweet coffee syrup.
We’re going to cover these alternatives for cooking sherry in more detail below.
The Best Alternatives For Cooking Sherry
Cooking sherry can be a wonderfully versatile ingredient in different recipes. However, most recipes will only require a small amount of this in order to create your dish. You may even find that different types of sherry are required for different dishes.
Whereas sweet sherry is favored in desserts, dry sherry tends to be called for in savory dishes.
So even though cooking sherry is relatively inexpensive, if a recipe only needs a small amount of it, it can be hard to justify buying an entire bottle. Or maybe you’ve run out of your stash of cooking sherry and don’t want to interrupt your cooking just to pop to the grocery store.
Below are some of the best alternatives to cooking sherry that you can use as a substitute until you can stock up on this cooking essential.
The closest substitute for cooking sherry is of course sherry wine. This is the sweeter variant that is typically used for drinking or cooking sweet desserts. So if you have a bottle of sherry wine to hand, then you can undoubtedly use this in place of cooking sherry in your dish.
The only thing to note is that sherry wine will be much sweeter than cooking sherry, and it won’t have the added salt that its counterpart has.
So if you wanted to imitate the flavor of cooking sherry, you may wish to add some additional salt. Make sure to taste test your food so as to not add too much salt, though.
You can use equal parts sherry wine for cooking sherry. This will make it one of the easier alternatives to use as you won’t have to adjust the ratio of sherry wine for your recipe.
Another great substitute for cooking sherry is white wine. Pinot Grigio is a fantastic option, as this is a very versatile wine that is often used in cooking. However, you can use any type of white wine that takes your fancy. Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc are also great options. It is best to use a dry white wine if you can.
White wine is a very versatile drink that can be used in a variety of savory dishes, including seafood and chicken recipes. So this will make it a great alternative to cooking sherry if you don’t have any of this to hand.
The great thing about using white wine such as Pinot Grigio is that you can use it in equal amounts as a substitute. So you won’t have to worry about adjusting the ratios in order to get the flavor balance just right. As with sherry wine, you may wish to add some additional salt to make up for the lack of saltiness in the wine.
If you wanted to stick with a fortified wine to get a closer flavor profile to cooking sherry, then you should opt for a dash of French vermouth. This is another fortified wine that is actually very close to cooking sherry in terms of how it is produced.
French vermouth, or dry vermouth as it can sometimes be called, has a mixed bitter and sweet flavor which will make it the perfect alternative to cooking sherry.
What’s really great about using French vermouth as your substitute for cooking sherry is that it can be used in equal parts. So you won’t have to adjust any ratios, and you also won’t have to add any additional salt as you would if you were adding sherry wine or white wine as your substitute.
French vermouth will be the best substitute for sauces, soups, poultry dishes, and stews.
For a sweeter alternative to cooking sherry, you should opt for drinking brandy. This is made by distilling wine, and tends to have a fruitier flavor than some of the substitutions we’ve mentioned above.
Brandy is the perfect substitute for dishes that feature seafood, poultry, pork, as well as some sauces. If you don’t want to risk certain flavors influencing your recipes, it’s best to opt for unflavored brandy.
Another thing to bear in mind is that drinking brandy has a much higher alcohol content than cooking sherry. So you will need to allow things to simmer for longer so that this alcohol can evaporate. To get a better ratio for your dish, you should use half the brandy than the recipe needs cooking sherry.
Perhaps one of the more unusual substitutions on our list is Shaohsing wine. This is a popular Chinese cooking wine, and it also comes in a drinking variety. The cooking variant has a mild vinegar flavor profile, with a hint of caramel to finish. This makes it an ideal substitution for sauces and braises.
It’s worth noting that Shahsing cooking wine tends to have a higher alcohol content than cooking sherry. So you will need to half the amount you use in comparison to the amount of cooking sherry that is called for, and you will also need to cook your dish for slightly longer.
Can’t find Shaohsing cooking wine in your local grocery store? Then you can opt for drinking wine instead. This will be slightly sweeter, so you may need to add an additional dash of salt to get the saltiness just right.
Marsala Fortified Wine
For a similar flavor profile to cooking sherry, you can opt for Marsala fortified wine. This is an Italian wine that uses a similar process to cooking sherry, so gives it a very similar flavor profile. You will notice that Marsala wine has a slightly nutty flavor.
What’s really great about Marsala wine is that you can use it for a variety of recipes. You can use your Marsala fortified wine in savory sauces, dishes such as lobster bisque, or even in sweeter desserts such as trifles or tiramisu.
You won’t need to adjust the ratio of Marsala fortified wine that you use to replace cooking sherry. Simply use it in equal amounts to get a great tasting dish.
Bottled Red Wine Vinegar
Looking for a non-alcoholic substitute for cooking sherry? Then grab your bottled red wine vinegar to use as an alternative. This is a slightly fruity alternative that will be wonderfully versatile enough to use in a variety of dishes.
The only thing to note with using red wine vinegar in place of cooking sherry is that you may need to dilute it first before you use it. You can do this by adding a dash of water to your red wine vinegar.
When it comes to the amount of red wine vinegar that you will need to use, you will need to half this in comparison to the amount of cooking sherry required.
Another great non-alcoholic substitute for cooking sherry is of course cider vinegar. Also known as apple cider vinegar, this is a fruity alternative that has a high acidity. It is also widely available in grocery stores around the world, so you should be able to easily find this in your local store.
Cider vinegar is a wonderfully versatile substitution that can be used in a wide variety of dishes. You can use cider vinegar as a substitute for cooking sherry in marinades, sauces, soups, and stews.
The only thing to remember is that you will need to dilute it slightly using water before you can use it in your dish.
When it comes to the amount of cider vinegar that you should use, it’s best to half the amount required and replace this with water. So if your recipe asks for a single cup of cooking sherry, you should use half a cup of cider vinegar, and then dilute this with half a cup of water.
However, if your recipe only needs a small amount of cooking sherry, you can use the same amount of cider vinegar. If you want to enhance the flavor of your dish, you can add a dash of sugar alongside the cider vinegar.
Chicken Broth Or Stock
Cooking a tasty chicken dish but don’t have any cooking sherry to hand? Then you can use chicken broth or chicken stock as a replacement for this. This will make a great alcohol free alternative that will also blend well with the additional flavors of your dish.
To match the acidity of cooking sherry, you can add a dash of vinegar or lemon juice. You may also wish to add some salt so that you can match the saltiness of cooking sherry.
This will be the perfect substitute for cooking sherry if you are making a chicken dish with a sherry sauce or chicken soup.
Fresh Orange Juice
If you are making a sweet dessert dish and need a substitute for cooking sherry, then you can opt for the fruity addition of fresh orange juice. This is a fantastic alcohol free alternative that will give your dessert a fruity twist.
This will be ideal for dishes such as pies, muffins, and cakes.
Another thing to bear in mind is that you can use any fresh fruit juice that takes your fancy. Not a fan or orange juice? Then you can use apple juice, pineapple juice, apricot juice, or peach juice instead.
When it comes to using fruit juice as a substitute for cooking sherry, the fresher the juice, the better. If you find that your chosen fruit juice is a little on the thick side, you can dilute this by adding some water before you mix it in with your dish.
Vanilla Essence Or Extract
Vanilla essence and vanilla extract can make another great substitute for cooking sherry if you are making a sweeter dish such as your favorite dessert. These are widely available in grocery stores and are heavily used in baking.
Vanilla extract has a more pure vanilla flavor than vanilla essence, but vanilla essence will do the job in a pinch.
The great thing about using vanilla essence or extract as a substitute for cooking sherry is that you can use the same amount. The only thing you will need to bear in mind is that you may need to add some water to make up the same liquid consistency.
So if your recipe asks for one tablespoon of your favorite cooking sherry, this can be substituted using one tablespoon of vanilla essence or vanilla extract, as well as two tablespoons of water.
Sweet Coffee Syrup
If you’re looking for another sweet alternative that will be ideal for desserts, you should opt for sweet coffee syrup. Particularly if you’re a fan of coffee in general! Sweet coffee syrup will be the ideal substitution for dishes that have chocolate in them.
So sweet coffee syrup will work particularly well with tiramisu, brownies, as well as other chocolate cakes. You can also use the same amount of coffee syrup as you would cooking sherry.
This is also another great alcohol free substitute.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can You Use Rice Wine Vinegar In Place Of Cooking Sherry?
Yes, rice wine vinegar can indeed be utilized in place of cooking sherry in your recipe. This will make a great alternative in a wide variety of savory dishes.
Where Can You Find Cooking Sherry In Your Local Grocery Store?
You should find a bottle of your favorite cooking sherry stashed away on the same shelf as the vinegars in your local grocery store. This is because it isn’t designed for drinking, and has a more acidic taste than sherry wine.
Are Sherry Vinegar And Sherry Wine The Same Thing?
No, sherry vinegar and sherry wine are not the same thing. While sherry wine is a fortified wine designed for drinking, sherry vinegar has been fermented to get the acidity needed for cooking dishes.