15 Excellent Alternatives for Cooking Sherry

Whether you’re in need of a quick fix or seeking a tastier alternative to cooking sherry in your recipes, rest assured, there’s a wide array of options available. Keep reading to explore the finest substitutes for cooking sherry.

Cooking sherry, a cost-effective fortified wine commonly used in culinary creations, infuses dishes with delightful flavors and depth. Made from grapes, typically light-bodied whites, combined with brandy for extra alcohol content, cooking sherry boasts a nutty taste due to its oxidized nature. This versatile ingredient is readily available at reasonable prices in many stores, making it a popular choice for marinades, stews, soups, and sauces.

If you seek a substitute for cooking sherry in your recipes, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic options are at your disposal.

What are the finest alcoholic substitutes for cooking sherry?

Dry vermouth, brandy, dry white wine, Shaoxing cooking wine, hard apple cider, and drinking sherry stand out as excellent alcoholic alternatives. For more details on each option, continue reading.

1. Dry vermouth

Dry vermouth is a good substitute for cooking sherry without extra salt. It comes with a combination of slight bitterness and sweetness and has botanical flavors.

When making the substitution, replace cooking sherry with dry vermouth in a ratio of 1:1. Avoid using sweet vermouth in savory dishes because it leaves a sweet flavor.

2. Brandy

Brandy is a good substitute for cooking sherry when preparing flaming recipes. The taste it leaves on your food depends on the fruits used to make the brandy. Use unflavored brandy if you don’t want extra flavors.

Brandy has a high alcohol content, so only use it in dishes that require a long cooking time; it gives the alcohol enough time to evaporate.

When replacing cooking sherry, use brandy in low quantities due to its overbearing taste.

3. Dry white wine

Dry white wine is a good substitute for cooking sherry when preparing chicken or seafood dishes. Use dry white wine to glaze the pan for extra flavor in your meat.

Use dry white wine as a substitute for cooking sherry in a 1:1 ratio. Make sure to taste the dish first on whether it needs extra salt.

4. Shaoxing cooking wine

If you’re looking for a vinegary, mildly spicy substitute for cooking sherry with hints of caramel, Shaoxing cooking wine is the perfect substitute. Shaoxing cooking wine is Chinese fermented rice wine.

Like cooking sherry, Shaoxing cooking wine has added preservatives and salt. It has well-balanced seasonings, making it an excellent substitute for savory dishes. However, it has a very strong alcoholic taste, so it’s best to avoid using it in large quantities.

5. Hard apple cider

Hard apple cider is a good substitute for cooking sherry. Hard apple cider is fermented apple alcohol, and you can use it to replace cooking sherry in a 1:1 ratio. However, hard apple cider does not have the same depth of flavor as cooking sherry. It only adds an acidic and fruity element to your recipe.

6. Drinking sherry

Drinking sherry is also a great substitute if you run out of cooking sherry and have an urgent recipe to attend to. It enhances your dish’s flavor and reduces the sodium content in cooking sherry.

Drinking sherry is not commonly used in the kitchen because it’s expensive and has a short shelf life. You can substitute cooking sherry with drinking sherry in a ratio of 1:1.

What are the best non-alcoholic substitutes for cooking sherry?

The best non-alcoholic replacements for cooking sherry are chicken broth and lemon, apple cider vinegar, vanilla extract, fruit juice, rice wine vinegar or champagne wine vinegar, chicken broth and vinegar, white vinegar and water, balsamic vinegar, and coffee or coffee syrup. Read on to discover more info about each option.

1. Chicken broth and lemon

Chicken broth and lemon are a simple and convenient substitute for cooking sherry since you probably already have these ingredients stashed away in your fridge or pantry.

To prepare this mixture and replace cooking sherry in your dishes, add a small portion of chicken stock in a mixing bowl and squeeze some lemon juice for acidity. Taste the mixture to see if it needs more salt.

2. Apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is another great substitute if you run out of cooking sherry. It is ideal for sauces, marinades, stews, and soups.

If your recipe requires a small amount of cooking sherry (one or two tablespoons), use apple cider vinegar at full strength. However, if more cooking sherry is required, dilute the apple cider vinegar with water. One cup of sweet sherry is equivalent to half a cup of apple cider vinegar mixed with half a cup of water.

Apple cider vinegar is the best non-alcoholic option for recipes requiring more than half a cup of cooking sherry. If the recipe calls for sweet sherry, add sugar to the apple cider vinegar and water mixture.

3. Vanilla extract

Vanilla extract is a good substitute for recipes that require sweet sherry. The more vanilla extracts you use, the bigger the difference in taste for your dishes.

4. Fruit juice

Fruit juice is another great substitute for sweet sherry, especially for baked desserts with a fruity flavor. For example, use pineapple, orange, apricot, or peach juice. If the juice is too thick, dilute it with water until you achieve the desired consistency.

When replacing cooking sherry, be sure to use freshly squeezed juice instead of packaged alternatives. Packages juices have preservatives that can alter your recipe’s taste.

5. Rice wine vinegar or champagne wine vinegar

If your recipe requires cooked sherry in small quantities, substitute it with rice wine vinegar or champagne wine vinegar. However, be sure to use these ingredients in moderation, or they will alter the taste of your recipe.

6. Chicken broth and vinegar

Make your own cooking sherry substitute at home using chicken broth and vinegar. Mix 1 cup of chicken broth with 1 cup of white vinegar to replace 1 cup of cooking sherry. You don’t need to add any salt to this recipe because vinegar already has preservatives and a sharp, salty taste.

7. White vinegar and water

White vinegar is a good substitute for cooking sherry since it has the same acidic taste. However, it is stronger, so you should dilute it with water before adding it to your recipes.

To substitute 1 cup of cooking sherry, mix ½ a cup of white vinegar with ½ a cup of water. Add 2 tablespoons of sugar per cup to make a sweeter mix.

8. Balsamic vinegar

If you need a heavier alternative for cooking sherry in your recipe, balsamic vinegar is the right option. It has a nice balance of sweetness and acidity that will add a nutty and sweet flavor to your dish. For a more mellow taste, dilute the balsamic vinegar with water.

9. Coffee or coffee syrup

Coffee or coffee syrup is a great substitute for cooking sherry in desserts. It is sweeter in chocolate-based desserts because it compliments the chocolatey flavor.


Discover more useful information about cooking sherry and its substitutes:

What are some commercial substitutes for dry sherry?

Commercial substitutes for dry sherry include white vermouth, dry Madeira, marsala, Sauvignon blanc, Pinot Grigio, Pinot blanc, and Semillon. You can also replace dry sherry with dry sparkling wines in small quantities.

What are some commercial substitutes for sweet sherry?

Commercial substitutes for sweet sherry include port, sweet vermouth, sweet Madeira, and marsala, Cabernet sauvignon, Grenache, Malbec, Merlot, Shiraz, and Zinfandel. These brands have no sweetness, but you can use them if your recipe requires a small amount of sweet sherry.

What can I use as a substitute for cream sherry?

The best substitutes are Dolce Marsala and Madeira wine. If your recipe requires just a pinch of cream sherry, use sweet vermouth.

Can you refrigerate cooking sherry?

Yes, it is possible to store cooking sherry in the refrigerator for up to several weeks. Store it in an airtight container and use it within three days of opening for the best quality.

What is the difference between cooking sherry and drinking sherry?

The main difference between cooking sherry and drinking sherry is their alcohol content. Cooking sherry has a much lower alcohol content, usually around 10-15%, while drinking sherry can range from 15-22%. Drinking sherry also has more complex flavors due to longer aging times in oak barrels.

What is the difference between dry and sweet sherry?

There are several differences between dry and sweet sherry. Dry sherry has less sugar than sweet sherry and, therefore, a dryer, more acidic taste. Sweet sherry has more sugar, so it is slightly sweeter. Dry sherry is typically aged for a longer period of time than sweet sherry, which gives it a richer flavor. Sweet sherry tends to be used primarily in cooking or as an addition to desserts.

Are there homemade options for cream sherry?

Yes, there are several options for making homemade cream sherry. For example, mix equal parts white wine and brandy, or use a mixture of dry sherry, sweet vermouth, and a tablespoon of orange bitters instead. For a sweeter version, use equal parts cream sherry and white port wine.

Can you use red wine vinegar to make cooking sherry?

Yes, it is possible to use red wine vinegar to make cooking sherry. You can substitute an equal amount of red wine vinegar for a recipe that calls for cooking sherry. It will impart a subtle acidity and sweetness to the dish.


If you’ve run out of cooking sherry and have an urgent recipe to attend to, you might have to use a substitute. Some alcoholic substitutes you can use include dry white wine, dry vermouth, and Shaoxing cooking wine. You can also use non-alcoholic substitutes such as apple cider vinegar, fruit juices, and chicken broth mixed with vinegar. However, these substitutes may not taste the same as cooking sherry. Use them sparingly because the more you use, the more you alter your recipe’s taste.

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