9 Best Substitutes for Brandy in Cooking and Baking


Alcohol is not just a drink. Actually, almost every kind of alcohol can be used in the kitchen for cooking purposes. By adding alcohol, you will make pretty much any recipe even tastier.

Whether it is wine or a fine brandy, cooking sherry, or any other type of alcohol, it will bring a certain touch to the taste and will garnish your meal with a specific smell. There are no limits – it’s up to you to make the best that you can from your recipe.

Brandy is one of the most commonly used alcohols in cooking. Apart from being a popular drink, brandy brings a special taste to desserts, deglazing pans or sauces. But what if you don’t have any brandy to hand, is there something else that you can use?

And all of these substitutes will help you to save your recipe.

Make sure to read below details of what you can use as a brandy substitute if you are making a cake (including fruit cake).

Brandy Substitutes

Don’t worry if you don’t have any brandy in your kitchen, I’ll provide you with a list of substitutes that will bring out almost the same taste in your recipe.

If you do not want to use alcohol in your recipe, read the non-alcoholic list and choose what fits your recipe well. Alternatively, if you feel like using an alcoholic alternative, the other list will help you.

Here is the list of best brandy substitutes you can use for baking and cooking:

1. Whiskey


An alcoholic substitute that is very similar to brandy is whiskey. The texture and flavor of whiskey are a little different from brandy, but it will fit very well in your recipe. Also, whiskey may taste more alcoholic, but it will only make a slight difference, and the chances are that you won’t even notice it. Try using equal amounts if substituting.

2. Rum


This is a type of alcohol that actually will make your recipe even tastier. Rum is sweeter than any other alcohol, and definitely sweeter than brandy. But don’t worry because it won’t change anything in your recipe.

It will balance the taste and fit into the mixture. If you are replacing it just make sure to use equal amounts and add water if necessary, to reduce the sweetness.

3. Wine

Red Wine

Brandy is simply a wine that has been distilled, so wine will fit perfectly in your recipe. You can achieve a similar flavor with the wine and by using it, you will bring out the richness and strengthen the flavors of your recipe.

There are many types of wine, but whichever you choose you can’t really go wrong. Some wines are sweeter than others, and sometimes it may be necessary to add a splash of vinegar or lemon juice in order to balance the taste.

Red wines will contribute with denser and more complex flavors, but using white wine will maintain the original colors of the brandy.

4. Vodka


You can always add Vodka which is flavorless, odorless and colorless and therefore won’t affect the color in your recipe. You can add it when baking because it will help to improve the texture.

5. Gin


Gin is another option, with its crisp, herbal notes – just make sure it will work with your recipe before you add it. It is especially good to use with meats.

6. Bourbon


Bourbon is another alternative that will bring a slightly sweet flavor, whereas scotch will add an intriguing smokey twist to your recipe.

7. Brandy Extract

Well, if you want to keep the brandy flavor, then the brandy extract is the closest that you can get. It is commonly used, particularly in dessert recipes, to replace the aromatic and sweet notes that the brandy gives.

You can use one part extract with four parts of water and then add it to a sauce or marinade the same way as you’d use brandy.

8. Apple Juice

Apple juice

If you don’t want to use any alcohol-based substitutes, then apple juice will do the job. No need to dilute the juice, just use a few tablespoons, exactly the same as with brandy.

Just remember that you need to mix it with water for larger quantities. Apple juice will fit nicely in your recipe and, even though it doesn’t taste quite the same, it will bring out the same flavor as the brandy would.

9. White Grape Juice

Another juice that will do the job right is white grape juice. This is an all-purpose substitute in many recipes, especially the ones that involve pork or poultry.

Always use 100% juices to avoid adding sugars to your dish as this will sweeten it. Just use ½-1 tablespoon to brandy to substitute. Also, make sure to add 1 tablespoon of water to the mixture.

Substitute for brandy in cake and fruitcake

Brandy is commonly used in desserts as well. In almost every cake you can use 2 to 3 tablespoons of brandy extract which will have almost the same taste as using actual brandy. Also, another option is to use the same amount of bourbon or rum. Or, you can just simply add some apple juice.

A good fruitcake is nothing without a splash of brandy. But don’t panic if you don’t have any – you can always use grape juice as a good alternative. Another option is orange or apple juice – these will fit well in a light and colorful fruit cake.

Another option that will work if you decide to use something alcohol-free in your fruit cake is to soak the dried fruits overnight in a glass bowl. This way you’ll have natural juices and make your cake even tastier.

Related Questions:

What can I use instead of brandy in beef stroganoff?

A nice substitute for brandy in a beef stroganoff is sherry. This is a very fortified wine that will fit well in your recipe. Also, you can use whiskey, bourbon or rum – all of these are perfect alternatives and will make the stroganoff even tastier.

What does brandy do in baking?

When you use brandy in baking, it brings sweetness. Because it has a winey flavor, it will fit best when making gingerbread, chocolate cake or glazes.

Why is brandy used in cooking?

When you use alcohol in cooking it actually improves your food and brings out the aromas and flavors in your recipe. When you use brandy in a marinade it helps your meat and the seasoning mix up together. Also, when you are making sauces it makes your food smell very good and it tastes even better!

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