Sherry is originally from Spain and is made of white grapes. It is a fortified wine meaning that it is made from fermented grapes and has additional distilled alcohol added to it.
In the supermarket, you can easily find drinking sherry and cooking sherry. And as their names suggest, drinking sherry is consumed as an alcoholic beverage while cooking sherry is used in the kitchen to add a nice flavor to various dishes.
The key difference between drinking sherry and cooking sherry is that cooking sherry has some amount of salt that serves as a preservative but makes it undrinkable.
However, what if you don’t have cooking sherry on hand? Can you substitute cooking sherry? If so, what can you use instead? Is there a good substitute?
Yes, you can substitute cooking sherry with drinking sherry, white wine, dry vermouth, brandy, Shaoxing cooking wine, Marsala wine, red wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, chicken stock, fruit juice, vanilla extract, or coffee syrup.
If you want to learn more about these substitutes, stay tuned.
Cooking Sherry Substitutes
If we look at how the sherry has been produced we can define dry sherry and sweet sherry. If we add the distilled alcohol during the fermentation we will get a sweeter wine called sweet sherry. However, in the case of dry sherry, the spirit is added just after the fermentation.
Sweet sherry is used mainly for dessert recipes like cakes, pies, and brownies. On the other hand, dry sherry is common in main dishes like crab casserole or stuffed potatoes.
Cooking sherry has a nutty and slightly sweet taste. It is often cheap and very easy to find in many stores. However, most recipes only call for a very small amount of cooking sherry, so if you only need it once you might not want to buy a whole bottle.
Luckily, you can easily substitute it with other ingredients. In the following section, you can learn about different ways to substitute cooking sherry in your favorite recipes.
1. Drinking Sherry
The easiest way to substitute cooking sherry is to just use drinking sherry instead. If you have a bottle of drinking sherry at home, do not hesitate to use it for cooking.
As I mentioned in the beginning, the only difference is that cooking sherry has some extra salt and preservatives. Therefore, when you use drinking sherry for cooking you can add some extra salt if you like.
It is a good substitute for any kind of recipe and you can use an equal amount. I suggest using dry sherry if you can.
2. White wine
White wine is also a very good choice to replace cooking sherry. It works well for many main courses, especially for deglazing the pan for chicken and seafood dishes.
You can use the same amount of white wine suggested in your recipe with cooking sherry. And again, you might want to add some extra salt to make the taste more similar to the original version. And the best is to use dry white wine like Semillon or Sauvignon Blanc.
3. Dry Vermouth
Dry Vermouth is also a fortified wine similar to cooking sherry. Its taste is a combination of slight bitterness and sweetness. It can be used in a 1:1 ratio as a cooking sherry substitute.
The result will be the same, you don’t even need to add any extra salt. It is just ideal for creamy soups, sauces, stews, and poultry.
Brandy is distilled from wine and has a sweet flavor with fruity hints. It is a good substitute for poultry, seafood, pork, and sauces. However, make sure to buy unflavored brandy to reduce the risk of unwanted flavors mingling with your dish.
Also, it is important to cook your dish longer as brandy has a higher alcohol content than sherry so it needs more time to evaporate. I also suggest using half amount than cooking sherry.
5. Shaoxing cooking wine
This cooking wine is a fermented rice wine from China with a vinegary, mildly, and spicy taste with hints of caramel. It is a great substitute for braises and sauces. Or to deglaze your pans.
This cooking wine has a very strong alcoholic taste. So, it is better to cook it longer. Also, use half the amount. If you can’t find Shaoxing cooking wine, you can also purchase Shaoxing drinking wine and you can balance the flavor of your dish with some extra salt.
6. Marsala wine
Marsala wine is an Italian fermented wine with a very similar sweet, nutty taste to cooking sherry. You can use this cooking sherry substitute for lobster bisque, different savory sauces, but also in dessert recipes like tiramisu and trifles.
When replacing sherry with this wine you don’t need to change anything in the original recipe. Just use the same amount in the same way.
7. Red wine vinegar
Red wine vinegar is another good substitute for cooking sherry with a fruity taste and low alcohol content. It is an ideal substitute for any meat dish.
When you use this substitute for cooking it is good to first dilute it with some water. Also, if you use it to replace cooking sherry you might want to decrease the amount to half. Thus, mix it with some water and then add it to your dish.
8. Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is a perfect choice if you are looking for a non-alcoholic substitute for cooking sherry. You can easily find apple cider vinegar in most places for a very low price.
It is suitable for many savory dishes such as sauces, marinades, stews, and soups. Just make sure to dilute it with water before using it. If your recipe calls for 1 cup of cooking sherry you can add 1/2 a cup of apple cider vinegar mixed with 1/2 a cup of water.
You can also add a bit of sugar for an enhanced flavor. But if your recipe only calls for a little bit of cooking sherry you can use the same amount of apple cider vinegar.
9. Chicken stock
If you want to cook something from chicken and you are looking for a non-alcoholic cooking sherry substitute you might consider using chicken stock.
It is great for chicken soup or a chicken with sherry sauce. You will need to add some lemon juice or vinegar too for acidity and maybe you will need some extra salt at the end.
10. Fruit juice
If you are making a dessert that requires cooking sherry the best non-alcoholic substitute could be a simple fruit juice. It works well for various cakes, muffins, and pies especially for the ones that contain fruits.
Depending on your preference, you can pick pineapple, peach, apricot, and peach juices. For best results, use freshly squeezed juices. If you find your juice too thick, you can dilute it with some water before using it.
11. Vanilla extract
Another great cooking sherry substitute for your dessert recipes can be vanilla extract. In most stores, you can easily find an alcoholic and non-alcoholic version of vanilla extract too.
You can use the same amount you would use from cooking sherry but you might need to compensate for the liquid part. For example, 1 tablespoon of cooking sherry can be replaced with 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract and 2 tablespoons of water.
12. Coffee syrup
Last but not least, the coffee syrup can also be a good idea if you are out of cooking sherry. Use it for dessert recipes, especially for those that include chocolate since coffee complements its flavor profile.
For example, it gives an excellent taste to brownies, tiramisus, and chocolate cakes. No need for any adjustments, just follow the instructions of your original recipe with cooking sherry.
Can I use rice vinegar instead of sherry?
Yes, you can. It is a great substitute for many cooked dishes.
Where is cooking sherry in the grocery store?
As cooking sherry is not suitable for drinking you won’t find it between alcoholic beverages. You can find it around the shelf of vinegar.
Is sherry and sherry vinegar the same thing?
No, they are different. Sherry is a fortified wine while sherry vinegar is fermented.