Alcohol Substitutes

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Alcohol Substitutes. Photo © Erin Huffstetler

Trying to avoid alcohol, don't have what you need on hand or just want to save some cash? Scan this list of alcohol substitutes for a suitable stand in. You'll find both alcoholic and non-alcoholic options:

Amaretto - almond extract (alcoholic or non-alcoholic). Use 1/2 teaspoon extract for every 2 Tablespoons of Amaretto called for

Beer - For light beer: chicken broth, white grape juice or ginger ale.

For dark beer: beef broth or mushroom stock. Non-alcoholic beer can also be used. When the beer is being used as a meat tenderizer, substitute root beer or cola.

Bourbon - vanilla extract (alcoholic or non-alcoholic) and water. Use one part vanilla and two parts water. Other liquors that will work: Scotch, Cognac

Brandy - apple juice, apple cider or white grape juice. If the recipe calls for a particular type of fruit brandy (ex. apricot), try to use the same type of juice

Champagne - ginger ale, sparking white grape juice or sparkling apple cider

Coffee Liqueur - espresso or strong coffee, coffee extract, coffee syrup or instant coffee (mix 1 teaspoon of coffee granules with 2 Tablespoons of water to replace 2 Tablespoons of liqueur). If you have chocolate extract or cocoa on hand, add a small amount to round out the flavor

Cognac - peach, pear or apricot juice. Other liquors that will work: other brandies, Scotch or whiskey

Creme de Menthe - spearmint extract (alcoholic or non-alcoholic). Other mint extracts can also be used, as can mint coffee syrup or soda syrup

Curacao - orange juice concentrate. Other liquors that will work: Triple Sec, Grand Marnier

Frangelico - hazelnut or almond extract. Use 1/2 teaspoon extract for every 2 Tablespoons called for.

Other liquors that will work: Amaretto

Grand Marnier/Orange Liqueur - orange juice concentrate, orange extract (alcoholic or non-alcoholic). Use 1/2 teaspoon extract for every 2 Tablespoons of liqueur. Other liquors that will work: Triple Sec, Curacao

Hard cider - apple cider, apple juice or sparkling apple juice

Kahlua - espresso or strong coffee, instant coffee granules – use 1 teaspoon of granules diluted in 2 Tablespoons of water to replace 2 Tablespoons, coffee extract or coffee syrup. Add a bit of powdered cocoa of coffee extract to whatever you use

Kirsch - syrup or juice from cherries, raspberries or boysenberries

Port - Concord grape juice or grape juice concentrate. Use orange or apple juice for light ports

Red Wine - beef broth, red grape juice or unsweetened cranberry juice

Rum - Replace 2 Tablespoons of rum with 1/2 - 1 teaspoon of rum extract (alcoholic), or mix white grape juice, pineapple juice, apple juice, apple cider or water with a small amount of almond extract. For dark rum, mix molasses and juice together; then, add a bit of almond extract. Other liquors that will work: bourbon

Sake - rice vinegar

Schnapps - Use the same flavored extract – peppermint, peach, etc. (alcoholic or non-alcoholic).

Juice can also be substituted.

Scotch - vanilla extract (alcoholic or non-alcoholic) and water. Use one part vanilla and two parts water to replace the Scotch called for, Other liquors that will work: bourbon

Sherry - orange, pineapple juice or apple juice. A teaspoon of vanilla can also be used in place of a Tablespoon of sherry

Tequila - Agave juice

Triple Sec - orange juice concentrate, orange extract (1/2 teaspoon per 2 Tablespoons) or orange zest. Other liquors that will work: Curacao, Grand Marnier

Vermouth - Dry vermouth substitutes: white grape juice, white wine vinegar or non-alcoholic white wine. Sweet vermouth substitutes: apple or grape juice, balsamic vinegar or non-alcoholic sweet wine. If alcohol is an option, use a sweet white wine (like a riesling)

Vodka - Replace small amounts with water.

There are no good non-alcoholic substitutes for large amounts of vodka

Whiskey - Omit it, if it's a small amount. There are no good substitutes for large amounts.

White Wine - chicken broth, apple juice, apple cider, white grape juice, ginger ale or water (for small amounts)

How to Choose the Right Substitute:

To keep your recipe as close to the original as possible, consider what function the alcohol serves in the recipe ...

  • If it's being used as a meat tenderizer or marinade, choose soda, sparkling juice, an acidic fruit juice or vinegar as a replacement
  • If it's being used for flavor, choose the substitute with the closest flavor match
  • If it's being used for its yeast content (i.e. to make bread rise), in an alcoholic beverage or to make flambe, you'll need to choose a different recipe, as there are no suitable substitutes

Looking for non-alcoholic extracts?

They're a cinch to make. Here's a recipe for non-alcoholic vanilla extract. For all other extracts, follow these instructions.