Alcohol Substitutes for Every Recipe

Bottles of Alcohol
••• Bottles of Alcohol. TS Photography/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images  

Cooking for someone who can't consume alcohol, out of what you need or just trying 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 one-half teaspoon extract for every two 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. More about substituting beer.

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 one teaspoon of coffee granules with two tablespoons of water to replace two 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 one-half teaspoon extract for every two tablespoons called for. Other liquors that will work: Amaretto

Grand Marnier/Orange Liqueur - orange juice concentrate, orange extract (alcoholic or non-alcoholic). Use one-half teaspoon extract for every two 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 one teaspoon of granules diluted in two tablespoons of water to replace two 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 two tablespoons of rum with one-half to one 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 (one-half teaspoon per two 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 Alcohol 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, your best best is to choose a different recipe, since there aren't really suitable substitutes for those situations

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.