How to swap alcohol in recipes


| Tips & Tricks | Easy guide to swapping alcohol in recipes

Easy guide to swapping alcohol in recipes


Kiwi drinking habits might be changing for the better. The alcohol-free movement is definitely gaining traction. So, if you’re avoiding the fizz, we’re here to help you swap alcohol out in your dinner recipes.

With cooking there are a number of elements to consider: taste, smell, texture and colour. All activate our senses and turn the concept of eating into a dopamine-driven experience. Certain ingredients are added to a dish to evoke all the senses, and others are added to highlight one element rather than the other – for example, texture is added by the inclusion of water chestnuts in a spring roll, or noodles in a salad.

So what element does alcohol play in the cooking process and is it required?

It is always worth looking at the dish as a whole and considering if the alcohol recommended will actually provide more flavour to the end result.

Marinating diced beef for a casserole in a bottle of grunty Bordeaux will definitely bring a key flavour to the dish. As will burning off the alcohol from brandy or Grand Marnier to a pan of sautéed liver for pâté. A few tablespoons of wine in a risotto or pasta dish, however, is not a necessity for the final flavour.

How can I substitute alcohol in a dish?

You can swap some alcohols for non-alcoholic options and still get a great result, so we’ve compiled a rundown as a helpful guide.

For marinades:

Choose sparkling juice, acidic fruit juice or vinegar as a replacement to help tenderise.

For added flavour, check out our list below for the best match:

  • Beer: Non-alcoholic beer is the closest option, or;
    • Light beer – a light chicken stock or white grape juice.
    • Dark beer – a beef stock or a mushroom stock.
  • Bourbon: One part vanilla essence + two parts water.
  • Brandy: Apple juice is a great substitute here.
  • Cider: Apple juice works well.
  • Cognac: Peach or apricot juice (from the tinned fruit) works well.
  • Port: Concentrated grape juice is best here.
  • Red wine: Beef stock, red grape juice work best.
  • Sake: rice vinegar + a pinch of sugar works well.
  • Triple Sec, Grand Marnier: orange juice for that orange hit.
  • Whiskey: it's best to omit it as nothing is a suitable substitute.
  • White wine: chicken broth, apple juice or even water in small amounts.

Posted by Beef + Lamb New Zealand