13 Excellent Substitutes for White Wine in Cooking
You have no wine at hand. You’re making a menu that has to be kid-friendly. You’re preparing a recipe that asks for white wine but don’t want to open a bottle just for that. You want to avoid alcohol for a while. All these reasons are valid for being in need of a white wine substitute!
when used in cooking, the white wine is left to simmer until it reduces its alcoholic punch, simply adding a dash of acidity and a hint of caramel sweetness. It’s chemistry, baby! There’s nothing like a splash of it over a seared steak, nothing quite like it in your favorite risotto. So what do you do when, for whatever reason, you can’t use white wine? What can you replace it with?
White wine: that special something in your recipe
White wine is a jack of all trades in the kitchen. When it comes to cooking, white wine is used to enrich food.
- A glass of white wine completes creams, sauces, and soups, making them richer in flavor.
- A splash of white wine cuts through rich or fatty dishes.
- Drizzling some white wine onto fish, meats, seafood, or even veggies can bring zest, acidity, and freshness.
- Use a little white wine before browning a juicy steak and to deglaze all the good stuff coating the pan.
Yes, white wine is amazing before we eat, during the meal, paired up with our food, and in the dish itself. But how can we replace white wine in recipes?
Best Substitutes for White Wine in Cooking
Yes, white wine is a must-have in many recipes. For example, it’s mentioned in pasta dishes, seafood recipes, for cooking steaks or sauces, and in preparing risotto. Here is how to substitute white wine in 13 incredible, imaginative, delicious ways.
1. Red Wine
A bold white wine replacement, that’s for sure! Red wine is made using the same fermenting process, yes, but it will alter the taste and the color of the dish. Still, it does come pretty close to its sibling.
Red wine has a bold, intense bouquet and is ideal for anything meaty (beef, lamb, duck, pork, or rabbit). But it will also do in shrimp dishes and soups—if you don’t mind the pinkish hue.
There’s plenty of alcohol in vermouth. And plenty of flavor, too. While you wouldn’t have thought so, this dry drink is one of the best substitutes for white wine. It actually comes very close to white wine, especially in meat and pasta recipes.
We recommend you go for the extra dry vermouth, not the fruity, sweet one that resembles Marsala wine. That’s because sweet vermouth will alter the flavor profile of the dish you’re preparing.
Use vermouth only if the recipe calls for ¼ glass of white wine or less. More than this amount will make the food too boozy. Use a 1:1 ratio.
3. Apple Juice
You wouldn’t think of this, we’re pretty sure! But apple juice can be a great white wine substitute in cooking. Yes, in dishes for both children and adults!
Apple juice is particularly similar to white wine in cooking if the recipe asks for a sweet wine. A Riesling or a Sauternes, a white Port, or a sweet Moscato can easily be replaced with apple juice. For an extra kick and some tanginess, splash a little lemon juice or vinegar onto the cooking food as well.
4. Chicken Broth
So you were going to make your signature dish and discovered you have no white wine. The horror! If the recipe calls for adding some white wine to the sauce, chicken broth will add depth and complexity in terms of flavor.
It will not replace the floral-fruity bouquet and the acidity that wine has, but it can work.
FYI: Chicken broth is a great substitute for white wine in shrimp, scampi or any seafood dish, for that matter. If you squeeze some lemon juice in there too, you’re all set. Yum!
5. Vegetable Stock
Meat broths are amazing as substitutes for white wine. But if you’re a vegetarian or simply have veggie stock at hand, it will do, too. Any soup, stew, sauce, or pasta dish will become richer and tastier using vegetable stock in place of the alcoholic beverage.
6. White Wine Vinegar
Is it ok to use white wine vinegar instead of white wine? While you’d think the fermented version of wine would be too tangy, tart, or acidic, it can work wonders!
White wine vinegar is a great dry white wine substitute, especially in small amounts. For deglazing a pan or for marinating meat, go for a splash of white wine vinegar. If the recipe requires a larger amount of wine, mix the vinegar with some water or broth to dilute its sourness and sharpness.
7. White Grape Juice
What to use instead of white wine if you’re looking to make a kid-friendly recipe? Unfermented, non-alcoholic grape juice can easily replace the booze. It will lend the food a sweeter taste, and you must be wary when using it in savory dishes.
Our suggestion: Use it to make a fabulous reduction for your meats! Start with a ¼ ratio and go from there. It’s even better if you add a little water and a dash of lemon juice for an extra kick.
8. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar has a milder acidity compared to other types of vinegars. It has a mild sweetness to it and a complex bouquet in terms of flavor. And it’s not pungent, nor does it burn the tongue.
Apple cider vinegar makes one of the best alternatives for white wine, especially for deglazing pans after sealing in meats and fish (salmon and apple cider vinegar are a match made in foodie heaven!). You can replace white wine with this type of vinegar in a 1:1 ratio, although it might boast the acidity and tanginess.
9. Ginger Ale
Yes, we know what you’re thinking! Ginger ale is spicy and peppery, how could it be a white wine alternative? Well, its dryness works, especially if the recipe calls for a sweet wine.
Anything with bacon and pork works perfectly with ginger ale since its spiciness and acidity will cut right through the fatty, rich meat. If the recipe asks for a dry wine, mix the ale with a dash of lemon juice or vinegar. You can use it in a 1:1 ratio.
10. Lemon Juice or Lime Juice
If you’re looking for a white wine substitute for pasta with seafood or shrimp, this is the one for you. Lemon juice can also be used to deglaze your pan and gather all the bits of crusty meat and fat stuck to the surface.
Our suggestion: Dilute lemon juice with an equal amount of water if you don’t want a citrus taste in the dish.
While you’d think there’s no way fermented wine and fermented cereal can taste the same, beer is a good white wine sub. Beer will add a richer, earthy flavor, a caramel, sweet aroma, or a fresh, acidic taste, depending on the type you’re using. And when it reduces during the cooking process, beer will enrich sauces, soups, stews, and meats.
12. Canned Mushroom Liquid
A tasty, rich, aromatic non-alcoholic substitute for white wine: canned mushroom liquid. The liquid is quite flavorsome and adds an earthy aroma to the food. It will make it rich and deep in flavor, and it is suitable for vegetarian and vegan recipes that require no alcohol.
And if you want a dash of freshness and a sour vibe, you know the trick already: a little vinegar or citrus squeeze.
13. Plain Ol’ Water
Water is a fabulous sub for white wine when you want to cut back on alcoholic drinks or when you don’t have any of the aforementioned options at hand. If the cupboard and the minibar are empty, you can deglaze the pan and add extra liquid to your sauce with a dash of water. It won’t pack a punch, nor will it have any flavor, but you can’t have everything, now can you?
Sometimes only white wine will do. Or so you’d think! But there are so many amazing, rich, tasty, and flavorsome substitutes for white wine in your dishes. So, the next time you only have one glass of wine and you don’t know if you should drink it or cook with it, choose an alternative. Relax, pour that glass, and enjoy a mouthful of your favorite food. Any of these substitutes can make it work.