What is a suitable substitute for cooking cherry?

First things first, what is cooking sherry? Cooking sherry is a grape wine that has been fortified with brandy. It has an alcohol content of 12 to 17 percent but they sell it as a food item in the United States.

Apple cider vinegar, vanilla extract, fruit juices, other wines, red wine vinegar, and drinking sherry are suitable substitutes for cooking sherry.

We will discuss these substitutes in detail in this article but first, let us talk about cooking sherry. The more you know about cooking sherry, the easier it will be to choose a suitable substitute.

There are many brands of cooking sherry in the market today, but they all have similar characteristics. Cooking sherry is golden yellow in color with a sweet aroma.

When used in dishes, it leaves a distinct sherry flavor in the dish. Cooking sherry adds a slightly sweet and nutty flavor to dishes.


Although cooking sherry has a high alcohol content, the alcohol evaporates when you cook your dish. Therefore, it is important that you let your dish cook for long enough so that the alcohol evaporates.

Cooking sherry has a very high sodium content. I personally do not use salt in my dish when I am using cooking sherry.

Manufacturers add a lot of salt to cooking sherry since it is a preservative. This explains why cooking sherry lasts for a long time without going bad.


Cooking sherry is a common culinary ingredient. I have come across several recipes that call for cooking sherry. Some of my favorites include; sherry mushrooms, slow-cooked pork, turkey gravy, and chicken and broccoli stir fry.

It is important to note that cooking sherry and drinking sherry are completely different.

Drinking sherry is a sweet dessert drink while cooking sherry is strictly made for culinary purposes. Although cooking sherry contains alcohol, you should not drink it because it may have adverse effects on your health.

What is cooking sherry? Click to learn

Cooking sherry substitutes


You may want to substitute cooking sherry for three main reasons. The first and most obvious one is that you ran out of cooking sherry and have no time to rush to the store reason.

The second reason is that you are trying to avoid using alcohol in your dish.  The third reason you can use a substitute is that you are reducing your salt intake.

Whatever the reason, there are six suitable substitutes for cooking sherry. We will discuss both non-alcoholic and alcoholic options. Here are six suitable substitutes for cooking sherry.

Can Sherry go bad? Click to learn

  1. Vanilla extract

Vanilla extract is one of the best substitutes for cooking sherry. You can use either alcoholic or non-alcoholic vanilla extract depending on your preference.

The vanilla extract gives the best results when you use it as a cooking sherry in sweet dishes since it complements the other ingredients.

To substitute cooking sherry with vanilla extract, you will have to compensate for the liquid part. Therefore, you should mix the vanilla extract with water before adding it to your dish.

To replace two tablespoons of cooking sherry that your recipe requires, mix two teaspoons of vanilla extract with four teaspoons of water and then add it to your dish.

Vanilla extract is readily available and you can purchase it in grocery stores. Most grocery stores only sell alcoholic vanilla extract.

If you only want to use non-alcoholic vanilla extract and your grocery store does not stock it, you can buy it at health food stores.

I always have a bottle of vanilla extract in my kitchen so it is one of my go-to vanilla extract substitutes.

  1. Apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is arguably the best substitute for cooking sherry. It is readily available and most people have it stocked in their kitchen since it is a common ingredient.

Just like vanilla extract, it is important that you dilute apple cider vinegar before adding it to your dish. Dilute this substitute with an equal amount of water. To enhance the flavor of your dish, consider adding one tablespoon of sugar to your dish.

If your recipe requires you to use one cup of cooking sherry, dilute half a cup of the vinegar with half a cup of water then add it to your dish.

Add one tablespoon of sugar to your dish to elevate the flavor. I recommend using this substitute in stews, soups, marinades, and sauces.

If your recipe only calls for a small amount of cooking sherry, you can substitute it with an equal amount of cider vinegar. For example, if your recipe requires you to use one tablespoon of cooking sherry, just use one tablespoon of cider vinegar instead.

  1. Fruit juices

You can use various fruit juices as substitutes for cooking sherry. Pineapple juice and orange juice are suitable alternatives in recipes that call for cooking sherry.

These juices work best when used in desserts and other baked goods especially those that contain fruits.

You can also use apricot juice and peach juice as alternatives to cooking sherry.  However, you may need to dilute the juices with water before use since they are naturally thick.

If you plan on substituting cooking sherry with one of these fruit juices, I highly recommend that you use fresh juices and not the store-bought ones. Store-bought juices may not give you desirable results.

Substitute cooking sherry with fruit juices in equal amounts. For example, if a recipe calls for two tablespoons of cooking sherry, use tablespoons of either orange juice, pineapple juice, apricot juice, or peach juice. Remember to always dilute the juices with water if they are too thick.

  1. Other wines

You can use other wines as cooking sherry alternatives. Dry red wine and dry white wine work perfectly in most dishes that call for cooking sherry.

Other wines that give good results include Marsala wine, Port wine, and Madiera.

Substitute cooking sherry with either dry red wine, dry white wine, Marsala wine, Port wine, or Madiera in equal amounts.

For example, if a recipe requires you to use one cup of cooking sherry, use any of the above-mentioned wines. Any unflavored brandy is also a suitable alternative for cooking sherry.


Dry vermouth is also a good cooking sherry substitute. It is a great addition to almost every recipe that calls for cooking sherry.

I suggest using these substitutes when making sauces, stews, creamy soups, or poultry dishes.

The substitute complements these dishes perfectly. You will definitely love how your dishes will turn out.

  1. Red wine vinegar/ champagne wine vinegar

Red wine vinegar/ champagne wine vinegar can also be used as a substitute for cooking sherry in a few recipes.

Red wine vinegar is more concentrated compared to cooking sherry. To counter this, you may either dilute it to make it less concentrated or use it in small amounts. Alternatively, you can just mix a small amount of vinegar with chicken broth then add the mixture to your dish.

If your recipe requires to use of one cup of cooking sherry, simply mix two tablespoons of vinegar with a cup of chicken broth then add it to your dish.

Alternatively, just dilute two tablespoons of red wine vinegar or champagne wine vinegar in a cup of water then add it to your dish.

This substitute works well in savory dishes including soups and stews. It complements the ingredients used in savory dishes and enhances the flavor.

If you are making a dessert or any other baked goods, I suggest using one of the other recipes.

  1. Drinking sherry

Drinking sherry is another good substitute for cooking sherry. Personally, I find the flavor of drinking sherry more superior compared to that of cooking sherry.

A lot of people prefer using drinking sherry instead of cooking sherry because unlike cooking sherry, it does not have a high sodium content.

Manufacturers add a lot of salt to cooking sherry since the salt acts as a preservative hence the long shelf-life of cooking sherry.

You may need to add salt to your dish when using drinking sherry as a substitute in order to achieve the flavor that cooking sherry gives you.

Drinking sherry is readily available and some brands are even cheaper compared to cooking sherry.

Cheap drinking sherry will still give you amazing results so there is no need for you to buy the expensive one if you want to use it as a cooking sherry substitute.

Also, Check out: What is a suitable Worcestershire Sauce Substitute?



All the substitutes we have discussed above work well when used as alternatives to cooking sherry.

My favorite substitute for cooking sherry is apple cider vinegar because it is easy to use and works well in most recipes that call for cooking sherry.

Other wines are also my go-to substitutes since I have several bottles in stock. Fresh fruit juices work perfectly in baked goods and desserts. Drinking sherry also works well in most recipes.

Whatever substitute you choose to use, it is essential that it complements the flavor of the dish you are making so keep this in mind when choosing your substitute.

Try using any of these amazing cooking sherry substitutes and let me know the results.

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