What is a Suitable Vermouth Substitute?

If you are reading this, you have probably come across one or several recipes that call for vermouth.

What is vermouth? Vermouth is a type of fortified wine. It is flavored with spices and herbs. Some of the spices and herbs infused in vermouth include; cinnamon, cardamom, chamomile, marjoram, cloves, citrus peel, and ginger. Some varieties also contain coriander.

There are two main varieties; the dry vermouth, and the sweet vermouth. Vermouth is commonly used in desserts and cocktails. It is also used in martinis. Alternatively, you can just drink it as it is. Just pour it over some ice cubes and enjoy.

Vermouth is also commonly used as an ingredient in cooking. It is a great addition to seafood and meat marinades. It is also used in soups, sauces, and stews.

I personally like using vermouth in fish dishes because of how it elevates the flavor of the dish. I have also used it in marinades and sauces a couple of times and I have always been impressed because it gives them that extra kick.

You may want to substitute vermouth with something else for several reasons. Maybe you just ran out and you have no time to rush to the store and get more, or you just want to try something new, or you want something non-alcoholic. Whatever the reason, you are in luck.

There are several ingredients that are suitable vermouth substitute. In fact, you may even be spoilt for choice.

White wine, grape juice, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, wine vinegar, and sake are suitable vermouth substitutes. In case you do not have any of them on hand, you can use dry sherry, non-alcoholic white wine, apple juice, or chicken broth mixed with lemon juice. These vermouth substitutes will give you excellent results.

Without wasting any time, let us delve into the details of these amazing vermouth substitutes.

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Vermouth substitutes

  1. White wine

White wine is one of the best vermouth substitutes. You can use white wine to substitute both dry vermouth and sweet vermouth. However, my personal opinion is that white wine works best as a substitute for dry vermouth.

Manufacturers produce white wine by fermenting the non-colored grape pulp. You can use white wine in sauces, stews, risottos, and seafood dishes. You can also use white wine to tenderize meat. If you are making a martini and have no vermouth on hand, you can use white wine instead.

Since wine contains alcohol, you may have to simmer or bake your dish for a longer time so as to reduce the alcohol content in your dish.

Substitute dry vermouth with white wine in equal amounts. For example, if a recipe requires you to use one cup of dry vermouth, use one cup of dry white wine instead.

Also, Check out Lillet Blanc Substitutes. Here.

  1. Grape Juice

Grape juice is another good substitute for vermouth. Just like white wine, grape juice can substitute both dry and sweet vermouth. Grape juice has a sweeter flavor compared to both dry vermouth and sweet vermouth, so you should keep this in mind when using it as a substitute.

There are two main varieties of grape juice in the market. There is the white grape juice that does not have any sweeteners and there is the normal grape juice that is usually very sweet.

The white grape juice works best when you use it as a substitute for dry vermouth. On the other hand, normal grape juice works best when used as a substitute for sweet vermouth.

In case you find the grape juice too sweet, you can sprinkle a little bit of salt to your dish to tone down the sweetness. Alternatively, you can add some more spices to your dish. The spices will tone down the sweet flavor.

For every cup of vermouth that your recipe requires, use ½ cup of white grape juice when substituting dry vermouth and ½ cup of normal grape juice when substituting sweet vermouth.

  1. Lemon juice

Most recipes that call for vermouth usually aim at adding a little bit of acidity to a dish. Lemon juice has a certain level of acidity that makes it a good vermouth substitute. I recommend using fresh lemon juice in your recipes as opposed to the store-bought ones.

Do not use lime juice because it is much stronger compared to lemon juice. Most recipes that call for vermouth cannot handle the acidity of lime juice.

Lemon juice has a relatively strong flavor. Therefore, a little bit of lemon juice goes a long way. You may have to use only half of what your recipe requires for the best results.

I recommend adding little by little to your dish as you taste and build up to the flavor you want instead of adding it all at once. This way, you can gradually increase the amount until you get the flavor you are going for.

Substitute every cup of vermouth that your recipe calls for with ½ cup of lemon juice.

  1. Balsamic vinegar

Just like lemon juice, balsamic vinegar mimics the acidic flavor of vermouth. The origin of balsamic vinegar can be traced back to Italy.

Balsamic vinegar is usually dark brown in color. Its flavor is fruity which makes it a perfect substitute for sweet vermouth.

The only downside with balsamic vinegar is that it is very expensive compared to the other substitutes. However, if money is not an issue, I recommend using it in recipes that call for sweet vermouth.

You can use balsamic vinegar in pasta, dips, risottos, vegetable dishes, and steaks. Your dishes will turn out amazing. You can also use balsamic vinegar in marinades, salad dressings, and sauces.

To substitute vermouth with balsamic vinegar, use 1/3 cup of balsamic vinegar mixed with 2/3 cup of water for every cup of vermouth that your recipe requires.

  1. Wine vinegar

Wine vinegar is also a good vermouth substitute. Manufacturers make it by fermenting ethanol with acetic acid bacteria. You end up with wine vinegar which is basically a mixture of water and acetic acid.

Just like balsamic vinegar and lemon juice, wine vinegar is acidic.  It perfectly mimics the acidity that vermouth adds to dishes.  The flavor of white wine vinegar is quite similar to that of dry vermouth. Therefore, you can use it in any recipe that requires you to use dry vermouth.

Red wine vinegar is also a good vermouth substitute. You can use it instead of dry vermouth. However, red wine vinegar has a tendency to discolor light dishes. Only use red wine vinegar in your dish if you are sure the color won’t bother you or your family.

Red wine vinegar works best in marinades, sauces, stews, and vinaigrettes. Use wine vinegar in these recipes for the best results.

  1. Sake

Sake is a Japanese alcoholic beverage. It is made from fermented rice. Sake is brewed the same way beer is usually brewed.  The starch in the rice is first converted to sugar and the sugar is then fermented to form sake.

Sake is the best substitute for vermouth when you are making a martini. The best way to do this is by mixing one part sake with three parts gin. You can also use sake as an alternative to vermouth in desserts, seafood, chicken, pork, and also cocktails.

When using sake instead of vermouth, I suggest letting your food simmer for some time. This way, the sake will enhance the flavor of your dish more.

You can substitute vermouth with sake in equal amounts. If a recipe calls for one cup of vermouth, use one cup of sake instead.

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Other Substitutes

Other substitutes that you can use as alternatives to vermouth include; dry sherry, non-alcoholic white wine, apple juice, and chicken broth mixed with lemon juice.

These substitutes are not my go-to substitutes but they will give you good results when you have no other option.


Vermouth is one of those ingredients that you can easily substitute mostly because you can easily replicate its flavor in dishes.

Most of the time, I substitute vermouth with dry white wine because I always have some in stock and I have never been disappointed with the results that I get.

Grape juice comes second on my list. I like using grape juice to substitute sweet vermouth because of its sweet flavor. I am a sweet tooth, so I have never had a reason to tone down the sweetness.

The good thing with grape juice is that you can always sprinkle some salt in your dish if its too sweet for your liking.

I sometimes use lemon juice or wine vinegar as an alternative to vermouth when I simply want to add acidity to a dish. It complements seafood perfectly.

Balsamic vinegar is the perfect addition to marinades and salad dressings. I only use it occasionally because of how expensive.

Sake is another of my favorite substitutes because of how it effortlessly elevates the flavor of any dish it is substituting.

All the substitutes we have discussed above will give you good results. Just choose the one that you prefer. Let me know how your dishes will turn out.

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