Substituting for Wine

By Carolyn Shearlock © 2012 • all rights reserved

Ten substitutes for that recipe

No, no . . . I’m not talking about having a margarita instead!

I’m talking about substituting for wine in cooking — basically as an ingredient in a recipe. It may be that you don’t have any, you don’t want to open a bottle, or you just don’t drink alcohol or use it in cooking.  But the recipe looks good . .  .

For example, tonight I’m making pan-seared chicken breasts with a tarragon sauce.  But the recipe calls for 1/4 cup white wine and I don’t have any.

Luckily, I know of number of substitutions that will work.  There isn’t one perfect substitution for all recipes.  Instead, think about which of these would be best considering the other ingredients:

  • grape juice (same color as the wine specified)
  • apple juice for white wine; sometimes will work for red
  • cranberry juice often works for red wine
  • beer (generally, the milder the better — if using a dark beer, think about the flavor!)
  • chicken or beef broth (you’ll need to decrease the amount of salt in the recipe)
  • red wine vinegar for red wine (you may want to dilute it)
  • rice vinegar or white vinegar for white wine (again, you may wish to dilute it)
  • dilute lemon or lime juice (generally, about 1/4 juice and 3/4 water works well)
  • liquid drained from canned veggies (particularly mushrooms), often with a slight bit of lemon or lime juice or vinegar for tartness
  • water

For the recipe I’m making — and with what I’ve got on hand — I’ll use a bit of chicken broth (made from bouillon powder) and a squeeze of lime juice.

UPDATE later that evening: Yum!  Tasted great!

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  1. Diane Dashevsky says:

    I WANT that chicken recipe, Carolyn…sounds yummy!

    BTW – for one of our “Tapas Nights” on our annual summer cruise on the Bay, I made the Philly Cheesesteak Egg Rolls like we had at the Annapolis get-together…they were a BIG hit! Also made them another evening for a birthday party at the marina but made bitty ones with wonton wrappers…another BIG hit!!

  2. Thank you, Carolyn!

  3. Forget the wine, just have a few rums before hand and you can’t tell the difference.

  4. spoken like a true resident of the caribbean, Annual Salvador Rally!

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