7 Best Sake Substitutes

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

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Sake is a traditional Japanese rice wine made by fermenting polished rice bran. It is typically around 15% ABV and is a popular drink to pair with meals. Sake is also a famous ingredient in many recipes, as it both tenderizes meat and adds a subtle depth of flavor. However, if you can’t find sake in your area, there are many ingredients that can make up for amazing sake substitutes.

Sake Substitutes

Mirin, Sweet Sherry, or Chinese Shaoxing Wine

They are all good substitutes if the recipe calls for only a small amount of sake, such as 1-2 tbsp. However, adding more than that may change the flavor of the recipe entirely.

Rice Wine Vinegar

For larger amounts, many people prefer to use rice wine vinegar, although much of the sweetness of the sake will be lost.

White Grape Juice

To keep the tenderizing quality of sake, a combination of white grape juice and lemon zest can be used. This mixture can maintain the acidity levels while mimicking many of sake’s original flavors.

A bottle of rice wine and two pebbles on a table

A sleeping bottle of rice wine with a couple of pebbles Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Dashi Stock or Soy Sauce

Mixing a pinch of either Dashi stock or soy sauce with white grape juice will give a bit of umami to a recipe, and not take over the sweetness of the juice. This is a good non-alcoholic substitute of sake.

Note: Dashi stock and soy sauce are not recommended as substitutes by themselves, as their bold earthiness may overwhelm a recipe.

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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