7 Best Substitutes for Sherry

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

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Finding substitutes for sherry in the kitchen is important, as this is a rather common cooking ingredient, but not one that everyone has around the house!

What is Sherry?

Sherry is a Spanish fortified wine, which is often enjoyed as an aperitif. It is often used in cooking sweet or savory dishes. There is a range of substitutes for sherry that can work in a recipe, according to your taste and desired effect.

Substitutes for Sherry

You may need to find a good substitute for sherry if you don’t have a bottle readily on hand, or if you are trying to avoid alcohol. Remember, cooking-grade sherry has a significant amount of salt added to it, so consider a quality dry sherry for lower sodium and added complexity.

Two large wine glasses filled with sherry

You can use different kinds of vinegar instead of sherry for cooking. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Non-Alcoholic Substitutes

  • Apple cider vinegar: Apple cider vinegar (ACV) can be used in equal measure and will impart the same amount of acidity and brightness to your dish.
  • Rice wine vinegar: Rice wine vinegar or red wine vinegar may have some of the flavors you seek. If you are following a total avoidance of alcohol, you may want to skip using different kinds of wine vinegar as they do still contain some level of alcohol.
  • Vanilla extract: Vanilla extract will give warmth and aroma to complementary recipes.
  • Orange juice: Orange juice and pineapple juice can both be used in equal measure for a citrus pop.
  • Peach and apricot juice: Experiment with peach and apricot juice as well! However, consider diluting this substitute with water if the nectar is too thick.

Alcoholic Substitutes

  • Dry or white red: One of the best substitutes for sherry is an equal measure of dry red or white wine, especially while making soups, stews, and marinades. Dry red or white wines are fine substitutes, and the character of any variety can influence your recipe with amazing acidity and depth. You can add a pinch or two of brown sugar since sherry is typically a slightly sweeter wine.
  • Fortified wine: Port, Marsala, and Madeira wines are all fortified wines, just like sherry, and can substitute in most recipes quite easily.

Word of Caution: Cooking with alcoholic beverages results in only some loss of alcohol content. Foods baked or simmered in alcohol can retain anywhere from 4 percent to 85 percent of the alcohol, according to a study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Nutrient Data lab.

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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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