If you’re out of cooking sherry and can’t immediately buy a replacement, there are several cooking sherry substitutes that are readily available in your kitchen.
This article explores the dry and sweet sherry substitutes for cooking.
What Is Cooking Sherry?
Cooking sherry is a form of sherry that has been altered to make it conducive for cooking various dishes in the kitchen. Sherry itself is a fortified wine made from grapes, but cooking sherry has been treated with a range of additives, such as salt, which impacts both its flavor and its shelf life.
An average bottle of real sherry, which usually has stronger alcohol like brandy in it, can last for several years on the shelf. However, once you open it, it’s only good for ten days or so.
Cooking sherry might not have as robust a flavor as real sherry, but you can save a bottle in your cupboard for far longer after opening than traditional sherry.
Cooking sherry is very salty, so it doesn’t make for a good drink like real sherry. While the longer shelf life makes it appealing to practical home chefs, the salty flavor can be difficult to control in a recipe.
The good news is that whether you’re all out of it or you just don’t enjoy the taste it adds to a dish, there are several sherry alternatives. We also went ahead and looked for non-alcoholic substitutes in case you’re looking for an alternative to alcohol.
Top 5 Cooking Sherry Substitutes
You can use dry white wine, dry vermouth or white wine as substitutes for cooking sherry because they’ll provide similar taste and flavor as cooking sherry. Other sweet (non-dry) alternatives are Chicken stock and Fruit juice.
1. Dry White Wine
It’s not uncommon to use a dry white wine when cooking. The best kinds include Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, and Semillon. The most dedicated cooks will have a bottle of dry white in their pantry at all times, as many recipes call for its crisp flavor.
Dry whites are commonly used alongside chicken, pork, seafood, or even recipes involving mushrooms. They make a great addition to various sauces and marinades.
White wine is also a staple in many recipes because it helps you deglaze your pan. Deglazing is a critical cooking technique that releases brown bits of food that get stuck to the bottom of your pan. These bits are jam-packed with flavor and can really boost your sauce when you include them.
Dry white wine can help you accomplish this.
Overall, dry white wine makes an excellent substitute for cooking sherry. It’s crisp and flavorful without being too overpowering, and it can add a sweet, acidic boost to your dish.
2. Dry Vermouth
Not many amateur cooks know that you can use vermouth for more than just a good cocktail. This classic Manhattan ingredient also makes for a fabulous cooking agent and is a great alternative to cooking sherry in most recipes.
Vermouth is another kind of fortified wine, so it sits in the same category as sherry. More specifically, vermouth is an aromatized wine, which means that it has additional spices and herbs in it.
Dry vermouths, rather than sweet vermouths, have a more herbal flavor, which makes them great for cooking. You can substitute this ingredient in anywhere a recipe calls for white wine or cooking sherry.
Dry vermouth tends to hold a stronger flavor than average cooking wines, so it’s best to go easy at first and taste as you go. Start with a little less than what the recipe calls for and make your best judgment from there based on the flavor of your dish.
This alternative to cooking sherry is truly wonderful in fish dishes, but it’s a perfectly good component in chicken and pork dishes as well.
3. Chicken Stock
One of the most common non-alcoholic substitutes for cooking sherry is chicken stock. You can use chicken stock for so many things, and a ton of different recipes, so most experienced cooks have it in their kitchen at all times.
Not only can you use chicken stock for a classic chicken soup recipe, but it often serves as the base for sauces, stews, and marinades. It’s also perfect for deglazing when you don’t have sherry or wine on hand.
Many dishes that call for sherry – such as risotto, polenta, and marinara – can easily swap for chicken stock.
Not only is chicken stock non-alcoholic, but it tends to be less expensive as well. Plus, you can find it in many forms. You can buy chicken stock off the shelf at the grocery store, or you can keep a jar of bouillon on hand to whip it up in seconds. You can also make your own chicken stock, which is appealing to many serious chefs.
Chicken stock also comes in low-sodium options these days, making it healthier than cooking sherry. Many people also praise chicken stock for its beneficial qualities, such as boosting immunity, improving joint health, and increasing collagen production.
4. Apple Cider & Apple Cider Vinegar
You can use apple cider in any soup, stew, marinade, or sauce recipe that calls for cooking sherry. Likewise, apple cider vinegar can be an excellent replacement as well. In both cases, you will want to use a little less than the recipe calls for in cooking sherry, as the flavors are a bit bolder.
Apple cider vinegar has a stronger flavor profile than both cooking sherry and apple cider, so it’s best to start with half of what the recipe calls for. If it calls for a cup of cooking sherry, try half a cup of apple cider vinegar and go from there. You can simply use water to make up for the rest of it.
Many cooking experts consider apple cider vinegar the best non-alcoholic substitute for cooking sherry, so it’s a good idea to give this one a try. Its acidic properties allow you to use it for deglazing your pan, too.
Keep in mind that apple cider and apple cider vinegar work best for savory recipes. If you’re trying a sweet recipe, it will likely call for sweet cooking sherry. In this case, you can use apple cider, but you will have to add some sugar.
5. White Vinegar
Is there anything that regular white vinegar can’t do? It seems like the uses go on and on. You can use white vinegar in cleaning, cooking, and even as a remedy for an upset stomach. Plus, it’s great for making homemade pickles. It can also make a good replacement for cooking sherry.
The best part about using white vinegar is that it’s such a common household ingredient that you probably already have it in your pantry. However, the downside is that you can’t use it as a one-for-one substitute for sherry.
In order to white vinegar in a recipe, you have to combine it with water and sugar. For one cup of cooking sherry, try a half cup of vinegar plus a half cup of water and two tablespoons of sugar.
While white vinegar is highly common and convenient to use as a replacement, the flavor probably won’t be a perfect match. It’s pretty unlikely that anyone but you will notice the difference, and it can certainly help you create a tasty sauce or marinade.
Many culinary lovers prefer cooking to baking because you can easily tweak the recipe without ruining the dish. While baking is often a precise science, cooking is an art form that leaves lots of wiggle room.
This means creative, innovative chefs like you can easily swap out ingredients to mix up the flavor, make a dish healthier, or work as a quick fix for a missing component.
The ingredients above are some of the best options you can use as a cooking sherry substitute. They all provide the same general flavor profile, and many of them can be used in the same situations: deglazing, sauces, marinades, and more.
In case you’re looking to check out some more replacements, you can also look into these honorable mentions:
- Drinking Sherry
- Fruit Juice
- Vanilla Extract (watered down!)
- Chinese Cooking Wine
- Red Wines (for sweet cooking sherry)
Remember, cooking isn’t about perfection. It’s about making food that tastes great! So while you may not always have a fresh bottle of traditional sherry on hand to create bold flavors, you can always experiment with similar ingredients.
Grab a few ingredients from your pantry and one of these replacements off this list and get cooking.