The Best Brandy Substitute For Your Cooking Or Baking

Brandy is a versatile liquor. It’s great for a drink and just about as good as a cooking ingredient. When used as a cooking ingredient, brandy won’t get you tipsy but it will add a unique and wonderful flavor to the food. That unique flavor is why finding a brandy substitute can be a challenge.

Concerned about alcohol? Don’t be. As anyone who’s cooked with brandy knows, there won’t be alcohol in your recipe once it’s done. The alcohol evaporates during the cooking (or baking) leaving behind the flavor of brandy. 

Brandy substitutes

Of course, there are some exceptions where the dish still has alcohol. Flaming desserts are a fine example of this. Alcohol is necessary for these recipes so that there’s a flame.

There can be any number of reasons why you don’t want to (or can’t) use brandy. That might require looking for a substitute. Well, let’s get started and look at some substitutes, including non-alcoholic ones.

Brandy Substitutes To Look At

1. Whiskey

Whiskey is an interesting choice. It has a different taste and texture compared to brandy and will add a stronger flavor. Yet, the result will closely resemble what brandy has to offer and the stronger flavor might actually be a welcome change!

Whiskey can replace brandy in an equal ratio. So, if the recipe called for three spoons of brandy, three spoons of whiskey it is.

2. Bourbon

Putting in bourbon right here with whiskey makes perfect sense. After all, bourbon is a type of whiskey, except it’s distilled from at least 51% corn and is made in the USA. When used in cooking, its result is slightly different from whiskey (and brandy). You get an earthy and slightly sweet result.

Bourbon is versatile and works great with meat, eggs, dairy, and marinades. Use it in the same quantity as brandy.

3. Wine

The manufacture of brandy involves distilling wine. Therefore, wine has the potential to be a good substitute. However, just pouring any wine won’t work. Try wines like dry sherry, tawdry port, or marsala for an effect that’s close enough to the original.

Some wines are sweeter, so they’ll need to be balanced out with a touch of vinegar or lemon juice. Using red wine can work, but it will change the color of the food while bringing different flavors into the mix. White wines can have a similar effect, but they won’t affect the original color you’d get when using brandy.

Read moer: 12 Red Wine Substitutes for Cooking

4. Gin

Gin has the qualities to be a good substitute for brandy in cooking. Though keep its herbal and crisp notes in mind, because they won’t work well with all recipes. Gin will do wonders with meat, not so much with desserts.

5. Rum

person poring cocktail on clear drinking glass

Rum is a popular choice not just for drinks, but also for various dishes. It brings a sweetness to dishes along with its complex flavor notes. The extra sweetness won’t really be a problem when using rum for substitution. It will also change the flavors slightly and that’s acceptable too. 

6. Vodka

Though flavorless and colorless, vodka can contribute to the texture of a dish. Use it when you don’t have brandy but don’t want any additional flavoring either. Its use will help the texture of baked goods. Vodka can perhaps go with desserts too. But, if the flavor of brandy is on your mind, vodka just won’t do.

7. Peppermint Schnapps

This is a rather unorthodox choice, but Peppermint Schnapps can be an excellent choice for some dishes. Keep in mind, this will change the flavor of the food you’re cooking and take it beyond what brandy offers. 

It adds the very distinct taste of peppermint. Peppermint Schnapps has a very low alcohol content, so it might affect the texture as well.

Quick Non-Alcoholic Brandy Substitutes

1. Brandy Extract

Can’t use brandy but want the same flavor? Brandy Extract will do the trick for you. Keep in mind, the extract is going to be much stronger than brandy itself, so dilute it with water. 

In most cases, it’s best to use one part of brandy extract with four parts of water. For example, if there’s a recipe that calls for five spoons of brandy, use one spoon of extract and four spoons of water.

Brandy extract is amazing for baked goods and can work the same with marinades as well. The best part is that it maintains the unique flavor and aroma you want from brandy.

Do note, while I list brandy extract as a non-alcoholic option, some products include alcohol as well. If you must avoid alcohol in cooking, take a good look at the ingredients first. Alternatively, use the other substitutes listed here.

2. Apple Juice (Or Other Fruit Juices)

The fruitiness that brandy brings to dishes can be recreated through the use of fruit juices. Apple juice fits perfectly and will bring about a nice taste and flavor. If a recipe calls for small quantities, use it in a 1:1 ratio with brandy. However, if larger amounts are necessary, dilute apple juice with water so that the sweetness doesn’t overwhelm the flavor.

Other fruit juices are useful too. White grape juice works almost as well as apple juice. If you’re in a mood to experiment, try other juices too. When taking this route, remember the effect on color and taste your choice of juice will bring.

3. Water

clean clear cold drink

Wait, what? Obviously not an ideal choice, but it’s one you can use in a real pinch. There’s no flavor here, so its use in cooking as a replacement for brandy is rather limited. Best case scenario, use water where brandy brings moisture to the meals.

Learn more: Grand Marnier Substitutes That Make The Right Fit

More About Brandy In Cooking And Some FAQs

What Can You Substitute For Brandy In Baking?

The best choices that substitute brandy in baking are bourbon and rum. Both these options bring sweetness to the dish, but the flavors are slightly different than the original.

It’s possible to substitute either of these for equal amounts of brandy. Apple juice works too, but it’s not the right choice for flaming desserts.

What Does Brandy Taste Like?

Making brandy involves fermenting fruit juice, which is then aged in oak casks or barrels. So, the taste of brandy will depend on the fruit used for fermentation and its age. Generally though, you can call it sweet, flowery, and fruity.

The sweetness is subtle, not syrupy, so it doesn’t shine through in a drink. But it makes itself quite obvious in a dessert.

Is There A Good Substitute For Brandy In Homemade Beef Stroganoff?

Sherry is a great alternative to substitute brandy in homemade beef stroganoff. It’s a fortified wine, so it gets quite close to brandy in how it interacts with the meal. Other choices to consider are whiskey, bourbon, and perhaps even rum.

Can I Substitute Whiskey For Brandy?

Yes, whiskey is an acceptable substitute for brandy. Whiskey will add a stronger flavor and have less of the sweetness, but it is an acceptable choice. For most substitutions, whiskey can replace brandy in equal parts.

What’s A Good Substitute For Brandy In Sangria?

Whiskey and Triple Sec are your best bets to substitute brandy in Sangria. In case you want the Sangria to go non-alcoholic, give a chance to non-alcoholic wine. Sparkling juice is a good option too. Choose white grape or grape to maintain the overall color of Sangria.

Getting The Right Replacement For Brandy In Your Recipe

Brandy is a popular choice for use in various recipes. Its flavors and sweetness add a nice touch to most recipes. But there are times when you need a brandy substitute and we hope this list makes it easier to find the right one. Some of the top choices to consider are brandy extract, a fortified wine like sherry, or whiskey. 

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