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Best Substitutes for Sherry: Non-Alcoholic and Sweet Alternatives

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Whether you’re looking for direct swaps or non-alcoholic options, finding a good substitute for sherry is rather easy. 

A bottle of sherry is being poured into a measuring spoon with title text Substitute for Sherry.

Dry sherry or cooking sherry is one of the wines commonly used in cooking, for a good reason. It adds a rich flavor and aroma to any dish and works well with savory recipes. There’s also sweet sherry when you need to whip up a yummy dessert. However, cooking sherry has a substantial alcohol content, which may be a deal-breaker for some.

So if you’re looking for the best alternatives for sherry in cooking and non-alcoholic options that will work like magic for your recipes, check out our list of the best substitutes you can use!

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Dry Sherry vs. Cooking Sherry vs. Sweet Sherry

Sherry is a popular type of fortified wine made by adding brandy. Originating from Spain, sherry wine is made with Palomino grapes. But other varieties of white grapes, such as Muscat and Pedro Ximenez, have also been used to make sweet sherry.

Bottle of cooking sherry being poured into a glass bowl, and a bowl of cooking sherry.

There are variations of sherry, namely dry sherry, cooking sherry, and sweet sherry. How are they different?

Dry Sherry is typically enjoyed as a beverage and has a high alcohol content. It has a dry taste and can range from light and crisp (e.g., Fino or Manzanilla) to richer and nuttier (e.g., Amontillado or Palo Cortado). It is often served as an aperitif or used in cooking to enhance the flavor of various dishes, especially in Spanish and other cuisines.

Cooking Sherry is a variety of sherry specially processed for cooking purposes. It tends to be salted and may contain additives to extend its shelf life. Cooking sherry is primarily used in recipes to add flavor to dishes. However, it is generally not recommended for drinking due to the added salt and other ingredients.

Sweet Sherry has a pronounced sweetness, with flavors ranging from rich and nutty (Oloroso) to intensely sweet and raisin-like (Pedro Ximénez). Sweet sherries are often enjoyed as dessert wines. They pair well with desserts and can be served alone or with cheese. They are not typically used in cooking due to their sweetness.

Usually, recipes call for cooking sherry, but there may be instances where dry or sweet sherry may be preferred.

Why You Need to Know a Good Substitute for Sherry in Cooking

Cooking sherry is commonly used in cooking, but there are good reasons why you may opt to swap it out in your recipes.

Alcohol Content

The preservatives and added sodium in cooking sherry make it unappetizing as a drink. However, it still has a high alcohol content varying from 12% to 17%. If anyone in the family has alcohol sensitivity or is trying to avoid alcoholic products, cooking sherry may not be the best ingredient to use.


While cooking sherry is a common ingredient in many recipes, there’s always a chance of running out of it. There might also be times when it’s not available in nearby stores. You can still cook the recipe you have in mind if you have a fantastic substitute for sherry.

Recipe Modifications

Simply wanting to put your own twist on a recipe is also a good reason to replace sherry in cooking. You might want to add a little sweetness to a meal or give it some Asian cuisine taste. Whichever flavor you prefer in a dish, you can always find a fitting substitute for sherry wine.

Best Substitutes for Cooking Sherry

Dry White Wine

When looking for something with a very similar flavor, dry white wine is the best sherry substitute.

A bottle of dry white wine and a glass on a wooden table.

Aside from tasting very similar, they also have the same acidity level, so you don’t have to worry too much about the dish tasting differently. This makes it one of the best dry sherry substitutes.

You can use most types of dry white wine to replace sherry, although some of the best ones I’ve used are Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Blanc, and Pinot Grigio. Add a few splashes to deglaze the pan after searing chicken or fish, and it will add a richer flavor to your recipe.

A 1:1 ratio will work when replacing sherry with dry white wine. But the wine has less sodium than cooking sherry, so make sure to taste the dish and add salt if needed.

Shaoxing Cooking Wine

Shaoxing is made from fermented rice wine and is a staple in many Chinese and Asian dishes. It gives off a slightly briny and vinegary aroma with subtle hints of spice and sweetness.

With a distinct flavor profile, it can be a good substitute for sherry when you want to give a recipe an Asian cuisine flavor. But keep in mind that using Shaoxing wine might slightly change the flavor of a dish.

Two pictures of pouring Shaoxing Cooking Wine into a pot and glass, serving as a substitute for sherry.

Shaoxing is also primarily used for cooking purposes and has a fair amount of sodium and preservatives, so you can use the same amount you would with cooking sherry. If a recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of sherry, you can replace it with 1 tablespoon of Shaoxing wine.

Aside from adding it during the cooking process for recipes with fish and poultry, Shaoxing wine is also a great addition to marinades.

Dry Vermouth

Dry vermouth is one of the best alternatives to dry sherry in cooking. Its flavor profile will impart hints of aromatic herbs and pleasant hints of spiciness and bitterness to a dish. And if you want a dry sherry substitute with less salt, this is the one you’re looking for.

You can replace sherry with dry vermouth with the same amount indicated in the recipe. Just make sure you are using dry vermouth and not its sweet varieties, especially when preparing a savory meal.

Best Non-Alcoholic Substitutes for Cooking Sherry and Dry Sherry

Can you replace sherry with non-alcoholic alternatives? Absolutely! You’ll only need to combine a couple of simple ingredients to come up with a decent sherry substitute.

Apple Cider Vinegar and Water

Sherry is popular for its crisp, tangy flavor both as a drinking and cooking wine. If these are the flavor notes important to your dish, then apple cider vinegar is one of the best non-alcoholic substitutes for sherry in cooking.

A jar of apple cider vinegar, a substitute for sherry, and apples on a wooden table.

Do note that the tanginess of apple cider vinegar is considerably stronger than sherry. If sherry is used in small amounts in a recipe, you can replace it with 1 tablespoon of undiluted apple cider vinegar.

If you need to add more sherry for deglazing and other cooking purposes, you can dilute apple cider vinegar in water. For example, if the recipe calls for 1 cup of sherry, replace it with a mixture of ½ cup of apple cider vinegar and ½ cup of water.

Chicken Broth and Lemon Juice

Another amazing non-alcoholic substitute for cooking sherry is a combination of chicken stock or chicken broth and lemon juice. The broth adds a rich, savory flavor, while the lemon juice will provide the tangy taste you get from sherry.

A bowl of chicken broth soup and a bowl of lemon juice.

You can mix a small amount of chicken broth and a squeeze of lemon juice. If you’re using unsalted broth, you may have to add salt to taste.

This combination is an amazing alternative for many savory fish and chicken recipes. Go ahead and give it a try using my Teriyaki Glazed Salmon recipe.

Substitutes for Sweet Sherry in Cooking

You’ll find many recipes that specifically call for sweet sherry, especially in baking and desserts. As you can tell, the sweet profile would be important here and should be considered when looking for substitute ingredients.

Fruit Juices: Pineapple, Orange, or Peach

Freshly juiced fruits with sweet and tangy flavors are great substitute options for sherry, and they’re non-alcoholic, too. Some of the best fruit juices to use are pineapple, orange, and peach.

Three pictures of pineapple, orange and peach juice, a delightful substitute for sherry.

When using a store-bought juice, make sure it doesn’t have any added flavor, to avoid too much flavor change in the recipe’s outcome. If possible, freshly squeezed fruit juice is the best because there’s no added flavor or sugar.

You can also dilute the juice with some water to achieve the right consistency for sweet recipes.

Fortified Wines: Port, Marsala, and Madeira

Other types of fortified wines, especially their sweet varieties, are incredible sweet sherry alternatives, whether in cooking or baking. Port adds another layer of richness to a dish, although remember it’s red wine.


What vinegar is closest to sherry?

Rice wine vinegar or rice vinegar, is one of the best vinegar alternatives to sherry. While it has a pronounced sweet flavor, it also adds a nice acidity to a dish like sherry does. 

Is sherry vinegar and red wine vinegar the same?

No, they are different types of wine vinegar but both are often used in cooking. You can substitute sherry vinegar with red wine vinegar, but keep in mind that the latter has a bolder flavor and acidity.

Can you use white wine vinegar in place of sherry?

White wine vinegar can be used as a substitute for sherry, but always start with a smaller amount. While white wine vinegar is milder than its red wine counterpart, it’s still stronger than sherry in terms of acidity and taste.

Replacing Dry Sherry, Cooking Sherry, and Sweet Sherry is Easy

Sticking to the recipe is always a good practice in the kitchen. However, there might be a time when you will have to be more flexible and creative to serve a scrumptious meal for the family.

Luckily, replacing sherry when cooking can be an easy task. Other good news is that there are great non-alcoholic alternatives you can use so you can cook a great meal for everyone.

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