Marsala Wine Substitute: Save Your Recipe With These Options

Nothing is as frustrating as the realization that you are out of an important ingredient in your recipe. When you run out of marsala wine while making a marsala sauce or marsala chicken recipe, you need a substitute. 

There are other ingredients you can use as alternatives to save you an unplanned trip to the grocery store. You may be able to get the substitute in your house as other wines or even brandy can serve the purpose. 

Aside from knowing the many options available to use as a substitute for marsala wine, it is also important to know how to. Knowing how and when to mix ingredients is key to achieving a similar taste of marsala wine. Keep reading to discover 18 marsala wine substitutes you can try.

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What Is Marsala Wine?

Marsala is a type of wine made with a mixture of several distilled spirits. The most recognizable spirit marsala contains is brandy. It also has various kinds of grapes in it. The alcohol content of marsala is usually between 15% to 20%. 

Marsala originates in a region near the village of Marsala in Italy and is often called fortified wine. This is because the makers of marsala wine add brandy to the marsala to increase the alcohol content. 

The color of marsala wine depends solely on the type and color of grapes used in making the wine and the aging process. Therefore, you may see gold, amber, or ruby marsala wine. The taste also varies from dry to sweet. This is why dry marsala is for savory dishes and the sweet one is for making desserts.

Marsala wine is a versatile cooking liquid and is used to create a delightful flavor profile in a recipe. It can be used for creamy, delicious, and savory dishes as it adds sweet, nutty, fruity flavor to them. 

Marsala Wine Substitutes

1. White Wine and Brandy

You can use some dry white wine as a substitute for marsala wine in your recipe. A combination of white wine and brandy is one of the best alternatives to try since marsala itself contains brandy. What you need to do is mix ½ cup of dry white wine with 2 teaspoons of brandy. 

Prepare your recipe like you normally would using this substitute in place of marsala wine. Make sure you taste it to ensure that it has your desired taste and flavor. 

2. Madeira

Madeira is the most common and worthy alternative for marsala wine. It even has similar color and flavor to marsala wine, making it suitable for all recipes that require marsala wine. This is because of its flavor profile as Madeira is made of 5 different types of grapes. 

Make sure the Madeira you get is suitable for your cooking purpose. Use a cup of Madeira in place of ½ cup of marsala wine in your recipe.

3. Fortified Wines

Since marsala is a fortified wine, any kind of fortified wine will do well as a substitute for marsala wine in your recipe. Fortified wines are wines that contain distilled spirits. Brandy is the most common spirit used to increase the alcohol content of fortified wines. 

Even though marsala wine is the most commonly used fortified wine for cooking, the other varieties can also be used for sweet, savory, and other forms of recipes. You can use equal amounts of other fortified wine in place of marsala wine in your recipe. 

4. Dry Sherry

Here’s a very popular marsala wine substitute that works excellently in any recipe. Dry sherry has a similar complex flavor profile to marsala. You can use it to achieve your desired flavor in your recipe.

Use a cup of actual sherry wine to replace every ½ cup of marsala wine required for your recipe. Ensure that you use authentic sherry wine and not the sherry wine made for cooking. Using cooking sherry wine can alter the taste and flavor of your recipe.

5. Sweet Vermouth

Sweet vermouth is another good alternative you can use for your dish in place of marsala wine. For a more intense flavor, you can mix it with dry sherry. A mixture of dry sherry and sweet vermouth will enhance the flavor profile of your recipe. 

To use only sweet vermouth, replace ½ cup of marsala wine with 1 cup of sweet vermouth. To use a mixture of sweet vermouth and sherry wine as a substitute, add ½ cup of each ingredient to your recipe. 

6. Amontillado Wine

Here’s a Spanish wine that works fine as a substitute for marsala wine in your recipe.  

Amontillado wine is best used as a substitute for dry marsala wine in recipes that requires it. Use 1 cup of amontillado wine to replace ½ cup of dry masala in your recipe.

7. Pedro Ximenez

Pedro Ximenez is another Spanish wine that is similar to amontillado wine. You can use it as a substitute for marsala wine in your recipes. It is best used for recipes that require sweet marsala wine. Use 1 cup of Pedro Ximenez to replace 1 cup of sweet marsala in your recipe.

8. Port Wine

Port can serve as another reliable marsala wine substitute for dessert and other sweet recipes. It comes in several flavors, such as sweet red wine. It is also available in dry, semi-dry, and several other white varieties.

Any port wine you use is good as a substitute for sweet marsala. Simply use equal parts of port wine to replace sweet marsala wine in your recipe.

9. White Grape Juice With Brandy or Cognac

If you have white grape juice and brandy available in your home, you can easily make a marsala substitute for your recipe. You can also mix white grape juice with cognac if you don’t have brandy available. Mix ¼ cup of grape juice with 1 teaspoon of either brandy or cognac. 

You can use this mixture as a substitute for ¼ cup of marsala wine in your dish. Mix the ingredients properly before using them in your recipe. 

10. Non-Fortified Wine

You can use any wine that doesn’t contain any spirit as a substitute for marsala wine in your recipe. If you have brandy or cognac around, you can add a splash in the non-fortified wine. 

To create the best substitute for marsala wine, mix 1 cup of non-fortified wine with ½ cup of brandy, a teaspoon of brown sugar, and a pea-sized amount of salt. Use equal parts of this mixture to replace marsala wine in your recipe. 

11. Pinot Noir

Pinot noir is a wine made from Pinot noir grapes and is a great marsala wine substitute. You can use this red wine as a substitute for sweet or dry marsala as it has a slightly sweet flavor. 

To use Pinot noir red wine as part of your recipe, mix it with sugar to get a similar flavor to marsala wine. Use equal parts of the red wine to replace marsala wine in your recipe.

12. Dry Wine

You can buy a dry wine—preferable white wine—if you are unable to get marsala wine at a nearby store. Dry white wine is a great alternative to use instead of marsala wine in your recipe. Simply use equal parts of dry white wine to replace marsala wine in your recipe. 

13. Vino and Booze

Here’s another alcoholic substitute you can use in place of marsala wine in your recipe. Mix ¼ cup of dry vino and a teaspoon of booze and use it as a substitute for marsala wine in your recipe. 

14. Plain White Grape Juice

You can use plain white grape juice as a non-alcoholic marsala wine substitute in your recipe. 

Use equal parts of white grape juice in place of marsala wine in your recipe. You can also add a mixture of sherry vinegar and vanilla extract to achieve an intense flavor profile for your recipe.

15. Prunes With Balsamic Vinegar

A mixture of prunes and balsamic vinegar works great as a marsala wine substitute. Cook the prunes down over low heat and strain the juice with a sieve. Add a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar to 1½ cups of prunes and little water. Use this mixture as your substitute in any recipe that requires marsala wine. 

16. Cranberry Juice

For your cake and other baked goods recipes, you can use cranberry juice as a substitute for marsala wine. This is another alcohol-free alternative you can use to bake for kids. 

You can water down the juice before using it in your recipe. 1 cup of cranberry juice is enough to replace marsala wine in your recipe.

17. Figs and Rosemary Puree

You can make a puree using rosemary and figs. You can also add a little bit of sage to it for a good marsala wine substitute, and you can water down the puree before use. 

Mix 1 cup of figs, 1 teaspoon of dried rosemary, and ½ teaspoon of ground sage together. Start by adding a teaspoon of the mixture to the recipe. Be sure to taste it and add more if there’s a need for it.

18. Chicken Stock and Balsamic Vinegar

You can use a mixture of chicken stock and balsamic vinegar as a substitute for marsala wine in your recipe. This substitute will work best for recipes that take a longer time to cook, such as meat dishes. 

Mix equal parts of chicken stock and balsamic vinegar. Add it to your recipe as much as your recipe needs marsala wine.

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Why Does Marsala Wine Need Substitutes?

Marsala wine needs substitutes for several reasons. Marsala wine is a fortified wine that contains between 20% to 40% alcohol which is inappropriate for children. For dessert and sweet recipes meant for kids, you will need an alcohol-free substitute. 

Marsala wine is also not a staple wine that is readily available in most grocery stores. You may not be able to get it around you. The best thing to do is look for a substitute when you find yourself in urgent need of marsala wine.

Additionally, marsala wine is not suitable for anyone with an allergy, hypersensitivity, or intolerance to alcohol or wine. Wine allergies can cause life-threatening symptoms like anaphylaxis. Therefore, an alcohol-free marsala wine substitute is needed.


What is the best marsala wine substitute for chicken marsala?

The alcoholic substitute for marsala wine in the marsala chicken recipe is Madeira wine. While the best alcohol-free option is a mixture of chicken stock and balsamic vinegar. 

Other fantastic substitutes to consider are sherry and sweet vermouth, white wine and brandy, grape juice and brandy, cranberry juice, or red grape. 

Can merlot be used as a substitute for marsala wine?

No, it can’t. Merlot is very different from marsala wine and can’t even come close in terms of taste and flavor. There are several marsala wine alternatives to choose from. Therefore, don’t use merlot in place of marsala wine in your recipe. 

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When you find yourself in need of marsala wine but can’t get any, use a suitable substitute in your recipe. You can use amontillado wine in place of dry marsala wine. You can also use Pedro Ximenez as a substitute for sweet marsala wine. 

Whatever your choice, it should be the best substitute for marsala wine based on your recipe’s need. For baking, goods meant for kids or if you have an allergy to wine, use alcohol-free substitutes instead of other fortified wines. 

Thanks for reading. 

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