Substitutes for Brandy — 15 Alternatives That’ll Turn Your Cooking up a Notch

Have you been searching online for substitutes for brandy? Are you tired of finding answers that go against the rules of cooking? If you are, you clicked on the right article.

Brandy is a great ingredient for cooking. It adds a distinctive touch of flavor to most dishes and enhances the taste of other ingredients.

If you’re making a recipe that calls for brandy, but you’re out of it or just don’t want to use it, don’t fret — there are several great substitutes for brandy. Depending on what you’re making and your taste, the items listed in this article might work for you.

SEE: Easy Cointreau Substitute for You

What Is Brandy?

Brandy is a liquor made from distilled wine. The process of distillation concentrates the flavors, which makes it more potent than wine.

Brandy is often used in cooking to add flavor to dishes. The alcohol in the brandy evaporates when cooked, leaving a distinct flavor that is favored by many cooks.

The most common types of brandy are Cognac and Armagnac, both from France. There are also other types of brandy, such as Calvados from Normandy, Eau-de-Vie from Germany, and Grappa from Italy.

Brandy Substitutes

1. Whiskey

You can substitute equal amounts of whiskey in place of the brandy called for in your recipe. Whiskey and brandy are both aged in oak barrels, so they take on a similar color and flavor.

The only downside is that whiskey is made from grains instead of grapes, which makes it much drier than brandy. While this won’t be a perfect substitution, it can work well in many dishes, especially pasta and sauces.

2. Red Wine

You can also substitute red wine for brandy in a recipe. Red wine will impart a more noticeable flavor than brandy. However, be sure to use one with a taste you like.

To substitute red wine for brandy, simply use the same amount of brandy called for in the recipe. For example, if the recipe calls for 1/4 cup brandy, use 1/4 cup red wine.

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3. Sherry

Sherry is one of the best substitutes for brandy in cooking. Its flavor profile is similar to that of brandy, and it’s more economical than brandy.

To substitute sherry for brandy, it is best to use equal amounts of amontillado or oloroso sherry. These are the drier varieties of sherry that make a great substitute for brandy.

4. Tequila

Tequila is a close relative to brandy and you can use it as a substitute for brandy in many recipes. The flavors will be different because of the production methods of each liquor, but tequila will still give you many of the same effects.

You can use equal amounts of white or gold tequila to replace brandy in a recipe. So if the recipe calls for 1/4 cup of brandy, swap in 1/4 cup of white or gold tequila.

5. Port

Port is similar to brandy because it’s made from fermented wine and brandy. Use the same amount of port as the amount of brandy called for in your recipe.

6. Rum

Rum consists of sugarcane byproducts, such as molasses and sugarcane juice. The good news, however, is that its flavor profile is similar to that of brandy, and it works well in most recipes that call for brandy.

The strength of rum varies widely, so it’s important to keep an eye on how much you’re adding as a replacement for it when cooking. As a general rule, you’ll want to use 1/2 cup of rum as a substitute for 1 cup of brandy.

SEE: What Does Rye Whiskey Taste Like?

7. White Wine

If you’re making a dessert, white wine is a good substitute for brandy. It will also add a little bit of acidity to your dish, which is often important in cooking.

Some of the best white wines to use as substitutes for brandy include Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay. These both have a mild flavor that will not overpower your food. For either, use half the amount of the original amount of brandy called for in your recipe.

8. Gin

Gin is a type of liquor that derives its predominant flavor from juniper berries (Juniperus communis). Other than juniper, it often contains other ingredients like coriander seeds, angelica root, orris root, and licorice root.

Though you can substitute gin for brandy in most cases, it’s important to note that gin is stronger than brandy. This means that you will need to use less gin if you are substituting.

Additionally, the flavor of gin is very unique, so the taste of your dish may not be exactly the same as it would be with brandy.

9. Bourbon

Bourbon has a slightly sweet flavor and a lot of character. It works very well in many recipes, as it blends well with several ingredients.

Bourbon cooks up very nicely in barbecue sauces and meat glazes, but you can also use it in desserts such as bread pudding and fudge. For 1 cup of brandy, substitute 3/4 cup (180ml) of bourbon.

10. Vodka

Vodka is not the best option when you need a substitute for brandy, but you can use it if you don’t have any other options available to you.

The reason why vodka is not the best option is that, although it has the same alcohol content as brandy, it does not have the same flavor or color as brandy, and this may change the taste of your dish.

11. Peach Schnapps

Peach schnapps has a sweet and syrupy peach taste, so it’s like a fruitier version of brandy. It still has alcohol in it (usually 20%), but without the complexity of flavors or the sharpness of straight-up brandy.

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12. Brandy Extract

Brandy and brandy extract have similar flavors and characteristics, so you can substitute one for the other. If your recipe calls for brandy and you don’t have any on hand, you could use brandy extract as a replacement.

Non-Alcoholic Substitutes

13. Fruit Juices

Cranberry juice is one of the best fruit juices to use as a brandy substitute. Lemon juice also works well, but it doesn’t provide the same deep color that cranberry does.

Grape juice is another great substitute for brandy, however, it’s not effective in recipes that contain very powerful ingredients.

14. Apple Cider

Apple cider is one of the most common non-alcoholic substitutes for brandy because it has a similar sweet flavor. It also has a texture that provides adequate moisture to dishes.

When using apple cider as a substitute for brandy, use the same amount of cider for every amount of brandy called for in your recipe.

15. Water

Yes, you can substitute water for brandy. It will not have the flavor of brandy, but it will provide adequate moisture to your dish. To get some brandy effect with water as a substitute, consider adding vinegar (for acidity), and sugar (for sweetness).

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Why Does Brandy Need Substitutes?

The answer is obvious. Brandy is great for cooking, but sometimes you may not be able to get brandy, or you may want to try something different.

Additionally, some people do not want to use brandy when cooking due to religious or personal reasons (it has a high alcohol content). In these cases, you need substitutes like fruit juices and apple cider to make your dish taste better.


Is brandy good for cooking?

Yes, it is. Brandy is an excellent choice for cooking because it has a high alcohol content and adds a unique, flavorful taste to dishes. The alcohol in it evaporates quickly, leaving behind the subtle flavors of brandy.

Is Hennessy a brandy?

Yes, it is. Hennessy is a Cognac, and Cognac is a type of brandy. Brandy is a broad category that encompasses many subcategories, including Cognac, Armagnac, Calvados, and Eaux-de-vie.

What alcohol can you use on Christmas cake?

Any alcohol. Brandy, rum, and sherry are traditional and often used in Christmas cake recipes. However, there is no reason why you can’t use other forms of alcohol such as whisky, port, and liqueurs.

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Some of the best substitutes for brandy include whiskey, sherry, rum, and tequila. Though each substitute will have its unique flavor profile, these options can provide some of the same flavors that brandy does.

If you’d like to avoid alcohol altogether, you can use apple cider, fruit juices, and water instead. The flavor will be different, but these alternatives will still work well in your recipe.

Thanks for reading.

To learn more about brandy and other alcohol used in cooking, visit Cheffist today.