Looking to replace marsala wine in a recipe? This guide will teach you everything you need to know if you are looking for a substitute for marsala wine. If you love the flavor of marsala wine but don’t have any, or need to find a replacement, try one of these replacements. With so many options to choose from, you are sure to find a great alternative.
What is Marsala Wine?
First off, let’s start off with a little information about what Marsala Wine even is.
Marsala wine is a type of wine made from muscat grapes and can be used in many recipes. This kind of wine originates in Sicily. It’s a fortified wine that can be found in many varieties. Depending on the brand you pick up, you may get a sweet marsala wine or a dry marsala wine.
Both the sweet and dry marsala wine varieties are very popular and both can be found in a handful of different sweet and savory recipes.
Is Marsala White or Red?
The answer to this can vary depending on how long the marsala has aged. Traditional marsala is made from white grapes and has been aged in oak barrels. It can range from a very pale color all the way to a deep red. That is also another reason why we have so many varieties of substitutions you can use to replace this in a recipe if you needed to.
One may want to replace marsala wine for various reasons, such as being unable to find it or not wanting the taste of alcohol in their dish. There are several different options when looking for replacements for marsala wine; each option has its own advantages and disadvantages.
Marsala Wine Replacement with Another Type of Wine
If you are looking to stick with wine, there are several great options for replacing marsala wine in cooking.
Can sherry be substituted for Marsala wine?
A replacement for marsala wine that has the most similar flavor is dry sherry. It’s typically used in Spanish cuisine and can be found at many liquor stores. It is another fortified wine that you can use for cooking. It comes from Spain.
If you’re looking for a sherry wine that is similar in color as Marsala wine, I would go for Oloroso. Oloroso also has a sweet flavor that may be more palatable for people rather than a marsala wine flavor.
You can also mix half dry cooking sherry with half sweet vermouth for a tasty wine substitute with a unique flavor. Sweet vermouth is obviously, sweet and quite aromatic. It’s also a fortified wine from Italy that would be a good Marsala sub.
Port Wine Marsala Wine Substitute
One option to replace marsala wine that is commonly available is port wine, which you may find at any liquor store or supermarket as well as some health food stores. While it does have a bit of an alcohol taste to it, this doesn’t transfer into the food you are cooking.
One con to using this substitution is that port wine tends to be more expensive than marsala wine that you’re replacing. But it is still a good option if you don’t mind the price difference.
Can I use white wine to replace Marsala wine?
White wine is another great substitute for Marsala wine. Keep in mind Marsala wine is dark in color, so if you use white wine your dish may have a different appearance than usual. You can use a dry white wine as an excellent substitute to create your sauce.
Madeira Wine Substitute for Marsala Wine
Madeira is another wine that is very similar to Marsala, and makes a great replacement in recipes. Keep in mind that this kind of wine is often served as a dessert wine and many brands of it seem to have a strong flavor profile with many complex flavors since it is made from five different grape varieties.
Pinot Noir Substitute for Marsala Wine
You can even use this light to medium-bodied Pinot Noir wine. It tends to be a dry wine with a variety of complex flavors ranging from cherries, raspberry, mushroom, and vanilla extract. Since this good substitute is a dry kind of wine, you may want to add a dash of light brown sugar or a bit of sugar to sweeten it up a bit. Keep in mind that this is a red wine choice and is made from red grapes, while marsala wine is made from white grapes.
This may change the overall look of your substitution sauce and may change the flavor since red grapes are typically more fruity while white ones are usually sweeter. Some may say that Pinot Noir, or red wine in general doesn’t make for a good marsala replacement, but we think using this may be a good alternative, especially if you want something a little different than the other options we have listed.
Non-Alcoholic Marsala Wine Replacements
If you are looking to avoid alcohol altogether, there are many options for non alcoholic substitutes for marsala wine.
Non alcoholic options to replace marsala wine include water, red grape juice or white grape juice and tomato paste, among other ideas. Let’s take a closer look at these non-alcoholic marsala wine replacements for cooking, and how to use them.
When cooking, you may want to replace marsala wine with another liquid in order to cook your dish. Marsala wine is typically a dry wine that can be difficult to find, and while there are other options, these non-alcoholic substitutes will not work for any dishes that require cooking the sauce on the stovetop or simmering to create a sauce with complex flavor.
Let’s take a look at some of the most popular replacements for marsala wine in food recipes that can be easily found at the grocery store.
Replace Marsala Wine with Grape Juice
One option to replace marsala wine is grape juice. Grape juice is a great replacement for marsala wine in certain dishes. It has a similar sweet and tangy flavor, but does not contain any alcohol content.
It is an especially good replacement for marsala wine in chicken recipes that require cooking the sauce on the stovetop or simmering such as braised lemon rosemary chicken breasts. Grape juice made from either white grapes or red grapes would work in these sweet and savory dishes.
If using a white grape juice for your replacement, you can add some spices like thyme, sage, or rosemary to bring a more robust flavor to the dish.
Cranberry Juice as a Marsala Wine Substitute
Another good alternative to replace marsala wine in baking is cranberry juice. Cranberry juice can be used instead of marsala wine when making cranberry oatmeal bars, gingerbread cookies, chocolate cakes, or again, chicken dishes, and even veal.
Consider adding dried cranberries to your recipe in order to really augment that cranberry flavor. Cranberry juice is a great substitute because it is available in both sweet and no sugar added forms.
Apple Cider in Place of Marsala Wine
Another great non-alcoholic substitute for marsala wine is apple cider. Apple cider is great for sauces, such as in braised lamb shanks with red wine and tomato sauce or chicken marsala.
Grape juice, cranberry juice, and apple cider are both common ingredients that are cost effective and easy to find.
If you think these replacements sound a bit too sweet for your liking, consider adding some apple cider vinegar or even red wine vinegar to give them a bit more of the tanginess that marsala wine is known for in cooking.
While these options won’t give you that exact marsala flavor that you would get from traditional marsala cooking wine, they’re still great options and will surely result in a delicious sauce for your recipe.
Balsamic Vinegar Instead of Marsala Wine
Need another super simple swap to use instead of marsala? You can certainly use balsamic vinegar in its place. Make a balsamic reduction by deglazing a pan with it and then using that in place of the marsala. It’s not the exact same flavor profile but it would still be a flavorful, tasty dish in the end.
Chicken Stock in Place of Marsala Wine
If all else fails and you just need a quick replacement that almost everybody has in their kitchen, head for the chicken stock. It’s a simple substitute that will make any dish work.
While the flavor of your chicken stock will vary vastly compared to what you would have gotten if you used marsala wine in your recipe, this is a non alcoholic option that can be the best alternative if you’re looking for something that is very palatable and will be liked by both kids and adults for sure.
It may not give you the final flavor of the dish that the wine would, but it will still be delicious and should be considered an option when you can’t use the real thing.
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No matter what your use case, you are bound to find a marsala wine replacement that will work for you in this guide. The next time you go to make a dish that calls for marsala wine and you don’t have any or don’t want to use any, you sure have quite a few options to choose from now! Happy cooking!