Have you ever tried kirsch? If you haven’t, it may become your favorite aperitif or after-dinner drink once you try it. It is also a common ingredient in certain dishes, which is why some people have it on their pantry or bar all the time. But if you don’t have any kirsch at home, it can be hard to find some and your recipe may not be good as you expect it to be.
Because this is a sweet liquor, you can use it in baking or dessert dishes, but it can also be a flavoring agent in stews and sauces.
It does contain alcohol though, so there is a chance that some may want to stay away from it. Whatever the reason, there are some other ingredients you can use instead without changing your recipe too much.
What Is Kirsch?
This clear brandy is made from the double distillation of morello cherries, which is a sour cherry commonly found in Germany.
Since these cherries are hard to find in other places, you can make kirsch from other cherries as well. It is traditionally served cold and it can be an aperitif or a digestif, or sometimes a flavor additive in cocktails.
Commonly, kirsch is used in German, Swiss, and northern European dishes, including fondue, cakes, and dark chocolate. If you are into baking, you may have come across this liquor before, and you may have had some in a cake or sweet before.
What Can I Replace Kirsch With?
If you can’t find any, or if you want to try a different option, these kirsch substitutes will do the trick:
Cognac is another sweet drink often used as a dessert liquor but sometimes used in recipes and baked goods. It’s a strong alcohol, so make sure you cut the amount by about half, and always try the flavor first to see if it’s the right choice.
You can find cognac in any liquor store, and sometimes it can be sweeter, so try this option instead if you want a more similar flavor to kirsch.
#2. Cherry Juice
This is a great alternative that is also non-alcoholic. Usually, cherry juice is used as a snack, an addition to fruit cocktails, and even in desserts sometimes. There is something called a cherry cocktail, which is a high sugar fruit concentrate and shouldn’t be used unless completely necessary as it can alter the flavor of your recipe.
Look for cherry juice in your local grocery store, and make sure you adjust the sugar in your recipe. You can pretty much use it in equal amount as kirsch, but consider the flavor and the sugar content.
#3. Fruit Brandy
Fruit brandy is a common aperitif and digestif, which makes it somewhat similar to kirsch. There are many flavored brandies, including apple, cherry, peach, and blueberry, but we recommend that you choose whichever appeals to you most and will seem to mix well with other ingredients in your dish.
While the flavor is different, brandy is also sweet and when it is flavored, it can give your dessert or sauce a similar taste to kirsch. You can replace kirsch for the same amount of fruit brandy but consider adjusting sugar if necessary.
#4. Vodka + Cherries
This option may seem odd, but considering that kirsch is a cherry liquor, mixing vodka with either dry, mashed up, or frozen cherries can result in a similar taste to kirsch.
For better results, blend the vodka with the cherries before adding it to your dish or baking process. You can use about 1 to 1.5 oz of vodka with a handful of cherries, but make sure you taste it first, or you could overpower the dish.
You can buy vodka in any liquor store, and if you don’t think you’ll need more later, consider buying one of those small-sized bottles. Cherries can be found frozen in any grocery store, but can also be bought fresh mostly in a farmer’s market.
#5. White Wine
This choice is mostly reserved for savory dishes and sauces but is not suitable for baking. White wine, particularly the dry kind, is a very good option for fondue and other cheese dishes, as it helps smooth the texture and adds flavor.
White wine can be bought in every liquor store, but some places sell it in grocery stores as well. Pick the kind that appeals most, but we suggest a dry white wine for your dishes that include cheese, or cream. You can try adding 1oz of white wine first and take a taste as you go.
#6. Apple Juice
If there is no other choice, or if you want to keep the meal alcohol-free, you can try going for apple juice.
Apple juice is a common snack for kids, but can also be good for those who need to rehydrate, or who want to get more vitamins and minerals. This juice is high in sugar though, so be careful with adding sugar more than what you need, as you may overpower the dish.
You can find apple juice in every grocery store, but it is very popular and can be bought in convenience stores as well. You can add the same amount of apple juice that the recipe calls for, but make sure you adjust for sweetness.
For fondue, which is such a rich dish made of cheese, we recommend you go with white wine, especially dry white wine. If not available, brandy or cognac are two good replacements as well. Just don’t go with any other sweet choices, as sugar and fondue don’t mix too well.
Though it is made with cherries, kirsch is not a very sweet liquor like brandy or cognac, but it does have a cherry aroma and somewhat of a bitter taste to it. It is very versatile in flavor, which is why it can be a good addition to both sweet and savory dishes.
If stored like other liquors, in a cool, dark place, kirsch can last up to two years. Some people prefer it cold, so it can be placed in a refrigerator too.
While not many use kirsch daily, it is a common staple in some kitchens, so it can be hard to replace if you’re thinking of making certain dishes.
These 6 options are very tasty and somewhat easy to find, but make sure you take a taste first, and measure for the right amount, as some can be very sweet when compared to kirsch. Now you’re ready to get baking or cooking!
*Photo by skylinefree/depositphotos