Mirin is one of those ingredients that, if you love, will always have handy. If you haven’t tried it, though, it may be difficult to find some at the last minute.
There are also certain occasions when you don’t want to spend more money on ingredients, and instead, may just want to use something at home.
Before we get started on what and when to use a substitute for mirin, you should understand why it is used in the first place. Knowing the flavor and consistency can be essential in choosing the right replacement.
What Is Mirin?
Let’s start from the beginning, what is mirin?
This ingredient is a Japanese sweet wine made from rice. Its flavor is usually described as mild acid, but it has low alcohol and sugar content. Often, mirin is added to Japanese dishes as an attempt to reduce the use of sugar.
However, mirin can also be enjoyed as regular wine, as it has a 10 to 14% of alcohol content. Don’t worry, though, as the alcohol evaporates when cooking, leaving only the sweetness of the fermented rice.
Mirin provides umami and aroma to many dishes, which is why you need to find another option that also brings about the same characteristics.
What Can I Replace Mirin With?
There are many instances in which you would use it, so try these mirin substitutes for many dishes:
Best For Cooking, Ramen, and Teriyaki Sauce
#1. Dry Sherry
Though it has a slightly oakier and less acidic flavor, dry sherry is a good choice when it comes to cooking.
Have you tried making your own teriyaki sauce, ramen, soba noodles, or Korean beef? If yes, then this is the right time to use dry sherry.
Keep in mind that the mirin is sweeter, so add one tablespoon of dry sherry along with half a tablespoon of brown sugar.
Don’t be scared, as it is easy to find dry sherry in any liquor store, but make sure to always pick the dry kind. Otherwise, the Japanese or Asian flavor you want can be lost completely. You can use the same amount of dry sherry as you would mirin, but remember to add the sugar!
See more: Dry Sherry Alternatives
This is the most well-known Japanese rice wine, and while it is similar to mirin, it contains more alcohol and less sugar. Since it is more alcoholic, add it earlier while you cook.
This way, the alcohol can evaporate. If you love sake during dinner, then you probably know that it tastes delicious. You can use it in the same way you would use mirin.
Sake is a great choice for cooking many dishes, including ramen, teriyaki sauce, stews, and meat dishes. Also, by now, you probably know that you can buy sake in most liquor stores, and it will be a great addition to your liquor cabinet!
See more: Sake Shelf Life
#3. Marsala Wine
This fortified wine is more nutty and sweet than the other choices in this list, but it is a great option for making sweet sauces, such as teriyaki and sweet and chili dipping sauce.
We suggest you pick the sweet marsala wine and not the dry kind. It will also be a nice change of pace when you want a dessert wine every once in a while.
Use it in the same amount as you would mirin, particularly in marinating meats, sautéing vegetables, or creating homemade sauces. You can buy marsala wine in any liquor store, and if you choose the sweet kind, you don’t need to add any more sugar.
See more: Marsala Wine Substitutes
Best For Sake, Marinades, and Eel Sauce
#4. White Wine
If you run out of mirin and sake, white wine can be used in a pinch. Dry white wine is the best choice, especially when making marinades and wonton soup or mushroom noodle soup.
If you do choose a white wine, make sure you add about half a tablespoon of sugar to go with it and taste as you cook to make sure you don’t need more sugar.
You can buy white wine, like sauvignon blanc, pinot grigio, and chardonnay in any liquor store and some grocery stores, but chances are, you probably already have some!
The flavor may change to a bit more fruity one, but this is not a bad thing in cooking marinades and clear soups.
See more: White Wine Alternatives
#5. Rice Wine Vinegar
Though it is more acidic, rice white vinegar can be used in place of mirin and also sake. If you have some already, go ahead and use it next time you try making homemade eel sauce and other marinades.
Rice white vinegar doesn’t contain any alcohol and is not sweet, so you can always add some sugar as you cook.
You can find rice wine vinegar in any grocery store, usually by the other kinds of vinegar. To use it, add half of what the recipe calls for, and some sugar. Remember to taste so you can always add more as you go.
#6. Balsamic Vinegar
This type of vinegar is made from boiled down grape juice, which has been aged for a long time. The flavor is different from the rest of these options, as it is sweeter and richer. You can use it when making eel sauce, dark broths, and marinades, but not in clear broths or soups.
Balsamic vinegar is usually easy to find. In fact, you can try your local grocery store. Don’t be scared to splurge and go with the more expensive brands, as this taste better because the vinegar was aged longer.
For one tablespoon of mirin or sake, use half a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, and add more if needed.
See more: How Long Does Balsamic Vinegar Last?
Yes, you can use rice vinegar for mirin, but only in specific cases. When making dipping sauces and marinades, stick to rice vinegar, but not in ramen or other noodle soups.
No, we don’t recommend that you use white vinegar instead of mirin. The flavor of white vinegar is very pungent and extremely acidic, so it will cause the other flavors in your meal to go away. Use rice wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar if you can’t use any other item on this list.
The best option here would be to use real apple cider because the flavor is closer to mirin. Apple cider contains alcohol and sweetness, so the flavor can mimic mirin when cooking noodles, soup, or certain sauces.
Sometimes, last-minute cooking choices mean a trip to the grocery store, especially if you don’t have the key ingredient, like mirin. Alternatively, you can use any of these six substitutes when cooking something like ramen, teriyaki and eel sauce, or broths. Some of these may even be already in your pantry!
*Photo by akiyoko74/depositphotos