Top 7 Dry Sherry Substitutes That Are Perfect For Cooking

Sherry is one of those liquors that make anything better. Regardless of the reason, adding a splash of sherry is an excellent choice for creating a tastier and more flavorful meal. But there are still many reasons why someone would want to skip it or find a replacement.

What Is Sherry?

To start, though, let’s talk about what is sherry?

This liquor is a fortified wine usually considered an aperitif or digestif. It is relatively sweet, and used in baking and cooking, as it adds more body to the dish. Sherry comes from the Jerez region of Spain, thus its name in Spanish. 

It is made with Palomino, Moscatel, and other grapes. These are traditionally combined with a bit of brandy after fermentation. Cooking sherry is different from its liquor counterpart, as it is much sweeter and has almost no alcohol. 

If you want to make a delicious stew or dessert, your best bet is to use regular sherry from a liquor store, or another fortified wine.

What Can I Replace Sherry With?

Now that we’ve covered our bases, let’s discuss some of the best sherry substitutes for various scenarios:

Best For Cooking, Red Wine, and French Onion Soup

#1. Apple Cider Vinegar

If you like sweet and sour, this is the best option for you. It can sometimes be too sour, so you can try adding half water and half apple cider vinegar for every cup of sherry. If there is sweetness missing, try adding brown sugar or honey, but only a pinch is enough.

You can find apple cider vinegar in any grocery or health store. This is a popular choice that has been recently used to treat gut problems and improve digestion. This choice works excellently in your soups, marinades, stews, and meat sauces.

#2. Marsala Wine

This fortified wine from the Sicily region in Italy is also made with brandy, which is why the flavor is very similar to sherry.

You can find it in most liquor stores, usually by the sweet or dessert wines section. However, marsala is not overly sweet and is famous in chicken marsala, a creamy, rich sauce.

To replace sherry with marsala, you can use the same amount, but make sure you taste as you go. There are two kinds of marsala⁠—dry or sweet. We recommend you use the dry version for savory dishes like soups and sauces.

See more: Marsala Wine Alternatives

#3. Madeira

This fortified wine is originally from Portugal and is considered an excellent, refreshing aperitif before dinner. 

You may have used it before in dishes like Beef Wellington, or thick gravies, but it can be used in any meat stew or dish. To replace sherry, use the same amount of Madeira, but check for sweetness. 

We suggest you always choose dry Madeira when it comes to cooking, as it is less sweet and has a very similar flavor to sherry. You can find it along with the rest of the fortified wines in the liquor store or wine specialty store.

#4. Port Wine

Another fortified wine, and perhaps the most famous one, this choice comes from the Port region in Portugal, and it is a famous dessert wine.

However, there are two types of port⁠—the ruby kind, which is fruity and sweet, and the tawny, which is aged in wood oak and has more complex flavors. 

You can buy port wine in any liquor store, usually as a digestif. It is also an excellent addition to your meat dishes, sauces, and some soups. Consider using the same amount of port as sherry, but choose the ruby option for better flavoring. 

Best For Christmas Cake, Brandy, and Marsala

#5. Vanilla Extract

When it comes to baking Christmas cake or replacing brandy and sherry in a recipe, vanilla extract can be a suitable replacement.

There are two kinds of vanilla extract⁠—alcoholic and non-alcoholic⁠—but you can use whichever is more convenient. We suggest you replace sherry with the same amount of vanilla extract in baked goods. 

This choice is very easy to find. Your grocery store will definitely have it, and even convenience stores sell it sometimes. Consider adding more water or milk to adjust for the lack of liquid when you change the sherry. Also, vanilla extract is great in bread, cookies, and muffins.

See more: Best Substitutes For Vanilla Extract

#6. Fruit Juice

If you’re baking a sweet cake, or want to change the sherry, marsala, or brandy, you should use something from the sweeter side.

Some fruit juices that work in this case include peach, pineapple, or orange juice. Make sure you use half the amount the recipe calls for and add more as you go if necessary. 

Buying fruit juice shouldn’t be too hard, as most grocery stores and convenience stores sell them. This is an excellent choice for nut and fruit cakes and muffins, but can also work in other baked goods.

#7. Brandy

This liquor is also known as burned wine and is a digestif by nature. However, brandy is caramel-like and sweet, so it can be used in many dishes.

Traditionally, it is an ingredient in sauces for desserts. We included it in this list because it is a suitable replacement for baking goodies like Christmas cake or when you run out of sherry and marsala.

If you like to use brandy, most liquor stores have it. This drink is worth buying, as it can help you relax for a good night’s sleep, as a digestive aid, and for healthy skin.


What is similar to dry sherry?

Some similar options to dry sherry include Port, Madeira, and Marsala wine. In some cases, you can use red wine or white wine. And in a pinch, consider using wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar.

Can I use sherry vinegar instead of sherry wine?

Yes, you can use sherry, but in some recipes, it is best to use a sweeter option. However, sherry vinegar is useful in meat dishes, sauces, and stews. Cooking wine may work too for certain dishes.

Can I substitute sherry for cognac?

Yes, cognac can work in the same way that brandy does. In some cases, it may be better to use a sweeter fortified wine, like Port or Madeira, but cognac is a good option if there isn’t anything else available.


Using sherry is an excellent choice for making certain dishes, like meat stews and thick sauces. Yet, there are times when it can be hard to find or too expensive. Consider using any of these substitutes for your savory and sweet dishes alike.

sherry substitutes

*Photo by 24x36mm/depositphotos

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