These Are the Best Substitutes for White Wine in Cooking
Whether you ran out of white wine or it's just not your preference to cook with it, there are stand-in ingredients that create equally delicious and full flavored dishes. Commonly used in dishes like risottos, mussels, soups, and stews, white wine is typically added to a recipe and then reduced by at least half, if not more, by boiling; additional ingredients are typically added later. This process burns off the alcohol while concentrating the wine's rich flavors, which accent and enhance the overall dish by adding an extra layer of flavor. To achieve similar depth of flavor without using white wine, read on for our top substitutes.
Opt for More Acidity with Vinegar and Lemon Juice
One good substitute for white wine is another acidic ingredient, such as vinegar or lemon juice. Swap the wine for light-colored vinegars, like white wine vinegar, rice vinegar, or apple cider vinegar. Avoid harsher vinegars, like distilled white vinegar, which could add too much acidity. While most vinegars can play as a tasty substitute, be careful with the color of the vinegar. A dark balsamic or sherry vinegar could affect the final color of the dish.
Just remember that wine's acidity level is much lower than that of vinegar and lemon juice. If you're choosing to swap one of these in for white wine, take the acidity into account by using at least half or less of the swap and making up the rest of the liquid with water.
Pour Something Else from the Liquor Cabinet
What's a better substitute for white wine than another alcohol? Start with selections that have an equivalent amount of alcohol. Vermouth, a fortified white wine, adds even more complex flavor notes and botanicals. Champagne or sparkling white wines are a delicious and decadent substitute, and the bubbles will cook off along the way. For something in between, consider a bottle of lightly colored rosé, a very lovely light substitute for white wine.
Of course, red wine is a great substitute for white wine, but as with the vinegars, make sure the wine isn't going to affect the final color of the dish in an unappealing way. Red wine works well in tomato sauces, but in butter or white sauces you might want to use vermouth or other light colored alcoholic beverages. Stronger proofed alcohols like vodka or gin could be an interesting swap, but reduce the amount used to account for their intensity.
Water or Broth (Plus, a Touch of Acidity)
A third option is to swap in water or broth, in which case we recommend an added finish of acidity. This is particularly useful if a recipe doesn't call for reducing the wine and you need to have the liquid—in this case, just use an equal amount of either as you would wine. While water always works in a pinch, one reason to select broth instead is that it adds both liquid and flavor. If using a store-bought broth, opt for low-sodium or no sodium so that you don't throw off the salt content of the dish. Just remember that if you take either route, you'll be missing the acidity of white wine, so you'll want to counteract that by adding a dash of vinegar or lemon juice right before serving to brighten the flavors of the dish.