10 Best Non-Alcoholic Substitutes for Brandy in Cooking


Brandy is a commonly used ingredient when preparing a wide range of recipes. However, despite brandy’s efficiency in adding the much-needed edge to meals, it isn’t recommended when preparing meals for people who don’t consume alcohol.

Here are the 10 best non-alcoholic substitutes for brandy in cooking:

1. Apple Juice

Apple juice is among the best non-alcoholic alternatives for brandy when it comes to food preparation. Not only does it add the much-needed edge to different recipes, but it is also healthy and highly recommended if you want to have a healthy diet. 

When using apple juice as a brandy substitute, you’ll need to keep some points in mind. 

  1. It’s best to use natural apple juice with as few additives as possible.
  2. Use the juice without diluting it in order to retain the apple flavor in your food. 

As a rule of thumb, you should use a few tablespoons of apple juice, preferably the same number of tablespoons as the amount of brandy you’d use in the recipe. For larger quantities, however, you’ll need to mix the apple juice with water. 

Pro Tip: Be careful not to add too much water to over dilute the apple juice and ruin the brandy-like flavor. 

2. Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is among the best non-alcoholic substitutes for brandy. Not only does it add a brandy-like sourness to meals, but it is also versatile enough to be used in the preparation of tens if not hundreds of unique recipes. 

Some of the meals you can prepare with apple cider vinegar include: 

  • Honey garlic chicken 
  • Spicy chili chicken thighs
  • Chicken adobo
  • Cider beans
  • Tofu salad 
  • Cucumber salad
  • Pork dishes
  • Other delicacies 

When using apple cider vinegar, it’s best to go for products from trusted manufactures like the Bragg Organic Raw Apple Cider Vinegar, which is diluted to a recommended level of acidity. 

For best outcomes, you should use the same amount of apple cider as the brandy you’d add to your recipe. 

3. White Grape Juice 

You can also use white grape juice as a brandy alternative, more so when preparing meals like apricot turkey, German bean salad, mussel stew, and a host of other meals. White grape juice is a common ingredient in several recipes, making it a great alternative to brandy. 

I recommend using natural white grape juice to maintain an authentic taste in your meal. 

Pro Tip: While some people prefer using the juice undiluted, it can also work if mixed with water. However, try as much as possible to balance the portions to avoid over-sweetening your meal.

4. Pear Juice

Pear juice is a reliable alternative to pear brandy. 

Although not commonly used in a variety of meals, it can still come in handy, especially when looking to replicate the rich, flavorful taste of pear-flavored brandy. 

Including two to three tablespoons should be enough. However, you can add more tablespoons if preparing a large meal.

Another great suggestion is to dilute the juice slightly with water, especially if you don’t want the pear taste overwhelming your other ingredients’ flavor and taste. 

5. Water

Water Being Poured From a Bottle Into a Glass

Although water won’t add the fruity flavor that’s commonly associated with brandy, it can make a great alternative to brandy, especially in terms of adding moisture to your food. However, when using water as a brandy alternative, it’s crucial to use it in small quantities as too much can make your snack or meal excessively runny. 

6. Broth 

Sometimes the aim of including brandy in a recipe is to add a bit of moisture to the food. 

Therefore, if your intention is to add moisture to veggies and stews, then you can add some broth of your preferred flavor to make the sauces thicker. You can use vegetable, chicken, or beef stock depending on your preferences. 

Using broth is a better way to add flavor to foods instead of using water. However, the trick is to add flavorful stock to the stew to give it your desired taste instead of using just any type of broth.

7. Vanilla Extract

For many years, vanilla has been used as a reliable ingredient in a host of recipes, more so when baking. 

If you don’t have brandy or any of the mentioned substitutes, then you can try using a reliable vanilla extract like the Watkins All Natural Baking Vanilla, which has no artificial flavors or colors.  

Similar to other types of extracts, the vanilla extract will have a strong vanilla flavor, which is why you need to mix it with water if you don’t want the taste to overwhelm your meal or snack. 

Bonus Alternative: You can also make use of raspberry extract as a substitute for your fruity brandy.

8. Apple Butter

If you’re looking for a substitute for apple brandy and you don’t want to use apple juice, then you might want to consider apple butter. And while apple butter can’t be used in cocktails, it can do a great job when used in baking cakes or muffins as it’ll add the apple-brandy-like taste as well as a tasty buttery mouthfeel. 

Ideally, using a ready-made apple butter like Dickinson’s Country Apple Butter comes with many advantages as it is easy to spread and boasts a smooth texture. 

However, you can also use homemade apple butter to give your cake that apple flavor that you’d find in apple brandy, only without the alcohol. 

9. Unsweetened Apple Juice Concentrate

Apple juice concentrate is among the best substitutes for brandy, more so apple brandy. 

As an ingredient, it is loved for its versatility, apple flavor, and neutral color. You can use it as a sweetener in fruit snacks, sauces, jellies, and beverages, making it among the most reliable substitutes regardless of the meal or snack you’re preparing.  

While apple juice concentrate won’t have the extra punch that’s commonly associated with brandy, it can still help replicate the apple brandy taste. Consider using different types of juice concentrates to match the flavor of your preferred brandy. 

For instance, when looking to substitute orange brandy, you can use orange juice concentrates to deliver the orange-like flavor.

10. Brandy Extract

Brandy extract is an artificial brandy-inspired flavoring that’s mostly non-alcoholic. The extract is often used as a brandy substitute in meals that require a taste of brandy, only without the alcohol content. 

Although commonly used in dessert recipes, brandy extract can be used in preparing a variety of meals, making it among the best brandy alternatives in the market. Some of the delicacies that work well with brandy extract include cakes and ice cream. 

However, when using brandy extract, it’s best to go for high-quality products made from natural products like the Silver Cloud Brandy Type Extracts, which is alcohol-free and versatile enough to prepare different types of recipes.

Which Liquor Is Similar to Brandy?

Liquor that is similar to brandy includes whiskey, rum, and bourbon. They can be used in place of brandy when preparing meals or desserts. The best substitute hinges on the type of recipe you’re working on. 

You can also use cognac, which is still a type of brandy, only that it’s made in the Cognac region in France and is exclusively made from grapes. 

Is Brandy Sweeter Than Cognac?

Brandy tends to be sweeter than cognac, and the level of sweetness greatly hinges on the core fruits used in preparation. A well-aged cognac will have citrus and candied fruit flavor, mostly accompanied by a taste of a wide range of spices. 

Some cognac tends to be sweet, while others have a rich, fruity taste depending on how they were made. On the other hand, brandy is often characterized by its mellow oaky flavor (depending on age). 

Best Substitute for Brandy in Fruitcake

The best substitute for brandy in fruitcake can be whiskey, rum, bourbon, or cognac. If you don’t prefer using alcohol, you can use the type of juice that matches your preferred brandy flavor. However, feeding a fruitcake with alcohol keeps it for a long time without affecting its moisture content.

Brandy is commonly used in baking to enrich the flavor and improve a cake’s moisture content and overall texture. 

Best Substitute for Brandy in a Cocktail

The best substitute for brandy in a cocktail might be whiskey, rum, wine, and sherry. But it can also be drunk neat. Due to its fruity flavor and taste, finding a substitute for brandy in a cocktail or any type of dessert or food shouldn’t prove too hard.

You can also use different types of fruit juices if you don’t want an alcoholic cocktail. 

Best Substitute for Brandy in Peppercorn Sauce

The best substitute for brandy in peppercorn sauce can be whiskey, wine, or vodka. Most peppercorn sauce recipes include brandy due to the bang it adds to the sauce and its ability to bring other recipes to life. However, the best substitute should hinge on whether you intend to flambé the food. 

Vodka will not affect the flavor of the sauce, but it will give that nice flaming property to your sauce.

Best Substitute for Brandy in Stroganoff

Some of the best substitutes for brandy in stroganoff include gin, sherry wines, and bourbon, as they add unique flavors to the sauteed pieces, thus allowing you to replicate the brandy-like taste. 

However, since sherry is a fortified wine, it is undoubtedly among the best alternatives when making a stroganoff sauce. 

Can You Use Brandy Instead of Cognac?

You can use brandy as a substitute for cognac in preparing meals. Due to their similar flavor profiles and alcohol content, brandy and cognac are often used interchangeably when preparing meals. 

However, brandy is usually more preferred in preparing meals as it’s usually more affordable than cognac. Either way, both liquors work great when used in cakes and when flaming desserts. 

Will Whiskey Have the Same Flavor As Brandy in Foods?

Whiskey won’t have the same flavor as brandy in foods, though it can act as a brandy substitute. It’s because they have different textures and tastes. 

They’re also made using different processes and varying ingredients, meaning they don’t have the same taste either when drunk neat or used in foods.

What Is the Best Substitute for Brandy in Steak Diane?

Cognac is the best substitute for brandy when preparing steak Diane. However, if you don’t have cognac lying around, you can also use dry white wine or Madeira wine to get the job done. 

Use the substitutes in similar quantities as you would brandy. However, for a near-brandy taste, then it’s best to settle for cognac.

7 Alcoholic Substitutes for Brandy in Cooking

Do you prefer to stick with an alcoholic substitute? Let’s take a quick look at some of the options you have if you opt to use other alcoholic drinks in place of brandy. 

1. Rum

Rum is widely used in different recipes due to its ability to add a rich taste to meals. And since rum is a lot sweeter than brandy, it can give your meal that much-needed edge if you’re looking for a slightly sweetened taste. 

However, there’s a caveat when it comes to using rum as a brandy substitute in food. 

Using too much rum can overpower other ingredients, consequently affecting the final taste of your meal. Therefore, it’s advisable to avoid using too much rum when cooking, unless your recipe requires it. 

Adding a bit of water will also help reduce the rum’s sweetness, ensuring it balances well with other ingredients. If you’re preparing a meal that needs, say, one tablespoon of rum extract, you should substitute with three tablespoons of actual rum. 

Another golden tip to remember when using rum to prepare meals is to check on the type you’re using. Ideally, dark (aged) rum works well when preparing foods with strong flavors like pork or beef stews. White rum is better suited for preparing poultry or seafood. 

2. Whiskey 

Although whiskey has a different texture and flavor to brandy, it’s still among the best alcoholic substitutes due to its versatility. While whiskey has a “more alcoholic” taste than brandy, you can use it to whip up different recipes. 

Even better, you probably won’t notice the difference if you use small amounts of whiskey in your recipe. 

But if you must use whiskey as a brandy alternative, it is highly advisable to substitute in equal amounts. For instance, use two tablespoons of whiskey if your plan was to use two tablespoons of brandy. 

Pro tip: If you want flavors like apple, pear, and vanilla to really come out in your recipe, then you should consider adding a teaspoon (or two) of water. But you can add more teaspoons of water to whisky when cooking to suit your personal preferences. 

3. Vodka 

Vodka is also another great alternative to brandy, especially when baking. 

Not only is vodka flavorless, but it’s also colorless, which ensures your cake or muffins maintain the desired level of consistency both in texture and color. Be sure to check on your vodka quantities, as too much can ruin the outcome of the cake, meal, or snack. 

4. Wine 

Since brandy is basically distilled wine, you can comfortably use wine as an ingredient in your mouth-watering recipes. In fact, wine is among the best alcoholic alternatives to brandy, which explains its widespread use in both restaurants and household settings. 

Avoid excessively sweet wines unless the extra sugar is required to bring your recipe to life. 

To balance the extra sweetness of the wine, you can add lemon juice or vinegar to achieve a more balanced taste. 

5. Bourbon 

Whether preparing sweet or savory dishes, bourbon is a great alcoholic substitute for brandy. 

The liquor adds a much-needed smoky taste to recipes, ensuring it performs a similar job to brandy. You can use bourbon to prepare both meals and desserts. However, it is always advisable to use it in measured quantities as it can easily overpower your other ingredients. 

6. Gin 

Although commonly used in meats, gin can also work as a substitute for brandy when you have no other alcoholic drink on standby. Point to note, though, gin isn’t suitable for a variety of meals, so it’s best to confirm if it aligns well with your recipe before adding it to the other ingredients. 

7. Cognac 

Cognac is similar to brandy in so many ways, with the main difference being it’s made exclusively from grapes in the French region of Cognac. 

However, you can use cognac in any recipe that allows for the use of brandy. The trick is to check on the total quantities to avoid ruining the recipe by altering its taste. Consider diluting the cognac with a bit of water if your recipe allows.

I hope this article has been helpful. Thanks for stoppin’ by!

For more, don’t miss 6 Least Acidic Alcoholic Drinks (And 6 to Avoid).

Anne James

Hi, I'm Anne but my grandchildren call me Jelly Grandma. I have over 50 years of experience as a Southern cook and am a retired librarian. I love sharing what I have learned. You can find me on YouTube as well! Just click the link at the bottom of your page. I hope your visit here has been a sweet one.

Related Articles