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The 16 Best Substitutes for Rum in a Recipe or Mixer

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The best substitutes for rum in a recipe or mixer are other dark liquors like brandy, cognac, and whiskey. You can use dark liquor in cooking or opt for a non-alcoholic option like juice or rum extract. If you replace white rum, consider using vodka or tequila. 

Below, I will detail the sixteen drinks that can replace rum in your favorite recipes and cocktails. I will also give you options for the best rum replacements to pair with your favorite mixers. 

For rum, you can substitute brandy, cognac, gin, tequila, sherry, and whiskey-based on their similarities in taste. If you’re looking for non-alcoholic rum substitutes, you can use orange juice, apple juice, white grape juice, apple cider, rum extract, and other non-alcoholic spirits.

If cost-effectiveness is your priority, you can also purchase Schnapps and discount brands of rum, brandy, gin, tequila, and whiskey instead of high-end rum.

Best Substitutes for Rum According to Taste

Woman in living room with drink smiling

1. Brandy

Brandy is number one on our list because it tastes the most similar to rum. You won’t get the flavor of the vanilla or the spice, but if you’re mixing the brandy with other things, it won’t matter as much. Brandy, like rum, is a dark liquor so the drink will still look and taste pretty similar.

2. Cognac

Cognac tends to be an expensive liquor, but you can find some discount brands. This liquor is also brown, so it replaces rum in most drinks and mixers well. It doesn’t have a strong, distinguishable taste like whiskey or tequila (though some cognac lovers may say otherwise!) so it’ll be a subtle addition to any drink.

3. Gin

If you don’t do dark alcohol, gin is your best bet for a rum replacement. Vodka tends to be strong in its alcohol taste, while gin is a little sweeter because of its juniper berries. This will make a great replacement in a drink or mixer minus the extra kick that comes with vodka.

4. Tequila

Tequila has its own style and taste, so it’ll be obvious if you replace rum with tequila in your drinks or mixers. However, if you don’t like rum or you don’t do dark liquor, a silver tequila might work as a replacement. I would not suggest using tequila as a replacement for baking, though! 

5. Sherry

Sherry is actually a wine, and it’s the only wine that’s made our list. This wine is from white grapes and is typically pretty sweet, but isn’t as strong as the liquors on the list. If you want to replace the rum because you don’t like the strong flavors of rum, and all the other liquors on this list won’t work for you, sherry would be a great replacement. 

6. Whiskey

Whiskey is a dark liquor like rum, so it makes a great replacement in your drinks, mixers, or recipes. However, remember that whiskey has its distinguishable taste. If you wanted people to think they’re getting a rum-specific drink, whiskey won’t be a discreet addition to the recipe.

Best Non-Alcoholic Rum Substitutes

Non alcoholic written on green rectangle stamp sign

1. Schnapps

If you want a discount, Schnapps is the way to go! You can get schnapps in tiny bottles or big ones, but regardless of the size, it’s always inexpensive. You can even get one that has the essence of rum, like vanilla or spice, making it a decent rum substitute.

2. NA (Non-Alcoholic) Spirits

You won’t be able to find NA spirits in any old store, but most big-name liquor stores have them. You can grab an NA whiskey, NA rum, or any other NA liquor to add to your dish for the same strong flavors. Just double-check the alcohol percentage, because some NA beers and liquors still have a little alcohol in them.

3. Orange Juice, White Grape Juice, or Apple juice

Orange juice, white grape juice, and apple juice pack a little punch of citrus and sweetness. Rum is notoriously a sweet liquor, so these will work great as replacements for NA or family-friendly recipes. They won’t taste as spicy as apple cider or rum extract, but that might be a good thing if you don’t favor the flavor of rum.

4. Apple Cider

Apple cider has just the right amount of spice to make it work for a rum replacement. Particularly in baking dishes, you’ll have the strong flavors of rum minus any of the alcohol. This would be a great replacement if you want to make a family-friendly or NA version of a dish.

5. Rum Extract

Rum extract has all the flavoring of rum without the need to purchase an entirely new bottle. Just be sure to check and make sure there’s a low or no alcohol content if you’re looking for something less strong. Sometimes, rum extract (and all extracts for that matter) can contain .5% alcohol, which may not be suitable for pregnant women.

Most Budget-Friendly Rum Replacements

Don’t have the cash for most of the options outlined above? I suggest using one of the following instead of rum:

  1. Discount brand of rum
  2. Discount brand of brandy
  3. Discount brand of gin
  4. Discount brand of tequila
  5. Discount brand of whiskey

Best Substitute for Rum in a Recipe

Rum Bundt Cake With Glass of Rum in Background

Tons of delicious recipes call for rum in them, and it may just be the most popular liquor for cooking. Bananas foster, rum-raisin pie, Caribbean chicken, and the classic rum cake all use rum as one of their essential, flavor-staking ingredients. But what if you are alcohol-free or don’t like rum at all?

In a recipe, the best substitute for rum is brandy, bourbon, cognac, or whiskey. However, if you want something alcohol-free, you should look for orange juice, apple juice, or non-alcoholic rum extract or flavoring. For a cheaper substitute, look at discount brands of the above options. 

Below, I list the options for the most similar tasting, best alcohol-free, and cheapest rum replacements. 

Most Similar Tasting Substitutes for Rum in a Recipe

In your favorite recipe, the best replacement for rum will be a rum extract or a rum flavoring. If you have either of those at your disposal, read the instructions carefully to see how much to add in place of rum. It’s usually not a 1:1 to one replacement, and you may need to add extra liquid elsewhere, so things still turn out.

Suppose you don’t have rum extract or flavoring, or you don’t like the taste of rum. In that case, you can usually get away with using brandy, whiskey, or cognac. However, be mindful of the recipe you are using. 

Rum cake will no longer taste like rum cake with whiskey, but it’ll still be good. Additionally, a Caribbean chicken recipe with brandy won’t have the same tropical taste. Rum extract will be your best choice, but the others will work. 

Non-Alcoholic Substitutes for Rum in a Recipe

If you’re going alcohol-free or are serving your dish at a family picnic, you definitely don’t want to use rum in your recipe. Instead, use orange juice, apple juice, or non-alcoholic rum flavoring to replace your classic rum. Usually, the orange and apple juice can be used 1:1 to one basis. With the extract or flavoring, you might have to dig to find out the right ratios.

Alcohol-free rum extract or rum flavoring will give you the most similar taste to rum, but it can be a hassle to get. If you have citrus juices on hand, this will work too. Also, if you want the alcoholic taste with none of the alcohol, you can look for alcohol-free spirits online. 

Cheapest Substitutes for Rum in a Recipe

The cheapest substitute for rum in a recipe is your rum extracts and rum flavorings. Rum comes in big bottles, which can be pretty expensive, depending on the brand. In your cooking recipe, you likely aren’t using more than a cup to cook what you need (unless you are making a lot–this is a different story, then!). 

If you just need that rum flavoring but don’t have the cash to get a huge bottle, rum extract and rum flavoring come in alcoholic and non-alcoholic forms for very cheap. 

But remember that you’ll get a smaller volume. This may ultimately save you money if you’re cooking for a family or a small group. However, if you’re cooking for an entire bake sale, you might want to look into other options. In this case, a bottle might be cheaper (but don’t forget that school bake sales or church bake sales might not appreciate alcohol in their cake!). 

Best Substitutes for Rum in a Drink

So many classic cocktails are made with rum. Just because you’ve given up on rum or alcohol completely doesn’t mean you have to miss out on these classics. 

The best substitutes for rum in drinks like the classic dark and stormy, pina colada, or daiquiri are cognac, brandy, or bourbon. If you want to make these classics without any alcohol, look for alcohol-free spirit brands or add a little rum flavoring. 

You can find cheaper well-brand options for all of the liquors above.

Rum is the main alcoholic ingredient in drinks like:

  • Pina colada 
  • Mai tai
  • Rum punch
  • Hurricane 
  • Hot buttered rum
  • Dark and stormy
  • Daiquiri

Whether you have a distaste for rum or just don’t have any in your liquor cabinet, I’ll break down below the best substitutes for rum in your favorite classic rum cocktails. 

Most Similar Tasting Substitutes for Rum in a Drink

For a taste that doesn’t go too far off of rum but still isn’t rum, I’d suggest using something that is still dark in color and has a powerful punch, then adding a pinch more of whatever sweet ingredients are in your cocktail. Rum is made in a very similar way to brandy, so brandy would do well in place of rum. Additionally, bourbon or cognac work as good substitutes for rum.

Whiskey will also be a good replacement for rum because of its powerful taste and dark color. However, beware of the characteristic taste of rum in the drink. Whiskey is a powerful drink, and some whiskeys are meant for sipping or diluting. It’ll still be a good replacement but mess with the recipe if you add it to your pina colada or daiquiri. There’s a good chance you’ll need to add extra simple syrup or more flavoring for it to taste like the rum version. 

Non-Alcoholic Substitutes for Rum in a Drink

If you are going without liquor (whether for a little bit or the rest of your life), it can easily feel like you have to give up on your favorite drinks. No more mai tai’s, pina colada, or creamy daiquiris. However, this doesn’t have to be the case. 

The juice of citrus fruits packs enough punch to ensure that the other ingredients in these sweet drinks don’t become overpowering. 

You might have to shop around, but you’ll usually find non-alcoholic spirits in liquor or grocery stores. Instead of alcohol, you can try orange juice, lemon juice, or apple juice in your favorite cocktail. 

Additionally, more and more distilleries that create non-alcoholic spirits are opening up as people opt out of drinking, whether for physical or mental health reasons.

You can also order non-alcoholic spirits online. Below, I list a few of my favorites (all available on Amazon.com):

  • Lyre’s Dark Cane Non-Alcoholic Spirit is a dark rum style, a non-alcoholic cocktail that comes with all of the punch and sweetness of rum without hangovers. The dark designer bottles make you still get that happy feeling of purchasing an expensive bottle of rum from the liquor store, and because you aren’t going to be shooting this drink back like you’re taking shots, it’ll last longer. 
  • The Ritual Zero Proof Rum Alternative ensures that things don’t have to change in the best ways if you are going alcohol-free. This drink still has warm, toasted, spiced vanilla notes without any alcohol in it. 
  • Free Spirits doesn’t have a rum line, but they do have this Free Spirit of Bourbon for those who won’t miss the rum taste. This alcohol-free spirit has notes of caramel and oak, is vegan and gluten-free, and even comes with mood-lifting vitamins. 

Cheapest Substitutes for Rum in a Drink

Unfortunately, rum is usually a cheap substitute for other things, and it’s hard to find liquor much cheaper than rum. Don’t be afraid to grab the good rum if you need a substitute for a cheaper cost. 

You can also look at the discount rack at most alcohol sellers to find things they may have ordered too much of. Sometimes, you can get lucky and find cheaper versions of more high-end alcohols.

Discount versions of cognac, brandy, bourbon, or rum (but rum will likely be the cheapest) exist. Look at the bottom shelf or ask a store associate where you might get the most bang for your buck. 

Be sure to pay attention to price versus volume. Getting a pint of anything will be pretty cheap, but you can often get double the volume for half as much if you get a bigger bottle of good liquor. 

The Best Substitute for Rum as a Mixer

A cuba libre cocktail on a wooden bar counter top

Rum makes for a great mixer because its undemanding sweetness adds a nice punch to any drink you have on hand. Whether you like soda, juice, or store-bought pre-mixes, you may be wondering what works well in place of rum.

The best substitute for rum as a mixer will depend on what you are mixing it into. If your mixer classically has dark liquor, add whiskey, cognac, or brandy, it’s a good rule of thumb to replace dark liquors with dark liquors and light liquors with light.

Sometimes we’ve had too much of one type of liquor or a bad experience with it and have to part ways even if we loved it. If you want something similar to rum to go into your favorite mixer, any of the below liquors should do well. 

Most Similar Tasting Substitutes for Rum as a Mixer

If you’ve said goodbye to rum but still want something dark to drink, whiskey, brandy, and cognac will be your most likely pals. Bourbon and whiskey have unique tastes that can be pretty sweet in certain bottles. Adding a little coconut water or pineapple juice will make your mixer taste more tropical, as rum is good for doing.

Dark liquor isn’t the only option, though, especially if they aren’t your cup of tea. If you were a white rum drinker and can’t stomach it anymore, you should opt for light liquors instead of the heavy, dark ones above. Gin and vodka would make good replacements in this case. 

Non-Alcoholic Substitutes for Rum as a Mixer

As mentioned above, non-alcoholic substitutes for rum will go well into your mixer, especially if you are going alcohol-free and just want the punch alcohol gives without any hangovers or anxiety. Additionally, being the designated driver doesn’t mean you have to only drink water or soda. Purchasing a Lyre’s, Monday’s, Free Spirit, or Ritual version of rum, whiskey, or bourbon, are tasty alternatives as well.

Cheapest Substitutes for Rum in a Mixer

Giving up rum might mean that you’re looking for something dark to drink in its place, but drinks like whiskey, bourbon, and brandy can be as expensive as rum, if not more expensive. 

Rum is a pretty cheap drink, but if you’re mostly into it because of its low price, you’d find solace in drinks like vodka or gin. Another great alternative is sherry wine, which is still dark but comes in big bottles for cheaper. 

If you’ve found that you just can’t stomach rum anymore, you could also just attempt to use little amounts at the same time, or add some cheap rum flavoring to a drink with another liquor in it, like vodka. 

To wit, here are the best substitutes for rum:

Best Rum Substitutes According to TasteBest Non-Alcoholic Rum SubstitutesBest Budget-Friendly Rum Substitutes
BrandyNA SpiritsDiscount brand of rum 
Cognac Orange juice Discount brand of brandy
Gin Apple juiceDiscount brand of gin
TequilaWhite grape juiceDiscount brand of tequila
SherryApple ciderDiscount brand of whiskey
WhiskeyRum extractSchnapps 

For more, don’t miss 6 Best Alcoholic Drinks That Are Easy on the Stomach.

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