Skip to Content

7 Brandy Substitutes You Can Use When You’re in a Bind

brandy substitute

Brandy, a liquor produced by distilling fermented fruit (wine), has a fruity, subtly sweet taste. Brandy is typically matured in wooden casks, giving it overtones of oak. It also becomes more mellow and develops a complex flavor as it ages. But more than just an alcoholic beverage, brandy is used in various cooking and baking recipes to add more layered flavors to the dish.

So, what do you do if you don’t have any on hand? Use these brandy substitutes to achieve a similar flavorsome result!

1. Whiskey


Whiskey is an alcoholic beverage with a similar alcohol concentration as brandy, making it an excellent replacement. It also has a more distinct flavor and consistency that is more noticeable. But, you also get more variety to choose from when selecting the one that would best enhance the flavor of your recipe.

When using it as a substitute, keep in mind that whiskey can also be more alcoholic, but the difference isn’t noticeable in the finished meal. So, you’re safe using it to replace brandy with minimal changes in the flavor profile. And while whiskey has a more alcoholic taste than the sweet brandy, you can still choose from a variety of whiskeys to get your desired flavor.

1 tablespoon brandy = 1 tablespoon whiskey.

2. Rum


A sweet alcoholic beverage made with sugarcane molasses or sugarcane juice, rum can deliver a rich taste to recipes. It balances out different flavors without turning the meal sickly sweet. The best part? It comes in various types and can be used in both sweet and savory recipes.

When using it as a substitute, please keep in mind that rum is sweeter than brandy and may slightly alter the overall flavor of your recipe. To fix this, you can dilute it with water to reduce its sweetness and alcohol content. However, because the difference isn’t really noticeable, it’ll work as a great stand-in for whiskey in a variety of baked goods, desserts, and cocktail recipes.

1 tablespoon brandy = 1 tablespoon rum. (Dilute with water if needed.)

3. Wine


Wine is available in a variety of flavors, ranging from rich and complex (red wine) to subtle, tart, and sweet (white wine). Regardless of which wine you choose, you can’t really go wrong with adding wine to your recipes. Given their distinct flavor profiles, a good wine will add depth to your meals and make them more decadent in flavor.

Because brandy is essentially made from wine, wine works are a fantastic substitute for brandy and delivers a very similar flavor. It can be used for deglazing pans, cooking meat, and even adding to desserts. Just keep in mind that wine can alter the color of your recipe. If you’re using a sweeter wine, consider adding a splash of lemon juice or vinegar to neutralize the sweetness.

1 tablespoon brandy = 1 tablespoon wine.

4. Vodka


Unlike most types of alcohol, vodka is a refined cocktail that is neutral in its taste or smell. It is flavorless, odorless, and colorless, so it won’t impact the color of your meal or change the flavor profile too much. Instead, vodka can enhance the existent flavors and ingredients in a recipe and improve the dish’s appeal.

Vodka works excellently as a substitute for brandy in recipes that don’t require additional taste. While it can be used in meat-based dishes and complements different spices, vodka shines best in baking recipes where it improves the dish’s texture and moisture content. But remember, too much vodka can ruin the outcome of both savory and sweet recipes. So, be a little conservative when adding vodka.

1 tablespoon brandy = 1 tablespoon vodka.

5. Brandy Extract

Brandy extract helps you achieve brandy’s flavor, without using brandy. It is commonly used to replace the aromatic notes and sweet flavor of brandy, particularly in dessert recipes. However, brandy extract cannot deliver brandy’s texture and consistency to baked goods.

Brandy extract is often alcohol-free (some brands have trace alcoholic content) and has a slight sweetness to it, making it an excellent substitute for brandy in a variety of sweet dishes. It’s worth noting that while certain forms of brandy extract contain alcohol, they won’t make your dish “boozy.”

But, if you’re not a fan of alcohol, make sure to read the ingredient list before making a purchase. Since it’s an extract, it has a concentrated flavor profile. So, start with a very little amount.

1 tablespoon of brandy = 1 tablespoon of a mixture made of one part brandy and four parts water.

6. Apple Juice

Apple Juice

If you’re looking for a non-alcoholic brandy substitute, apple juice can do the job splendidly. Apple juice has a tart taste with honey undertones. It will add a hint of minty fruitiness to dishes. But because of the lack of alcohol, apple juice can alter the flavor, consistency, and texture slightly.

While apple juice does not taste exactly like brandy, it will work well in your recipes to provide a brandy-like flavor, particularly in dishes that call for “apple brandy.” In most cases, a 1:1 substitution will work; but, in recipes that call for larger amounts of brandy, using the same amount may alter the overall flavor of the dish. So, make sure to dilute apple juice with water before adding it to your recipe.

1 tablespoon brandy = 1 tablespoon apple juice.

7. Gin


Gin is a clear alcoholic beverage with a crisp, woody, herbal flavor. It works best with poultry, meat, and pasta dishes as well as in baked recipes and desserts to produce a flavor profile that is deliciously similar to brandy.

If you’re considering using gin as a stand-in for brandy, keep in mind that gin has a very distinct herbaceous taste, so it may not work for all recipes. Make sure to try and test your way through it to make sure it goes nicely with the rest of the ingredients. But, if you want to use it to cook meat, as many chefs do, mixing it with different spices to recreate the flavors of brandy would work wonders.

1 tablespoon brandy = 1 tablespoon gin.